Malapascua… a small island that is well known in diving circles for the world famous dive site that is Monad Shoal. While not as beautiful as some islands that I’ve been to, Malapascua possesses a certain charm that has managed to capture my heart weeks after I’d left it. If you’re looking for an island populated by local villages and some resorts without massive tourist hordes, sounds like Malapascua is the island for you.
Things to do in Malapascua
Diving is one of the main attractions of Malapascua, although snorkellers will enjoy the underwater flora and fauna as well. As a typical island destination, sipping cocktails by the beach enjoying the sunset is a must-do. Surprisingly, hammocks were sparse in Malapascua. Another must-do while in Malapascua is to hop over to Kalangaman Island.
How to get to Malapascua
Information accurate as of September 2016.
Travel time from Cebu City: ~5 – 6 hours+
Leg 1: Cebu City to Maya Port
Your journey begins at Cebu North Bus Terminal. From there you have to make your way to Maya via a:
(1) A minivan, 180 PHP; or
(2) Ceres Bus, 190 PHP (air-conditioned), 165 (non air-conditioned)
The minibuses may be cheaper and reach Maya Port much quicker, but you probably will not have much in the way of personal space for the ride… I’m talking about strangers with their heads on your shoulders kind of no personal space.
If you’re carrying some really big bags around (like some travellers we met in Cebu), keep in mind that you might be asked to pay for it. This includes both the bus and the minivan.
Note: Sometimes the minivan drivers will circle around and look for passengers if they have not maxed out their capacity. For that reason, if time isn’t an issue, I would heartily recommend taking the bus to Maya.
Leg 2: The Boat Mafias of Maya Port
Upon arriving at Maya Port (the last boat leaves Maya supposedly at 4.30 p.m), you negotiate for place on a banca to Malapascua. As of September 2016, we paid 150 PHP (for locals, it was 100 PHP) for the 30 minute boat ride.
Even though the last trip was at 4.30 p.m., we left the port only at 6 p.m. Why? The boatmen just wanted to make sure he had all 12 people to maximise the space on the banca. We heard from locals (working on the island) that sometimes if there’s less than 12 people, the cost goes up accordingly.
As you approach, the boatman goes around collecting the money for the banca ride. We transferred to a smaller boat since it was low tide and paid the ferryman an additional 20 pesos per person.
Protip Don’t get scammed here, sometimes the boatmen will tell you that the public services have ended and offer you a private trip to your resort beach for anything upwards of 1000 PHP. Just wait around until enough people have arrived. We ended up waiting 1.5 hours because it was off-season but during normal peak season the wait will not be that long.
Unfortunately, I can’t dispense much advise here. Since we purchased a dive package at the Singapore Dive Expo, our accommodation and food was included. But there are a fair mix of resorts with some lovely backpacker hostels and places according to some divers that we met.
Hopefully I have managed to answer some of your initial questions about Malapascua. If you have any further questions, do feel free to ask in the comments below.