(SPOT.ph) Marinduque in the Southwestern Tagalog Region is a top destination during the Lenten Season because of the Moriones Festival, one of the oldest religious and theatrical presentations celebrated in the country during Holy Week. Apart from the folk-religious activities, this island province is a destination that adventurous travelers can visit any time of the year. Home to historic spots, uncrowded beaches, mountains, and untouched caves, this small and peaceful island has much to offer.
Check out these exciting things you can do in Marinduque:
Catch the sunset from the heart of the country
Marinduque has been dubbed the “Heart of the Philippines” because of its shape and location. The island serves as the central reference point for all maps and surveys made in the country—the Luzon Datum of 1911, which is a stone marker found in Barangay Balanacan in Mogpog. First-time tourists make it a point to climb up the 468 concrete steps leading up to a viewdeck to get a stunning panoramic view of the Northern part of the island, best experienced during sunset.
Hop on a boat to visit remote islets
White-sand beaches abound in the smaller islets just off the mainland of Marinduque. Maniwaya Island, a small island just off the shore in the town of Santa Cruz, is the most popular among weekend warriors. Other points of interest include Palad Sandbar and Ungab Rock Formation on Mompong Island.
Other white-sand beaches can be found in Polo and Mompong in Sta. Cruz and Salomague in Torrijos, which is known as a scuba diving site. In Gasan town, the Tres Reyes Islands—Gaspar, Melchor and Baltazar—have their share of sandbars and pockets of rarely visited beaches.
Explore a white-sand beach
For those who prefer to stay on the mainland, Poctoy White Sand Beach in the coastal town of Torrijos offers a long stretch of white-sand beach and crystal clear waters. From here, you also get a view of Mt. Malindig on the horizon.
The public beach is popular with locals and tourists who want to just pitch tents on the beach, have picnics, camp out and enjoy water sports like snorkeling and kayaking. A new beach resort with private cabanas was recently constructed in the area, ideal for couples, small families and business and leisure travelers looking for more upscale digs.
Go hiking to the island’s summit
Mt. Malindig is a dormant stratovolcano in Buenavista and is Marinduque’s highest peak. For healthy hikers and health buffs, a half-day hike up this peak proves to be a worthy endeavor, as it stands at 1,157 meters above sea level.
The mountain is a protected area known for its unique environmental biodiversity: you can find wild orchids and other endemic wildlife here! From the summit, you can also marvel at a great panoramic view of Mindoro, Verde Island, and Southern Luzon.
Wade through a sulfuric hot spring
Tthe Sulfuric Hot Springs in Malbog is a unique draw in the province. The milky-blue water looks enticing but be warned about the smell. As most sulfuric springs, expect a “rotten egg” smell coming from the pool. Sulfuric springs are known to have healing benefits for the skin, most especially rashes and fungal infections.
Circle the island by bike
Marinduque is a popular destination for cyclists and riders, thanks to its 150-kilometer circumferential road. There are lots of scenic sightseeing stops to explore, including Gasan Sea View, views of Bellaroca Resort on Elephant Island, Mt. Malindig, and the coastal road of Looc.
Larger groups who want a hassle-free sightseeing tour can charter a tourist van from Dream Favor Travel and Tours, the only DOT accredited travel agency in Marinduque, to take you around the island.
Explore rarely visited caves
With a length of 1.9 km, Bagumbungan Cave is said to be one of the biggest caves in the province. This cave in Sitio Puti Barangay in San Isidro was discovered less than a decade ago and still remains untouched. Exploring the subterranean wonders is a prime activity for adventure seekers and nature lovers.
Get closer to butterflies
Marinduque is dubbed the Butterfly Capital of the Philippines. It is home to thriving butterfly farms, which have unique collections that are even exported to other countries. If you’re traveling with folks who have never seen butterflies up close, you might want to check out Marl Insects and Butterfly Garden in Boac, to see these critters up close.
Travel back in time in centuries-old places
Aside from being a great destination for nature lovers, Marinduque is steeped in history, with Spanish colonial churches and centuries-old ancestral homes. Step back in time by going on a cultural tour to notable heritage houses, churches, and shrines. You can check out the century-old Boac Cathedral and Biglang Awa Shrine in Boac. There’s also the St. Joseph Parish Catholic Church in Gasan, which features fan carvings and beams covered with polished coconut shells.
Feast on island cuisine
No trip to any destination is complete without chowing down on interesting local delicacies and homegrown restaurants. For authentic Marinduqueño cuisine, try dining at Casa de Don Emilio, an ancestral house-turned-restaurant in Boac and Café Mamita, located on the ground floor of the historic Boac Hotel.
You can also try coconut-based snacks like bibingkang Boac and arrowroot treats like the fried panganan and the powdery uraro. We recommend getting the ones from Rejano’s Bakery.