An island province best known for the colorful Moriones Festival, the bahay-na-bato-filled town of Boac, and the luxury island resort off its coast.
Marinduque is an island province located south of Luzon. It is circumnavigated by a scenic highway, and is accessible via RoRo from Quezon, making it one of the island destinations that can be visited on a road trip from Manila.
Marinduque has a number of beaches with areas for snorkeling, such as White Beach in Poctoy near Torrijos, and the Tres Reyes Islands off the coast of Gasan. It is also known for the luxury resort Bellarocca located on Elefante Island. Visitors also stay in the quaint capital town of Boac, which has well-maintained old houses and a brick church situated on top of a hill overlooking the town.
The biggest tourist attraction in Marinduque is the yearly Moriones Festival, which takes place during Holy Week. Other attractions include the dormant Mt. Malindig, which offers a five-hour trek for mountain climbers, and the Malbog Hot Springs near its base.
When to Go
The best time to visit Marinduque is during Holy Week, usually during March or April, to experience the week-long festivities of the Moriones Festival, which culminate on Easter Sunday. The summer months from March to May are the best time to travel if you intend to visit the beaches or outlying islands.
What to Do
Moriones Festival – The Moriones Festival is Marinduque’s main tourist draw. The festivities, which last the entire length of Holy Week and culminate on Easter Sunday, celebrate the life of the Roman centurion Longinus, who pierced Christ’s side during the crucifixion and converted to the Christian religion afterwards. Each town has its own events, all featuring colorful centurion masks and costumes.
Beaches – Many areas along the coastal ring road are lined with beaches, though these are mostly scenic spots and not bathing beaches. The most popular and longest stretch of beach on the mainland is White Beach at Poctoy near Torrijos. From the beach, you can see Mt. Malindig, and there is good snorkeling off the coast. Gasan south of Boac is also lined with beach resorts, and is the jump off point for the Tres Reyes Islands, a group of three islands with white beaches and nearby dive sites.
Sightseeing – The compact town of Boac has many old houses in the traditional bahay na bato form and a grand church on a hill. Visitors can take a quick walk around the town and end at the plaza, where the Marinduque Musuem is located. The small museum has exhibits explaining Marinduque’s history.
Mountain climbing – The dormant volcano Mt. Malindig is located in the south. Trekkers can make a five hour climb over a clearly marked trail that begins in Sihi, Buenavista.
Caving – Visit some of the seven caverns that comprise the Bathala Caves in Santa Cruz. There are bats and pythons, as well as some remains said to be those of World War II soldiers. You have to pay a fee to enter; after exploring, you can cool off in the natural pool near the caretaker’s house.
Hot springs – Enjoy the reputedly therapeutic effects of a soak at the sulphur springs of Malbog Hot Springs, located in Buenavista.
Butterfly farm - The WHS Butterfly Farm is a private butterfly farm in Pangi in Gasan, that breeds tropical butterflies. Visitors are welcome and can purchase live or dried butterflies.
Exclusive getaway – The luxury resort of Bellarocca is located on Elefante Island, which used to house a similar, Japanese owned, members-only resort. The resort occupies the entire island and has room and villa type accommodations. There is a small beach, and some watersports activities, such as kayaking, are available on the island; a golf course available for guests’ use is found on the mainland.
What to Buy
Arrowroot Products – Arrowroot cookies, turon, and polvoron are the main pasalubong products sold on the island.
By Air – Zestair has scheduled flights from Manila to the airport in Gasan.
By Boat – Montegro Shipping Lines, Starhorse Shipping Company, and Sta. Cruz Shipping Lines have RoRo vehicles from Dalahican Port in Lucena to Balanacan Port in Mogpog.
By Land – Jac Liner offers a direct trip to Marinduque from Manila via RoRo. Private vehicles can also take the RoRo.
The main mode of transportation within the towns of Boac and Sta. Cruz is by tricycle, though Boac is small enough to explore on foot. For farther distances, jeepneys make trips from town to town. Vans can also be hired to circumnavigate the island, which can be done in half a day.
Boac – Boac, the capital of Marinduque, is a small town laid out neatly in a grid and overlooked by a hill where a Spanish-era church is located. Boac is characterized by well-maintained old bahay na bato style houses. A number of basic accommodation options are available here.
Gasan – South of Boac is the town of Gasan, where the airport is located. This is the jump-off point for the Tres Reyes Islands, Melchor, Gaspar, and Baltazar. Gaspar Island is a marine reserve and has a white sand beach as well as good snorkeling and diving off its coast. Resorts in Gasan are concentrated along the coastal highway just outside Boac.
Buenavista – There are hardly any resorts on the mainland in Buenavista, but the island resort of Bellarocca is located off its coast. The resort’s golf course is also situated here.
Torrijos – The best beach on the mainland is White Beach in Poctoy near Torrijos. The area has a good view of Mt. Malindig. A number of resorts can be found here.
Sta. Cruz – Sta. Cruz used to be the center of industry when the now-defunct Marcopper Mining Company operated in Marinduque, just outside the town. Accommodations in Sta. Cruz can be used as a base from which to explore the surrounding Sta. Cruz Islands—Maniuaya, Mompong, and Polo—which offer a number of white sand beaches that have good snorkeling.
Mogpog - The Balanacan Port, through which most traffic passes via RoRo, is in the town of Mogpog.