Philippines is known to have over 7,000 islands filled with beaches and breathtaking tourist spots.
Tourists all over the world travel to this beautiful tropical country just to experience it all. Boracay happens to be the place packed with most tourists especially during the summer season (April – May). Not only because it’s an island taking you far from where you came from, but its fine white sand beaches and amazing sunsets will make your tropical vacation complete.
However, Boracay isn’t the only white sand island that you can find in the Philippines. There are a lot more than what you think there is. One of them is the Malapascua island, located in the middle part of the country.
Not only that it’s known for its wide white sand beach, but also for its beautiful coral gardens, coral walls and excellent local dive spots, as well as further-out sites including Gato Island, Monad Shoal, and Kemod Shoal. Different diving programs are being offered all over the island. For those that are interested to be a certified diver or those who are already licensed, this is one of those that you should definitely visit. One good reason is the sight of the thresher sharks. The Monad Shoal is an underwater plateau where thresher sharks and manta rays can regularly be sighted. To the divers out there, you’d definitely want to add Malapascua to your list.
We decided to visit the Malapascua island over a long 3-day weekend. The decision was made only a few days before we left so finding a place to stay had been quite hard for us. We’ve checked online sites and made some calls but all responded to us saying that they’re fully booked. We were 3 days away from our not-so planned trip and started to worry when we got a call from the owner of Hiltey’s Hideout Homes saying that they have available rooms for the entire duration of our trip. Our happiness rose up that we were able to get back on track in planning the trip right away.
Before we left for the trip, I made sure to check different articles and blogs to give us knowledge on how to get to Malapascua and what to do when we get there, as well as what to bring and how much should our budget be. As far as I know you can’t really find any ATMs there (or maybe we just haven’t seen one) so it’s best to withdraw money for the entire trip before you leave Cebu City. However, there are a few resorts and restaurants that can receive payment through debit / credit card.
The buses going to Maya wharf can be found in the North Bus Terminal. A bus leaves every 30 minutes for the entire day so you won’t really have a problem about the schedule. However, what you need to take for consideration is the kind of bus you want to take (air-conditioned or non air-conditioned) and the boat that leaves from Maya to Malapascua as it is only up to 16:00.
When we got there in the North Bus Terminal, the bus going to Maya is non air-conditioned but we still went for it. It had been there for a while already so it didn’t take long until it left the terminal. Since we left at around 6:00, it wasn’t that hot and the wind was really nice. All the buses would make a 30-minute stop in Carmen at Bastap Coffee Shop. There you can buy snacks and bottled water, as well as have a pee break.
When we got to Maya, which was around 10:00, we were once again lucky that the boat going to Malapascua that’s almost full was about to leave and we just arrived right on time. The boat schedule is from 7:00 to 16:00 and travels every 30 minutes. However, the boat won’t leave until there’s at least 10 people on board. So yes, we consider ourselves very lucky.
The 30 to 45 minute sea travel didn’t seem so long as you get to enjoy the cool wind breeze and the sight of the clear water ocean. We arrived in Malapascua at around 11:00 and was greeted right away by locals asking if you’ve booked a place to stay already. They will then guide you to the resort where you’ll be staying for free as they consider it as the perfect time for them to promote the island hopping services that they offer.
Hiltey’s Hideout Homes was just about 5 minutes walking distance from where we got off the boat which makes it really convenient. It may not be in front of the Bounty Beach, which is the main beach, but I still think they have the ideal spot since it’s pretty much central to everything with the local stores and restaurants nearby, and of course just a short walk going to the beach. If you see a resort with a German flag outside, that’s the Hiltey’s Hideout Homes.
We got there at almost 11:00 and the owner, Volker, was the one who greeted us and brought us to our rooms. The room is air conditioned, as we reserved it, but it also came with a ceiling fan, which I find really nice as it can just easily give a cool air to the room and we didn’t have to use the aircon the whole time. The room also came with 1 queen size bed, 1 single bed, separate toilet and bathroom with hot & cold shower, clothing rack, refrigerator, plates, utensils, glasses, mugs, and water dispenser. You may also want to bring your own water bottle (1L) and you can just have it refilled there for 10 PHP. They also sell a 1L bottled water for 40 PHP and a 5 gallon water for 200 PHP. It’s totally worth it for what we paid for plus the owner is very accommodating.
We were aiming to go on affordable meals on the whole duration of the trip. We tried to walk around the bounty beach to check on the places where we can eat but since we weren’t really able to eat breakfast and had been travelling for around 5 hours, we just went for something that our budgets can still manage even if it’s a little higher than what we’re aiming for.
The Iroha Japanese and Asian Cuisine can be found just along the Bounty Beach. With the name itself, their menu can be a little high for those that are in a very tight budget. The food was good though and you definitely get the amount that you’re paying for plus the ambience is really nice. However, the service is kind of slow that it took a while until we got our food even if there’s only one other occupied table in the restaurant with only 3 people, and they also don’t serve the food and drinks altogether.
