This little island North East of Cebu island was our first encounter with the “real” Philippines. This tiny little islet is 1 km long and less than half a kilometer wide and is surrounded by shallow turquoise blue water. It has a super laid back atmosphere, where life evolves at its own pace and where nobody seems to have a worry on their mind.
There’s a handful of small hotels on the southern part of the island whilst the centre and the north of the island is home to local communities who live their lives away from the hustle and bustle from neighbouring Cebu.
What to do on or around the island?
Thresher shark diving
This is probably the main activity on Malapascua island and one of the only places in the world where you can admire these majestic animals from close by. A while back some fishermen discovered a sunken island (Called Monad Shoal) where the thresher sharks come to rub themselves against the reef to clean their skin, a spectacular show but which requires some courage to attend.
There are many professional diving agencies on Bounty Beach that offer dive excursions to Monad Shoal. We set out at around 5am in the pitching dark, as the early hours is when the sharks come out. By the time we reached the sunken island the first lights started to appear. It was not an easy dive as the sunken island only appears at 30 meters depth and there can be quite some current, so we had to go down holding on to a rope. When we reached the dark depths suddenly four huge thresher sharks appeared right next to us, rubbing away against the reef. It was a spectacular (and slightly terrifying) show but an amazing experience.
This is an absolute MUST if you visit Malapascua island. This breath-taking island can be reached by boat on a day excursion from Malapascua. It is a deserted paradise-esque island, with a forest of palm trees in the middle surrounded by white sand and crystal clear water, which extends into two long sandbars at both ends of the island (be careful for the sea urchins 😊).
It is the classic Philippine postcard island with nobody around. Most of the day trips include a lunch or barbecue on the boat so you don’t have to worry about bringing food or drinks.
Walk around Malapascua island
Malapascua island itself is a gorgeous little island which is definitely worth exploring! You can walk to the North side of the island and back in less than two hours and it’s a beautiful and easy walk. We walked through traditional settlements where the locals were super friendly all offering us a huge smile. At the end there’s a couple of super cute little beaches – watch out for the dogs though!
Sunset on Bounty beach
Bounty beach is the place to be for sunset. Find yourself a good beach chair and order a Mojito and you’re good to go!
Where to sleep
Most hotels are located on Angelina Beach or Bounty Beach. We would highly recommend Bounty Beach which is much more beautiful and much more lively in the evenings.
- Ocean Vida Resort: we loved this hotel on the beachfront of Bounty beach. It has only 20 rooms some with Seaview and some with garden view but all super comfortable.
Where to eat
- Angelina Beach Pizzeria Ristorante Italiano: we were literally blown away by the quality of the food in this little beach restaurant. The food was incredibly good and many of the ingredients imported from Italy. All that at a decent (though not cheap) price on a little island in the middle of nowhere in the Philippines. Definitely worth the detour!
- Ocean Vida Restaurant: has many options for lunch and dinner. Good food and great atmosphere.
How to get there?
Malapascua island is located just North of Cebu and the only way to reach this island is by boat from a little town North East of Cebu called Maya.
There are several boats per day and the boat departs whenever there are enough people to fill it (usually every hour or so, very Filipino style) 😊 The first boat leaves at around 6.30 am and the last boat leaves at around 5.30 pm. You can reach Maya either via taxi (2 hours) or via bus (4 hours) from Cebu North bus terminal.
Since we landed in Cebu in the early evening, we reached Maya via taxi late at night and stayed in a little hostel right next to the port to catch the first boat the next morning. Beware if you stay in Maya overnight, there is literally nothing to do (nor places to eat so buy something on the road before arriving there).