Islands

Malapascua Island Visitors Guide

Written by Patrick

ABOUT SEE & DO EAT & DRINK STAY BUDGET ADVICE

Travel Insurance

ABOUT

A little over 5 kilometers from the northernmost tip of Cebu Island, Malapascua Island rose to popularity for being a great spot for diving, particularly for swimming with thresher sharks.  It may be a small island with only 2.5 kilometers in length and 1 kilometer in width, but it has a tremendous charm that makes people come back for more making it one of the most visited islands in the province of Cebu.

It is blessed with long stretch of unspoilt beaches well-loved for its white sand and pristine waters.

This brief guide to Malapascua Island will help you plan your trip. It contains information on what to do, eat, and drink as well as the must-see spots and the best hotels.

Location

Malapascua Island Location Map

Best Time to Visit

It’s best to visit the Philippines during the dry season.  Dry season in the Philippines spans from November through April.  These are the summer months in this country.

Be aware that temperatures and humidity levels are particularly high in April and May.

The best time to be a beach bum and explore the islands is from March to May.

TIP:  This guide recommends that booking for Malapascua Island summer trips should be done as early as possible, at least a month before your travel dates, since resorts get fully booked early.

The period from June to October is the rainy (wet) season and is best avoided due to the high possibility of typhoons. The typhoons can not only be destructive, but most tours and activities are cancelled under such circumstances.  Transportation via plane and boat is also seriously impacted as well.  This happens frequently so beware!

This guide recommends traveling to Malapascua Island in April-May or in November-December, just before and just after the rainy season. This will likely bring fewer crowds, yet pleasant weather, and is also a great time to score a travel deal.

Fast Facts

Destination Name:
Malapascua Island
Local Time:
PST (UTC+8)
Best Time of Year to Visit:
December – May
Population:
Less than 5,720
Language(s):
English, Tagalog, Cebuano
Currency:
Philippine Peso (PHP)
Exchange Rate:
Approximately 1 USD = 50 PHP click for exact exchange rate
Location:
Geographic Coordinates:
11°20′00″N 124°07′00″E
Area:
6 km2 (2.3 sq mi)
Neighboring Cities:
None
Neighboring Islands:
Cebu, Kalanggaman Island, Leyte
Climate:
Tropical
Clothing:
Lightweight casuals
Religion:
Catholicism (majority), Protestant, Baptist
Best Known For:
Thresher Sharks
Major Industries:
Fishing and tourism
Electricity:
Standard voltage is 220V
Plug commonly used is Type A but Types B and C are used as well. Bring A to B adapter(s).
International Phone Code:
+63-032-XXX-XXXX
Airport & Airport Code:
Seaport(s):
Malapascua Seaport
Bus Terminal(s):
None

Getting Here

There are many ways to get here depending on your starting point. This guide recommends using the following online tools to identify all the available options and cost for each while on Malapascua Island :  Rome2Rio and PHBUS. The following are the major ports of entry for this destination.

BUS TERMINAL

Bus Terminal

None

SEAPORT

Seaport

Malapascua Seaport

PH Bus

Getting Around

The following are the modes of transportation available on Malapascua Island …

Bicycles

Bicycles

Motorcycles

Motorcycles

Tricycles

Tricycles

Rome to Rio

SEE & DO

The following is your guide to places to see and activities to enjoy while on Malapascua Island.

1 |  Swim with the thresher sharks

Thresher sharks are the major attraction in Malapascua Island, particularly in Monad Shoal.  It boasts of being one of the very few places in the world where thresher shark sighting is 100% guaranteed everyday.  Diving to see the elusive shark, however, requires at least an Advanced Open Water Diver certification so make sure to get ready for this unforgettable experience.

2 | Explore the diving spots

In addition to Monad Shoal, there are other spots in Malapascua where you can see more marine creatures.  Gato Island is a haven of soft corals, rock formations, sea caves, and tunnels which you can swim through.  The spot is known for its varying colors of nudibranchs that it’s given the nickname nudi-city.  Sea snakes, seahorses, and whitetip reef sharks can be seen in this spot too!  Bugtong Bato, Kemod Shoal, and Lighthouse Reef are other spots you may want to explore.

3 | Go on island hopping

If you are not fit for diving, you can surely go on an island hopping tour.  See the neighboring islands and enjoy swimming or snorkelling.

