The first image Malapascua offers will stay with visitors for a long time: an exceedingly beautiful pristine stretch of white sand, crystal clear waters bordered by coconut trees and a dozen of scattered, native-style resorts. But that has changed over the years as the number of visitors has exploded. More and more concrete build hotel like buildings are springing up, replacing the native-style houses.
Malapascua is known to the locals as Logon and this vision of secret beach is whimsically named Bounty beach. It lays 8 kilometers off northern Cebu and has a community of about 11,000 inhabitants (as of 2012). A walk or a tour of the whole Island will take about three hours. The main resource of the island is the sea, with divers and fishermen working side by side via compromises.
The island was hit hard by Super-Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in late 2013, and while it still bears some of the scars, it is very much back up and running.
Mactan-Cebu Airport is the international and national gateway to Cebu island. It is the second-busiest airport in the Philippines, there are many domestic and international destinations served. Cebu is approximately 150km south of Malapascua.
There are 2 bus companies, Ceres and Rough Riders, that run to/from Maya (the port at the very north of Cebu Island where you will catch the ferry to Malapascua) from the North Bus Terminal in Cebu (located in Mandaue, approximately 7kms from the airport). The journey takes 3.5-4.5 hours, and buses run every 30minutes. There are many stops along the way to pick up locals often travelling very short distances. Video and a/c 180PHP, non a/c 163PHP. Some buses will even have wifi. Ceres Tours AC buses at 7am, 9am and 11am.
If time is short or you just don't want the hassle of the buses, it is possible to hire a taxi or private car from Cebu to Maya, as well as arrange a pick-up with one of the resorts. Price for private car transfer from Cebu/Airport/Hotel to Maya, about 2500PHP one way.
By boat from Masbate
There are two boats that leave Masbate Island daily at 12pm (February 2014) bound for Polambato Port just north of Bogo, a town approximately 40km south of Maya. Montenegro Lines leave Cataingan on the west of Masbate, while Super Shuttle Ferry leaves from Cawayan on the east. Both ports are approximately 1.5hours from Masbate city. The ferry crossings take approximately 6hours. Fare is 365PHP from Cataingan, 380PHP (economy) from Cawayan. From Polambato port take a habal-habal (25PHP) or tricycle to the highway and flag down any of the many northbound buses from Cebu (40PHP, 1hour to Maya). Masbate Island can be reached by ferry to Masbate City from Pilar, twenty minutes from Donsol on Luzon. It is a good idea to leave Donsol very early in the morning to catch the first boat to Masbate from Pilar, as there isn't much in the way of accommodation or other tourist services at Cawayan or Cataingan. Bear in mind that the last ferry leaves from Maya at 4:30pm, so plan to overnight in Bogo or Maya, unless you want to charter a private boat across to Malapascua.
Ferry from Maya
From Maya several local boats (bancas) go across, starting at 06:30 until 16:30. It takes about 1/2 hour and costs 80PHP. Tickets are purchased from the white stall on the pier, or if no-one is manning the stall, on the boat (use common sense - be sure to agree the price before getting on, and head for the waiting boat with the most passengers). Be aware that the ferries don't exactly run to a schedule, they leave when they have enough cargo or people, so aim to arrive earlier rather than later.
Crossing can be rather wet in choppy water and bancas have very little shelter from the elements. When arriving/departing from Malapascua shores be prepared to either jump into the shallow waters or walk down a rickety plank. At low tide you will need to transfer to a smaller boat for 20 pesos both at Maya and Malapascua.
A private bangka to Malapascua can be hired from Maya for 1200 pesos if you are not prepared to wait, or arrive after the last boat has departed. If you have arranged transportation with your resort you don't need to worry about any of the above.
The local boatmen may attempt to trick naïve tourists into paying over the odds for the trip across to Malapascua, suggesting there will be a very long wait, or that there are not enough passengers. Just use your common sense, be calm, and tell them you have all the time in the world. The fare is 80PHP, if you pay more than that it is because of your own stupidity, or because you have too much money.
The Malapascua Business Group is trying to fight and stop the growing type of tourist cheating seen in Maya, which also spreads to Malapascua. If you feel you were ripped off at Maya here are the phone numbers and email to send your complaint:
Secretary of the Mayor: Sonny Luche, cellphone 0935 159 5800
Police Daanbantayan : 0916 423 3121, 032 437 8431
Mayor Augusto CORRO, phone 0917 812 1090, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Note the name of the boat, time and date of the action, and try to identify the involved persons by description to the Officials.
