Marinduque, Philippines

Marinduque is an island province of the Philippines in the region of Luzon. Its capital is Boac. Marinduque lies between Tayabas Bay to the north and Sibuyan Sea to the south. It is located south and west of Quezon, east of Mindoro and north of Romblon. The island is surrounded by clean, clear, warm tropical water with good marine life for snorkeling and diving.

The Tres Reyes Islands (also known as the Three-Kings) is especially a great place for snorkeling, it’s pure white sand is protected by the massive cliff faces and rock caves, and is very much isolated from anything. You can hire a boat (also known as a ‘Bangka’) from a local Fisherman or from one of the Resorts along the coast. There are many things to see and do on this relatively sleepy island, in the heart of the Philippines.

Famed tourist destinations to see are the Bathala Caves (Santa Cruz), the Tawi-Tawi Falls (Santa Cruz), White Beach (Poctoy), Tres Reyes Marine Sanctuary (Tres Reyes Islands) and the Sulfar Spings (Santa Cruz). If you need directions or how to reach these destinations, asking the locals is the best thing to do. Generally, most Marinduqueno’s know these destinations, and if they don’t, they will more than likely ask around to find out the information for you. If all else fails, the Jeepney drivers are best when it comes to these tourist destinations.

Marinduque Bathala Caves
If your looking for a place to Hike and explore the many Endemic Flora and Fauna of the Philippines and Marinduque, your in luck as Marinduque has a number of eco-tourism hot spots on the map. The Balabag Mountain Range, covering the municipalities of Buenavista, Gasan and Boac forms a wedge shaped north-westerly trending block with the Boac River on its eastern boundary, with a maximum height of 800 meters above sea level descending slowly at each north and south ends.

This range consists of undulating old and second growth forest, grasslands, open fields and is the home of endemic species Marinduque butterflies, cloud rat, white breasted eagles, rufus hornbill, monkeys, deers and hundreds of species of insects. This mountain range is ideal for outdoor activities such as bird watching, caving, trekking and camping. There are many points to access this area, through the interior roads from Malibago, Torrijos on the south, Mainit, Boac on the east, and Bagtingon, Buenavista and Tabionan, Gasan on the west.

The Malindig Volcano, the highest peak on the island at 1,157 meters is the home of different species of wild orchids and other endemic wildlife. This mountain is a stratiform type of dormant volcano with three peaks, the highest is the northern peak, the center peak and the south peak. Trek and climb to the peak is rated as easy to moderate. Reachable via the circumferential road at Brgy. Sihi, Buenavista which is the regular jump-off area.

The Tres Reyes Marine Sanctuary is arguebly the best spot for scuba diving, and one of the must-see places of Marinduque. The area is located at the south-western part of the island province, consisting of the three (3) islets of Gaspar, Melchor and Baltazar. Skin and scuba diving is the best outdoor activity on this sanctuary. In between the first islet of Gaspar and the mainland, a sunken Chinese commercial junk of the Sung and Chang Dynasty was discovered. Recovered by a joint team of National Museum and private foreign salvage group were numerous porcelain plates, jars, skillets and others.

On the third islet of Baltazar, is an underwater cave on its eastern part 60 to 90 feet deep. Wall drift diving is at its best early in the morning where variety of coral and some pelagic fishes would be clearly visible. Occasional schools of hammerhead sharks pass the western depths of the islets.

An American built lighthouse still stands and still working on the center of the islet. Gaspar also has an elongated sand bar that is best for family picnics and swimming, a funeral grotto used by pre-Hispanic Filipinos complete with human bones and shards of potteries on the east and some secluded white sand beaches on the south. You can Visit the islands by hiring a banka boat from one of the local fishermen, or from one of the resorts. People are always more than willing to help out.

Like most Philippine Islands, Marinduque celebrates and has many Festivals, the locals are more than happy to include you in the Festivities. The most Famous Festival of Marinduque is the Moriones festival , The Moriones are men and women in costumes and masks replicating the garb of biblical Roman soldiers as interpreted by local folks. The term ‘moriones’ was concocted by the media in the 60s, but local inhabitants have kept the original term, ‘Moryonan’. Many practitioners are farmers and fishermen who engage in this age-old tradition as a vow of penance or thanksgiving. Morions roam the streets in town from Holy Monday to Easter Sunday scaring the kids, or engaging in antics or surprises to draw attention.

There are many Festivals that are less famous, but still part of traditional life on Marinduque island, these include, ‘Gasang-Gasang’ (Gasan); ‘Bilabila’ (Boac); ‘Malindug’ (Buenavista); ‘Haring Karabaw’ (Sta. Cruz); revival of ‘Tubaan Festival’ (Torrijos). All of which, you are generally invited to join in, if you wish. We ate at Barbarossa’s in Gasan, the food was great. It has a wide variety, from Filipino to European dish’s.

Marinduque Club Cagpo
We also ate at Beach Club Cagpo, Torrijos. The food was excellent as was the service, the food ranged from European, Australian to Filipino dish’s. We decided to stay at Club Cagpo, in Torrijos. It was located ideally, with around 200 meters of private beach. The cottage is literally on the beach. It has working Satellite TV and a great restaurant. I found the swimming to be great, and the locals where very warm and friendly. I would recommend it any day.

If your interested in more 5-star accommodation, Elephant Fantasy Island is currently being renovated and reopened by a Korean Company that bought the private island resort from the Japanese. It features a full-working 9 hole golf course (with plans for up to a 19-hole). Private Cottages/Rooms, a private island, restaurant and 5-star service. It is not currently open, but will be open sometime soon once again.

Update: The Elephant Fantasy Island is now called the Bellarocca Island Spa & Resort in Marinduque. Is is is now open for visitors.

There is still good accommodation on Marinduque Island wherever you find it. It’s cheap, and usually very good if you look around. I prefer the private-beach resorts that dot the island, in Particular in Torrijos, near the famed Poctoy ‘White Beach’, which is arguably the best beach on Marinduque Mainland.

Contributed by Thomas Auer – Thanks Tom! 😉

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