Mararison Island – that’s one of the reasons why my friend and I would love to go to Culasi, Antique. Of course, we came from Cebu City and we would like to make the most of our Antique trip so we then decided to visit the renowned Kawa Bath and Bugtong Bato Falls in Tibiao and Naranjo Waterpark in Pandan. Read on to get more details of our 3 Day DIY itinerary trip to Antique, located in western Panay Island.
Culasi is probably the town in Antique which has lots of islands – Mararison Island, Batbatan Island, and Maniguin Island. In fact, you can actually see the Batbatan Island going to Mararison. According to Kuya Jhong, our guide, it’ll be an hour trip from Mararison (still depending on the boat capacity and the weather) to Batbatan.
How to get there?
We were from Cebu City, so we booked a ticket to Kalibo via Air Asia. The airline company only have 1 trip daily from Cebu to Kalibo and another one in the afternoon from Kalibo to Mactan Airport (Cebu). They’re cheap compared to Cebu Pacific, which by the way has lots of trips in Caticlan (near Boracay).
Mactan Airport –> Kalibo Airport = 45 minutes
Kalibo Airport –> Ceres Bus Terminal = 10-15 minutes (Tricycle fare: 100 pesos for 2)
We took the 2:30PM trip going to San Jose since it will pass through Culasi.
Kalibo –> Culasi = 2 hours; Bus fare (non-airconditioned bus) is 110 pesos.
Accommodation – Enrique de Mararison
From Kalibo, we stopped at Unidos Resort (3 km from Poblacion, Culasi), the main resort of our accommodation (Enrique de Mararison) for our Mararison Island trip. The management also allows you to park your vehicles in their mainland resort.
We took the 2k for 2pax package, which already include the boat transport (to and from the island) and free breakfast. The good thing about their boat transfer is that you don’t have to wait for other passengers for the trip to start. Most boat transfers in Poblacion, Culasi requires you to pay for the entire boat (I think it’s 700-750 pesos), which is not a good idea if there are only two of you. Yes, you can also join the other group but then again you also have to adjust with their schedule since you need to leave the island together with them.
In our case? No sweat! It’s like we have our own private boat! HAHA!
Unidos Resort –> Enrique De Mararison (Mararison Island) = est. 20 minutes boat travel
Enrique de Mararison is on the secret side of the island and is quite a distance to the sand bar area but fret not, the resort also has white sand beach (though not that enticing).
The room that is included on our package has 2 separate beds with own comfort room. I think the whole room can accommodate 4 people. Regular price is 1, 500 pesos.
Our package already include cottage use. According to some of the travel blogs I read, there are homestay services in the island that will require you to pay separately for each cottage use. Regular cottage rental at Enrique de Mararison is 500 pesos.
Mararison Island Or Malalison Island
Like most friends, my friend and I often find ourselves arguing (a lot) because we are polar opposites – me being the childish and “makulit” and her being the matured one. In Cebuano, argument means “lalis” and “malalison” means being argumentative, which totally sums up our love-hate relationship haha! So yes, it’s our island because we are “malalison”! According to Wiki: the Karay-a term mararison or malalison means “pasaway” or the one who does not abide rules. Read the folklore at Wiki to know more!
Mararison Island became popular because of the typhoon Yolanda. It’s also interchangeably called as Malalison Island. Kinaray-a usually has lots of “r” in their dialect. For example, they call duyan (Cebuano term for hammock) as duran.
Mararison Island is a very accessible island yet very idyllic, especially when you’re in the Enrique de Mararison area.
Majority of Mararison Island is made of limestone. You can never see huge trees in the highland area due to this topography. When you are on the highest point of the island, you can have an overlooking view of the entire island.
There are lots of pitcher plants (local name is pitsil2x) in the hills.
There are also pine trees in the area:
The resort has the perfect view of Mararison’s Nablag Islet. You can walk into the islet if it’s a low tide.
Nablag (nabulag in Kinaray-a) means separated. It’s an islet separated to the Mararison Island. It’s actually about 300 meters from Mararison.
What I love about the island is because of its hills, that provide an overlooking view to the whole Mararison. The ironic thing is that we were not enticed to swim on the sea (perhaps because it’s the Habagat season). You can also see Mt. Madjaas (2,113masl) at the hill.
The Sand Bar
Few years ago, Kuya Jong said that the length of the sandbar in Mararison is thrice of the current size. It also changes depends on the season, the waves are really strong in the sand bar area.
We were supposed to take a quick dip in the sand bar before going back to the mainland but since the waves are strong, we just got some quick photo ops. Our boat even had some difficulty maneuvering since the waves are pushing it to the sand bar. Remember to always take extra care when swimming in any sandbar, there are lots of riptides and the current is really strong.
