Malapascua Island, a tropical diving paradise in the Philippines
Malapascua Island is located on the northern tip of Cebu Island and has a lot to offer for such a small island that is only 3 kms long and 1km wide. It is well-known for being a diving paradise that can be found in this part of the Philippines. Divers and holiday makers from all over the world are attracted to Malapascua’s beauty and its wonderful underwater attractions
Far away from mass tourism Malapascua Island offers a relaxing and tranquil experience. White sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, swaying palm trees, fresh ocean air, friendly laid back locals, it’s the perfect place to escape the stress of daily life and enjoy this beautiful tropical island.
Anyone who wants to experience a Cebu resort in an area that is free from thousands of tourists will love Malapascua Island . There is a beach resort on the island to suit every visitor who wants to experience this most beautiful part of the Philippines. For further reading please visit my Malapascua Blog.
See where Malapascua ranks in my Top 10 tourist attractions in Cebu video
Unique Experiences of Malapascua Island
Malapascua Island has some awesome underwater attractions that are of great interest to divers. The Thresher shark draws divers from around the world who go to the island just to see it. It is one of the few places in the world that you can see the shark on almost a daily basis. Head out to Monad Shoal early in the morning where the thresher shark come to be “cleaned” by the many cleaner wrasse schooling on top of the reef. The shoal ranges from 12 m (at the top) to 28 m with a sheer drop off down to 45 m. It’s possible to catch sight of giant manta rays, octopus and lion fish. Even on land you can’t escape these thresher sharks with hundreds of souvenir t-shirts, wood carvings and necklaces for sale across the island. Other diving spots around Malapascua are Gato Island, a marine reserve and sea snake sanctuary. A great dive site with many soft corals with numerous marine life that you’re likely to encounter such as branded sea snakes, pygmy seahorses, big mouth mackerel, white tip reef sharks and frog fish to name a few. It is also a wreck diving spot where World War II Japanese wrecks can be seen. A passenger ferry that sunk in a typhoon 20 years ago is over 100 m long, with the hull being covered with blue and red soft coral. Marine life that can be seen are Colemani shrimp, scorpion fish and stingrays. Other great dive sites include Chocolate Island (stunning hard and soft corals), Light House (Mandarin fish, seahorse, bobtail squid and big crabs) and Bantigue (great for micro).
Malapascua Island isn’t necessarily only for divers either, non-divers have plenty of things to enjoy and do. Bounty Beach is the main beach and where most of Malapascua resorts, bars and restaurants are located. The beach offers the tourist a lovely stretch of white sand and crystal clear waters. It’s just perfect for sun baking, swimming and relaxing. When the sun goes down the beach is a superb place for some picture perfect sunsets, or barring that enjoy a cocktail from the floating bar as the sun sets behind you. With its nearby islands of Carnassa, Lamanok (2 small island joined by a sand bank, if you attempt to cross be careful of the strong ocean current that flows between the islands, better done in low tide. There are fishermen on the island and you can buy their local fresh catch of the day.) Kalanggaman (also spelt as Calangaman, a beautiful little island that’s 1 to 1 and half hours boat ride – entry to island 500 for foreigner/150 for Filipino. Camping is allowed on the island too. Overnight 750 P for foreigners and 225 P Filipinos) and Higatangan (around 2 hours boat ride. The island has a beautiful little sand bar (see video) and it’s worth exploring Higatangan Island as well. The island only has power for 4 hours a day so don’t expect any cold beers! There is a little laid back village with friendly locals and a small resort Higatangan Island Resort a place to truly get away from civilisation.). Malapascua offers some wonderful island hopping day trip opportunities. It’s a true tropical island getaway!
Kalanggaman Island Video Guide
Malapascua is small enough to walk around (approx a few hours) with many photo opportunities. The island interior is filled with a network of sandy maze like paths that lead to different parts of the island from sleepy fishing villages to idyllic deserted bays. There is always a friendly local willing to show you around or point you in the right direction.
Video Spotlight : Malapascua Legend Resort. More details on this resort here
See some of my favourite resorts in Malapascua Island as well as other parts of Cebu.
