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Malapascua (Cebu): Complete Guide to a Snorkeling and Diving Paradise

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Similar to Moalboal, Malapascua Island is known as a diving destination. It’s best known for Monad Shoal, a dive spot near the island where you can see thresher sharks up close.

That saying, there are other activities you can do in Malapascua aside from diving. In fact, a lot of regular tourists come here for a day or two especially as it’s close to Bantayan Island, a beach destination about 2-3 hours away from boat. For the everday tourist, Malapascua is a tropical destination where they can bum in decent beaches, island hop, and enjoy nightlife in seaside bars. It’s also a jump-off point to other islands: Kalanggaman, Gato and Capitancillo.

Here’s a complete travel guide to Malapascua Island in Cebu!

Overview of Malapascua Island

Malapascua is a small island known for its dive spots. It’s part of Barangay Logon in Daanbantayan, in the northern part of Cebu.

Malapascua Island in Cebu

Here are some things you need to know about Malapascua Island:

  • Malapascua Island is so small that you can explore it via habal-habal in about 20-30 minutes.
  • Bounty Beach is the dock site and main beach area in Malapascua. Here you can find a number of resorts, dive shops and eateries.
  • There is no ATM in the island, but you can withdraw from Mabuhay Resort for a fee. It’s recommended to bring everything you need before going here.
  • Malapascua Island is more expensive compared to other islands in Cebu, since a lot of necessities including water have to be imported from the mainland.

When to visit

The best time to visit Malapascua is during dry season (December to June). During the summer (April to May), expect crowds especially on weekends.

How to get here

From Cebu City

Cebu City is the most common gateway to Malaspacua. Travel time is about 4-5 hours.

  • Take a local flight to Mactan Airport (Cebu).
  • From the airport, take a MyBus to the North Bus Terminal. Schedules are 7AM to 11AM (departs every 30 min) and 11AM to 9:30PM (departs every 20 min). Fare is P25 per person. You can also get a Grab or taxi.
  • From the North Bus Terminal, take a van (3 hours, about P230 per person) or bus (4 hours) to Maya Port.
  • From Maya Port, ride a boat to Malapascua Island (30 minutes to 1 hour depending on sea condition, P100 per person). Boat departs from 5:30AM to 6PM every 30 minutes. You may also charter a private boat (P1500-2000, good up to 10 people or more).

From Maya Port, you will arrive in Bounty Beach. From there, you can walk or hire a habal-habal to your accommodation.

Here are some things to note:

  • If you’re bringing a car with you, you can park it in or near Maya Port. It’s not possible to bring any car over to the island since there are ferries huge enough to take them.
  • During bad weather, the boat fare from Maya Port to Malapascua and vice versa may increase from P100 to as much as P400 per person, due to demand-and-supply and the possibility that the coast guard may immediately stop operations.
  • Observe the weather especially if you’re staying during ber-months. If there are LPAs affecting the province, the coast guard may halt boat operations and there’s a possibility of getting stranded in the island. During bad weather, I suggest getting the first ride from Malapascua back to Maya Port, at about 7AM in the morning since cancellations are usually announced in the afternoon.
  • During the boat ride back to Maya Port, if it’s low tide you may need to transfer to a paddle boat to get to the shore. Fare is P20 per person.

From Bantayan Island

There are 2 ways to get from Bantayan to Malapascua:

  • Long route: From Bantayan Island, take a boat back to Hagnaya Port. From there, take a bus to Maya Port. From Maya Port, take a boat to Malapascua Island. With this route, it will take you about half a day to get to Malapascua.
  • Easy route: Charter a private boat from Bantayan to Malapascua. Travel time is 2-2,5 hours depending on sea conditions. Rate is P1900-4000, depending on your haggling skills. I recommend looking for a private boat with a backload (scheduled pick-up of passengers from Malapascua to Bantayan) since it is cheaper compared to those doing special trips.

