Ultimate Malapascua Itinerary (+ Kalanggaman Island)

by Mar 29, 2024Itinerary, Philippines, Travel

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, what to do on Malapascua, how to get to the island, and how to spend 5 days on Malapascua.

This Malapascua itinerary is part of my larger Philippines Itinerary geared toward Cebu Island.

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.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.  As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.  Please see this website's Disclosure for more info.

About Malapascua: 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.”

Map of Philippines

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 visited, 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 to 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 travel insurance. During my travels over the past 2 years, I've been using SafetyWing for my insurance. They're very affordable for all ages, and digital nomads can use their insurance long-term.

Bounty Beach in Malapascua

PRO TIP: Here's a list of essential items to pack for all of your island-hopping tours while in the Philippines:

  • Dry bag - Your stuff will get wet while on island hopping tours so a dry bag is ESSENTIAL for the Philippines.
  • 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 and island hopping in Port Barton.
  • 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 - You buy sunscreen in the Philippines, too, but it's pricey (500 - 700 pesos depending on the store--shop around!)
  • Mask and snorkel -  I recommend bringing your own mask and snorkel. If you're new to snorkeling, start with the full face mask and snorkel. That's what I did.
Bounty Beach in Malapascua

Malapascua Itinerary Day 1

Day 1 of this Malapascua Itinerary is going to be spent getting to the island. It’s easy yet also not so easy because it will take lots of buses as well as a ferry. I made this trek starting in Moalboal on Cebu, so I’ll tell you first how I got there from Moalboal.

  • Getting to Malapscua
  • Checking in to Your Hotel or Hostel
  • Booking Your Kalanggaman Tour
  • Dinner

Stop #1: Getting to Malapascua

In this Malapascua Travel Guide, I’m going to tell you how to get to Malapscua:

  • From Moalboal – Cebu – Malapascua
  • From Manila – Cebu – Malapascua

I was worried about getting to the island because I heard lots of stories about people getting stuck in Maya because locals were scamming them by telling them that there weren’t any more boats to Malapascua or there REALLY were NO boats to the island. Neither of these happened to me.

Getting from Moalboal to Malapascua in One Day

This is the route I took from Moalboal to Malapascua:

  1. 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.
  2. The bus dropped me off at the South Bus Station in Cebu at 11:00 am.
  3. 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.
  4. I followed signs pointing me to buses bound for Maya.
  5. 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).
  6. The bus stopped every 5 or 10 minutes dropping off passengers on the side of the road.
  7. We arrived at Maya New Port at 4:00 pm
  8. I bought a ticket from the Tourist Information Center at Maya New Port for 100 pesos. The last boat was at 5:00. It took 45 minutes to get to Malapascua. The boat dropped everyone 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 also book a private van from Moalboal to Cebu City and then a private van from Cebu City to Maya Port.

passengers getting off a boat on the island of Malapascua, Philippines

Getting from Manila to Malapascua

To get from Manila to Malapascua, you’ll need to first fly to Cebu City. Check Skyscanner for flight information.

You can either take a bus, van, or private car from Cebu to Malapascua.

  • 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.

For those wanting to take the public bus, follow the same instructions as above but start at step #3. 

You can ignore all of these instructions and just book a private van through Klook. Be aware that the van doesn’t go unless there are at least six passengers.

Getting from 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.

Stop #2 Checking Into Your Hotel, Hostel, or Airbnb

Malapascua is a small island. You can stay in one of two areas:
  • In town near Bounty Beach (where boats drop you off) – It’s convenient. You can easily walk from where boats drop you off to your hotel. You’re surrounded by lots of restaurants and shops as well as the market.
  • On the opposite end of the island near Longub Beach – There aren’t many restaurants or shops. It’s far from the port. However, you’re near Langub Beach, the best beach in Malapascua

Where did I stay?

I stayed at Malapascua Budget Inn (Hostel World | Agoda | Booking.com) near Bounty Beach. The best thing about the hostel is that it is 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. The other thing I liked about the hostel was that there was a nice rooftop social area where you can hang out. There’s a nice rooftop social area where you can hang out.
dorm room at Malapascua Budget Inn

However, when I stayed there, the hostel wasn’t very clean and the staff weren’t very friendly unless you were overly friendly to them first. Then they came out of their shell. The rooms were small and the bathrooms weren’t very clean. Also, breakfast still isnt’ included.

Recent reviews have been pretty good. Overall, it gets an 8.4/10 on Booking.com and 8.6/10 on Agoda.

Other places to stay on Malapascua:

  • Neverland – Under US$20
  • Malapascua Garden Resort – US$30 – $40
  • Tepanee Resort – Over US$100
  • Blanco Beach Resort – Over US$200

Neverland  (Hostel World | 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 less expensive restaurants.