4 | Enjoy the beaches

You’ll have your fill of unspoilt and less crowded beaches when in Malapascua.  At the southern end lies Bounty Beach, the most popular on the island as it is lined with bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops.  Several outriggers are anchored in this area so if you prefer something more peaceful and with a smaller crowd, your best options would be Langub Beach and Guimbitayan Beach.  Other beaches you may want to see are Lighthouse Beach and Logon Beach.

5 | Try cliff jumping

Unleash the daredevil in you by jumping off the cliff that is between 12 to 18 meters high.  While there’s no risk of hitting the cliff or rocks, make sure you come with company, specifically someone who knows how to swim, in case something happens.

6 | Side trip destinations

If you can’t get enough of white sand beaches and pristine waters, take a day trip to Kalanggaman Island which is located approximately 2 hours away from Malapascua.  There are hotels and resorts offering group tours for P1,300 to P1,500 ($26-30 USD).

NOTE: The Lawihan Festival occurs annually every 2nd week of May.

Klook

EAT & DRINK

The following is your guide to the flavorful food to enjoy and restaurants to try while on Malapascua Island.

1 | Amihan Restaurant

Though the term Amihan has Filipino origins, the restaurant offers Italian, Mediterranean, and Asian cuisines in addition to Filipino cuisine.  It takes pride in using both local products and those imported directly from Italy to give the dishes that truly authentic Italian flavor.  Aside from the quality of its food, the restaurant has a great ambience as it stands on the top of the hill and overlooks the sea in Malapascua Island.  The top restaurant on the island based on reviews, Amihan’s bestsellers include pasta, homemade pizza and bread, seafood dishes, and authentic coffee.

2 | Chiringuito Beach Bar and Restaurant

Located close to the beach, Chiringuito Beach Bar and Restaurant is a great place to hang out over good food and drinks while enjoying the dreamy atmosphere and seaside views.  The restaurant is well-loved for its Italian pasta, Greek salad, and fresh smoothies.  If you are hoping to see how beautiful the sunset is from this part of the world, this is the place to be!

3 | Ging-Ging’s Restaurant & Flower Garden

This restaurant with a modest ambience is popular among locals and tourists alike as it provides good food in an affordable price range.  While they specialize in local food, they also serve Western dishes to cater to the growing number of foreign tourists visiting the island.  There’s nothing fancy about this restaurant but if you are looking to fill your tummy with good food without breaking the bank, this is definitely it.

4 | La Isla Bonita

La Isla Bonita serves a selection of cuisines including German, Italian, Thai, and of course Filipino.  They even have vegetarian and vegan offerings.

5 | Oscar’s Bar and Restaurant Malapascua

For the best sisig and curry on the island, head over to Oscar’s.  This restaurant on the floor above the Thresher Shark Divers dive shop is raved for its excellent service, reasonable price, and great food made of the freshest ingredients.  It is located by the beach so it’s also a great place to enjoy the seaview or for happy hour.

6 | Ristorante Angelina

Ristorante Angelina offers authentic Italian cuisine in a nice location by the beach.  It is known for its fantastic pizza, gnocchi gratinati, and local dishes such as crispy pata.  Their homemade ice creams are amazing too!

7 | The Craic House

The Craic House is an Irish bar and restaurant that offers ice cold drinks and a great variety of food complete with vegetarian and vegan options.  All the ingredients used are fresh to ensure that only the highest quality of food is served.  Apart from that, the restaurant is clean with a relaxing atmosphere therefore making it one of the top restaurants on the island.  Try their burgers, sandwiches, and mango cheesecake.

8 | The Ocean Vida Restaurant and Beach Bar

Located at Bounty Beach, The Ocean Vida is popular for its great food and beautiful ambience.  It has both an indoor seating overlooking the beach and outdoor seating with tables or bean bags on the beach.  The restaurant offers Asian and European dishes as well as seafood freshly caught by local fishermen.

WHERE TO STAY

There are many different types of accommodations available in this destination ranging from hostels to luxurious resorts. The following is your guide to our top choices for each range on Malapascua Island.

1 | Hippocampus Beach Resort (Budget)

2 | Angelina Beach Hotel (Mid-Range)

3 | Ocean Vida Resort (Luxury | Resort)

This guide recommends using the following sites to conduct research online of where to stay on Malapascua Island or for a specific destination:

Book your room with these trusted online booking sites.  Booking online in the Philippines almost always guarantees the best price and a room when you arrive.  We use these sites frequently to get the best prices and enjoy convenient bookings. Click each of the buttons below to find the best place for you at the lowest rates:

TIP: Hippocampus Beach Resort is the best property to experience this destination.

