More Than Just a Pretty Place: Malapascua

Malapascua is a water-surrounded gem located up north of Cebu. The island is regarded as one of the best diving spots in the world with its rich and colorful marine life. For most people, Malapascua is a go-to place for divers especially those who wish to swim with the thresher sharks in the Monad Shoal. Typically, Malapascua Island can be very well considered as a premier diving destination but the island actually has more to offer.

But first, let us start with the basics.

How to Get There

It takes at least 4 hours to get to the island and the trip starts at the North Bus Terminal. You can either take a Ceres bus bound for Maya or take the V-hire. The fare for an air-conditioned bus is at 180 pesos while you only need to pay 150 for a non-airconditioned one.

The 30-minute boat ride to the island is the final leg. The first trip starts at 6:30 in the morning while the last trip is at 3 in the afternoon. It is best to take the earlier trips to avoid big waves or any sudden weather changes. Boat fare is at 100 pesos per head, but you can also rent one to yourselves for at least 800 pesos (depending on your haggling skills) if you are traveling with a group.

Malapascua Island

Accommodations

Before you hop on a bus bound for Maya Port, it will be wise for you to book your accommodations in advance. There are plenty of resorts, hostels and inns to choose from for your stay there. It is best to set a budget and then research online for what set up could be most suitable to your needs. Checking for guest reviews is a plus for you to have a better idea of where you’ll be staying. 

Malapascua Island

While on the look out for budget-friendly places on the island, a must-visit is the Malapascua Budget Inn. Not only did they rank #1 for B&B and Inn in the well-renowned travel review site, TripAdvisor, they also have that homey atmosphere where you’d love to recharge after an eventful day. They have very accommodating staff and offer luscious seafood, if you will. You may reach them via email (malapascuabudgetinn@gmail.com) or SMS (+63 977 8203 111), or you can simply visit their website for booking reservations.

Malapascua Budget Inn Accommodation Rates

  • ₱2,000/night – airconditioned room good for 2 pax with own T&B (low-season rate at ₱1,300)
  • ₱2,500/night – airconditioned family room good for 4 pax with own T&B (low-season rate at ₱2,000)
  • ₱1,800/night – airconditioned room good for 4 pax with common T&B (low season rate at ₱1,500)
  • ₱400/head per night – fan room with bunk beds; rooms good for 4, 10 and 14 (free upgrade to AC room if fully booked; low season rate at ₱300/head)

*** Peak Season from September to May
*** Low Season from June to August
*** Rates do not include meals.

And now for the best part. Here are the top 5 activities that you can enjoy in Malapascua Island:

Dive!

Well, this is pretty obvious. If you have a PADI certificate or perhaps are adventurous enough to explore life underwater, then you definitely need to go on a diving trip. Malapascua has many diving shops that offer basic lessons and even tours for certified divers. You can do a quick online search beforehand so you can find the best diving school there and prepare your budget for the activity. Now will be the best time for you to conquer your fears and be a mermaid even just for an hour.

Photos: Pascal Kobeh / Kokay’s Maldito Dive Resort

Snorkeling

If diving is too much for your taste, then the next best option is to go snorkeling. You can charter a boat so you and your entourage can get to the deeper portions and explore the wonders of marine life. Boat rental usually starts at 500 pesos per person but it might be cheaper in groups.

Malapascua Island

Photo: Gusty Quintin / Sea Explorers

Cliff Jumping

If you live and breathe YOLO, then you will surely be thrilled to go jump off a cliff. This activity is definitely not for the faint of heart and the scaredy cats (hint: take it as a challenge). Just ask the boatman to take you to where the 50-foot cliff is or you can ask the locals to take you to the sweetest spot. But just in case you suddenly didn’t feel like having a death wish, don’t fret. Go on trekking instead, and enjoy the majestic view while you’re at it.

Island Hopping

A trip to Malapascua will never be complete without a short visit to its neighboring islets. This is also a great way for you to enjoy a sunset or sunrise riding a banca. You can ask the resort staff or some helpful locals to book you a ride.

Suggested Rates

  • Island Hopping with Free Use of Snorkel – ₱300/head
  • Trip to Kalanggaman with Lunch – ₱800/head (exclusive of the ₱150 entrance for locals or ₱500 for foreigners).

The Malapascua Sunset Cruise by Lee of Hippocampus offers a 3-hour sunset cruise that costs 1,000 pesos per person. The package already includes 6 drinks (alc), snacks and fruits, with photo and video coverage.

Happy Hour

With visitors from different parts of the globe, may it be foreign nationals, expats or Filipinos alike, we would all agree that having a glass or 2 (or more) of your favorite poison is probably the best way to end an action-packed day. Offered in several bars and restos on the island, happy hour usually starts at 4PM and ends at 6PM. So if you drink like a fish, then you probably will be more than tipsy by the time the offer ends.

Malapascua Island

Travel tips

  • Have enough cash because there are no ATM’s in the island.
  • Travel early to avoid bad weather or any boat schedule changes.
  • Book your accommodations in advance especially during peak season.


Herbert Kikoy
Herbert is a hobbyist photographer who has made a big shift to mobile photography. He is a frustrated cook and a wanderlust who wishes he had all the time he needs to explore what the world has to offer.