How to get around

As said above, Malapascua is a small island. If you’re staying near Bounty Beach, most establishments including restaurants and dive shops are walking distance from each other.

To get to other parts of the island, you may flag down a habal-habal (motorcycle). Min fare is P30.

There are no tricycles or other vehicles in the island, since the roads are usually narrow and kept as rough roads.

Things to do in Malapascua Island

1. Diving

There are over 20 dive spots in Malapascua Island.

Diving in Malapascua
Diving in Malapascua.

Diving in Malapascua

The most famous one is Monad Shoal or Shark Point, about 30 minutes away from the island. This is where you can see thresher sharks up close. Thresher sharks normally live in deeper parts of ocean at about 200 meters down. Monad Shoal is a sunken island that serves as a cleaning station for the thresher sharks by small wrasse fish, so you can see them at about 25 meters deep only. There are daily sightings of the thresher sharks.

Take note that Monad Shoal is only for advanced divers with an Open Water Certification.

Thresher shark in Monad Shoal
Thresher shark in Monad Shoal. (Photo by wikimedia – Thomas Alexander)

Fun dive costs about P1300-1800 including equipment (excluding marine fees and dive computer). If you’re a beginner, you can take an introductory diving course for P3000 per person and do a fun dive in shallower areas in the island.

Introductory diving in Malapascua
Introductory diving c/o Thresher Cove Dive Resort.

2. Island hopping tour

An island hopping tour will take you to Dakit-Dakit Island and 2-3 spots in Malapascua Island. The main activity here is snorkeling and/or freediving.

  • Dakit-Dakit Island. This is composed of small rocky islets where you can snorkel or dive.
  • Coral Garden. One of the best snorkeling sites in the island.
  • Japanese Shipwreck. A scattered remains of a Japanese from WWII. The ship is broken into several parts, which are now overgrown with corals and serve as home for schools of fishes. This is a great spot for freedivers especially.
  • Lighthouse. The lighthouse is located just across the shipwreck. Going up the lighthouse is no longer permitted.
  • Lapus Lapus Cliff. If you’re feeling adventurous, head on the the Lapus Lapus Cliff. Cliff jumping here is generally not advised, but it’s not prohibited either. The underwater is filled with sharp rock formations so you have to take precaution and if possible bring someone along with you. It can be accessed via the Los Bamboos Resort for an entrance fee of P25 per person.
Malapascua lighthouse
Lighthouse.
Snorkeling in Malapascua
Snorkeling in the shipwreck site.
Malapascua Japanese shipwreck
Japanese shipwreck.
Malapascua Japanese shipwreck
It is now home to schools of fishes.

An island hopping tour costs P700-1500 depending on your haggling skills. Snorkel set can be rented for P150 per person. I suggest finding a boatman directly so you can rent a boat for P1000 or less rather than a middleman or agency.

3. Land tour

If you aren’t into diving or other water activities, you can go on a land tour to explore the island. Since Malapascua Island is small, you can explore everything in 20-30 minutes by habal-habal.

Here are the places you can visit:

  • Lapus Lapus Beach. A typical creamy-sand beach.
  • Los Bamboos. A quiet beach cove where you can relax and swim. Some dive centers also hold introductory diving courses here.
  • The Lighthouse. Same lighthouse as above.
  • Langub Beach. A long stretch of beach with white, fine sand. The beachfront is lined with coconut trees. It’s said to be the most beautiful beach in Malapascua.
Langub Beach in Malapascua, Beach
Langub Beach is said to be the most beautiful beach in Malapascua.

A motorcycle tour costs around P600 good for 1-2 people.

There are other secluded beaches you can visit by walking or hiking including Logon Beach (near Bounty Beach) and Gugma Beach.

4. Take a side trip to Kalanggaman Island

Kalanggaman Island is the gem of Leyte. It’s an elongated island with white sand bar, one of the most recognizable spots in the Philippines thanks to Instagram.