BUDGET

Suggested Budget

Use the chart below to get an idea of how much to budget daily.  Actual amounts will depend on YOUR travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages … some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less. Prices are in USD.

ACCOMMODATION
FOOD
TRANSPORTATION
ATTRACTIONS
AVERAGE DAILY COST
Budget
Accommodation: $7
Food: $5
Transportation: $5
Attractions: $20
Average Daily Cost: $37
Mid-Range
Accommodation: $30
Food: $15
Transportation: $10
Attractions: $25
Average Daily Cost: $80
Luxury
Accommodation: $70
Food: $30
Transportation: $15
Attractions: $30
Average Daily Cost: $145

Travel Costs

Accommodation

A bed in a hostel dorm costs from 350 PHP ($7 USD), but smaller dorms can cost from 500 PHP ($10 USD).  For a private double, prices start around 700 PHP ($14 USD).

Most budget hotels begin at 700 PHP ($14 USD) per night for a double room and usually include free wifi and breakfast.  For a three-star hotel, prices begin around 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.  AirBnB is also widespread throughout the country, with private rooms starting from as little as 500 PHP ($10 USD) per night.  For entire apartments, expect to pay at least 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) per night.

Resorts and luxury accommodations vary greatly from 1,400 PHP ($28 USD) to 5,000+ PHP ($100+ USD).  However, there are some really nice resorts and luxury accommodations which are surprisingly affordable.

We use and recommend booking online to save money using HostelWorldAgodaBooking.com, and AirBnB

Food

Local food is extremely cheap, with street food costing under 50 PHP ($1USD).  For an inexpensive meal at a local restaurant, prices start around 100 PHP ($2 USD).  For a meal at a mid-range restaurant with drinks and table service, expect to pay from 200 PHP ($4 USD).  Knowing that their target customers are primarily tourists, Western food venues can be pricey compared to Filipino food.  Also, some of the ingredients need to be imported, which contributes to the higher cost. Western food (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.) is much more expensive but is still relatively affordable at around 200 PHP ($4 USD) for a meal and drink.

Fast food like McDonalds will cost around 200 PHP ($4 USD).  A beer at the bar will cost around 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD).

A week’s worth of groceries will cost between 300-600 PHP ($6-12 USD) per person.  However, food in this country is so inexpensive, and kitchens & refrigerators are hard to come by, I don’t recommend cooking your meals here since there is plenty of delicious street food to eat at very cheap prices. You won’t make it as good as they do and the food is too delicious to miss!

Transportation

There are many modes of transportation available in the Philippines and each varies greatly. 

Public Transportation is cheap.  Bus services on the islands are inexpensive.  Local buses (called jeepneys) are the most common type of transportation in towns and cities. The fare is usually between 7-25 PHP ($.20–.50 USD).

On islands without a bus system, a taxi or tricycle is the only form of transport with fares starting at 50-500 PHP ($1-$10) USD for short trips. 

Taxis are everywhere, and they’re very cheap.  Most fares shouldn’t cost you more than 500 PHP ($10 USD) around town.  

To get between islands, you’ll need to take a boat or to fly.  There are ferries that connect the island together since they aren’t too far apart but, generally speaking, flights are the most realistic option. 

Flights between islands usually cost about 2,000-3500 PHP ($40-70 USD).  However, this isn’t the cheapest way to travel.  It’s only recommended if you have limited time. 

We recommend booking online to save money using: SkyscannermomondoKayakkiwi.com.

Attractions & Activities

Most attractions and activities in the Philippines are pretty cheap. Most attractions throughout the area are FREE to enter, though some of the more well known and popular ones cost 5-100 PHP ($.10-$2 USD) to enter. 

Depending on the activity, most day tours only cost around 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD), oftentimes less.  You have more bargaining power if you go with a group. If you are expecting to do some climbing, remember to pack some warm layers. It gets cold at the top!  

Other activities such as Island Hopping, scuba diving, helmet diving, swimming with whale sharks, jungle trekking, canyoning, ATVs, jet skis, wakeboarding, cruises, parasailing, horseback riding, cultural experiences, and tours can cost as much as 1,250-5,000+ PHP ($25-100+ USD).