We spent the afternoon going around and swimming in the beach. The water is a little more salty compared to the other beaches that I’ve been to but it’s still tolerable, just be careful with your eyes and refrain from opening it underwater without any googles.
We also decided to check on prices for island tours and the trip to Kalanggaman island. Since, I was with foreigners, we were doubtful with going for the trip to Kalanggaman island due to the extra fees that we have to pay for. Instead, we went for the Malapascua Island Tour. It’s also best to book the tours and trips a day before.
We patiently waited for the sun to set near Kokay’s Maldito Dive Resort and I must say, it’s breathtaking. The sky looked so amazing. It’s definitely something you don’t want to miss when you go to Malapascua.
We heard about Ging-Ging’s restaurant as recommended by a lot of people so we decided to have dinner there. By the time we got there, the place is already packed with tourists, both Filipinos and foreigners, and luckily we were still able to find a table for all four of us. It looked so busy and they’re also understaffed with the amount of people that are eating there. We had to approach someone just to get a copy of the menu and it took a while until we got someone’s attention for them to get our orders. They have broad options for food though from American to Filipino breakfast meals, pastas, pizzas, Filipino dishes, seafood, fruit shakes, and beer. The food was good and heavy as well since the servings are big and all are cheap. However, it took almost 2 hours until our food arrived. I suggest that if you decide to eat there, make an early reservation and order your food ahead of time so you don’t have to wait that long.
See reviews here.
We booked our trip for our Island tour on our 2nd day at 9:00, so we decided to eat breakfast at 8:00 at this restaurant, which unfortunately doesn’t have a name, or so we thought. Anyway, it’s located near Elvira store, which is also near Hiltey’s Hideout and it caught our attention since they have a sign outside with sandwiches that cost for about 30 to 40PHP. The food is really good, no doubt with that. However, the service once again failed us. Casper and I ordered their American breakfast that comes with 2 eggs, 2 bacon or ham, 3 slices of bread with jam & butter, and coffee while our other two friends ordered 1 ham & egg sandwich and 1 ham & cheese sandwich. We have to wait for a while until the guy came back with the food even if there’s only 1 other table aside from us with 2 people. The first thing that arrived were 2 ham & cheese sandwiches then it took a while until the 2 American breakfast were served and it arrived with 2 eggs, 2 bacon, and 3 slices bread. Our friends didn’t bother to complain about the sandwiches since we were all in a hurry but Casper had to ask about the jam and the butter as well as the coffee. He was able to bring us the jam & butter right away but not the coffee so Casper had to ask once again. We were done with the food before Casper had to request the coffee for the 3rd time and there was a huge language barrier because Casper kept on saying “Can we get the coffee?” and the whole time he thought he meant that we’re not going to get the coffee. Despite that, I can still recommend this place because their sandwiches are really good and cheap at the same time.
MALAPASCUA ISLAND TOUR
The guy that we contacted for the island tour picked us up at Hiltey’s Hideout Homes at 9:00 sharp and we had the boat exclusive just for us. Our first stop was the coral garden. It’s been a while since I went snorkelling so it felt so nice going in the water seeing those beautiful corals and different kinds of fishes swimming around.
The second stop was where you can see the remains of the Japanese shipwreck that happened during the World War II. I was surprised of how big it was and you can see it upclose since the water isn’t really that deep.
The third stop was the Dakit Dakit Islet. The waves were kind of big so we can’t really go far. Despite of how deep the water in that area was, we were still able to see more sea creatures including an eel. Our package came with 1 hour for every stop so we were able to enjoy it all without rushing anyone.
The tour ended just in time for us to have lunch. After all the swimming and snorkelling, who wouldn’t be hungry right?
Since the two guys had been craving for a burger, we decided to look around for restaurants that have one and we did in The Other Place. Yes, that’s the name of the restaurant. It’s located near Ging-Ging’s restaurant. The rest ordered burgers while I ordered a sandwich and all four of us were really satisfied with what we got. The restaurant is pretty nice and comfy and they also have a billiard table that you can play for only 50 PHP per game.
The rest of the afternoon was spent swimming and chilling near Kokay’s Maldito Dive Resort. We decided to buy some drinks so we can use their heart shaped seats which was really comfy that you can just fall asleep while facing the beach. Also, the beach in that area don’t have that much seaweeds and there’s no waves at all so if you just want to swim and chill in the water, you got the perfect spot.
We also went back there to witness the beautiful sunset once again and tried out their Calamares and fruit shakes. It was really good and the food and drinks that they serve are also at a reasonable price. Not too heavy in the wallet. I love the restaurant ambience and they also have a billiard table and Foosball open for guests and customers to play with.
See reviews here.