- no electricity in the island (Enrique de Mararison has genset electricity that starts from 6PM-12MN/2AM depending on the number of guests)
- mobile signals are weak (especially Globe)
- no wifi
- water supply is good (the resort has a water pump system)
- food is not overpriced (however, it’s suggested to contact the owner ahead if you want special dish; they need to buy ingredients from the mainland)
Culasi Public Market & Tibiao Bakery
After our island adventure, we headed back to Poblacion, Culasi for lunch.
Unidos Resort –> Poblacion, Culasi market = 10-15 minutes tricycle travel (fare is 10 pesos)
We get some pasalubong in the Tibiao Bakery in Poblacion, Culasi prior to riding the bus going to Tibiao.
P.S. Tibiao Bakery’s Culasi branch is in proximity to the bus terminal.
Tibiao is probably known as the kawa bath capital of Antique haha! Lots of mountain resorts offer kawa bath that ranges from 200-300 pesos per hour, per person.
How to get there?
After 20 minutes of bus travel from Culasi, we reached Brgy. Importante, Tibiao. We then rode a habal2x for about 15-20 minutes to go to Kayak Inn, which we booked via Agoda. Tourists are required to pay for the entrance fee (50 pesos). Keep the receipt since you will be needing that as the entrance fee to Bugtong Bato Falls. You are still required to pay the entrance fee even if you have the accommodation or if you’re only there for Kawa Bath, Kayaking, etc.
Accommodation – Kayak Inn
Kayak Inn prides itself for being the original Kawa Bath in the entire Tibiao. They also provide kayaking and river rafting. It’s pretty expensive (900 pesos each) for a 15-20 minutes activity. Yes, that’s how you react when you have already experienced the 2-3 hours white water river rafting in Cagayan de Oro for only 800-900 pesos (as of 2015).
We were actually planning to go to Bugtong Bato Falls right after we have checked in at Kayak Inn. However, staff recommended us not to and should go there early in the morning.
Always make sure to protect yourself from mosquitoes since the area is near the Tibiao river.
We had a tiny nipa house as our simple abode for our stay in Tibiao. It costs about 1600 pesos via Agoda (2000 pesos is the regular price). It has a single flat bed (good for 2) with own comfort room.
- Water supply is good.
- There is electricity.
I think 1,600 is too much for the entire accommodation. The hut is spacious, however, it’s not properly maintained. They were able to provide us towels but no toiletries.
I recommend you stay in Pete’s Lodge (or Bugtong Bato Resort) since it’s near the waterfalls and they also provide kawa bath.
Kawa bath price = 250 pesos per person
It would have been really good if Kayak Inn would provide free kawa bath for customers who are staying for the night. The key takeaway is the unlimited use of kawa bath for those who have accommodation. An hour of kawa bath is too long enough for the dip. You’ll get bored easily. I don’t think it’s therapeutic.
The bath is relaxing but I felt some itchiness after few minutes of dipping. I don’t know why! hahaha!
I recommend you to checkout the kawa bath in Blue Lagoon since it’s near the river and the price is only 200 pesos.
Bugtong Bato Falls
The entrance to Bugtong Bato Falls is in the Barangay Hall of Brgy. Tuno. You need to show the receipt of the entrance fee. It’s an easy 30 minutes trek to the falls. They’re open as early as 6AM. It’s best if you visit the falls early to avoid the crowd.
Guide fee: 150 pesos (good for 5 people)
There are actually three levels of the falls. We were only able to visit level 1 since 2 and 3 are not accessible. The ladder going up the 2nd level was damaged because of the rain. According to Kuya Benz (our guide), level 2 has some sort of stairs and the third being the grandest has a deep catch basin. I can only imagine haha! Level 1 for me is already grand, how much more with the 3rd? Yes, I could just imagine. (insert some shot of me floating on the basin hahaha!). Just imagine!
We chose a different path going back to the barangay hall to see the rice terraces. Rice terraces is a common local farming practice in Brgy. Tuno (maybe because of the topography, no flat areas to plant the rice). The rice terraces aren’t grand like the ones in Banaue but they are still beautiful to look at.
After Tibiao, we then catch the bus going to Pandan.
Pandan boosts itself for Bugang River, which had won the cleanest river in the entire Western Visayas region.
How to get there?
From Tibiao, we rode a bus going to Pandan, which was about 1 hour of travel. Fare is 68 pesos (aircon bus). From the main road, we then rode a tricycle to Brgy. Sto. Rosario. Estimated travel time is 20 minutes.
P.S. If you can’t find a bus that is going directly going to Pandan and only in Culasi, you can take that. In Culasi, there’ll be buses going to Kalibo, which would pass through to Pandan, so take that.
Tibiao –> Pandan (corner Napoleon) = 1 hour (bus); fare = 68 pesos (aircon bus)
Pandan (corner Napoleon) –> Naranjo Waterpark (Sto. Rosario) = 20 minutes (tricycle); fare is 100 pesos for 2 people (entire tricycle); (regular fare is 15 pesos)
Naranjo Waterpark lies in the Bugang River. It’s a perfect spot for water sports enthusiasts. We were only there for 2 hours since we need to catch our flight later in the afternoon.
