Malapascua Itinerary: Plan Now! Go Later!
One of my favorite places to visit in the Philippines is Malapascua Island, a small island off the coast of northern Cebu. Although it’s famous for diving with thresher sharks, you don’t need to be a diver to enjoy the island and its beautiful beaches. I’ve put together this Malapascua travel guide for non-divers that includes pretty much everything you need to know to have a great time on the island. It also includes information on how to visit the tropical paradise that is the island of Kalanggaman. This guide includes a list of things to do on Malapascua, how to get to Malapascua, and a sample 5-day Malapascua itinerary, which you can easily shorten to 4 days.
If you’re looking for where else to travel to in this beautiful country, check out my 15 favorite places to visit in the Philippines.
You can also find ALL of my Philippine posts on my Philippines travel guide page.
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MALAPASCUA ISLAND: THE ISLAND OF BAD EASTER
Malapascua is a small island (2.5 x 1 kilometer) located off the northern tip of Cebu island. Originally, the islanders made their living off of fishing, but as fish stocks have dwindled over the years and international tourism has grown, most of the inhabitants work in the tourism industry now.
The Spanish named the island Malapascua after getting shipwrecked on the island on December 25, 1520 (Christmas Day) and having to spend weeks and weeks on the isolated island. They were worried that they would be stranded there until Easter, so they named it Malapascua or “Bad Easter.” Locals call the island “Logon.”
The island was hard hit by 2017’s Typhoon Yolanda. It destroyed many of the houses on the island. Maybe that is why the southern part of the island looks a bit like a shanty town with narrow, winding alleyways and houses jampacked together and constructed out of bits and pieces of thrown away material.
The island is small. You can walk from one end to the other in about an hour and supposedly, you can walk around the whole island in four hours. I did the former, but not the latter. The roads can get so narrow in places that only a motorcycle can fit. I never saw a car or truck during my four days on the island. Most people get around by motorbike.
The main residential and tourist area of the island is along Bounty Beach, where the port is. When I was there in March 2020, the boat dropped us off at Bounty Beach, but I departed the island via the old port, which is near Logon Beach. I heard that guests in the hotels along Bounty Beach complained about the masses of people waiting for their boats on the beach and that led the switch to Logon Beach.
Most hotels are around Bounty Beach, but it is not the best beach on the island. Langob Beach (North Beach) is much more beautiful and better for swimming than Bounty Beach.
PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting World Nomads. This is what I've used for short-term travel. When I quit my job to travel around the world, I switched to Safety Wings. They're very affordable (less than US$100 a month depending on age) especially for those of us who are over 40 years old. They now cover COVID19.
WHY YOU SHOULD VISIT MALAPASCUA
Diving with thresher sharks – The water surrounding Malapascua (Monad Shoal) is one of the best places in the world where you can dive with thresher sharks all year round.
Undeveloped and uncrowded beaches – There are some great undeveloped, uncrowded beaches on the island. My favorite was North Beach.
Relaxing place to hang out –What makes Malapascua so relaxing is that you don’t have to try so hard. It’s a tiny island that is easy to get around, requiring no expensive tricycle or motorcycle rental.
Gateway to Kalanggaman Island – The main reason I went to Malapascua was to visit Kalanggaman Island, a tiny island with a sandbar that is so beautiful that if you didn’t see it for yourself you swear people were making it up.
WHEN TO VISIT MALAPASCUA
The best time to visit Malapascua is from December to May. The island is at its driest and the seas are calmer. Expect April and May to be really hot, though.
Malapascua is a popular weekend destination for Filipinos. Try to arrange your stay for the weekday to avoid crowds.
BUDGET FOR MALAPASCUA
Prices for food and accommodations on Malapascua were similar to what I paid for on Bohol and Siquijor and in Moalboal, but since the island was so small, transport on Malapascua was cheaper. Prices for everything were lower than what I paid in El Nido, Port Barton, Puerto Princesa, and Coron.
On average, I spent US$26/day on days when I wasn’t going on a tour (to Kalanggaman or hiring a boat for snorkeling) and US$46/day on days when I went to Kalanggaman or hired a boat for snorkeling. I also stayed in a dorm but ate seafood at the market every evening.