The only motorised vehicles on the island (besides the boats) are motorbikes. Some may be willing to give you a lift - expect to pay a fee of 10PHP for short ride, and 20-30PHP from south to north. To rent a motorbike for a whole day 1000PHP. Local fishermen can also take you from A to B in their boat. To hire a boat and captain for 4hours is approximately 800PHP.
- Scuba diving. This is the reason most people come to Malapascua. Waters off the island offers some of the most exciting extreme dives in the Philippines, with adrenaline-pumping thresher shark (year-round) and manta ray (seasonal) encounters. The dive shops seem mindful of the environment and have a caring attitude towards their customers. Dive shops offer introductory courses to advanced Scuba diving and there are a couple of wrecks to explore. There is also some very good diving at nearby Gato Island - a 35m long tunnel swimthrough guarded by reef sharks.
- Snorkelling and fishing. With its spectacular underwater flora and fauna, as well as an old Japanese shipwreck, there is much to see, making snorkelling a fine experience. A resort will rent boats, alternatively locals will take you on their fishing rakie. Two people on a local fishing boat tour should cost no more than 800PHP, including mask, snorkel and marine park fees. Marine Protected Areas for snorkelling are: Coral Garden - east side, close to Aabana Beach & Watersport Resort, Lapus Lapus - northwest point, close to Los Bamboos Resort, Dakit Dakit - southeast point, close to Blue Corals Rosortt.
- Walks. With about a 6km circumference, Malapascua has more than a few spots to see. It has a handful of exotic beaches like Bounty Beach, or Mangrove Bay. The lighthouse is an excellent spot when it comes to watching the sunset.
- Cliff Jumping. There is an approximately 10m high cliff located not far from the lighthouse from where you can jump into the water below. Better to do it as part of a snorkelling trip, as it is difficult to find and a long swim back to shore, particularly if you land awkwardly!
Malapascua is a diving destination. The main attractions are the thresher sharks and manta rays, occasional hammerheads, and for macro lovers, the mandarin fish, frogfish and pygmy seahorse.
Monad Shoal, where you will almost certainly encounter thresher sharks, is at a depth of approximately 30metres, so you will need to have a minimum of an Advanced Open Water Certification, or Open Water with an Adventure Deep Dive. You can, of course, complete either of those courses on Malapascua. Nitrox will also give you more bottom time with the threshers.
There are dive centres on Malapascua to suit most divers and budgets, but be aware that there is quite a large price differential between the cheapest and priciest dive shops. The most established dive shops along the beachfront cater more to their pre-booked guests staying in the resorts than walk-ins.
- Evolution Diving  (east side of Bounty Beach), ☎ +63(0)9173038554 (email@example.com). 7AM to midnight. Evolution Diving offers a personalised and fun atmosphere for all divers. A TDI Five Star Instructor Training facility Evolution has incredible facilities right on the beach. As well as running 5 plus fun dives a day on Malapascua's best sites, Evolution also offers all PADI and SDI Recreational courses and all TDI Technical Courses. Evolution is the leading provider of Technical Diving and Exploration support in the Central and Southern Philippines.
- Seapark Diving  Seapark Diving, ☎ +63(0)9152731752 (firstname.lastname@example.org). 8am to 8pm 7 days a week. Seapark is unique in Malapascua as they include camera, torch, and dive computer free of charge with all fun dives. Located on Bounty Beach, Malapascua Island.
- Malapascua Exotic Dive & Beach Resort (IDC Centre)  Bounty Beach, ☎ +63(0)406-5428 (email@example.com). The first Dive Resort on the Island. Offers all in one - accommodation, restaurant, bar, dive shop, travel service, etc.. This eco-friendly resort, which has its own recycling plant and 24-hour generator, offers World-class dives. The Exotic Dive & Beach Resort is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Resort and the only National Geographic Center  in Malapascua. Courses range from beginner through to Instructor (100% pass rate) and Technical diving. It is one of the most flexible dive shops we have come across. They cover more than 22 different dive sites around Malapascua, have daily dives to see the thresher sharks, as well as NitrOx, Wreck and Night dives. Restaurant, accommodation and bar on-site. IDCs are run bimonthly by award-winning Course Director and DSAT TecRec Trimix Instructor Trainer Dan Robinson.
