Our journey to Malapascua began at Cebus north bus terminal. Malapascua is a small island found just off the north tip of mainland Cebu. To get to the island you need to ride a bus which will take you directly to that point. From there you will need to take a ferry across to the island.
Personally, I spend a lot of time around the major cities in the Philippines; I usually find myself often hopping between Manila and Cebu. When I venture out into the provinces like this, I get the feeling of a somewhat different lifestyle than what I experience in the cities.
It feels nice to leave the 24/7 chaos of the city and experience what the Philippines is like away from the traffic and the high-density living of the beach. The bus ride from Cebu City to the Maya ferry terminal took about 5 hours; although it went quickly as I kept myself busy eating the snacks I brought for the journey.
The bus arrived directly outside the ferry terminal so we could almost directly transfer from the bus to the ferry. We were there with the islands pastor, who was a European man who could speak fluent Cebuano. It wasn’t long until we were on our way to the island.
The boat we were on was too big to get past the reef surrounding the island so to get to the shore we had to transfer all of our luggage to a small fishing boat which would then take us to the shore. I felt a little paranoid throwing all my luggage into such a small boat, but everything made it to the shore, so I was happy.
From there we were on our own. I began to ask locals for directions to the resort I had booked. It seemed like even if the people didn’t know where the resort was, they were still willing to help us because everybody seemed to be giving us completely different directions.
I then asked a boy who looked like he was about 4-5 years old. He just gave the nod and started walking so naturally, I followed him. Minutes later we were standing outside our accommodation; I was surprised the boy even understood me, let alone take us to the resort so quickly.
Now, as for the island itself, it did not take me long to fall in love with the place. The thing about a loaf of tourist destinations in The Philippines is that everybody already knows about them. If you go to El Nido, Boracay you can expect to be surrounded by a hoard of other tourists no matter where you go.
The thing about Malapascua is it is relatively unknown on the world stage. When travel media covers The Philippines the focus is usually on the traditional tourist destinations, so Malapascua is rarely mentioned. Most of the tourists there were either from the dive community or people from other areas of Cebu. There were almost no other kinds of tourists there.
This meant that we were able to walk around the island, visit its beautiful beaches and most of the time be the only ones there. The island has an active local population, so a lot of the time you could watch fisherman putting out their nets, or you would have the local school kids approaching you to say hi.
The island offers the perfect mix of everything you want as a tourist, picturesque beaches, delicious food and friendly service along with the experience of the traditional way of life outside of the metro area of the major cities.
Malapascua Legend Resort – This resort is the last in a line of resorts found on the main tourist strip on Malapascua. The Malapascua Legend is one of the more regularly recommended resorts as it offers relaxing private rooms surrounding a large central pool, high-quality service from professional staff, as well as breakfast daily in its fully operational restaurant. All of this comes at an affordable price compared to other resorts on the island, which makes the Malapascua Legend the go to resort for tourists on a budget.
Click here for the latest deals and prices for the Malapascua Legend Resort.
Hippocampus Beach Resort – This resort is another one of my favourites on the island. It is one of the mid-range resorts so you have access to the services you would expect from a resort. Daily housekeeping, wifi, hot water, complimentary breakfast as well as a private balcony for each room. For this particular hotel, I would pay the extra money to get a deluxe room. The ocean views, extra space and air conditioning are well worth the extra money.
Click here for the latest deals and prices for the Hippocampus Beach Resort.
Ocean Vida Resort – Although I have never stayed in this resort; from what I have seen and read, this is one of the better resorts on the island. Each room features air conditioning, wifi access as well as a private balcony or terrace. The resort has a fitness centre as well as offering spa and massage. I have dined at the resort’s restaurant and had a fantastic time on all occasions. They offer bean bags down on the beach with a small table for your food. So you can lay back enjoy a meal meters from the water.
Click here for the latest deals and prices for the Ocean Vida Resort.
Malapascua is the same as almost every other region of The Philippines, HOT. Pack for a stereotypical tropical island getaway, and you’ll be okay. Sunscreen is essential; I would put on sunscreen every 2-3 hours and still got quite burnt, so ensure you bring a good quality waterproof sunscreen.
There can also be some unexpected downfalls, I have been there on days where I have woken up to a beautiful cloudless day; then an hour or two later the island was hit with heavy rain and some intense winds. So it may be a good idea to bring along a small retractable umbrella.
Malapascua food prices
The food on the island was outstanding quality. If you are dining at one of the resorts you can expect a high-quality meal along with friendly service from all of the staff. Prices at the resorts are a little more expensive than the rest of the island as they are usually hosting the international guests who have come to dive. The prices at the resorts are still reasonable P250 – 400 per dish.
The prices at the resorts are still reasonable despite that, but if you are looking for a meal on a budget, you can find it amongst the local island community. Amongst all the houses there are a lot of smaller restaurants which offer good food at an extremely low price, you will find a lot of the locals dining in at these restaurants with you. They all offer friendly service with meals costing on average P100 – 150 per dish.
Activities and tours on Malapascua
Despite a lot of the visitors to the island being drawn in by the world class dive spots, there is still a lot on offer to those who may not be that way inclined. One of my favourite activities was taking a boat to one of the famous islands close by, Kalanggaman Island. Tour operators sit along the main walkway between the resorts looking for people to join their tours the following morning.
I approached one of the operators on the way home from a restaurant one night. All he asked for was my name and the resort I was staying at. The following morning he came directly to our room and escorted us over to the tour boat. The island itself was breathtaking. It looked like the kind of island you will see on a movie over in the Caribean.
The tour runs for the full day and is well worth the cost. You have plenty of time on the island to swim, explore and take photos. The price also includes lunch while you are there. I would not worry about trying to book anything ahead of time as there are plenty of operators on the island, so you will not struggle to find a spot on one of the boats.