Malapascua Island, Cebu, Philippines

Malapascua sunset skies have swept me off my feet. The little island up in the north of Cebu province, brags its beautiful white sand beach and friendly locals. The home for thresher sharks, it also has beautiful dive sites teeming with life and a number of unique marine species that are rare to find. I will always remember Malapascua as a serene island with welcoming faces and attractions that suffice every nature lover from around the globe.

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I went to Malapascua a year ago, after I left Singapore for good. Malapascua was the first in my itinerary of a 2-month-long backpacking around Visayas. The goal was, of course, to see the very endangered Thresher sharks swimming at Monad Shoal every sunrise for their cleaning routine. Plus, I’ve heard the marine life around Malapascua are must-sees.

Going To Malapascua:

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I took a flight from Manila to Cebu City via Philippine Airlines. You can also choose from a number of budget airlines flying to Cebu such as Cebu Pacific and AirAsia Zest. If you’re coming from Cebu’s neighbouring islands of Negros Oriental, Siquijor and Bohol, you can take a ferry to Cebu City. On low seasons, you can directly go to the terminals and book your ferry trips spontaneously without advanced booking.

From Cebu City, find the north-bound Ceres bus terminal and take the one that goes to Maya Port. Fare is less than Php200 for both air-conditioned and non-airconditioned. The whole trip with a view of beautiful landscape of lush green fields will take up to 4 hours.

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At Maya Port, you have to take a public motorised bangka going to Malapascua for Php80 plus porter fees boarding in and out of the boat if you need help with your luggages. You can also hire a private boat for approximately Php4000 or depending on how much you can haggle. From Maya Port to paradise is approximately 30 minutes.

Where I Stayed:

Malapascua is a touristy island too as it is very popular majority for scuba divers. Hence, accommodation is not very limited though I suggest you book it in advance. Either you want to cost-save or splurge, there are plenty of accommodations available from end to end of Bounty Beach ranging from Php500 to Php3500, or more, per night for a private room with own toilet and shower. I decided to get a small private room at BB’s Lodge worth P500 per night, not beach front area but doesn’t matter coz the island is small, the beach is just a few minutes walk.

Where I Boozed and Munched:

If you don’t mind spending, you can devour on Filipino cuisine in restaurants facing the beach. Western dishes are available too. However, for a backpacker like me, I usually eat at the local eateries called carinderia and enjoy home cooked meals. Sometimes, I go to a small retail stores grilling sticks of pork barbecue or sausage, buy rice and a tiny plate of veggies and ta dah, a meal that satisfies my koboy pinay soul.

Ging-ging’s restaurant is a popular place among the tourists with affordable food too, however I find the waiting time too long, almost always take them 1 hour to serve the food from the time you ordered.

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Spaghetti with meatballs Filipino style at Ging-ging’s. . Usually garnished with hard broiled egg.

Another local buffet I frequented was the La Isla Bonita restaurant. The prices were very affordable too just like the local carinderia with a restaurant ambience.

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Malapascua is a very quiet island. Despite that there are many tourists, it is not as loud as Boracay. So don’t expect an epic party by the beach. However, there is usually a fun crowd at Kokay’s Maldito. Plus, their famous kinilaw, raw fish cooked in vinegar which is my favourite dish at Kokay’s, is sooooo muy delicioso.

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What I Did:

1. SCUBA Dive

Thresher sharks are enough reason to dive while there. Monad shoal is the only dive site in the world with daily sightings of thresher shark. One must be super unlucky and the bearer of bad luck if you don’t see them on 2 consecutive days of diving. The chance of seeing them is 99.99%. 🙂 I dove with the Sea Slug Divers as the instructor who used to work there was a friend of mine I knew while diving the waters of Singapore. They have the cheapest rate I’ve seen in the island so good for me. With a diverse population, you can choose a dive center along Bounty Beach with instructors who can speak your language.

Check out my amateur video clips of my Malapascua dive here , from 00:00 to 1:29.

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The famous but endangered Thresher shark. A bit of advise, avoid diving during the touristy season (December to May), as you want to avoid large groups of divers. You don’t wanna be waiting 30m under for the Thresher shark to come only to take a photo of heaps of bubbles from divers waiting in front of you.
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Nato Island. The marine life around this little island is just astounding! ❤

2. Got a Massage

The most affordable massage by the beach I have ever had. In front of Malapascua Legend Resort just along the Bounty Beach is a group of women offering full-body Swedish massage for just Php350. They are really friendly, after the massage they even asked me to join them for lunch at a carinderia. Pinoy hospitality! IMG_3672

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3. Flew a Kite. . I mean, watched the people flying a kite. 🙂

And don’t worry about the rain. For a week that I stayed there, it only rained at night and daytime gives you the summer tropical feel. Could be windy at times though and clouds can get a little gloomy. But no worries, just fly a kite. 😀

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4. Enjoyed the Beach. 

coz, duh? It’s beautiful!

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5. Side Trip to Kalanggaman Island, Leyte.

One of the most photographed island in the Philippines famous for its long sand bar during low tide, this island from the province of Leyte, Philippines is so pretty! Small boats from Malapascua offer a day tour to Kalanggaman for approximately Php2000. I will write my Kalanggaman experience in a separate post.

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6. Took Lots of Photos of Sunset Skies and Mingle With the Locals.

I have mentioned it above already. I just fell in love with the sunset skies while in Malapascua. I got sick half of the week of my stay there but never did I miss to witness the transition of bright blue skies of the day to the darkness of the evening. It’s just so mesmerizing, like skies from different planets as imagined in the movies.

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A few useful tips:

  1. always bring with you loose money in Pesos. You may wanna give the porters a tip (actually they expect you to pay them) when they carry your luggage no matter how light it is.
  2. Don’t worry about data coverage. There are 2 cell sites in the exotic island serving Smart and Globe telecoms. I was using Globe that time and internet speed was not that bad (mind you I am comparing it with Singapore speed, which is the fastest in South East Asia. Lol).
  3. Party with the locals on a Saturday night. I was told the island usually holds a party at a small basketball court around the neighbourhood (I experienced it the first time I was there like 4 years ago). Locals and tourists enjoy beers and the company of each other while a loud song of boom-boom-pow is played by the DJ. Later, the song will change to Lambada and you’ll see grannies dancing the cha-cha step. They’re really cute! 🙂
  4. This is not a nude beach. The locals are conservatives. Though they are used to seeing tourists in bikinis all the time, sun bathing with absolutely no clothes on is something I wouldn’t recommend.
  5. And as usual, respect the locals and the island itself.

 

PS. I wish I brought my DSLR with me during the trip. All photos are mine taken using iPhone 6S plus.


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