The Philippines is one of the least expensive places to learn how to scuba dive. Learning to scuba dive usually costs about 15,000-20,000 PHP ($300-400 USD), but often includes FREE accommodation for the duration of the course, which lasts three or four days.

Always book your tours and activities when you arrive.  Stick to travel agents who are selling on the ground. If a travel agent won’t negotiate with you, move on to the next until you find one that will.  Booking tours online is almost always more expensive. 

Typical Costs on Malapascua Island in 2021:

  • Hostel Dorm Bed: 250-350 PHP ($5–7 USD) night
  • Budget Hotel:  700 PHP ($14 USD) night
  • Mid-Range Hotel:  1500 PHP ($31 USD) night
  • Street Food: 50-150 PHP ($1–3 USD) meal
  • Restaurant Meals: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) meal
  • Local Beer: 50-100 PHP ($1–2 USD) bottle
  • 1.5L Bottle of Water: 38 PHP ($.75 USD) bottle
  • Tricycle Ride:  20-100 PHP ($.5-2 USD) ride
  • Public Ferry Ride: 200-300 PHP ($4–6 USD) ride
  • Island-Hopping: 1,000-1,500 PHP ($20-30 USD) trip

DOWNLOAD: Budget Planner Template

 

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ADVICE

The following is some of our best advice on traveling to Malapascua Island.  Learn what you need to know BEFORE you go!

Tips & Hacks

he following are our Top 10 Tips when visiting this destination in the Philippines:

  • Be aware that a tourist VISA is only 30 days. You can extend it upon arrival, or within the first 30 days, for an additional 30 days for a fee of approximately 3,000 pesos.
  • Don’t buy into the fear factor. The Philippines has an unjustified reputation of being a dangerous place. It’s true there are security guards everywhere, but that is to deter theft.
  • Manila is NOT the Philippines. Get outside of the cities to see the real Philippines.
  • Don’t over plan. Boats, buses, and even airplane schedules are notoriously unreliable. Be flexible.
  • Check the weather. The weather varies greatly throughout the Philippines daily.
  • Typhoons can have a huge impact on your plans. Account for this when planning your trip.
  • It’s not cool to raise your voice or show outward frustration in public.
  • Be polite at all times. Realize that your country’s sense of humor may be different from Filipino humor and take this into account when interacting with Filipinos and while in public places.
  • Things move at a slower pace. Accept it … don’t get frustrated … but do account for it.
  • Don’t drink the tap water… but stay hydrated! Save money by buying large bottles (6-10 liters) of water and using it to fill your water bottle or hydration bladder in your backpack.

For a complete list of our travel tips & hacks, check out the following guide and be sure to download a FREE copy for yourself.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Travel Tips & Hacks Guide for the Philippines

Money Matters

The Philippines has its own currency called the Philippine Peso. Banks, ATMs, and money-changers can be found on the island. If you are exploring the neighboring islands or provinces, make sure to bring enough cash that will last until the next time you get to an ATM or bank since most tours, transportation, and budget accommodations only accept cash.

READ MORE: Money in the Philippines: Everything You Need to Know

Health & Safety

Crime

While overall the Philippines is a safe country to visit, as is Malapascua Island, you need to use common sense just as you would in any country, especially when traveling, and in a city, town, or area you are unfamiliar with.

Consult your hotel or resort front desk as they are more likely to give you reliable information than a random stranger on the street. Be careful when approaching strangers and selective about who you approach. Always pay attention to your gut feeling and follow it.

READ MORE: How to Avoid Scams & Thieves in the Philippines

Safety

There are many things to consider when traveling in order to stay safe … things that we may not be accustomed to during our normal everyday lives. The following are articles about tips on how to stay safe while traveling in the Philippines:

TIP: The best way to avoid problems and stay safe is to travel with a local resident.

Health

Staying fit & healthy can be challenging when traveling in the Philippines. 

The tropical Philippines climate requires you to prepare for illnesses that you may not normally be accustomed to. 

