The SPOT.ph Guide to Malapascua Island
When you're in the mood for some lazy beaches and unspoiled underwater wilderness.
(SPOT.ph) Cebu in Central Visayas is known not only for its significance in Philippine history, but also for its more than 100 surrounding islands and islets, most of which boast white-sand beaches. Malapascua Island, which is off Cebu's northernmost tip in the municipality of Daanbantayan, is one such gem.
Malapascua Island, just like Bantayan Island, is home to beautiful dive sites and pristine beaches with turquoise waters. Fun fact: “Mala Pascua,” which means bad Christmas, was coined after a group of Spaniards got stranded there on Christmas Day in 1520 due to terrible weather. But just looking at this list of must-see places makes you think that getting stuck there might not be such a bad thing after all.
WHERE TO GO
This glorious stretch of white sand is included on the list of “Asia’s 16 Most Beautiful Beaches” in 2017. It may be lined with hotels, restaurants, and dive shops, but that doesn't detract from its rustic provincial charm. Spread out your towel to soak up the sun or get a massage right on the beach for about P300/hour. Fancy a drink while watching the sunset? Happy hour starts at 4 p.m.
Located about three to four kilometers from Bounty Beach is another beautiful spot called Langub Beach. Though a public spot, it’s rarely visited. There’s nothing much here and the main shore is virtually untouched, making it the perfect place if your idea of fun is all about enjoying the warm sunshine while listening to the sound of the waves.
Light House and Japanese Wreck
For a panoramic view of Malapascua and its surrounding islands, make sure to visit the lighthouse. The original one was built in 1913, while the current octagonal steel tower was built in 1994. There’s also a nearby beach with a Japanese World War II landing craft wreck about three meters below that’s perfect for snorkeling. It’s accessible by foot or a short habal-habal ride.
Dive sites in Monad Shoal, Gato Island, and Chocolate Island
The marine life on Bantayan Island makes each dive an unforgettable experience filled with new discoveries! For adventure-seekers, go to Monad Shoal to have a close encounter with the Thresher Sharks.
Gato Island, which is about 45 minutes from Malapascua, is a protected marine sanctuary where you'll see big white-tip sharks, pygmy seahorses, and vibrant coral reefs. There’s also Chocolate Island—not filled with chocolates; but home to a lot of rare sea creatures.
New to diving? Don’t worry. There are a lot of dive centers with friendly instructors to guide you. A beginner’s diving course can take about three to five days; but if you want to just test the waters, you can sign up for the introductory course—which takes only an hour—to learn the basics.
There are a couple of nearby islands that aren’t really part of Cebu, but are must-sees.
The idyllic island is located just an hour and a half from Malapascua so it’s a perfect addition to your itinerary. Aside from its powdery white sand and turquoise waters, Kalanggaman is also famous for its beautiful sandbars on both ends. There are daily trips that you can arrange with your hotel or with local tour guides, so no need to pre-book. Tours often start at 8 a.m. and end at 4 p.m.—giving you enough time to snorkel, walk along the shore, or splash in the waters. If you’re staying overnight, make sure to charge your gadgets as there’s no electricity on the island.
Another boat ride away from Malapascua is this picturesque island in Biliran with turquoise waters and a hilly terrain carpeted with lush grass. The marine sanctuary makes it an ideal area for snorkeling. There’s no hotel here but you can rent an open-air cottage for P500.
WHERE TO EAT
Amihan Restaurant & Pizzeria
Tepanee Beach Resort
Open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Located atop a hill, this restaurant has two panoramic terraces that offer a lovely view of Malapascua Island. The food is mainly Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Some of their crowd-favorite dishes include the seafood pasta, melanzane alla parmigiana, and wood-fried pizzas. At night, it’s dimly lit, making it look romantic—an ideal spot for a candlelit sunset date by the beach.
Angelina Beach Pizzeria Ristorante Italiano
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Angelina Beach Pizzeria is named after its owner who hails from the world-famous food hub Emilia Romagna in Italy, so expect only the most authentic Italian dishes in this food stop. Aside from their oven-baked pizzas, you can also indulge in a great selection of other dishes like carpaccio, squid ink pasta, and ravioli. End your meal with their delicious homemade gelato and you’re good to go.
Ging-Ging’s Garden Restaurant
Open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
This cozy restaurant might not be the most Instagram-worthy on the island but the menu is extensive and probably the cheapest. They have local dishes like chicken adobo and other Asian options like fish curry. Their breakfast meal only costs around P70 for bacon with eggs so it’s usually a preferred spot for backpackers and budget travelers.
The Craic House
Evolution Dive and Beach Resort
Make sure to drop by this Irish-themed pub and restaurant (pronounced as “krak”) for their specialties like the prawn and mango salad, homemade beef chilli con carne empanadas, and the connemara crabcakes. Locals and tourists alike also rave about their homemade breads and imported wines from France and Italy.
WHERE TO STAY
Hippocampus Beach and Dive Resort
Rates start at P1,790
This resort draws the crowd with its hip and welcoming vibe. Rooms are cozy and will make you feel right at home with large verandas where you can relax and enjoy the fresh breeze. Come nightfall, you can just chill at their bar area. Hippocampus has become the favorite hangout on the island especially on Saturdays when they feature live bands.
Rates start at P3,400
With its location along Malapascua's main beach strip, this beachfront accommodation doesn't let you miss out on anything. They have garden rooms that lead to a quiet green oasis, a family room perfect for bigger groups, and sea-view rooms that are just a stone’s throw away from the beach. Each room has a private terrace tastefully decorated with abaca and mahogany furniture.
Tepanee Beach Resort
Rates start at P3,500
Looking for something more intimate and secluded? The Tepanee Beach Resort is perched on a small hill in Logon Beach, making it a perfect spot for breathtaking sunsets. There are sun beds, beach umbrellas, and gazebos if you want to treat yourself to a massage or immerse yourself in a good book. All around, this place is perfect for travelers who want total relaxation away from the crowd.
Buena Vida Resort and Spa
Rates start at P5,200
Tucked between palm trees, Buena Vida offers guests with a luxurious retreat. Here, you can have a tropical spa experience to pamper yourself or try their “Superfood”-Shakes for delicious, antioxidant-packed smoothies.
Blanco Beach Resort
Rates start around P4,500
This modern minimalist resort is located on the quiet side of the island with access to two private beaches, so you can embrace the beauty of nature sans the crowd. Travelers rave about their rooms with a view where you can request your breakfast served in the terrace. How’s that for a good morning?
HOW TO GET THERE
Commercial airlines fly direct from Manila to Cebu via Mactan–Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu. From there, ride a cab to the North Bus Terminal in Cebu City. Then, take a bus bound for Maya Port in Daanbantayan, the northernmost point of Cebu. From there, take a 30-minute boat ride to Malapascua.