Ask anyone about travel plans to Marinduque, if at all, and the likely answer is to see the famous Moriones festival. But this happens only during the Holy Week.
My two recent explorations of the whole province convinced me that the province is so under-rated, and has so many things to offer to tourists, both local and foreign.
Traveling to an island is always exciting. And Marinduque will more than excite you with its so many islands, white sand beaches, waterfalls, caves, and historical sites. And access is actually easy – – – it lies at the very center of the Philippine archipelago. You can call it the heart of the Philippines.
I made two one-week visits recently, with only 5 days of stay in Manila in between. And I think I will be coming back for more. Here’s why.
Marinduque has zero crime rate. The only other province that has zero crime rate is my other favorite, Batanes. You can walk around Marinduque and not fear for your life or your belongings.
Marinduque is beautiful. Not your five-star resort destination, but perfect for a getaway on an idyllic town. I toured all six towns (Boac, Gasan, Buenavista, Torrijos, Sta. Cruz and Mogpog) in one day on a hired van (P3,500) on my first day to case the joint, and planned the rest of my stay based on what I saw on my island tour. For this post, I will only write about the capital town. I shall be covering the other towns in separate blog posts. Else this blog entry will be very long and there may not be enough chance to appreciate the beauty of the other towns in one long reading.
BOAC is the capital town and the seat of the provincial government.
- Boac Town Hall, being improved on my visit
- Provincial Capitol
The streets are paved with old houses made of wood, giving the town a period look. It is easy to walk around Boac, the streets are parallel to each other and finding your way back is not a problem. For culture vultures, a visit to the old library and the cathedral would be mandatory.
- Boac Museum and Library
- Boac Church, high on a hill
Restaurants and cafes dot the streets surrounding the town plaza.
- Kusina sa Plaza offers inexpensive Pinoy meals, turo-turo style, in airconditioned comfort
- fastfood-style roadside cafe
- Just opened Holy Week 2011
- Casa de Don Emilio overlooks the plaza
- feels like Cafe Adriatico in Malate, Manila – – serving P150 buffet dinners !
Boac is the nerve center of the province. Banks and ATMs are available nearby. The airport is 11 kms away from the town center. The busiest port, Cawit, is near the airport. It is also in Boac where visitors take off for the other towns, on the jeepney terminal just off one of the main roads, close to the public market.
- the province is serviced only by ZestAir at the moment
- Cawit in Boac is the busiest port of entry
WHERE TO STAY IN BOAC
Boac Hotel is The Address in Boac. It is a beautiful old hotel in the quiet end of town, right next to the Boac Church. I like the way the interiors were done, evoking a 60s – 70’s feel. The cafeteria is lined with old vinyl records of Victor Wood and other singers of his era. Old photographs line the walls, as well as ladies bags that were in fashion during those years.
- old photos, old ladies bags, vinyl records on the cafeteria wall
- arrow root “uraro” from the BOAC Hotel store is a popular pasalubong
There are regular rooms, airconditioned or fanned.
- Room 202 for a family, beautiful but there is not a single cabinet. Luggages and clothes stay on the floor, or whatever is left of the cramped space.
The best rooms are on the third floor, reached via narrow stairs. These are the suites – – slightly bigger rooms and the only difference from the de luxe rooms are that these rooms have hot and cold showers.
- Suite B at the 3rd floor. P1,800 a night.
Rates start at P1,000 for fan rooms, P1,200 for de luxe airconditioned rooms, P1,800 for suites (they are not big rooms !), and P2,000 for family rooms.
BOAC HOTEL may be contacted at 0915 486 7337. Room rates include fetch from the airport or pier, and breakfast for 2.
EASTPOINT HOTEL is a beach hotel at the far end of Boac. No, you wouldn’t stay here if you have business to attend to within the town center. It is more like a beach holiday hotel.
- a twin room at Eastpoint Beach Hotel
- a raft on the Eastpoint beach
Eastpoint rates start at P750.00 for a standard double bed. . There are family rooms for 4 persons at P1,600, and cottages for 5 persons at P1,800.00. Contact them at telephone number (042) 332 2229, 0920 900 6892, 0916 744 9529, and 0920 271 8681. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website is http://www.eastpointhotle.com
ABBY’s PLACE is right in front of the wet market.
- hotel fronting the wet market
- not an ideal location, but rather decent rooms
Rooms start at P700.00. Contact them at telephone number (042) 3322643 xxx
If you are looking for budget accommodations, there are several pension houses in Boac. One such is HAPPY BUNNY, where room rates start at P300, without television, and no airconditioning. A room with a queen size bed for 2, with TV goes for a mere P650. . Electric fans cool the un-screened rooms. A portable airconditioner can be brought into your room at an additional cost.
- the pension house that is also the home of the best litson manok in town
- a room at Happy Bunny
Contact the owner, Mrs. Cristy del Mundo at telephone number (042)3322040 or mobile number 09195248440
A preview of the other towns, to be covered separately in my blog:
GASAN is the next town. This town is lined with beach resorts. Clean even while the sand is black, and with some pebbles. The resorts become better as you go further and nearer the next town of Buenavista.
BUENAVISTA is famous for the Bellaroca Resort on Elephant Island. It is too pricey though, and I had to content myself with viewing it from a distance.
TORRIJOS is my favorite in all of Marinduque. This town is most blessed with the province’s whitest white sand beach. In fact I was told that the white sand in Bellaroca came from the shores of Torrijos, barged to Bellaroca.
STA CRUZ is the largest town, and the jump off point to the small island of Maniwaya. This small island has white sand, a rustic feel, and looks like Boracay before the throng of tourists came in.
Completing the island tour, just before returning to Boac, is the town of MOGPOG.
HOW TO GET TO MARINDUQUE.
Take a bus to Lucena City. Most buses go all the way to the Dalahican Port. Otherwise, take a tricycle to take you to Dalahican.
By private vehicle, take SLEX and drive on to Lucena. After Tayabas, take the diversion road to skip the city traffic, following the SM Lucena signages. When you hit SM, the side road takes you to Dalahican.
Marinduque is serviced by at least three shipping companies, taking passengers to 3 differetnt ports within Marinduque. The most popular is Montenegro Shipping that leaves Lucena early morning, at midday, and at 4pm. Travel time to Cawit, a barangay in Boac, is 3 hours. Fare is P340. You can load your car on a ro-ro at P1,300 per light vehicle.
On my second trip, I took the 2:30 pm ro-ro from Lucena to Balanacan, in the town of Mogpog, via StarHorse Shipping. This is my recommended route for first timers to Marinduque. Approaching the port, one will be amazed at the several islands passed on the way to the sheltered pier. The other port is Buyabod, in the town of Sta Cruz, but I have not traveled this route yet.