Malapascua Island: The Ultimate Destination Guide

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Malapascua Island: The Ultimate Destination Guide

Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island is a small island off the northeastern coast of Cebu in the Philippines. It features warm, tropical waters, palm trees, white beaches, and excellent dive sites.

The island has a long stretch of white sandy beach, where most of the resorts are located. There are a number of local villages on the island. Fishing and tourism are the main sources of income for the locals.

Malapascua island is much less developed than popular tourist spots such as Boracay and Alona Beach. The island has a friendly, relaxing vibe. There are no roads or cars and on the main beach strip; not even motorbikes are allowed.

Malapascua island is mostly visited by divers who flock to the island to swim with the famous Thresher Sharks that surround the area.

Malapascua Island Beach

How to get to Malapascua Island

The easiest way to get to Malapascua Island is to fly to Mactan international airport, just outside Cebu city. The airport is connected to most cities in the Philippines but also to a number of major cities around Asia, such as Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul, Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur.

Cebu Pacific Air serves the biggest number of international destinations. See the route map below for an overview. The blue cities can be reached by direct flights and the yellow cities require connections with a stopover in Manila.

Cebu Pacific Route Map

From the international airport at Mactan Island you have two options: take a bus or hire a private car to Maya, a small port on the northern tip of the island.

A private car will set you back about P2500 and will take around three hours. Busses are considerably cheaper (P100-200) but can take anywhere from four to six hours.

If you take the bus, your best bet is to take the yellow Ceres bus. It has AC and free WiFi on board. Other bus operators are Ceres Liner and Rough Riders. Buses leave from the North Bus Terminal Cebu, which is about 7km away from the airport, which is a 20-minute taxi ride.

Ceres Tours Bus

When you get to Maya, you can take a 30-minute public boat to Malapascua Island. The boat should cost P80. There is no set time schedule; the boat usually leaves when there are enough people on board. This amount is kind of arbitrary, but around 10 passengers should be enough.

Some captains will try to make a few extra bucks by offering you an earlier departure in exchange for extra money or even offer a private boat for P1000 - P2000. I've had one guy tell me the public boat wasn't in operation. Don't fall for these tricks; the wait really shouldn't be long.

Maya Port to Malapascua

The boat drops you off on the beach within walking distance of the resorts. There will be plenty of locals around who are willing to carry your bags for a few Pesos.

When to go

If you are looking to relax, the low season from May to September is the best time to visit. You'll have a bit more rain during this period but the absence of tourist crowds more than makes up for this. Almost every single visitor during this time of the year will be looking to dive.

During the high season (October to April) you'll find lots of beach lovers arriving to the island. Expect people to have small beach parties to the early hours of the morning. If you're looking to meet people, party a bit, and relax during the day, this is the time to go.

Where to stay

I stayed at Ocean Vida Beach & Dive, a middle-class resort located on the center of the beach strip. I recommend you stay here if your budget permits it. Rooms start at $80/night. From what I've seen, this really is the best place to stay. You can book here.

Ocean Vida Beach Dive

They have a nice beach bar and a great seating area on the beach in between the palm-trees. If you're not staying here, you should at least drop by for a happy hour drink (4-6pm) or dinner on the beach. The excellent dive shop Sea Explorers is located within the resort.

If you're on a budget, the neighboring Hippocampus Beach Resort* is a good choice. Rooms start at around $35, you can book here.

Eating & drinking

Don't expect too much in terms of nightlife on Malapascua Island. The seating in front of Ocean Vida is probably your best bet if you are looking to enjoy some drinks with fellow travelers at night.

There are a few good dining options. Restaurant Angelina is a great locale if you like Italian food. It's attached to the Tepanee Resort in the southwestern corner of the island. The resort itself also features a good restaurant called Amihan. Try the fresh seafoodโ€ฆ you won't regret it!

Things to do in Malapascua Island


The main thing to do on the island (except for relaxing) is diving. There are plenty of dive spots around the island. Two great options are Gato island and Calamangan Island. These dive spots will provide ample opportunities to see sea snakes, frog fish, white tip reef sharks, octopi, and cuttle fish.

The highlight of the dive areas is a site called Moan Shoal. This place is frequented by the gracious Thresher Sharks almost every morning. Guarantees canโ€™t be made, but you'd be very unlucky not to see at least one. There is no Thresher Shark season, so you can see them all year round.

I saw my first Thresher Shark on my second dive. With my GoPro in hand I was waiting alongside a perimeter of rocks that had been setup to keep divers from getting to close and scaring the sharks away. After a few minutes, the majestic creature appeared. It made two loops right in front of me after which it disappeared in the darkness. Enough time for me to shoot this video:

If you're lucky, you might also spot a Manta Ray. The best time to see them is November to March.

There are plenty of dive shops in the area; most of them are located on the main beach strip. I dove with Sea Explorers, but other options include Thresher Shark Divers and Evolution Diving.


You can snorkel right off the beach in Malapascua island. In the shallow parts, you can find crabs hiding in the grass and a few types of small fish. For more interesting snorkeling spots, take the three-hour snorkeling tour around the island. You'll be taken to three different spots, the second one being the most interesting.

