Malamawi Island: Basilan’s Beach Paradise + Travel Guide 2020

We will return!

Everyone has their pick when asked which places are they more likely to visit again. For us, Malamawi Island is part of that list.

With this travel guide, we will open the curtain for this grandiose but underrated tourist destination in the south.


Malamawi Island is situated in the province of Basilan in Southern Mindanao. It is known for the previous conflicts with the rebel groups like Abu Sayyaf. Even at this day and time, many Filipinos keep themselves off in visiting this province in fear of safety and security. While we can’t change the fact that it happened and stained the province’s image, Malamawi Island is building its reputation as one of the most beautiful beaches in the Philippines.

Check out our video of Malamawi Island!

The White Sand Beach of Malamawi

Malamawi is roughly one kilometer away from Isabela City, the capital of Basilan. The long stretch of fine white sand and striking turquoise water of Malamawi are its best features. I remember upon arriving and seeing it up close, I was astonished and in the back of my head saying, “ang gandaaaa”. We’ve been to more than half of 81 provinces in the Philippines and we’re always surprised to see its ever-growing potential when it comes to tourism. We have a beautiful country indeed!

The beach walkway is a notable spot in Malamawi to see the clear water and coral rocks nearby. At the end of the path is a sunshade that serves as a view deck.

The beach offers a long shallow to deep coastal which is suitable for swimming.

With Malamawi’s growing popularity, the place was further developed to accommodate a big number of tourists. Rooms and open cottages are available. A small restaurant/cafeteria is nearby to serve food and snacks.

Surely, Malamawi should be on your bucket list!

Other Places To Visit in Basilan

Our original itinerary is going to Malamawi and Lamitan. While there was no regret in staying in Malamawi for the whole day, you may find other interesting places that are worth the visit when in Basilan.

View Deck

This place is near the Malamawi Beach. You can ask the resort staff or your habal-habal driver to bring you here to see the overlooking view of nearby islets and greens.

Bulingan Falls

This waterfall in Lamitan is one of the must-see attractions in Basilan that stands at 21 feet and has beautiful rock formations below it.

Lamitan Public Market

Find cheap but delicious native food in the pubic market and buy local products.

Lamitan Museum

See interesting facts and traces of the province’s rich history in this small museum in Lamitan.

Yakan Village

Meet and witness Yakan weavers create beautiful and authentic handwoven Yakan cloth and buy one or two for souvenirs. There are other local delicacies found in this village.

How To Get To Malamawi Island

Zamboanga City is the main gateway to Basilan and other nearby provinces.

Manila to Zamboanga City to Isabela City

From Manila, take a flight to Zamboanga City via Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines. Once you are at the airport, you can ride a tricycle or taxi to take you to the port.

There are fast crafts and ferries from Zamboanga City port to Isabela City with a daily schedule as early as 6:30 AM until 4:45 PM.

Fast craft’s travel time is 45 minutes to 1 hour. Ferries take about 2 hours. Both depend on sea conditions.

Weesam Express (fast craft) – Php180/head one way

Alesson Shipping ferry schedule is in the morning and afternoon with fare ranges from Php70 – Php100 for cabin, economy, and airconditioned types.

Isabela City to Malamawi

From Isabela City Port, ride a passenger boat for Php10 per head with a travel time of 10-15 minutes. You can rent the whole boat to yourself for Php100, but we suggest you wait for the other passengers so you can interact with the locals while on the ride and save money at the same time.

Once on the island, ride a tricycle for Php150 one-way or habal-habal for Php200 two-way. Travel time is 20-25 minutes. Make sure to get the driver’s contact number in case you need them to pick you up at a specified time.

If you are planning to go to Lamitan City, you can visit Malamawi first and then Lamitan or vice versa. You can check with the Tourism Office for more information or contact the following:

Kuya Yazer – 0935799295

Miss Michelle – 09054792819

Isabela City to Lamitan

If you choose to visit Malamawi first before heading to Lamitan, you can take this route.

From Isabela port, ride a tricycle going to the terminal. You can either choose the bus or van but riding a van is faster. Travel time is about 1 hour. Once in Lamitan, you can rent a habal-habal to take you to Bulingan Falls and other attractions nearby.

Zamboanga City to Lamitan

If you plan to visit Lamitan before Malamawi, this is your route.

From Zamboanga City port, ride a ferry going to Lamitan with fare starting from Php100 one-way. Travel time is 1 hour depending on sea condition.

Once you are done with your Lamitan itinerary, you can ride a van or bus going to Isabela City. From the terminal, ride a tricycle going to Isabela Port where you can now ride another tricycle or habal-habal to take you to Malamawi Beach.

Please note that Lamitan is part of our original itinerary but was not fulfilled as we chose to stay in Malamawi for the whole day. Lamitan and Malamawi can be completed in a day but it still depends on how long you plan to stay in each destination. And like in our case, the itinerary is just our guide. It is always subject to change.

Things to Consider

  • Make sure to know the schedules of fast crafts and ferries going to and from Isabela City. Best to buy your return tickets from Isabela City before going straight to Malamawi to secure your slot. This is a learning experience for us, we missed the last trip going to Zamboanga City as we believe 6 PM was the last trip but based on recent changes, it was moved to 4 PM/4:30 PM.
  • Private boat and speedboat are available in case you missed the ferries and fast craft. We paid for Php2,300 for a special trip from Isabela City to Zamboanga and had one of the most thrilling rides of our lives! Although you have this option, we don’t recommend having this ride for yourselves. It is still ideal to take the regular fast craft and ferry.
  • Network signal is available.
  • Malamawi is relatively uncrowded so you will enjoy the calmness of the beach and its scenic view.
  • Restaurants in Malamawi may be closed at times depending on tourist counts, so make sure to buy extra food.
  • Cottage is now required in Malamawi even on a day tour.
  • Respect the locals and their cultures.
  • Avoid wearing revealing dresses.
  • Buy local products and souvenirs.
  • Do not litter. Bring your trash with you or put it in proper trash bins.
  • Protect your gadgets, bring waterproof bags, apply sunscreens, sunglasses, etc.
special boat rented to Zamboanga, perfect sunset along the way

Common Expenses

Weesam Express (fast craft) – Php180/one-way
Passenger Boat Fare – Php10/head
Tricycle – Php150/one-way
Malamawi Entrance Fee – Php40/head
Cottage – Php400/day tour

Entrance Fee, Cottage and Room Rates

With Reservation
Php35 – entrance fee
Php350 – cottage rental

Without Reservation
Php40 – entrance
Php400 – cottage

Overnight with Reservation
Php55 – entrance fee
Php550 – cottage rental

Deluxe Room (good for 2 pax)
Php2,000 per night w/ breakfast

Mini-Barkada Room (good for 4 pax)
Php2,500 per night w/ breakfast

Barkada Room (good for 10 pax)
Php4,000 per night w/o breakfast
Php4,500 per night w/ breakfast.

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