- Thresher Shark Divers  Thresher Shark Divers, ☎ +63(0)9276123359 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Thresher Shark Divers is the premier PADI 5 Star IDC Center on Malapascua Island. They offer daily diving in small groups with experienced divemasters in a fun environment. With over 10 years experience on Malapascua and Divemasters with 5,000+ dives locally, you will not be in better hands. They also offer a full range of PADI courses including Instructor and Technical with one of the most active internship programs in the country.
- Fun and Sun Probably the cheapest fun dives in Malapascua. A single dive costs 1450pesos (Feb 2014).
- Dan's Diving Located in "the village". Older, but perfectly functioning equipment and a local divemaster with 14years experience diving Malapascua. Three dives, one a Monad and two at Gato Island (including equipment), 4700PHP (February 2014, minimum 2 divers).
There are no ATMs on Malapascua, although it is possible to exchange USD to PHP at some of the fancier resorts. Far better to cash up before arriving at the island, however. There is at least one ATM in Bogo (a 1hour, 43PHP bus ride from Maya), that accepts foreign VISA cards (PNB Bank). There is also a Metrobank which usually accepts most foreign cards.
Souvenirs. There are a couple of Malapascua t-shirt vendors around Bounty Beach, as well as craftsmen that sell wooden threshers shark figurines.
Groceries. There are a bunch of local shops scattered around the island. They sell everything and anything from toiletries and painkillers to light bulbs, water, sodas, beer and snacks. There are fruit shops that sell bananas, apples, coconuts, tomatoes and other products.
Dive Shops. The big Dive Centers have a Dive Shop where you can buy wet suits, masks, knives, etc.
Books. We saw 3 shelves with a few hundred books up for free exchange at Malapascua Exotic Dive & Beach Resort (IDC Centre) and also at the Blue Corals Resort.
You will see local eateries spread all over the island. Do not let their worn aspect put you off of a good and cheap meal; usually rice with choices of veggies, meat, and fish. Some evening stalls barbecue finger-licking pork satay.
- Ging Ging's located behind Bounty Beach, close to the village. Offers cheap local and international dishes (under 100PHP).
- La Isla Bonita offers Philippine dishes and pizzas
- Kiwi's Restaurant down a track behind Ging Ging's, a small family run eatery with great food and good prices.
- Oscar's Restaurant. An eclectic mix of international dishes with a daily changing menu. Open air beachfront restaurant located above Thresher Shark Divers. edit
- The Craic House, Bounty Beach, Malapascua Island (East end of Bounty Beach), ☎ +63 (0)905 719 7323, . 7AM to midnight. Rated the best restaurant on Malapascua by TripAdvisor users, The Craic House serves up delicious daily specials based on the best local produce and quality imported ingredients personally sourced by the owners. Everything that can be homemade IS homemade from bread, wraps, falafel, cakes, pies, relishes, pates - you name it. edit
- Purple Snapper Bar & Restaurant, (behind Malapascua Legend and Daño Beach Resort), . They have great burgers. Also try their pizzas and Fettucine Chicken Aldfredo. edit
- Angelina, Angelina Beach, Malapascua Island, Daan Bantayan, Cebu, Philippines (South west of the island), ☎ 09153404906, . 8AM-10PM. Original Italian food 300-500. edit
Disco. During high season, there is a popular disco event every Saturday, surrounded by stalls that sell beers and sodas, or food. Not to be missed!
- The Pub Upstairs (The Pub Upstairs). An open air bar located above Thresher Shark Divers, nestled amongst the palm trees with a sea view, The Pub Upstairs is a lively watering hole for an apres-dive beer or cocktail. An excellent selection of local and imported beers and spirits. edit
- The Craic House, Bounty Beach, Malapascua Island (East end of Bounty Beach), . The Craic House is a real Irish bar on a perfect Filipino beach. An Irish word, 'Craic' means fun and enjoyment and with a buzzing atmosphere The Craic House delivers this. With a selection of 10,000 tunes to choose from The Craic House has the best music selection around - no Lady Gaga guaranteed. With contemporary cooking and drink specials this is the perfect place to meet people and have a great time and make sure to get your own 'Craic Addict' T-shirt before you leave. edit
On arrival a few official looking touts await the visitors but they are superfluous, considering the number of resorts, so take your time to choose what suits you best. Touts won't charge you a fee; they'll get 50+ pesos from the resorts, so be aware that they might just take you to the closest one or the one paying them the most rather than the best one.