MALAPASCUA FOR SOLO TRAVELERS
Malapascua is a good place in the Philippines for solo travelers. First, when I was there (post-COVID19 not sure if these will still exist) are two popular hostels: Malapascua Budget Inn and Neverland.
The second reason is that getting around for solo travelers is cheaper and more convenient on Malapascua than on other islands. Walking is the cheapest and hiring a motorbike (40 pesos) is cheaper than hiring a tricycle (150-300 pesos) solo.
The only downside for solo travelers is that if you want to do some snorkeling at Coral Gardens or Dakit Dakit, you’ve got to hire a private boat as there are no group tours doing it. Hiring your own boat can get pretty costly if you’re the only one. You’ll have to try to get a group of travelers together to do it.
You can read more about what it’s like to travel alone in this beautiful country in my Solo Travel Guide to the Philippines. The post also includes 12 useful tips on how to travel safely and cheaply in the Philippines and still have a great time.
PRO TIP: Here's a list of essential items to pack for all of your island-hopping tours while in the Philippines:
- Dry bag - You're going to get wet while in the boat and your things will get wet if you don't have a dry bag. Leave your backpack at your hotel.
- Waterproof bag or pouch for your cell phone especially for your visit to such places as the Big Lagoon and the Secret Lagoon in El Nido.
- Water shoes - It's important to have a pair because sometimes you'll need to be walking on rocks to get to your destination. You'll thank me later for bringing them.
- Sunscreen - Make sure to put it on 30 minutes before being in the sun and/or water. Banana Boat worked the best for me. You can buy it in the Philippines, too, but it's pricey (500 - 700 pesos depending on the store--shop around!)
- Mask and snorkel - OPTIONAL - Most tour companies provide you with a mask and snorkel, but if you want to bring your own, I highly recommend the full face mask and snorkel. It's ideal for those who aren't confident swimmers.
Internet and WIFI ON THE ISLAND
The internet connection is average for the Philippines, which is not saying it’s good. It’s better than what I experienced In Palawan and pretty much the same as everywhere else on Cebu island except for Cebu city, which since it’s a big city it’s pretty damn good.
At my accommodations, the WiFi worked but was unstable in the common area but didn’t work at all inside the room.
I was using a Globe SIM card.
ATMS ON THE ISLAND
I’ve read on many other blogs that there are no ATMs on Malapascua. This is simply not true. I can attest to the fact that there was an ATM (inside a small building) right in front of my hostel, the Malapascua Budget Inn. I also saw ATMs along Bounty Beach.
HOW TO GET TO MALAPASCUA
I’m going to tell you how I got from Cebu City to Malapascua and vice versa. I’ll also tell you how I got from Moalboal to Malapascua in one day.
I was worried about getting to the island because I heard lots of stories about people getting stuck in Maya because there were no more boats to Malapascua or because locals were scamming them by telling them that there weren’t any more boats to Malapascua. Neither of these happened to me.
Manila to Malapascua
To get from Manila to Malapascua, you’ll need to first fly to Cebu. Then take a bus, van, or taxi to Maya Port followed by a boat to Malapascua. Follow my detailed instructions below for getting from Cebu to Malapascua by bus.
For info on getting to and from the airport in Manila, read my Getting Around Manila post.
Cebu to Malapascua
You can either take a bus, van, or private car to Malapascua from Cebu. The bus is cheaper (230 pesos (US$4.50) but slower (4.5 hours). Buses make frequent stops. The van costs anywhere from 250 to 500 pesos and takes 4 hours, but because vans try to pack as many people as they can into them, they can be cramped and uncomfortable. A private car costs around 3,000 pesos (US$60). I took the bus.
- Took a taxi to North Bus Station in Cebu (the bus station near SM Mall)
- Caught a Ceres bus (you can also catch a van) while in the bus station I saw signs pointing the way to buses for Maya
- The bus took me to New Maya Port, dropping me off near the Tourist Information Center at New Maya Port – This is where I bought my boat ticket.
- A ticket cost 100 pesos (US$2) if there were at least 15 people on the boat; if there were fewer than 15 people, you and the rest of the passengers had to split 1500 pesos (US$30) to pay for the boat. There were boats to Malapascua until 5:00ish. If you missed the last boat, you’d either have to stay in Maya or hire a private boat. I arrived at 4:00 pm and we left some time before 5:00 pm with a full boat of mostly locals.