Malapascua Garden Resort (AGODA | BOOKING.COM): Malapascua Garden Resort is a good mid-range option. Very conveniently located with better reviews than most hotels on the island.

Tepanee Island Resort (AGODA | BOOKING.COM): Tepanee has gotten great reviews on booking sites. Great views and is conveniently located with a nice private beach.

Blanco Beach Resort (Booking.com | Agoda) – Another great hotel in a great location with its own private beach.

Stop #3 Dinner at the Market

Your first meal on Malapascua must be seafood. Luckily, you’ll find plenty of affordable places to eat that sell fresh and delicious fish and seafood. You just need to know where to look. 

Market in Malapascua

The best place for dinner is at the Malapascua Market near Bounty Beach. The market is like an outdoor food court full of seafood vendors with displays of fresh fish and seafood. Point to a fish or crab or squid and they’ll grill it for you right there. Then grab a seat at one of the tables and they’ll bring it to you when it’s done. The price is affordable and the food is delicious!

How to Get Around Malapascua

Malapscua only has paths that are only big enough for a tuk-tuk or motorcycle and not a full-sized truck or car.

narrow road with a yellow hotel on right side on Malapascua

The island is small, so most of the time I just used my own two feet to get around the island. Have some kind of map app downloaded on your phone to navigate the narrow paths.

There are no public buses or colectivos. However, you can hire a motorcycle (habal habal) to get to where you want to go. 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 near Bounty Beach.

Malapascua Itinerary Day 2

I recommend starting your Malapascua itinerary with one of the best islands in the Philippines: Kalanggaman Island. It’s one of the best things to do on Malapascua.

Kalanggaman is a postage-sized island with the most gorgeous white sandy beaches and bathtub-clear water. The highlight of the island, though is the long sandbar that seems to never end.  It’s so beautiful that photos of it will make all your friends jealous.

Kalanggaman Island from Above - The Philippines

You can visit the island on a day trip (that’s what I did) or you can stay overnight. I recommend staying overnight. The day trip was fantastic but everyone I talked to who did the overnight stay on the island raved about their experience.

How to do a day trip to Kalanggaman

If you want to visit the island on a day trip, just sign up for a tour with your hotel or hostel the day before. There’s only one tour organization in Malapascua that does the tours. They just fill up as many boats as they can. The boat ride to and from the island, which included lunch, cost me 900 pesos (US$18) plus 500 pesos (US$10) for the park entrance fee, which you paid when you arrived on the island.

The boat left from Bounty Beach at 9:00 am. It took 2 hours to get to Kalanggaman. We returned at around 5:00 pm. 

sandbar of Kalanggaman

How to stay overnight on Kalanggaman

Camping out costs 500 pesos (US$9) and 250 pesos (US$4.50) 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 are rented out for 1,000 pesos (US$18).

You can sleep in a hammock for free.

Everything on the island is very primitive. There is no electricity or stores, so bring flashlights AND enough food. When I was there, there was only a snack shack selling drinks and junk food. I’m not sure if it’s still there. Toilets are very basic. Luckily, you can get a WiFi signal.

Why stay overnight?

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 handful of other tourists on this island paradise.

How to get back to Malapscua the next day?

To return to Malapasua the next day, you need to pay 400 pesos (US$8) for the boat ride.

Kalanggaman Island

There’s not much to do on the island except swim, take photos, snorkel, read, and hang out. If that’s something you’re good at doing, then you’ll love Kalanggaman.

WARNING: Don’t go swimming at the end of the sandbar. The current is really strong and there are riptides. Our guide told us that someone had died earlier that year.

Malapascua Itinerary Day 3

On day 3 of your Malapascua itinerary, you’ll be returning in the afternoon to Malapascua from Kalanggaman. You’ll catch a ride with one of the tour groups around 2:00 pm. You should get back at 4:00 pm.

Malapascua Itinerary Day 4

Spend the last full day on Malapascua by visiting the beaches on the north side of the island. I’ll give you a list of beaches.

You can also hire a boat to take you out to some reefs around Malapascua to do some snorkeling. I’ll give you some ideas on where you can go.

Stop #1 Visit the Beaches of Malapascua

Head out to the beaches on the north side of Malapascua. I went to Langob beach in the morning and I got the whole beach to myself. It wasn’t until around noon that the beach started filling up.

Here’s a list of the beaches of Malapascua:

  • Bounty Beach – not for swimming but for hanging out at cafes and restaurants
  • Langob Beach (North Beach) – long beautiful beach, great sand, calm clear water
  • Secret Beach – harder to get to, smaller, a bit rocky
  • Lighthouse Beach – hard to get to, tiny rocky beach, good for snorkeling, cool beach bar, sunsets

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. Instead, people usually hung out at the cafes or bars along the beach.

swing chair on Bounty Beach in Malapascua

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. When I visited, there was just one restaurant and a snack bar.

