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Braving Basilan: Malamawi Island Thrilling Escapade


Quite fearless and quiet. That’s how I can describe my feelings the night before and during our trip to Malamawi White Beach, Isabela City, Province of Basilan. Our visit was last April 24, 2017 and there is a holiday “Izra Wal Mi’Raj” a recognized Muslim legal holiday in the Philippines.


Overheard, some say that most of the time, whenever there is a holiday in Basilan a bombing incident always happen or grave terrorist acts. But we still go never hearing anything. My family knows that we were going that day to Basilan and my mind is made up that there’s no going back. Thoughts that are running in my mind during our way to Basilan, is about terrorist groups are everywhere in the city with guns blending in with the locals. But thankfully, I saw only a few people like our policemen and the army whose holding guns around Isabela City (the capital of Basilan).


Police mobile at Isabela City Port
Police mobile at Isabela City Port

Of course it’s hard to forget the bad history, present situation, the fear of terrorism for people living outside Basilan and who’s visiting for the first time. Well, the feeling of fear vanished when we’ve already reached the shores of Malamawi and there we saw a few more tourist coming in. For it was an incredible feeling to feel safe in Basilan and at the same time, wonder in the beauty of one of the Philippine islands.

If you’re a foreigner, better check first with the Department of Tourism regional office – Zamboanga Peninsula Region for Travel advisories if it is safe to travel near the date you’re planning to go. And get a trusted tour guide who have been there for a lot of times, who can also speak and understand Yakan and Tausug language.

Going to Isabela City

Houses over the sea, near the port of Isabela City, Basilan
Houses over the sea, near the port of Isabela City, Basilan

We rode the first trip of ordinary ferry from Zamboanga Port because we planned to be in Basilan from morning until the afternoon of right after lunch, and only to visit Malamawi Island.

Young boys of Basilan, dives for the coin you toss
Young boys of Basilan, dives for the coin you’ll toss

We’ve just arrived at Port of Basilan! (Yey!), and while our ferry is docking at the port, I’m fascinated(quite a scene) by how these boys dive under the sea and catch coins in a jiff. Notice also that one banca, it has no balancer just like what bancas we saw in Zamboanga going to Pink Sand Beach.

Fishes at Basilan, we bought a few to be grilled in the island
Fishes at Basilan, we bought a few to be grilled in the island

Going to Malamawi Island

After we’ve arrived in Basilan Port Terminal at Isabela City, we bought a few fish to be grilled for our sumptuous island lunch. Afterwhich, we travel again by the sea but this time it’s a quick one, about 10-15mins to Malamawi Island. It’s also in the same port just walk a few steps you’ll see the bancas going to Malamawi.




Port of Malamawi Island near Basilan Port Terminal, Isabela City
Port of Malamawi Island near Basilan Port Terminal, Isabela City


Upon arriving at the nearby Port of Malamawi Island, you’ll be welcomed by barkers offering a ride going to the beach or other places maybe in Malamawi? We rented a multi-cab instead of tricycle because we are a group of 11.






Beauty of Malamawi Island

The Hidden Paradise of Basilan! Malamawi Beach!
The Hidden Paradise of Basilan! Malamawi Beach!

A breath of fresh air! Away from the hustle and bustle of Manila, I’m left in awe of this island of the Philippines. Yas! All fear is gone by peace and tranquility that Malamawi beach view offers.


Shallow and crystal clear water of Malamawi Beach
Shallow and crystal clear water of Malamawi Beach

Testing out the waters, you’ll have nothing to say but it is of plain and clear view that you won’t mind tasting a bit while swimming? and yes it’s salty too because as far as you remember it is a beach right? So there you go. It is a kid-friendly beach for it has a long stretch of shallow part and going further you’ll get deeper slowly. Interestingly, there’s something in the water that I find enchanting. Because on some parts of the water that is above waistline level, you’ll feel cold and hot next to each other. Better look for your best swimming spot and find it magical to swim on it.



Malamawi Beach bridge and an on-going construction of port
Malamawi Beach bridge and an on-going construction of port

This beach is already developed and they already have cottages, rooms, and a restaurant. Still developing for more amenities and other activities in the near future. As a matter of fact, it is being promoted now as safe for tourists by the Government of Basilan.


How to get there

Fly to Zamboanga City International Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines that has daily flights going to and from Zamboanga. Take a jeepney going to Zamboanga City Hall and walk towards Zamboanga Port that is about 20-30mins ride from the airport.

Ride either Ordinary Ferry (Roll-On/Roll-Off) or Fast Craft going to Isabela City, Basilan.

When you’ve arrived at Isabela City Port, hop on over to banca (Isabela City Port to Malamawi Island) which is just a few steps from where your ship docked for Php 5/pax per way.

Upon stepping on Malamawi Island, choose your ride will it be habal-habal(tricycle) for Php 25/pax per way or Multicab for only Php 600 good for two-way ride already and it can accommodate about 10-12 people depending on the size of the multicab.

Ordinary Ferry (RORO) Schedule via Aleson Shipping Lines

The first trip from Zamboanga is at 6:30AM and going back from Isabela City, Basilan last trip is at 3:30PM. The trip is about 2hrs or less via ordinary ferry, while on fast craft is about 30-45 mins ahead.

Fast Craft Schedules(Zamboanga to Basilan and vice-versa) via Weesam Express
  • 6:45AM
  • 8:15AM
  • 9:30AM
  • 10:45AM
  • 12:45PM
  • 2:00PM
  • 3:30PM
  • 4:45PM
  1. Ordinary Ferry (Roll-On/Roll-Off) via Aleson Shipping:
    Economy – Php 60, Aircon – Php 70-80, Cabin – Php 90
  2. Fast Craft via Weesam Express:

FULL Php 210
SENIOR Php 170
MINOR Php 105

FULL Php 150
SENIOR Php 120
MINOR Php 75

Day Rate
Small Cottage: Php 300
BIG Cottage: Php 800
XL Cottage: Php 1,000
Night Rate
Small Cottage: Php 500
BIG Cottage: Php 1,000
XL Cottage: Php 1,200

Suite Room(Good for 3 person): Php 3,000
Deluxe Room(Goof for 2 person): Php 2,000

Entrance Fee: Php 30/pax adult, Php 15/pax child


Weesam Express: 09757814534 / 09165209982
Aleson Shipping: (062) 991-4258, 991-2687
Malamawi White Beach Resort: 09753071984 / 09177224793


  1. Take the first trip of ferry or fast craft to have more time exploring Basilan
  2. Do not to draw attention. Just be quiet and always go with your tour guide.
  3. It is advisable to bring your own lunch although there’s a restaurant where you can order food, grill something for you(like the fish we bought at the port). Better yet, grill your own food for there is an available grill near the cottages.
  4. Be brave and enjoy Basilan!


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RJ Ramirez
RJ Ramirez
Automation explorer, making daily lives easier one code at a time.

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