Between diving with thresher sharks and swimming in crystal clear waters, Malapascua gave us everything our weary travel bodies wanted. We spent five amazing days on this tiny island north of Cebu, and loved every moment of it. If you want to get away from your travels, this is the place.
See and Do
The number one reason people head to Malapascua is to dive with thresher sharks. Every morning, around 5am, these crazy looking sharks come up to Monad Shoal, an area about 25 meters deep, to attend a "spa appointment" with the resident cleaner fish. You're not guaranteed a sighting, of course, but we didn't hear of anyone who didn't see any sharks during our stay.
The dive (which costs anything from 1000-1800P depending on who you go with) is an easy one and once the shark leaves, you have about 20 minutes to explore the rest of the site, which is full of schools of colorful fishes.
The second most popular dive site is Gato Island. This one can be dived at normal hours of the day and, if you're lucky, you can spot whitetip sharks. We weren't lucky, and we didn't really see much besides some nudibraches, crabs, and okay looking fish. The coolest part of the dive is going through this long tunnel and emerging on the other side in a deep cavern full of sunlight. But besides that, it was sort of disappointing, especially because you have to pay extra for the torch and we didn't even get to see the shark.
If you're not a diver, then hopefully you're sunbather or sea frolicker. The water around Malapascua is gorgeous, and there's a nice stretch of white sand to relax in on Bounty Beach, which is where all the resorts are located.
Because it's a dive haven, Malapascua isn't cheap, especially if you want to stay on Bounty Beach. Accommodation at $20 or under is usually off the beach, which means no views and no sea breeze. We were there in low season, so we convinced the folks at Blue Water to give us a room for 700P/night. It was nothing special, but it was oceanfront, a good size, and the hot water sometimes worked. We enjoyed many hours on our balcony, reading, eating mangos, and chatting with those passing by.
If you have a bit more to spend, the rooms at Sunsplash Resort were really nicely outfitted and cost 1000P in low season. They're slightly off the beach, but by far the nicest thing we've seen in that price range.
Eat and Drink
For travelers on a shoestring, there's only one place to eat: Ging-Ging's. It's not bad either, though the food takes a while. Still, at 50-80P a plate at a proper restaurant, it's a downright deal and makes staying on Malapascua for a while a whole lot more possible.
We took our breakfasts on the balcony with food bought in the village. A few mangos, baked goods, and eggs for Rob went a long way, and cost us less than $2.
In the afternoon, there are happy hours all over, but our favorite was at Ocean Vida, with two-for-one cocktails from 4-6pm.
For an all-day happy hour, head to Kokay's Maldito where the boats dock. Their rum and coke gets cheaper the more rum you take, with a triple costing only 40P.
Buses to Maya leave from Cebu's North Terminal. If you're arriving from south Cebu, you'll need to take a meter taxi to the other terminal, which costs around 100P. The bus costs anywhere from 150-170P depending on whether it has AC and WiFi.
Once you get to Maya, you'll need to take a boat to Malapascua. The fare is 80P. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Interested in seeing the beaches of Malapascua without paying for a plane ticket? Check out our Malapascua photo tour.
You can also share your tips for budget travel in Malapascua by leaving a comment!