If you’re looking for an quiet, nature-oriented island get-away on Panay Island, something totally the opposite of Boracay, it’s hard to beat the island resort of Marbuena in Iloilo Province in the Philippines. The resort owns the entire island. Logging and hunting are not allowed and, of course, there are no vehicles of any kind. A beautiful ocean-front hiking trail circles the island.
We catch the pump boat to Marbuena at Mangorocoro, Ajuy, Iloilo Province
The family we rent our Iloilo City apartment from often include us in their family outings. This time the trip was to the Marbuena Island resort near Ajuy, Iloilo, about a two hour drive north from Iloilo City. As you head north from Barotac Viejo, pass by Culasi port (Culasi, Iloilo not Culasi, Antique) watch for a Marbuena Resort sign on your right. The turn-off is well before Ajuy proper. You travel down a dirt lane to the settlement of Mangorocoro and the Marbuena waiting shed and dock. If you are driving you may leave your vehicle here. If you’re leaving a vehicle overnight, check with the resort in advance to be sure someone will be there to look after your vehicle.
Mangorocoro is a small and peaceful barangay of Ajuy, Iloilo. The above photo shows the waterfront at Mangorocoro with the dramatic summit of Pan de Azucar Island in the distance.
Marbuena Island Resort Pump Boat
The charge for transportation to Marbuena Island is P1000, as of April, 2007. The boat was large, in good condition and well-manned. Getting on and off the boat involved some climbing and balancing so it might not be the best for the very elderly or infirm.
Marbuena can be considered one of the Conception Islands group. These several islands, many of them large, and some spectacular, have few tourist facilities and see few visitors. This is amazing given the beauty of these islands and the hordes of tourists at Boracay and other locations. Marbuena could be considered the “UnBoracay”, a quiet place where quiet and nature are the draws.
Approaching the beach, Marbuena Island, Iloilo
Bob and Carol in obligatory arrival photo. Marbuena Island Resort, Iloilo, Philippines
This photo shows the sandbar which extends out from the resort a considerable distance.
Marbuena Island Resort – Ajuy, Iloilo, Philippines. The resort owns the island. There are no other residences or residents on the island.
We were welcomed with buko, a fresh coconut with the top cut off so we could enjoy the juice. We had bought fish and crabs in Mangorocoro and brought them with us. We had stopped at the Culasi public market to buy our seafood there but there was not much variety or quality. Much of the good seafood is shipped to Iloilo and the small town markets get the leftovers. We’re told that local fishermen stop at the resort to sell seafood to guests. The staff will prepare and cook it for you.
The seafood we brought with us was expertly cooked by the Marbuena staff and nicely presented on banana-leaf lined baskets.
and a plate of small crabs. Marbuena Island Resort, Iloilo, Philippines
A real plus at Marbuena is a foot trail which circles the island. After lunch we set off with Marbuena employee Hazel as guide and company.
Fruits Bats, Marbuena Island, Ajuy, Iloilo, Philippines
Many trees were filled with noisy fruit bats. The fruit bats are eaten in the Philippines, cooked adobo style. However, the owners of Marbuena work to preserve the island and do not allow hunting or cutting of trees. Many urban Filipinos maintain their connection to life in the provinces, including owning and maintaining a provincial retreat.
Trees along the trail. Marbuena Island Resort, Ajuy, Iloilo Philippines
In so many locations in the Philippines the trees have been logged off and the forests really amount to scrubby brush. Therefore, it was a pleasure to see mature vegetation on our hike.
The trail follows the shore with beautiful vistas.
More trail vistas. Marbuena Island Resort
As the trail neared the resort at the end of the hike we saw thriving mangroves.
The Marbuena beaches offered good swimming.
Gabriel in the garden. Marbuena Island Resort
The grounds of the resort contain many Catholic symbols. The protection of the island as God’s creation thankfully appears to important to the owners.
Marbuena Island Resort: Accommodations
Here are some of the beach cottages. Some are air conditioned, some fan only. There are also two “tree house” cottages shown later. The fan accommodations (beach and tree house) are P500 PER PERSON. The air conditioned cottages are P2500 per ROOM. Electricity is available from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM. Contact Ninfa or Angie for reservations: 63-33-329-6798, mobile 0928-377-2731. Information as of late 2007. Marbuena’s website is: http://marbuenaisland.multiply.com/
View from balcony of one of the beach cottages. Marbuena Island Resort. Can you imagine a more peaceful place to spend an afternoon with a book?
Marbuena Resort staff member Hazel shows us the “Tree House” accommodations.
Picnic and napping shelter. You may come to Marbuena Island Resort as a day visitor for a fee of P100 per person.
The beach in front of the beach cottages with the sandbar in the distance. Marbuena Island Resort, Ajuy, Iloilo, Panay , Philippines
We stop to by nipa thatch on the way back to Iloilo City
A beautiful vista of rice being harvested in Ajuy, Iloilo on our way back to Iloilo City