“Malapascua is one of the best places to learn diving in Cebu,” I told some friends I’ve met on my travels. “Not only that, the island seems like a paradise, great view of the sunset, first kiss under the moonlight (if you’re so inclined), but you can also dive with the thresher sharks.”, I added
“Malapascua? Bad Christmas? Why do they call it a bad Christmas?”, They asked. At that time, I didn’t know the reason, so I bluffed my way through it. “Oh, I think the Spanish came to the island but were marooned because of the horrible weather, and it was Christmas,” I replied.
My explanation was plausible, after all, the island has huge waves during the rainy season. But my friend Azel took the time to read the history and clarified that it was more or less correct.
I’ve been to Malapascua several times already. The first time I went there, I wasn’t impressed because I was only there for an overnight trip. It was the second time, when my Spanish friend who was doing his DMT there, showed me around the place for a few days that I got to explore the island and have fallen in love with the place. The love hasn’t diminished during the third, the fourth and the fifth time I went there. There is always something to like about the island. Particularly for people who love to dive. I love the laid-back, slow-paced vibe of Malapascua. However, if you’re into a lot of partying and busy islands, then Malapascua is not for you. Not that it’s boring there, in fact, most travelers who have made Malapascua their temporary home, somehow have found a way to have a festive time and liven up the place. After all, there are restaurants and bars.
From Malapascua, you can also hop to Kalanggaman Island.
How to Get There
From Mactan International Airport or any port, you go to Cebu North Terminal. From there, you could ride a bus or a van to Maya port: your jump-off point. There is only one A/C bus heading to Maya; you’re lucky if you catch it. Some of the locals recommend riding the van and so do I. They are faster and sometimes comfortable. It’s a long 4 to 5-hr bus ride. You should leave Cebu before 11 A.M., to make sure that you can catch the last trip for the pump boat. During peak season, you can take the risk. Normally the last trip is at 3. P.M.
There are two piers now in Maya, the old one, and the new one where you could ride a pump boat to the island. It depends on where the bus or van will take you. For a local tourist, they will charge P80 and P100 for a foreigner. If it is low tide, the pump boat could not dock nearer so you’ll have to ride a small paddle boat for P20.
Where to stay
The last two times I was there, I stayed with my friends who are doing their DMT and also working in the dive shop. There are plenty of cheap places to stay or pricey one if you want to splurge. I’ll be recommending those that I’ve tried.
Villa Sandra Guesthouse
I met the owner at the pier, the second time I went to Mala, so while waiting for my friend to pick me up, he offered to let me wait at his guesthouse, despite that I’ve only known him for few minutes. Although, I didn’t stay there. The owner has become such a good friend that every time I go to Malapascua, I stop by at the guesthouse. Great vibes, excellent people and a cool cheap place to stay and meet fellow backpackers from all over the world. They’ve just opened a vegetarian restaurant now. JonJon, the owner, is very hospitable and will certainly show you around.
Affordable resort with a beachfront view and a bit away from the crowd. It’s the resort with the blue roof in the picture.
Tepanee Beach Resort
It is situated on a small hill that has a great view of the ocean especially if you can book the ocean-view room. It’s a bit isolated from the rest of the island, which has it’s own small private beach. But for some reasons, the private beach could be found during the summer season, but for the month of July to Dec, the big rocks appear. It is a great place to view the sunset. They also have great food and connected to Amihan Restaurant. What I love about this resort is them being pet-friendly. So Oreo has been welcomed here. The owner was friendly and always made sure that our stay was comfortable.
Where to eat
I’ve mentioned Amihan, located in a panoramic position on top of the hill. Great place for a romantic dinner. The food is excellent though a bit pricey. But they have big servings.
Don’t also forget to try the gelato ice cream at Angelina’s and have a drink at either Kokay’s Maldito or Ocean Vida.
There’s also Ging-gings, affordable and delicious. But you might want to go there an hour earlier since it’s going to take them awhile to prepare your food. There are also some local karenderias with tasty food. I like the one near the port.
Malapascua is dubbed the next Boracay. But everyone who loves it is hoping that it won’t be. Despite that it is now becoming more known, it remains relatively unspoiled. A beautiful sleepy island, with white sand and blue water beaches.
The locals are very friendly and probably invite you over for a drink or dinner.