- The boat took 45 minutes to get to Malapascua. My boat dropped me off at Bounty Beach. A sign at the Tourist Information Center said that if the tied was too low, you would have to transfer to another boat for 10 pesos (+10 pesos for luggage) to get to shore.
You can ignore all of these instructions and just book a private van through Klook. Before aware that the van doesn’t go unless there are at least six passengers.
Malapascua to Cebu
- Luckily, when I was checking out of my hotel that morning, I was told that the departure location for the boat for Maya had changed that morning from Bounty Beach to Logon Beach.
- I walked to Logon Beach, following the signs when I got there. I checked in and paid 100 pesos (US$2) for my ticket at a desk at the beginning of the pier. The boat took 40 minutes to get to Maya.
- When I arrived at Maya New Port, I saw white vans parked along the pier. They were charging 500 pesos (US$10).
- I chose to continue walking down the pier until I saw a bus station on a hill on the right side of the road.
- It was a large nearly empty parking lot filled with a handful of buses. Only one looked like it was going anywhere, so I got on that one. It turned out to be non-airconditioned, but surprisingly comfortable and only a quarter full the whole way to Cebu.
- The bus dropped and picked people up continuously and frequently along the way to Cebu. The final stop was the North Bus Station in Cebu.
Moalboal to Malapascua / Malapascua to Moalboal
The route I actually took was from Moalboal in the south to Malapascua all in one day.
- I caught an airconditioned bus bound for Cebu from the bus stop in Moalboal at 7:30 am. It cost 156 pesos (US$3) and it took 3.5 hours.
- The bus dropped me off at the South Bus Station in Cebu at 11:00 am.
- I grabbed a white taxi from the taxi stand at the bus station. The taxi cost 148 pesos (US$3) and I arrived at the North Bus Station (near SM Mall) at 11:20 am.
- I followed signs pointing me to buses bound for Maya.
- I easily found a bus leaving for Maya at 11:30 am, bought my ticket and then made a dash for a food stand that sold Filipino pastries (spent 25 pesos).
- The bus stopped every 5 or 10 minutes dropping off passengers on the side of the road.
- We arrived at Maya New Port at 4:00 pm
- I bought a ticket from the Tourist Information Center at Maya New Port for 100 pesos. The last boat was at 5:00.
Bantayan to Malapascua
Bantayan Island – You’ll have to hire a private boat to take you from Bantayan Island to Malapascua. In 2020 boats were 1500 pesos (US$30) minimum and were taking 2 hours.
HOW TO GET AROUND MALAPASCUA
One reason I loved my time on Malapascua was that it was small enough to get around without relying on public transportation. Just make sure you have enough data on your phone to use Google Maps or Maps.Me because the narrow roads make lots of turns, so it’s easy to get lost. It’s not one straight line from one end of the island to another.
If you need to stay on other parts of the island, you can take a motorcycle (habal habal) to get there. It cost me 40 pesos to get from the southern tip to the northern tip of the island. I hired my driver from the central market.
THINGS TO DO ON MALAPASCUA
My favorite beach on the island is Langob Beach.
Bounty Beach – The beach is lined with dive shops, hotels, and restaurants. The water in the front of the beach is filled with boats and boats and boats. I never saw anyone actually hanging out on the beach or swimming in the water. People usually hang out at the cafes or bars along the beach.
Langob Beach (North Beach) – I only ever heard people call this undeveloped and uncrowded beach, North Beach, and it is by far the best beach on the island. If you get there before noon, you’ll be able to look down the length of this long white beach and see no one else around. The water in front of the beach is crystal clear. There’s just one restaurant and a snack bar.
Secret Beach – At the farthest end of North Beach is a set of stairs that goes up and then through the abandoned ruins of a hotel and down to this small barely used beach. It’s quiet here. But the water’s a bit rough.
Lighthouse Beach – This is a beach that you probably wouldn’t find or know existed if someone hadn’t told you. I found it by looking for Eco Bar on the GPS. You’ll also find steps beside the bar leading up to the Lighthouse, where there are views of the ocean. People come here for the beer, the lighthouse, the opportunity to snorkel around a Japanese wreck, and to watch the sunset. It’s a bit hard to get to as you need to walk through some tall grass, up some stairs and then down a hill. Just ask the people at Neverland Hostel for the way.
