Updated November 30th, 2017.
A tiny island at the northern tip of Cebu, Malapascua was deemed to be the next Boracay in around 2006. In reality Boracay scale development would never be possible on such a small island, but the cluster of resorts along the main white “Bounty Beach” are an amazing peaceful place to relax. Diving wise, people come here to see the Thresher sharks and then some. Beach wise, people come here to escape the hustle and bustle of Boracay and while away their hours in a hammock. There’s a floating bar and a beach made for spectacular sunsets adding to the low key vibe of this paradise.
Places to Stay
Most of the beach resorts on the island are owned by a mixture of Europeans who discovered the island and decided to set up shop here. Danao Beach Resort (which is actually Philippines owned) is one of the cheapest resorts on the main Bounty Beach at just 1200Php a night. But a tip for those budgeting backpackers amongst us, the small nipa-style beach huts are all you need to enjoy the place. Italian owned Teppan Beach Resort is also very nice if you want to splash out for a few nights. There’s some great restaurants around, although if authentic Filipino food is what you’re after this will be harder to come across. Celtis Resort is also nice and you can pick up a fan room for 1200Php here as well, although it is slightly further back from the beach.
What to do
- Dive to see the thresher Sharks: You’ve got to watch what you’re up to the night before as it will have to be an early rise if you’re keen to get a sighting. The thresher sharks normally dwell in deep ocean, beyond diving capabilities, however in the early morning they come closer to the surface near the island of Monad Shoal to be cleaned of parasites by shallower fish.
- Take a pump boat: Visit the beautiful island of Calangaman, 2 hours from Malapascua (another amazing dive spot).
- Visit the lighthouse: Take a walk up to the lighthouse that looks out over the island of palm trees, white sand beaches, local huts and beach resorts.
- Get Local: If it’s the weekend and if you like to drink Tanduay (rum), sing karaoke and get to know locals (highly recommended) then visit the village disco. The island is small and motorbikes are the best way to get around, although in most cases you can get anywhere you need on foot, including the village. The locals have had to share their island with tourists for many years now and consequently seem to have embraced it.
- Chat with fishermen: Take a walk past the many banca boats being made on the island and talk to fishermen, their stories are incredible.
How to get there
Malapascua is approximately 4 hours by bus from Cebu. Ask to go to the Ceres terminal and pay 130P for the bright yellow bus that will transport you out of busy Cebu and into sugar cane country. From the northern tip of Cebu it is about a 20 minute banca ride to Malapascua, although it may take longer if the weather is bad. Try not to get scammed into a “private” hire tourist boat which won’t seem so private when half the population of Malapascua who have been visiting the mainland for the day climb aboard…
Where to next?
- Bantayan Island: Just a couple of hours hop away by Banca or head back to the Cebu mainland for some more exploring.
- Moalboal: A great option, although you may like to overnight in Cebu if you don’t like 6 plus hour bus rides.