Malapascua Island has been long considered as one of the Philippines’ best diving locations mainly because of Thresher Sharks. It has been noted that there is a decline in their population due to fishing, but luckily, authorities recently made Monad Shoal (where the sharks are usually) a marine park. These sharks are nocturnal so most of the diving schools do their dive in the early hours of the morning. I am not a diver yet so I did not participate in this adventure. But then, Malapascua has so much more to offer than a great diving spot.
From Cebu City
Coming from the city, you have to go to the North Bus Terminal and from there, ride a Ceres bus going to Maya port. The bus fare is roughly around 150 pesos and takes 3-4 hours.
From Bantayan Island
Since Malapascua was the last destination of my birthday backpacking trip, I came from Bantayan Island. I rode a tricycle back to Santa Fe Port which costs around 100 pesos then rode the ferry again back to Hagnaya Port which is in mainland Cebu. The ferry ride costs 170 pesos and is an hour long. The earliest ride is at 3 AM and leaves every hour. Because there are no buses that go to Maya Port from Hagnaya, I rode a tricycle to Bogo Public Market and the fare was 30 pesos per person. From the market, I waited for either a multi-cab or a bus. After 20 minutes of waiting, a bus arrived and off I went to Maya Port. The bus ride was around an hour long.
Maya Port is not much of a port at all. It was just a terminal for pump boats and outriggers with little huts here and there.
Since it was low tide when I arrived, my fellow travelers and I had to ride small boats as seen above to go the bigger outrigger boats a couple of meters away from the port. This is where it gets tricky. I read in most blogs that the boat transfer supposedly cost 20 pesos each but that really depends on how many you are and how good you haggle. Since it was my first time, I didn’t know this and paid 50 pesos as did my fellow travelers. The Spanish couple I was with was shocked with the price because they have been to Malapascua many times and they usually pay half of that. But the boatman did not budge and so we paid.
We then paid around 100 pesos each for the bigger boat going to Malapascua Island and it was an hour’s ride.
A PLACE WHERE FRIENDSHIPS START
Once you have arrived on the island, the only transportation you can get is a Habal-Habal (motorcycle) to bring you to your resort. It is 25 pesos per ride and what a ride it was! Malapascua only has one cement road and my hotel is quite far so we had to pass by sandy roads and it was very slippery. I was praying for my dear life and luckily I arrived at Thresher Cove Dive Resort safe and sound.
Thresher Cove is the only resort on the island (at that time) that offers shared rooms like a hostel, therefore, it has the cheapest price. I booked them through Hostelworld and I only paid around 350 pesos per night. Unfortunately, when I checked the site again, the dorm rooms are now priced at 500 pesos a night but the resort is worth it. They have a pool, a moderately priced restaurant, a private beach, a pool table and a common area where you can watch movies and play board games with fellow guests. They also offer (obviously) diving lessons.
The funny thing about me on this trip was that I was not expecting to meet new people and make a connection with them. What I was expecting was that I would be myself most of the time, like what I did in Bantayan. Sure I met people and conversed with them but I never shared my trip with them.
I saw Andre when I was being brought to the dorm room. He was on his laptop and I thought he was Indian. Lo and behold, when he went inside the dorm room and started a conversation with me, he said he was Brazilian. One thing to know about me my dear readers is that I absolutely adore Brazil. Andre approached me because I was wearing my Brazil National Team Football jersey and a friendship was born. He told me that he has been traveling all over Asia and that he is studying to be a doctor. We then hung out at the pool and had dinner and was basically joined at the hip starting that day.
EXPLORING THE ISLAND
Since Andre and I were the only ones not in a dive course at the resort, we decided to check out what the island has to offer. Luckily, Thresher Cove offers a boat rental with snorkeling gear. We paid 300 each for the boat and it was a half day excursion. The driver brought us to the famous Malapascua Lighthouse and even showed us where we can cliff dive.
I found this cove while we were on our way to the lighthouse and made the driver stop. We had to swim to go to it but it was well worth the paranoid thoughts I was having of being stung by a sea urchin.
I left my phone with the driver and had him take pictures of us. Isn’t it amazing? And what you guys don’t know is that Andre was hiding behind the rocks. Oh, what we do to get that beautiful picture. 🙂
On our way back to the resort, we did a bit of snorkeling. The driver brought to a location where there is a sunken Japanese warship and words cannot describe how eerily beautiful it was. Sadly, I did not have a proper underwater camera at that time so I could not show you pictures. I guess you just have to see for yourselves.
CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY
The following day, I checked out because I booked a suite in Angelina Beach Resort. I splurged a little bit since it was my birthday. I paid 2300 pesos via Agoda but now a double room costs 3200 pesos. It’s baffling how prices go up after two years.
I really loved my stay at Angelina because the rooms are spacious and very classy. But most importantly, their food is divine. They really do serve authentic Italian Cuisine. It’s amazing how they get fresh ingredients when they’re far away from Mainland Cebu. When you get the chance to visit Malapascua, I highly recommend you guys to eat there. Try the calzone, it will change your life (and standards).
Andre met up with me that night to have my birthday dinner then we went out for drinks at the Kokay’s Maldito Dive Resort. We also tried to bar hop but the nightlife in Malapascua is basically nonexistent since the bars close at 10 pm. We even got lost on our way back to Angelina’s but luckily, one local found us wandering around the village and helped us find our way.
GOING BACK TO CEBU
Going back to Mainland Cebu is the same as how you got there in the first place. From Maya Port, there are buses that go to the North Bus Terminal which is roughly a 4-hour ride. Andre and I were not so lucky with the bus we rode since it was not air conditioned and it was so hot. We paid 150 pesos each.
Back in Cebu City, Andre and I had our early dinner at Mooon Cafe which is a Mexican Restaurant found in some parts of the Visayas. And I finally got my birthday cake!
Andre was staying for another night in the city since he planned on going to Oslob for the whalesharks and was convincing me to join him. Alas, I still have work the next day and I couldn’t extend my trip since I was still new in my company. So we parted ways and I went to go to the airport to catch my 9 pm flight.