PRO TIP: Make sure to buy sea shoes/water shoes for your trip to the Philippines. The bottom of the ocean is rocky and it’s easy to cut yourself or break your toe or foot while walking in the shallow part of the ocean.
2. Visiting and Staying Overnight on Kalanggaman Island
The real reason I traveled all the way across Cebu island to Malapascua was to visit Kalanggaman Island. I was told by a blogging couple from Argentina that this was THE most beautiful island with the most beautiful sandbar they’d been to in the Philippines. It is indeed the most beautiful island I’ve been to in the Philippines. My only regret is that I didn’t stay overnight on the island.
This island has become really touristy recently. However, when I visited, it was the beginning of March 2020 and although the pandemic hadn’t hit the Philippines yet, tourism was down, so it wasn’t crowded at all.
If you want to visit the island on a day trip, just sign up for a tour with your hotel or hostel. There’s only one tour organization that does the tours. They just fill up as many boats as they can. The boat ride to and from the island that includes lunch cost 900 pesos (US$18) plus 500 pesos (US$10) for the park entrance fee, which you pay on the island.
You can also stay overnight on the island. To camp out, it costs 250 pesos (US$5) and 250 pesos (US$5) to rent a tent from the park office on the island. There are also wooden A-frame huts (more like the size of a tent) on the tip of the island that rent for 1,000 pesos (US$20). You could also sleep in a hammock on the island.
One good thing about staying overnight is that all the day trippers leave around 2:00 or 3:00 and then it’ll be just you and a few other tourists on this island paradise. To return the next day, you need to pay 400 pesos (US$8) more.
There’s not much to do on the island except swim, take photos, snorkel, and hang out. And that’s really all ok because you don’t want to or need to do too much to enjoy yourself.
There’s a snack shack on the island that sells snacks and drinks including beer. There are also toilets on the island as well.
You can also visit Kalanggaman from Cebu through tours with Klook.
To get to the really good snorkeling areas, you’ll have to rent a boat. There are three places that are recommended: coral gardens on the west side of the island, Dakit Dakit Island, and the Japanese Shipwreck off of Lighthouse Beach.
Most people visit Malapascua for the opportunity to see thresher sharks. These interesting sea creatures have this amazing long, whip-like tail that they use to slap their prey, stunning them senseless so that the shark can scoop them up and eat them.
Thresher sharks are not a threat to humans. There has only been one documented case of one killing a human and that was because the person grabbed its tail. Generally, the sharks are scared of humans and will swim away if they see one.
The most popular place to see the sharks is at Monad Shoals. However, you need to be at an advanced level to do this dive.
There are a lot of dive shops that organize diving tours. The most frequently recommended one is Thresher Cove Dive Resort.
For more info on diving around Malapascua, check out this website here.
PRO TIP: Download these apps onto your phone for your trip to any country in Asia. They will make your life so much easier!
- Grab: - Grab is the ride-sharing service that people use in Southeast Asia. It's a must-have for getting around Manila, Hanoi, Singapore etc. It's not so necessary on the smaller islands.
- Klook - Klook is a tour-booking website used by lots of travelers in Asia. You're more likely to book with an honest tour company through Klook than through anyone else.
- WhatsApp: What's App is the best service to use for getting in touch with other travelers, tour guides, and businesses in the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, etc.
- Booking.com: I think Booking.com is the best website to use for booking accommodations in Asia.
- MAPS.ME & Google Maps: I have both of these apps on my phone. Sometimes MAPS.ME works better than Google Maps and vice versa. Make sure to download your maps to your phone before you start your adventure so you can view them offline. If you switch SIM cards, you might lose your downloaded maps.
DAY 1 – Arriving in Malapascua and arranging for your Kalanggaman tour
DAY 2 – Head to Kalanggaman Island and stay overnight
DAY 3 – Head back to Malapascua and spend the day relaxing at Langob Beach (North Beach)
DAY 4 – Hire a boat to go snorkeling or do some diving
DAY 5 – Departure –
WHERE TO STAY ON MALAPASCUA
Malapascua Budget Inn (BOOKING.COM): I stayed at the Malapascua Budget Inn near Bounty Beach. The best thing about the place is that it’s near the port and the market where there are tons of shops and inexpensive restaurants where you can pick out your own seafood and have them grill it for you. You can get a whole fish for anywhere from 150 pesos to 300 pesos and probably more depending on the type of fish. A dish of shrimp was 150 pesos. The hostel is also close to the port.
