By the time we headed out on a boat for Malalison Island, we were well aware of and looking forward to hiking its beautiful rolling hills. But the first sight that greeted us as our boat inched closer to the island was a beautiful, curving sandbar and surrounding crystalline turquoise waters. We also knew about this sandbar but only realized how beautiful it was in person.
After settling in at a beach resort, one of the first things we did was to explore the sandbar and its connecting white sand beach. The sandbar snaked about a hundred meters from the beach in the general direction of Panay Island. The waters closer to the beach are okay for swimming and snorkeling but a sign at the end of the sandbar warned swimmers not to proceed further; in these cases usually, strong undercurrents make for a dangerous swim.
A number of tour boats were parked on the northern side of the sandbar but the water there was just as clear as elsewhere and we spent some time swimming in its warm waters. Further west along the island’s coastline we curiously spotted a collection of concrete wave breakers spread along the beach between the sandbar and the marine sanctuary. According to the locals the wave breakers were set in place after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) came over in 2013 – to protect the southern shores of the island from storm surges.
Our resort was on the northeastern side of the island and a short walk away from the sandbar. With electricity out for the duration of daylight, we often stayed at beachside huts where the sea breeze was enough to cool us down. The beach in front of the resort (labeled Mayanan Beach in Google Maps), though not as beautiful as the beach and sandbar further east, is of white sand and is ideal for swimming.
We later realized that it was a perfect site for both sunrise and sunset shots. The beach’s location allowed us to have unobstructed sunset and sunrise views. It somehow made up for us not being able to hike to the hills to observe the sunsets from there.
But perhaps the most interesting part of our stay at Malalison was the opportunity to observe the lives of its inhabitants a bit closer than we did at other destinations. Our resort is just adjacent to the town so we had plenty of opportunities to observe and interact with the kind and welcoming local folks.
Malalison is basically a fishing village and, despite the influx of tourists, continue to depend on what the seas have to offer. Walking around we were able to observe and buy fresh catch, and later have it cooked for lunch.
Life here is simple – the lack of electricity and other basic utilities contribute to that – but despite the inconveniences it was a refreshing break from the frenetic pace of life we live most of the time. We looked, almost with envy, at the children and their elders going about their business with a relaxed, stress-free and unhurried demeanor. We’ve been wanting to live the rest of our lives away from the big city and the two nights and two days we spent at Malalison only served to deepen that longing.