Kalanggaman Island in Leyte
Kalanggaman Island.

It’s about 2 hours away from Malapascua. Rate is P800 per person including lunch plus entrance fee of P150 for local, P500 for foreign tourist.

5. Sunset cruise

Take a cruise around the island in the late afternoon, with food and booze. There are selected resorts that offer a sunset cruise for P1000 per person.

6. Enjoy the night life

There are several bars along Bounty Beach that offer happy hour promos.

Where to stay

There are numerous resorts where you can stay at in Malapascua Island, from budget to mid-range types. If you’re in a budget, make sure to stay close in or near Bounty Beach where you can find cheap stores and restaurants.

We stayed at Thresher Cove Dive Resort, which is one of the best dive resorts in the island. It’s about 10 minutes from the port. You can read about our stay at Thresher Cove Dive Resort. Or book discounted rooms here.

Where to stay in Malapascua: Thresher Cove Dive Resort
Private beach at Thresher Cove Dive Resort.

Here are other recommended stays in Malapascua:

Budget options:

  • Malapascua Budget Inn. A hostel with a huge common area, rooms with comfortable beds and curtains. Book discounted rooms here.
  • Neverland. An eco-friendly resort offering huts for overnight stay. This is an ideal option if you want to relax and detox in the island. There are yoga and meditation classes, art sessions, freediving sessions. Vegan food is served. Book discounted rooms here.

Midrange to high-end options:

Where to eat

There are limited restaurants in Malapascua Island and restaurant food is expensive (about P300 per person). Some of the recommended ones include:

  • Amihan Restaurant. A popular restaurant offering pizza and pasta.
  • Kokay’s. A resort with an in-house restaurant facing the sea. Great place to watch the sunset.
  • Angelina Beach Pizzeria Restorante. Offers Italian food and wine in a nice beach setting.
  • Bakhaw Kiwi. A highly rated Filipino restaurant in the island.

I recommend going to the local market which is walking distance from the Bounty Beach. Here you can find cheap restaurants offering fresh seafood, meat and fruits for P100 per person or less.

Local market in Malapascua
Local market.

Sample 3 days itinerary

Here’s a sample 3 day itinerary to Malapascua Island:

Day 1
6AM – 11AM Travel from Cebu City to Malapascua
11AM – Lunch
12noon – Check in at accommodation
1PM – 3PM – Land tour

Day 2
8AM – 12noon Introductory diving course
12noon – Lunch
1PM – Island hopping tour

Day 3
Free time
12noon – Check out of accommodation
12 – 5PM Travel back from Malapascua to Cebu City

Budget depends how many you are in the group and the activities you want to avail. For this itinerary, for 2 people, a safe budget would be P7000-8000 per person.

Personal tips

  • If you’re coming from Bantayan Island, I highly recommend chartering a private boat directly to Malapascua to save time. If you’re solo or couple, find other tourists who may go with you.
  • I notice that a lot of Filipinos only stay at Malapascua for a day. Malapascua is a dive destination so if you’re not going to dive, you’re missing out a lot! Try introductory diving at least for P3000 per person or you may want to go to other destinations in Cebu instead such as Bantayan Island or Camotes Island, both of which have nice beaches.
  • If you’re already booking an island hopping tour, you may skip the land tour since a lot of the places included are the same except for the Langub Beach, which is on the other side of the island.
  • As said above, if budget is a big priority then it’s best to stay in or near Bounty Beach where there are more options for cheap food.

Contacts

Here are some contacts you can use for your trip.

P.S. If any of these numbers are not working anymore, please let us know so we can update them!

  • Boat rental from Bantayan to Malapascua (or vice versa): Kuya Glenn 09061421817 – P1900 one-way
  • Island hopping tour: Kuya Ondo 09361668150 – P700 or above depending on how many you are in the group
  • Land tour: Kuya Randy 09364553629 – P600 per person

 

Has this travel guide to Malapascua been helpful to you? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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