No entrance fee.
Table fee = 150 pesos
Stand up Paddle – 250 pesos per hour
- Well maintained shower rooms and comfort rooms available.
- Restaurant offers reasonable price.
other activities include:
- river cruise
Our initial plan was to go Malumpati Cold Spring, which is 3km from Naranjo (same street), however, we didn’t have much time as we need to catch our flight later in the afternoon. I suggest you going there and try the river tubing.
Tired of reading? Watch these vlogs instead:
Antique: Part 1
P.S. In our 3-day stay in the province, it rains in the afternoon. Make sure to check the weather reports when making itineraries. Also, always be flexible with your plans as there are uncontrollable circumstances.
|10:30 AM||MEET UP; EN ROUTE TO AIRPORT|
|1:10-1:50PM||EN ROUTE TO KALIBO|
|1:50PM-2PM||TO CERES BUS TERMINAL||50 – TRIKE FARE|
|2:30-4:30PM||KALIBO TO CULASI (2 HRS EST.)||110 – BUS FARE|
|4:30 PM||ARRIVAL AT UNIDOS RESORT (3KM FROM POBLACION, CULASI)|
|4:40PM-5:10PM||EN ROUTE TO MARARISON ISLAND|
|5:10 PM||CHECK IN AT ENRIQUE DE MARARISON||2K PER 2 PAX PACKAGE (1K EACH)||JOSEPH EUGENE ALOJIPAN (09153247575) – ENRIQUE DE MARARISON|
|INCLUSIVE OF ROOM ACCOM, COTTAGE RENTAL, BOAT TRANSFER; FREE BFAST)|
|10:00 PM||LIGHTS OFF|
|5:30 AM||WAKEUP CALL|
|6:00 AM||LANTAWAN HILLS HIKE||200 – GUIDE FEE; GROUP OF 5|
|NABLAG ISLET||NABLAG IS LOCATED NEAR ENRIQUE DE MARARISON|
|8:30 AM||BREAKFAST BY THE NABLAG ISLET|
|11:30-11:45AM||BACK TO UNIDOS RESORT (MAINLAND)|
|11:45-12NN||GOING BACK TO POBLACION, CULASI||10 PESOS – TRICYCLE FARE|
|12NN-12:15PM||QUICK LUNCH @ THE MARKET; BOUGHT FOOD & SUPPLIES|
|12:15PM-12:30||QUICK STOP @TIBIAO BAKERY (CULASI) FOR PASALUBONG|
|12:50-1:10PM||CERES BT TO IMPORTANTE, TIBIAO||20 PESOS – BUS FARE|
|1PM-1:30PM||HABAL2X TO KAYAK INN||50 PESOS – ENTRANCE FEE (KEEP THE RECEIPT)|
|1:30 PM||QUICK STOP TO PAY FOR THE ENTRANCE||70 – HABAL2X FARE TO KAYAK INN|
|1:40 PM||CHECKIN @ KAYAK INN||1600 – ROOM ACCOMM (FOR 2) WITH FREE BFAST|
|4:30-5PM||KAWA BATH||250 – PER PERSON (UNLIMITED SINCE WE HAVE ACCOM)|
|9:00 PM||LIGHTS OFF|
|5:30 AM||WAKEUP CALL|
|6:00 AM||COFFEE; BFAST|
|6:30 AM||BUGTONG BATO FALLS||150 PESOS – GUIDE FEE (GOOD FOR 5); SHOW THE RECEIPT OF THE ENTRANCE FEE|
|8:30 AM||BACK TO KAYAK INN|
|10:00 AM||CHECKOUT AT KAYAK INN|
|10:30 AM||HABAL2X BACK TO BRGY. IMPORTANTE/BUS STOP||70 – FARE(140 FOR 2) TO TOWN PROPER|
|10:50AM-11:50AM||EN ROUTE TO PANDAN||68 – BUS FARE TO PANDAN (AIRCON)|
|11:50AM-12:10AM||EN ROUTE TO NARANJO WATERPARK||100 (FOR 2) TRICYCLE FARE TO NARANJO (10-15MIN TRAVEL)|
|12:10-2PM||NARANJO WATER PARK||250 – STANDUP PADDLE|
|LUNCH||150 PESOS – TABLE FEE|
|BACK TO CORNER NAPOLEON||15 PESOS (EACH), REGULAR TRICYCLE FARE|
|2:45PM-3:45PM||EN ROUTE TO KALIBO VAN TERMINAL||80 PESOS – VAN FARE|
|3:45-4PM||TRICYCLE TO AIRPORT||100 PESOS – TRIKE FARE FOR 2|
|4PM-4:30PM||EARLY DINNER @ MIGOY’S (AIRPORT)|
|5:10 PM||FLIGHT BACK TO CEBU|
|5:45 PM||TOUCH DOWN CEBU|
splash that smile every mile!