discoveries in malapascua

they called it “bad christmas”, hence, the name “malapascua”.


malapascua sunsety
photos by: zsolt

which is actually very ironic as there is nothing bad about the scenery of this island 8km. northeast of cebu mainland. this is not as popular as its neighbouring island, Bantayan, but for divers around the world, this is known to be the place where you have a good chance of seeing the famous thresher sharks.

that was why zsolt and i went there. to see the threshers. and the mantas. and yes, a little bit of R&R on the sideways.

we didn’t get any of those. it was not a season for manta rays. and the thresher sharks were a hit-or-miss thing. we have to wake up really early to try our luck, thus, we are already scrambling on our feet as early as 5am. electricity doesn’t run 24 hours (6pm to 6am). the water is brackish. it was a good long bus ride from Cebu City.

did we love it?



malapascua bantigue
photos by: zsolt

there is something about malapascua that relaxes the mind. the locals are friendlier (sure there are those who tries to rip you off but it wasn’t that bad like in the case with boracay or panglao) and because the island is so small, the residents know everybody. some afternoon, zsolt and i share a hammock and finish our cocktails (which comes in two- the benefits of happy hour!). other times, we watched the sunset from our cottage or rent a motorcycle to tour the island.

sunset at malapascua
photo by: zsolt

the dives, even without the threshers and the mantas, were quite impressive. Gato Island, an hour’s boat ride from Malapascua, is macro haven. there were so much stuff to see and as much as i want to express it here in such photographic details, i couldn’t. there were reef sharks, too (though i wasn’t really thrilled about it. they were inside the cave and they were small). i like the macro stuff. the nudibranches were beautiful. the critters entertaining. and the rest superbly in camouflaged on the corals!

that, and the obvious feeling of being so far away from civilization. no cars. no pollution. no hurried, strained faces. no yuppies in their grownup office attires holding starbucks coffee cup. just me and zsolt. and 24 hours of time that seem to tick slower than usual.

photo by: zsolt

how does one backpack to malapascua?

we did and i can tell you it isn’t as hard as i thought it was. taking the early morning bus trip from cebu (CERES LINER) would cost you Php65(US$1.45) and will drop you to the town of Maya 3.5 hours later. the trip is expected to be longer and less comfortable if you leave cebu much later, so you wouldn’t want to do this. from Maya, boats regularly cross over to Malapascua Island every hour until 4-5pm and will cost you Php25(US$0.56)

once you are in Malapascua, you can check the resorts for their rates and accommodation types. this is not advisable during peak seasons such as christmas and holy week. but other times than that, you shouldn’t be having problems. there are cottages from 500-2000. zsolt and i stayed the first night at hippocampus resort but transferred to the more private and secluded Bantigue Cove Resort (we fell in love with cottage#1 which overlooked the beach and the ocean and the sunset perfectly sat down within the corners of its balcony).

there is no shortage of restaurant choices although i would like to specifically mention “la dolce vita”, an authentic italian resto that has been there for ages. the rest of the restaurants shared more or less the same dishes in their menu list and are within the Php150-Php290 range, although i had a chance to look at Sunsplash Resto and found their prices higher than the rest.

massage is Php300/hr and you do get your money’s worth. it is something you shouldn’t miss when you are in the island. also, motorbike rental is Php500/day and you can rent this from just about anybody. zsolt and i had fun getting lost in the island (seriously, all their small roads look alike!) with kids running after us waving their hands in glee. there are also nearby islands that are deserted which could be worth a boat trip; we skipped this one though, the beach strip at Bantigue Cove is deserted enough for us.


there is something to be said about a destination so private and beautiful you have to take an effort to discover it. malapascua is a place of that sort.

rightfully so.


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