We decided to buy dinner in K.B-Merk barbecue restaurant near Hiltey’s Hideout Homes which we had been eyeing since we saw it on our first night in Malapascua. The restaurant is also owned by Volker and it was kind of him to prioritize us in ordering our food and have it delivered straight to our rooms. The place was packed and not only the food is good but it’s also cheap. For those who wants barbecue, it’s the best place to be.
We decided to eat at the same restaurant where we had breakfast the day before, all because of their delicious sandwiches. The service? Still failed us. We ordered 2 ham & egg sandwiches and 2 ham & cheese sandwiches. He missed to write down 1 ham & egg sandwich so we told him to add it but the guy looked so confused to a point that Casper had to write it down along with the rest of our orders. When the food arrived, we got 3 ham & cheese and 1 ham & egg. One of our friends had to go straight to the kitchen with the ham & cheese telling them to change it to egg. If not for how good the food is, I don’t think we’d be eating there again. But, despite all our experiences there, I can still, once again, recommend this restaurant because of the good food at a really cheap price. Just have a little bit of patience especially to the foreigners out there.
For the last time before heading home, we swam at the beach near the Exotic Island Dive Resort. Despite the seaweeds floating around, there was a specific area there where you can swim at peace without those green stuff bugging you.
Going back to Cebu City is easier compared to going to Malapascua. The boat schedule going to the Maya wharf is from 7:00 and leaves every 30 minutes so we didn’t really have to wait that long before the boat left.
Reaching Maya, you have the option to go for a van or a bus. If you want to go for the bus, you’d have to follow the road for about 100 meters until you see a mini local store on the right side. It’s in that area where the buses would park if there are no passengers yet. However, as soon as there’d be a passenger, the bus will leave after 30 minutes. It was a non air-conditioned bus that’s the first one leaving for Cebu City and we happen to be one of the first passengers. The air-conditioned one will be leaving after 2 buses and we didn’t really want to wait an hour and a half until we get to leave.
It was already dark when we reached Cebu City and I was so exhausted from the trip. However, one thing’s for sure, it was totally worth it. We had a short trip but I totally had a great time.
Here are some few tips you might need to know and be aware of before you leave for Malapascua:
- If you’re in a really tight budget, you might want to bring your own food or at least some snacks since the prices there can be a little higher compared to the supermarket price. However, there’s a lot of really affordable restaurants as well. Just go around and check on some prices. You’d be surprised of how cheap some meals could be.
- Bring at least one 1L of water for the trip. Refilling is way cheaper.
- Also, you might want to bring water whenever you swim on the beach especially if you go on an island tour. The water in Malapascua is a lot more salty compared to others. You’d crave for drinking water easily.
- Bring your own toiletries. Most of the resorts there don’t provide soap, shampoos, and conditioners. To be sure, just bring your own.
- Bring an insect repellent spray or lotion. There’s a lot of mosquitoes in Malapascua, as well as flies.
- It’s best to carry a sunscreen with a high SPF and reapply often. We carried an SPF 50 suncreen but I failed to reapply every 2 hours leading to the cause of sun burns.
- If you’re an alcohol drinker, you can find a lot of bars near Bounty Beach. However, you can still find cheaper beers in some of the restaurants like Ging-Ging’s Restaurant and other local stores. If you’re a fan of rhum and coke and you wanted to get a cheap one, I suggest you make your own instead of buying a glass in any of the bars there. Tanduay Rhum, Coke, and ice can be found in a few of the local stores.
Rates / Fare:
- 170 PHP / head (non air-conditioned)
- 200 PHP / head (air-conditioned)
- 200 PHP / head
- 100 PHP / head
- 1,800 PHP / night (air-conditioned)
- 450 PHP / head (good for 3 hours; gears included; exclusive use)
- 800 PHP / head (8 hours with buffet lunch; shared boat unless you’re a group of 25-30)
- 150 PHP / head for Filipinos
- 500 PHP / head for foreigners
* Note: the sanctuary fee is only applicable to those that will go to Kalanggaman Island. The travel time is 1.5 hours for one way.
For the Island tour and the trip to Kalanggaman Island, price rates depend on who you will book it with especially on the Malapascua Island Tour. Some would request a minimum of 6 people for the 450 PHP / head rate. I suggest you book it with Jeffrey Yordan he has his own boat and he’s also very accommodating. Just contact him at +639353502582.
Malapascua is definitely a place you should visit. Locals there are also really friendly. There was never a day where no one said hi to us. A lot of the resorts are also owned by Europeans and just because they’re owned by a foreigner, doesn’t mean they’re all expensive. Take note, the owner of the resort where we stayed at is German and I definitely recommend that place. The owner is pretty hands-on with the resort and is always willing to give you tips about the island. If you haven’t thought of going to Malapascua, now’s the time to add it on your travel list.
You may check out this short video that we had taken during our trip.
There may be a lot of beaches and islands that you can visit in the Philippines, but Malapascua should never be missed.