Malapascua Beach

Leftovers of what was once a Japanese warship lie on the bottom off the sea, just off the coast of the island. It's only 10-15 feet deep, so for those who are able to hold your breath for a while, it's a great spot. I found a frogfish and several funny looking creatures that I didn't know existed.

Not far from the wreck is a cliff that you can jump off. Make sure it's high tide so you won't slam into the rocks!

Another good place to snorkel is Calamangan island. The island is about 1 1/2 hours away, and daily trips are offered by the locals.

Other things to do

Malapascua Island is pretty small and there really isn't much else to do. You can rent a motorbike to explore the island and visit some of the local villages. The paths are pretty narrow though, so if you've never driven a motorbike before, I'd pass on this adventure.

There is one place where you can rent kayaks and water bikes. Walk along the beach in the western direction until you see the Blue Coral resort (you can't miss it). Take a right and walk up to the yellow building in front of you.

One more thing I enjoyed doing was watching the sunset. There are a few good places to shoot sunset pictures. The best one is a mile or so away from the main beach where the lighthouse is located. You can't climb it, but it's on one of the hills so you'll have a nice view.

Sunset at Blue Coral Resort

The Blue Coral resort has an outside patio that serves as a good vantage point for taking pictures. You can't see the sun sink into the ocean from here, but you'll be able to take some good shots before that.

Blue Coral Resort

Another spot is just on the other side of the Blue Coral resort. Walk past the cemetery, take a right, and follow the beach. At the end of the path, you'll see a few beach beds (they belong to the Tepanee resort). Sit down and enjoy!


You won't find many cash machines in Malapascua Island, so it's advisable to bring plenty of cash. At the international airport in Cebu, there is one cash machine that accepts international cards. It can be tricky to find, it's located outside the international terminal. When you exit the terminal, take a left and keep walking until you see it.

Would I go to Malapascua Island again?

Absolutely. I had a great time in Malapascua island. I ended up extending my stay twice! It's the type of place that I enjoy. No big tourist crowds, just a few friendly resorts mixed with a few small local villages. Adding the outstanding dive spots, the affordable prices, the crystal clear waters, and the white sand beaches makes for a top-notch destination.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it. If you have any questions, comment below and I will respond as soon as possible! If you've been to Malapascua Island, let me know what your experience was like!

Comment Section

17 thoughts on “Malapascua Island: The Ultimate Destination Guide

By Paula on 14 January 2014

Thanks for the information, I'm looking to go in March. Can't wait to see those Threshers!

By Jasper Ribbers on 15 January 2014

Hi Paula, have fun and let me know if you have any questions.

By Kevin on 5 June 2014

Hi Jasper. Been reading your blog lately. Beautiful feature on Malapascua Island! Just wanted to point out though that it's Kalanggaman Island (instead of Calamangan Island) and Monad Shoal (instead of Moan Shoal). That's all! ๐Ÿ™‚

By Frances on 12 July 2014

Thanks for the article. This is great! My partner and I have also booked for September in Ocean Vida. Question: Where do we find that 3-hour snorkeling tour? We're no divers and we're perfectly fine with just snorkeling (although I hope we can at least do a beginner's dive to see the thresher sharks). I inquired with Sea Divers and best they could offer is for us to hitch with the divers everyday.

By Jasper Ribbers on 16 July 2014

Hi Frances, the snorkeling tour won't be hard to find. There are plenty of locals who will ask you a few times a day :). The Thesher Shark dive is not for beginners unfortunately, it's too deep. Let me know if you have more questions!

By Frances on 27 July 2014

Thanks for the tip! ๐Ÿ™‚

By Carol Wilson on 21 March 2015

Hello Jasper,loved reading your blog,we are a family of 7 heading over in April,5 are Advanced divers and I am hoping to do my open water,can't wait,cheers,Carol Wilson

By Arianwen on 9 December 2015

Great tips! Thanks so much. I'll be there in a couple of weeks and can't wait to dive with the thresher sharks!

By Jasper on 10 December 2015

Have fun and let me know how it was! I just got back from Raja Ampat, best diving I've seen so far. I'll publish a post on that soon.

By ricky on 4 January 2016

Would u know which of those resorts have a descent size swimming pool? For my youngest kid.

By Marj on 18 February 2016

Thanks for the tips! looking forward to visit this coming march ๐Ÿ˜‰

By Jasper on 19 February 2016

Awesome, have fun!

By Doms on 3 May 2016

Great post. I am looking to visit Kalanggam Island in Cebu as it is one of the top 10 most wonderful beaches in the Philippines and is considered virgin compared to other beaches. Since it is located in Cebu, I am also looking to visit other beaches. Could you please recommend whether there is a rental shop of scooter or motorbike which offers an affordable price in Cebu?

By Jasper on 11 May 2016

I haven't personally rented a scooter or motorbike in Cebu, but based on my experience it shouldn't cost very much. Do make sure to take pictures of the bike and check for defects before you sign the contract so that you won't be charged for damages that were already in place.

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