Malapascua, an island found in the northern tip of Cebu is considered a hidden gem and is fairly popular to open water divers from all around the world. Malapascua is a fairly small island and you can walk around it in 2hours. Although tiny, there is a lot to see and do even if you are not a diver. The island offers a range of activities and is also a good escape if you want to enjoy the beach life in a provincial setting.
How to get to Malapascua Island from Cebu
Make your way to North Bus Terminal located in Subangdaku, Mandaue City. You can find buses, mini-buses and vans for routes to northern Cebu. Buses leave on an hourly basis or until it gets full, so it is a better and faster option to take the van. Tell the driver or conductor that you need to go to Maya Port in Daanbantayan. The bus takes around 4hours and the van can reach the port in around 3 – 3.5hours. Buses and vans start travelling at 5AM.
Take the bangka (boat) from Maya Port to Malapascua Island. The first trip is at 7AM, and the last trip at 3PM. If you are a big group, you may be able to split the cost of the bangka for a special trip. During low tide, dinghies take passengers from the port to the bangka. The bangka ride is around 30minutes.
Van ~ Php200 (US $4)
Dinghie ~ Php20 (US $0.40)
Bangka ~ Php100 (US $2.00)
Things to do in Malapascua Island
When you arrive in Malapascua, there will be many locals who will ask you what tours you want to do while you are in the island. Malapascua is known for diving with Thresher Sharks and Giant Manta Rays, but if you do not own an open water diving license, there are many other activities you can do in the island.
1. Enjoy the Beach
Malapascua has been compared to the beaches in Boracay Island, but without the party crowd. We were surprised to be visiting the place around New Year and still have options of hotel rooms to stay in. You can sunbathe, play beach volleyball or just enjoy the seashore. Malapascua is a great place to relax and re-energize.
2. Chill in a Nice Restaurant
Malapascua was able to rebuild pretty quickly after getting hit by Typhoon Haiyan (Typhoon Yolanda). Business got back on track a year after the storm, and now visitors can enjoy a wide range of food choices and chill spots. There are several options for international cuisine so you won’t have to eat the local delicacies in every meal. Malapascua seems to be popular with their Italian food, and even wood fired pizzas can be enjoyed here. For a list of top restaurants, visit here.
3. Enjoy Nature: Go Snorkeling, Scuba Diving or Cliff Jumping
Most tourists come to Malapascua to dive with Thresher Sharks and Giant Manta Rays. If you’re not a diver, you can still enjoy the snorkeling scene. There’s a shipwreck nearby which can be accessed when you do the island hopping tour. You also get the opportunity to cliff jump from around 15meters (50ft), and visit different white sand beaches. You can also do a day trip to Kalanggaman Island, a serene island with crystal clear water which can be reached by bangka from Malapascua in 1.5hours. If you are not a big group, you can join in tours (with other tourists) which leaves the island around 9AM and comes back around 4PM. The tour to Kalanggaman Island already comes with lunch (grilled fish, chicken, pork and fruits).
4. Sunset Sessions and Bar Hopping
You don’t have to go back to your room when the sun goes down as Malapascua is quite popular with their happy hour and sunset chill bars. There’s no better way to enjoy the island than by watching the sun go down while being cozy on a bean bag on the white sand. It’s also easy to bar hop as most bars and restaurants are located in the main area where the hotels are. You can enjoy grilled food with good priced drinks, live bands, pool table (billiards) and many more. The bar scene is also a good place to interact with other tourists and locals.