North Beach in Malapascua

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.

Secret Beach on Malapascua

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.

Lighthouse Beach on Malapascua

PRO TIP: Make sure to buy 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.

Stop #2 Go Snorkeling

Spend either the morning or afternoon doing some snorkeling.

Three places are recommended:

  • Coral gardens on the west side of the island,
  • Dakit Dakit Island
  • Japanese Shipwreck off of Lighthouse Beach

Stop #3 Watch the Sunset at Lighthouse Beach

End your day by heading to Shipwreck Beach Bar to watch the sunset. The bar is on Lighthouse Beach.

Eco Bar on Malapascua

Malapascua Itinerary Day 5

Day 5 of this Malapascua itinerary is departing from the island and getting back to Cebu City.

This was how I got back to Cebu City from Malapascua.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. When I arrived at Maya New Port, I saw white vans parked along the pier. They were charging 500 pesos (US$10).
  4. I chose to continue walking down the pier until I saw a bus station on a hill on the right side of the road.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Malapascua Travel Guide & FAQs

Here is more information about visiting Malapascua.

  • Diving on Malapascua
  • Best Time to Visit Malapascua
  • Malapascua for Solo Travelers
  • Internet on Malapascua
  • ATMs on Malapascua Island
  • Packing Guide for Malapascua

Diving on Malapascua Island

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 shark

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

Best Time 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.

lounge chairs on North Beach on Malapascua

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.

Internet on Malapascua

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.

Packing for Your Trip to Malapascua

Full Face Snorkel Mask

Vaincre 180° Full Face Snorkel Mask Panoramic View Anti-Fog,Anti-Leak Snorkeling Design with Adjustable Head Straps-See Larger Viewing Area Than Traditional Masks for Adults Youth (Black L/XL)
I love these full face snorkel masks. They're helpful if you're not a great swimmer or if swimming in the ocean freaks you out. THIS is the best thing I bought for my trip to the Philippines!

Waterproof Dry Bag

Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag - Roll Top Waterproof Backpack Sack Keeps Gear Dry for Kayaking, Beach, Rafting, Boating, Hiking, Camping and Fishing with Waterproof Phone Case
Another must-have item on your island hopping tours in the Philippines is a dry bag. I like this one because it comes with a waterproof phone case. And the price is pretty reasonable.

Water Shoes

Water Shoes Womens Mens Barefoot Unisex Aqua Socks Slip-on for Indoor Outdoor Snorkeling SWS002 dot Black
Another of my best packing decisions was a pair of water shoes for when you need to walk from the boat to shore. I met someone who broke her toe on an island hopping tour in El Nido. These shoes will help prevent that from happening.
Kalanggaman Island

Final Thoughts on Malapascua

There you have it! I hope this travel guide helps you in planning your trip to Malapascua. The island is part of my larger 3 weeks in the Philippines itinerary for Cebu and its surrounding islands.

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.

Best Resources for Planning Your Trip to the Philippine

Book Your Flight to the Philippines

Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to the Philippines. They will turn up results for all airlines including major ones and local airlines. You’re going to find EVERYTHING that’s available and thus get the cheapest price.

Book Your Accommodations for the Philippines:

The best hotel booking sites for the Philippines are Agoda and Booking.com. Both sites have the biggest selection, and they consistently churn out hotels and hostels at the lowest prices of any other booking site. Another website for backpackers and budget travelers is Hostel World.

Book Your Tours for the Philippines:

The three best tour booking sites for the Philippines are Viator and Get Your Guide. Viator has the biggest selection. Get Your Guide has terrific customer service. They will help you if you have trouble with your tour, especially if the tour company cancels your tour or doesn’t show up. I also like using Klook for booking tours in Southeast Asia.

Stay Connected When in the Philippines:

To have access to the internet while you’re out and about in the Philippines, get a physical SIM card or an eSIM. I was very happy with the eSIM that I used from Airalo, so I can highly recommend them. Their instructions weren’t the most user-friendly, but the eSIM worked as well as any physical SIM card I used.

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sand bar in Malapascua Philippines
beach lined iwth palm trees and view of sand bar from a boat

More Travel Guides for the Philippines:

4 Comments

  1. I have never heard of this island, but is looks BEAUTIFUL! This looks like the perfect relaxing vacation with a bit of adventure. I am not sure if I could convince myself to dive with sharks, but I am sure it would be amazing! Adding it to my ever-growing list 🙂

    Reply
  2. This island sounds amazing! I love a good beach. Will definitely put this on my bucket list!

    Reply
  3. To be honest with you I’ve never even heard about this island before but you just convinced me to put it on my Philippines bucket list! Your photos are so beautiful!

    Reply
  4. I have never heard about this island of Philippines before, but it looks like Maldives! The photos are beautiful and loved reading your detailed guide.

    Reply

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The Bamboo Traveler

Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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