The accommodation in Malapascua has been rapidly changing as the island grows in popularity. Rooms range from simple cottages up to luxury resorts with swimming pools. Most of the resorts in Malapascua are located on Bounty Beach a lovely stretch of white beach sand. What makes Malapascua so great is generally everything is in walking distance, so whatever resort in Malapascua you stay, it’s only a short walk to the restaurants, bars or dive shops. The whole strip along Bounty Beach can be walked in around 15 minutes. For cheaper resorts in Malapascua, like anywhere else in the world try searching behind the main beach, most are within 5 minutes walk of Bounty Beach. Hideaway Resort has 2 small really cheap cottages, K 5 Bamboo cottages have some cheap fan or aircon rooms just behind Oscars (Thresher Shark Dive Shop). BB lodging has some simple cottages, Matterhorn has a few decent rooms, while Purple Snapper has some cheap backpackers rooms. On Bounty Beach, Cocobana, Daño Beach Resort and Mike and Diose’s Beach Cottage all offer simple basic accommodation at reasonable prices. For more upmarket resorts, Legends with its huge pool and modern spacious rooms or Ocean Vida’s beachfront rooms are great. There is more than enough choice for every ones taste in accommodation. For the full list and more details on Malapascua Resorts, below is a list complete with photos/video and info.
Cocobana Resort Malapascua read more here
Dive shops: Divelink Cebu tel(63 32) 437-0044 mobile 0927-2470723 , Evolution Dive Centre mobile 0917 628 7333/0917 328 4350 web: http://www.evolution.com.ph/ , Fun & Sun web: http://www.funsundivetravel.com/ , Exotic Dive shop tel (63 32) 437 0983 web: http://www.malapascua.net/, Sea Explorers tel (63 32) 234 0248 web http://www.sea-explorers.com/ , Thresher Shark Divers (TSD) mobile : 0927 612 3359 web: http://www.malapascua-diving.com/ , DAN Dive tel (63 32) 632 1077.
Lawihan Festival from the word Lawi meaning thresher shark. Held in May every year.
In general, the restaurants in Malapascua are pretty good with a wide variety of cuisines (international and local). Most of the restaurants are easy walking distance from the resorts, so you shouldn’t have an issue finding a place you like. The prices are higher on Bounty Beach with the exception of Mabuhay Restaurant and Bar which has a nightly (cheap) buffet, although the food is just ok. Next door to Oscars is a local barbeque stall which has cheap Filipino bbq meats. Ging Gings Flower Garden behind the main beach has some of the best value dishes on the island. Best Italian restaurant has to be Angelina’s on Poblacion Beach. Maldito’s is a fun place to eat and great atmosphere. During the dryer months, the resorts/restaurants set up tables/chairs and beanbags along the beach in front of their establishments and are a great place to enjoy the fresh sea breezes while you enjoy a drink or meal. Around Ocean Vida Restaurant is extremely popular place with tourists to do this. Below is a list of the restaurants.
Travel from Cebu to Malapascua
It’s about a 4 hour bus trip from Cebu City (from northern bus station near SM) to the port of Maya. Catch the Ceres Bus liner (yellow colour approx P 170 aircon or P 163 regular ) they have both air con and non aircon and they drop off right at the pier (port of Maya) to catch the pump boat to Malapascua (80 Peso). If you catch a taxi from Cebu City to Maya don’t pay more than P 3000.00. Low tide you will need take another small boat onto the pump boat (another charge 20 Peso) as the pump boats cannot dock. Pump boats leave every 30 mins to an hour depending on passengers, so you may have to sit for a while. Scammers will try to tell you these boats are not running and try to get you to pay 1500 for the special trips. This happens on both sides (ie Malapascua too) the only time Pump boats don’t run when you arrive late in the afternoon or in bad weather. You can arrange boat pick up at Maya with most hotels (check with hotel when making reservation) you can also arrange pick up from Cebu Airport. It’s about a 30 minute ride to Malapascua on the boat. You usually will arrive on Poblacion Beach (a 5 minute walk to Bounty Beach). Going back to Maya, there is an 8.30 am supply boat that leaves from Bounty Beach (near Blue Water Resort) and they charge P 100.00, locals will help to get the right boat. If you miss the boats going from Maya to Malapascua or they are cancelled due to bad weather there is Richelle Pension House at the pier offering some very basic rooms (cell 09078198729).
History of Malapascua
The Spanish first arrived on the island during a bad storm around Christmas time and the name Malapascua means bad or unfortunate Christmas (in Spanish).