Other than that, the place isn’t very clean and the staff aren’t very friendly unless you’re overly friendly to them first. Also, breakfast isn’t included and there’s no free coffee and tea like you’d find in most other hostels in the Philippines.
Other accommodation options:
Neverland (AGODA | BOOKING.COM): Neverland is another budget option that’s gotten rave reviews from fellow travelers I met along the way. It’s located near the best beach on the island, Langob Beach, the owner and staff are super friendly, and guests can do something for the environment by taking part in weekly beach cleanup activities. There are two downsides to Neverland, though. First, although the food is really healthy, it’s also expensive. Second, it’s far from the port and from less expensive restaurants.
Thresher Cove Dive Resort (AGODA | BOOKING.COM): Thresher Cove Dive Resort has gotten good reviews for those whose main thing to do in Malapascua is diving. They’ve got a range of accommodation types from dorm rooms to private rooms.
PRO TIP: ALWAYS contact your hotel or hostel before arriving to find out the best way to get from the bus station/train station/ferry port to the hotel/hostel. They usually know the ins and outs of the public transportation system and they know the most current and best way to get somewhere compared to a guide book, another traveler on a forum, or a blog post. Sometimes newer places or more corporate places don’t know (like Crazy Bears Hostel in Moalboal gave me the wrong information).
WHERE TO EAT ON MALAPASCUA
There are a few areas on the island where tourists eat. There are some higher-end restaurants along Bounty Beach. Then there’s the market that’s a few blocks inward from the ocean. Finally, you can find restaurants here and there around the island.
The best place to eat local food on Malapascua is at the market near Bounty Beach. There are several outdoor restaurants to choose from. In the evening, the restaurants call out to tourists walking buy getting them to stop at their restaurant. There’s seafood set out in the front of the restaurants. Just pick out what you want and they’ll grill it for you right there. Super tasty and not expensive at all. I spent around 150 pesos -300 pesos a night.
Eco Bar on Lighthouse Beach is a nice place to get a beer and a snack and watch the sunset.
There are also some decent restaurants along North Beach as well.
Looking for more off-the-beaten-path destinations?
There you have it! I hope this travel guide helps you in planning your trip to Malapascua.
Malapascua is not just a destination for divers. Non-divers can find lots to do here. But it’s sometimes not a bad thing to do nothing at all. Just hang out on the beach and relax.
If there is one thing that you MUST DO when you visit Malapascua is to visit Kalanggaman Island. Definitely, try to stay overnight if you can!
By the way, if you’re looking for more info on the Philippines, check out my Philippines Travel Guide page.
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More Info on the Philippines:
- Learn how to take public transportation and a Grab and taxi around Manila - First-Timers Guide to Getting Around Manila
- Manila Itinerary: 2 Days Exploring the Culture and History of Manila - In this guide, you'll get a detailed step-by-step itinerary for seeing the sights in Manila.
- Port Barton Itinerary: What to do for 3 Days in Port Barton - Find out how to discover the most beautiful beach in the Philippines.
- One of my favorite experiences in the Philippines was an island-hopping tour of Sibaltan. Get the details here: Sibaltan Tour: Finding Your Secret Paradise in Palawan, Philippines
- El Nido Itinerary: An Adventure of a Lifetime - Learn where to go, what to eat, where to see, and of course, what to do in El Nido.
- Bohol Travel Guide: Exploring the Natural Wonder of the Philippines will tell you exactly what to see and do in Bohol, how to get there, where to stay, and much, much more!
- Siquijor Itinerary: Exploring the Island of Fire will give you the skinny on everything you need to know to travel to Siquijor.
- Malapascua Itinerary: Plan Now! Go Later! will help you plan your trip to Malapascua and Kalanggaman Islands.
- Find out what my 15 favorite places to visit in the Philippines are.
- Solo Travel Guide for the Philippines will give you some pointers on how to best travel solo in the Philippines cheaply and safely and still have a kick-ass time!