The following are our Top 10 Tips for Staying Healthy while Traveling in the Philippines:

  • Maintain a Balanced Diet
  • Stay Hydrated but Only Drink Bottled Water
  • Get Plenty of Rest
  • Allow Your Body Time to Adjust 
  • Keep Active
  • Sanitize Often 
  • Be Aware of Food Safety Concerns
  • Take Your Vitamins
  • Practice Safe Sex
  • Be Prepared Should You Get Sick

READ MORE: Stay Healthy in the Philippines: How to Avoid Getting Sick

Staying Connected

You need to have a local-based SIM card in order to stay connected when in the Philippines. Network giants such as Globe and Smart have SIM cards you can use to make calls, send text messages, and also to connect to the Internet. A SIM card costs around 50 PHP ($1 USD) and usually comes with a FREE load worth 50 PHP ($1 USD). You can buy a card containing a code you can enter on your phone to replenish your load or buy an electronic load that is available almost anywhere in the city.

While you may not have problems with signal strength when in the city, it is not always the case when on islands or in remote areas of a province.  So when arranging for transportation pick up, say when renting a boat to take you to and pick you up from the island, it would be best that you make it clear what time you need to be picked up before the boatman leaves.

Recommended Travel Apps

Apps for smartphones and tablets can be useful both before you leave and while you’re traveling.  Most are available for iPhones and Android phones.

The following are our Top 10 most useful travel apps on our smartphones when traveling in the Philippines:

  1. Grab (taxis/ride shares)
  2. Angkas (motorbike ride-hailing)
  3. WhatsApp (phone calls)
  4. Skyscanner (flights)
  5. Rome2Rio (transportation)
  6. Agoda (accomodations)
  7. Booking.com (accomodations)
  8. AirBnB (accomodations)
  9. Traveloka (flights, accomodations, activities)
  10. Klook (attractions & activities )

Be certain to download and set up apps BEFORE leaving on your trip to make certain each is installed and working properly.

For our complete list of travel apps that we use and recommend while traveling in the Philippines, checkout our checklist below.  Download a FREE copy for yourself as a PDF.

READ MORE: The Ultimate List of Travel Apps for the Philippines

Itinerary

Trying to decide what to do when traveling to a destination for the first time can be a bit overwhelming given your lack of familiarity with the place along with all of the available options. 

We’ve created the following itinerary to help simplify the process and ensure that you get the most out of your trip.  Although we provide a 7 day itinerary for this destination, it can always be adjusted to fit the length of your trip.

VIEW: Malapascua Island 7-Day Travel Itinerary

Packing Checklist

The secret to a successful and stress-free trip is to start by using a packing list.  This will reduce anxiety from the start and ensure that nothing important is forgotten when packing.   To make this process easy for you, we’ve created a detailed packing list.  Click the link below to download it for FREE now. 

Carrying your checklist with you during your travels can be useful when repacking, by helping to ensure that you do not leave anything behind.

VIEW & DOWNLOAD: Our Ultimate Packing Guide & Checklist

Things to Remember

This guide recommends to take note of the following while traveling on Malapascua Island or in the Philippines in general.

Smoking

There is a nationwide ban which prohibits smoking in public places including indoors, the streets, on sidewalks, in restaurants , and on public transportation, requiring smokers to use designated smoking areas.  Selling tobacco to and purchasing from or for minors is also prohibited. Violators are subject to fines (up to 5,000 PHP | $100 USD) and even 4 months in prison.

Alcohol

The minimum legal drinking age is 18.  Alcohol such as beer and hard drinks can easily be bought in grocery and convenience stores.  The most common alcoholic beverage is beer, generally served cold.  Local alcoholic drinks include tuba (coconut wine which is usually very strong) and potent moonshine-like clear liquors made from sugar or fruit.  Imported beer, wine, and name brand hard alcohol are available but expensive.

Drugs

Drugs are illegal in the Philippines.  Don’t use, buy, or sell any non-prescription drugs while in the Philippines … not even marijuana.  It is considered an especially heinous crime to buy from, for, or sell drugs to children.  The penalties are severe … up to and including death.

Nudity

Public nudity is illegal in the Philippines and is not tolerated.  Most locals consider it offensive.  There are laws which prohibit provocative and erotic clothing and swimwear, therefore carefully consider your clothings and swimwear choices to make certain they are not too revealing.

Foreigners & Expats

If you are not a Filipino citizen, remember that you are a guest when visiting this country … be certain to act accordingly.  Respect the people, their customs, and the environment and wlidlife. You can be deported and banned … so behave … but have fun and enjoy all that this wonderful destination has to offer.

READ MORE: Practical Information about the Philippines

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About the Author

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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