The Philippines is one of the world’s largest archipelago nations in the world. Because of this, the country is rich in biodiversity—mountains, terrains, and coastal areas. One of the tourists’ go-to is Boracay which has made its reputation a true island paradise because of its beautiful white sand and aquamarine water—and that’s in the Visayas. What if you see the same beauty in a less traveled road found in a notorious province in southwestern Mindanao?

Basilan Island is the largest and northernmost of the major islands of the Sulu Archipelago. Amidst its notorious reputation of bombing, terrorists, and chaos that the media broadcasted, unknown to many, Basilan is home to a spectacular Boracay-like paradise called Malamawi Island.

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Photo by Jan Michael Fernandez

Worth the Travel

Just off the southern coast of the geographic Zamboanga Peninsula, you can take a ferry or fast craft as early as 6:45 am routed to Basilan. Make sure to dress right—long pants and sleeves—so you will not draw any attention as well as mere respect to the Muslim culture who are known to be conservative especially on exposing skins. 

Upon arriving at Basilan Port, you can take an outrigger boat for as low as 5 pesos to get to Malamawi Island about a 10-15minutes ride. Hiring either a single motor or tricycle for 100 pesos one-way, you will arrive at the destination after 30 minutes where you will be greeted with a long stretch of white fine sands and inviting clear water.

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Photo by Alvin Rex Lucero
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Photo by Jan Quita

Scenic and Breath-Taking Nirvana

Opposite to what the media and say-say on how dangerous Basilan is—or Mindanao as a whole for what matter—seeing Malamawi for the first time will make you realize that most gems are found is in off-beaten roads. The crystal clear blue water just beyond the long stretch of white sand features a concrete pier perpendicular to the shore.

The pier is one of the best spots to flaunt your OOTD like a runway to paradise. Lined with colorful flags, the walk towards the end is built with a triangular roof where you can take photos with nothing in your background but the deep blue sea horizon meeting the cloudy sky. Such a view!

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Photo by Alvin Rex Lucero
Photo by Nyxzar

The Marine Sanctuary

There is more to the amazing façade of Malawi. The rich coral reef and aquatic life below is a plus! Don’t forget to bring your snorkels and paddle fins to explore the bottom of the sea. The colorful reefs abundant of fishes is worth the dip. Tiny crabs lazily crawl here and there; you definitely can’t get enough with what Malamawi can offer.

If you wish to spend the night on this humble Island of Malamawi, they have affordable rooms for rent. However, coordinate first with the Office of Tourism in Isabela to secure a place you can sleep through reservation. Somehow, even if you only spend a day, it’s more than enough to get a peek at the beauty of Basilan beyond the negative image portrayed by the media. The trip to Basilan is worth it for those with brave hearts to discover the less-traveled road.




  • Entrance fee: P30 per head
  • Opening hours: Open Daily, 24hours


  • Cottages/Rooms: 300php-800php

Other Information:


Exact location: Malamawi Island, Isabela City, Basilan


Zamboanga City to Basilan

Zamboanga City is the gateway to Isabela City and Malamawi Island. There are fast crafts and ferries from Zamboanga City Port to Isabela City as early as 6:30AM to as late as 4:45PM daily.

FERRY: Aleson Shipping has two ferry departures daily, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Fare ranges from P60 to P100 depending on type of accommodation (economy, aircon and cabin) for at approximately two hours of voyage.

FAST CRAFT: Weesam Express has at least six departures daily. Fare is at P150 and travel time is around 45 minutes.

Isabela City to Malamawi Island

 From Isabela City Port, transfer to an outrigger boat for only P5, travel time is 10 to 15 minutes. There are numerous boats on the boat so schedule is not a problem.

At Malamawi Island, transfer to a single motorcycle (P50 one-way) or tricycle (P100 one-way) to Malamawi White Beach Resort.

BY CAR: Unfortunately, you cannot bring your private vehicle in Malamawi Island. It is a advisable to leave your car in Zamboanga City Port.

Looking for a place to stay in this island? Click here to get the best room deals.

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