- Blue Water starting from 1000PHP (Jan 13) for a bungalow with fan, cold water shower and WIFI in the room. Breakfast is included. Ask for a discount, especially if you are diving. They take credit card.
- Mike & Dioses Beachcottage, cell 0905 263 2914(Mike) or 0917 524 4105(Kiko)email email@example.com. Mike is the manager and owner, KIKO his friend, caretaker and representative. Only a few cottage left over cause of building all new rooms. They have a thatched roof, bamboo (amakan) wall and veranda. The cottages are simple fan rooms, are located in garden area with seaview. 2 rooms share 1 CR. Price range is php 500 - 600 per night, including breakfast. More infos see under the website www.malapascua-island.com
- Daño Beach Resort, cell 09156661584 or 09273817894. Lemuel Daño is the manager. There are 20 odd bungalows, all facing the sea; they have a thatched roof, bamboo veranda and the concrete cottages are simple, with a large room and come equipped with a bathroom. These are the perfect place to enjoy your stay on the island.
- MGmatterhorn a small and very clean guesthouse, managed by Marites Monteclar, not on the beach. It's on the way to Bakaw-Kiwi eatery. One fan room good for two and about November 2011 two more air-con rooms. Free WiFi. Prices starting from 700 pesos per day and room. Strictly no cooking in the rooms. Cell 09155543310 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Look the pics on www.malapascua.de. Look for matterhorn, or go to: https://sites.google.com/site/abougibi/
- Villa Sandra cheap guesthouse popular with backpackers located in "the village", close to the school. Twin/doubles from 500PHP, cheaper for long-term. Free wifi & water. Common area with hammocks.
- Aabana Beach and Watersports Resort (Mike & Dioses), (Kiko= +63 917 524 4105), ☎ Mike=+63 905 263 2914 (Mike@malapascua.de), . checkin: 14:00; checkout: 12:00. Beach resort. High quality cottages are due to safety reasons about 60 meters to their own beach, having axtra small Bamboo Huts for their guest on the wide and nice beach. All cottages have big terrace, air-con, warm and cold water shower, Flatscreen LCD satellite TV, individual safety digital box, refrigerator and free wi-fi.There are also cottages which have a unique KITCHEN on the terrace for private guest use.They offer Boat tours around the Island, fishing tours, Snorkeling tours, and Jet Ski. Go to: http://www.aabana.de/ 1300-2100 php. (11°20'00N,124°07'08E) edit
- Slam's Garden Resort, Barangay Logon, 6013, Daan-Bantayan, ☎ 00639274874092, . Superior and deluxe rooms, all equipped with air-conditioning, safe and Wi-Fi. Facilities and services are Scuba diving, SLAM'S Garden Bar & Pub and massage service. From 1,800.00. edit
There is a newly built basic clinic on Malapascua Island, close to the Barangay Hall. It is operating since 2012, but the doctor doesn't work weekends. In case of a serious injury one would have to go to Bliss Hospital, in Daanbantayan, which may take 1hour+, depending on sea conditions, as well as road traffic.
For divers to note, the nearest decompression chamber is far away in Lahug, Cebu City Military Hospital.
The first boat departs for Maya at around 6:30am (or whenever it is deemed sufficiently full), and the last boat is at 2:30pm - after that you will have to hire a private boat for 1200PHP+. Expect to encounter the same scam attempts as at Maya, but keep your cool and don't pay more than 80PHP.
From Maya there are regular buses south to the northern bus terminal in Cebu City.
If you are wishing to travel to Masbate and/or on to Donsol, two large RoRo boats leave daily at midnight from Polambato Port, just north of Bogo (February 2014). Montenegro Lines crosses to Cataingan, while Super Shuttle Ferry goes to Cawayan. Both take 6-7hours, and it is a toss-up which route will be quicker to get you to Masbate City, from where you can get a ferry to Pilar, a 20minute van/jeepney from Donsol. To get to the port, take any Cebu-bound bus to the Polambato turn-off (40PHP), then take a waiting tricycle or habal-habal (25PHP), the remaining distance. There is a restaurant and shop at the port, but little else. If you take the 2:30pm boat you may wish to kill some time in Bogo or Daanbantayan.