Guide to Malamawi Island

Malamawi is an island just opposite Isabela City, across the kilometer-wide Isabela Channel. It used to be a separate municipality but it became part of Isabela. I was able to visit it again this December. 

We started the trip early; we were at the Zamboanga Port before 5am so we can get tickets, and by 6am we were underway. We arrived at Isabela before 7, and after breakfast at my cousin's place, we went back to the port again to take a banca across the channel to the island. 

We got a habal-habal that will take us around. From the market/port area we went up the hilly portion of the island where we had the 360° view of the island. On a fair day you can see Zamboanga and Sta. Cruz island from there. It will also give you a great view of White Beach - the primary reason for visiting Malamawi. 

One of the best-kept secrets in the area is the White Beach, a still pristine beach area, located at the northern side of the island. It is the most popular tourist spot in the island, and the go-to place for the brave souls who managed to venture to Basilan.

The beach is gorgeous! Sugary fine sand, as white as bleached flour. Cool tourquoise waters. Coconut trees lining the beach. It's as tropical as it gets. And because there aren't too many visitors that go to Malamawi, it is not very crowded too.

The city government tried to develop the place to entice more visitors and they added huts and other facilities now. There's even jetski and kayak rentals now, and even a zip line. 

I got the drone with me so I flew it as soon as we arrived, and the scenery is so easy to photograph. There aren't any bad angles, and almost every pic turned out great. Afterwards I then changed into my boardies to take a dip in the cool waters of Malamawi. 

How to get there
It is now easy to get to Basilan. The main gateway is Isabela City, accessible via fastcraft (Weesam) and RoRo ships (Aleson and Stephanie 2, to name two) sailing from Zamboanga City at a set schedule. The first voyage of Weesam is at 6am, while Stephanie leaves at 6:45am. The last trip is late afternoon, around 4pm, but that usually gets crowded. 

The fare for the RoRo is PhP 60 each way, the trip taking about one to one and a half hours. The fastcraft is faster, about 30 minutes, but more expensive, costing PhP 150 for a tourist accomodation, which gives you a seat in an airconditioned area. 

You'll also be charged PhP 11.00 for terminal fee in either port. You can take a day trip from Zamboanga City to Isabela, going there in the morning and back by afternoon. 

You may then take a boat from Isabela to Malamawi port, for PhP 5 per person. The schedule is variable, as the boats leave as soon as they have enough passengers.

Getting Around
The primary transportation in the island is the habal-habal, a motorcycle where you ride in tandem with the driver. Prices start at PhP50, and it would be prudent to negotiate with the driver before starting the trip. 

Things to do aside from the beach
You may check out the market while you're there. Fresh and dried seafood are very cheap and you can haggle some more.

There's also a lake in the island that could be interesting to see (didnt see it so there's not much I can say. There's also the burial sites of three cultural groups in the island, if you have morbid curiosities. 

Security Issues
Basilan is not the typical travel destination, even for Filipinos. The province has had a bad rap because of the activities of extremist groups that are holed up in remote villages of the province. While the security situation is not as dire as what the mass media is presenting, it would still pay to take precautions when visiting. I would not recommend it to foreigners, and Filipinos traveling there should stay inconspicuous and should try to blend in. In short, don't act like a tourist. Also avoid the areas outside of Isabela and Malamawi, so you can cross out Tipo-tipo, Maluso, Sumisip and Lantawan from your itinerary. 

Link backs: Pinay Explorer


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