03 Jun2008

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While I did a whole bunch of posts on Northern Cebu, including the Bogo market, I never got around to the posts on the island of Malapascua! So here they are… Located about 30-40 minutes by banca from the little town/port of Maya on the Northern tip of Cebu, we had to hire a banca (slow one) to make the crossing. You can ride on passenger bancas for just PHP75 or PHP100 per person but they leave when full, which if you arrive later in the morning, can mean a wait of up to an hour or more. So we decided to hire our own, and after some bargaining, we got one for PHP600 for the one way crossing to the island. If there were faster bancas plying the route, this would be an easy 20-25 minute ride. Seas were calm, and it was an overcast but dry day…

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I wasn’t sure what to expect of Malapascua. I read somewhere it was a diver’s haven, it was smaller than Boracay and there wasn’t much to do there… As we approached Bounty beach, the thin strip of creamy sand started to get wider and when we finally set foot, it was quite nice indeed. A powdery consistency, not as fine as Boracay’s, the beach went on around the bend of the island, perhaps 2 kilometers in length, total. The water looked quite clear and hopefully was relatively clean. A very short walk to our “resort” called Cocobana and we were in our rooms in a flash…

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Supposedly one of the best resorts on the island, this hotel is owned by a Swiss national and his Filipina spouse. We opted for the most expensive room in the place, and for PHP2,800 or so, we had a big airconditioned room with hot and cold water, directly facing the beach and sea. While their website lists their rates, give them a call and see if you can get a deal… in fact, I think our rooms were cheaper than the published rates. American breakfast included. I thought it was a good deal overall. Smaller rooms with no airconditioning and a “garden view,” run some PHP800 a night.

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The view from our room was worth the “premium price.” My only beef was that the shower water was incredibly salty. But then again, we were in the middle of the ocean, and I don’t think there was much fresh water on the island.

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After dropping off our bags, we took a short 5-10 minute walk to another side of the island and decided to have lunch at La Dolce Vita, an Italian Restaurant right on the beach. Reportedly owned by an Italian couple, I had read a few good reviews on the internet and we decided to give it a try, despite the fact that there wasn’t a single other table that was occupied. The photo above is taken from the nice beach in front of La Dolce Vita, looking back towards the restaurant. As we sat on the terrace of the restaurant waiting for our food and a brief, but incredibly powerful rainstorm, passed over us. The streaks of lightning, dark clouds and pouring rain were spectacular in that tropical stormy kind of way. I don’t know about you guys, but I like watching storms move through an area…

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Malapascua island is fairly small, and I think you could walk around the entire island in about 2 hours, if only you could physically do that (I think some coves do not connect so you have to go inland a bit). At the other end of the island is a lighthouse which helps guide ships through the waters of Northern Cebu. There are several small beaches and coves around the island.

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Here a photo of Marketman on the beach early one morning, taking in the view, the fresh air, and probably wondering what to eat next. :) And the name, Malapascua, or translated as “Bad Christmas,” some say it was because Spanish speaking sailors were shipwrecked here one Christmas, but who knows for sure?

Malapascua is predominantly a dive destination. There isn’t much else to do if you don’t dive or fish. But if you want a couple of days away from the city and want to vege, I would recommend this place for at least one visit. The beach is nice, the people friendly, the food pretty good if you stick to fresh locally caught seafood or a couple of the fancier Italian/European restaurants that serve a surprisingly varied menu for such a remote spot. There is practically no night life besides a bar or two or three, but I am too old for the Boracay party scene anyways…

 

COMMENTS:

  1. quiapo says:

    We appreciate your thoughtfulness in keeping this page active despite the fact that you are overseas on holiday.

    Jun 3, 2008 | 5:42 am

     
  2. kasseopeia says:

    Wow, MM! You look lean and mean in that photo up there! Hehe…

    I too love watching storms and they’re more special when they occur while I’m at the beach. I like sitting on the sand just out of the waves’ reach. This is exactly why off-season beach hopping appeals to me.

    I hope you’re having a nice holiday!

    Jun 3, 2008 | 6:48 am

     
  3. Quillene says:

    the best pa rin talaga ang beaches ng Pinas!

    I really prefer beaches like this that are not “urbanized and commercialized to death” like what has happened to boracay…

    I hope you are having a blast on your getaway!

    Jun 3, 2008 | 7:18 am

     
  4. Chris Z says:

    I’ve always had the impression the three months I’ve been visiting this blog that Marketman’s a senior citizen of leisure spending his retirement days enjoying life. What a terrible mistake!

    Jun 3, 2008 | 9:04 am

     
  5. Mila says:

    Divers head to Malapascua to catch a glimpse of the ghostly and beautiful thresher sharks, plus there’s a cove where we saw mandarin fish, quite rare I was told. Tons of spiky urchins though, the kind with super long spines. Very laid back vibe on the island, and yes, the bangkas seem to be the first clue that time is on a different cycle there. I was the lone passenger on a bangka heading out to Malapascua at midnight, and it took us an hour to cross!

    Jun 3, 2008 | 9:32 am

     
  6. Didi says:

    Hi MM!! :)
    I’ve been wanting to go here for years but my hesitation was the travel time! Argh…

    Jun 3, 2008 | 9:42 am

     
  7. Kai says:

    We stayed in a nipa hut there years ago, and had the best masahe (massage at P50/hour). Was fun to lie down on the beach at night and watch the stars – there was no electricity. And had a great time circling the entire island – lots of edible sea urchins washed on the shore.

    Jun 3, 2008 | 12:10 pm

     
  8. molly says:

    hi MM :-) did you get to try freshly caught scallops for sashimi? i have never tried anywhere else except in malapascua. since my aunt has property and friends there, she always asks the divers/fishermen to dive for scallops around the area. they are huge and sooo good. we always bring kikkoman,nori and wasabi when we go to malapascua. so much fresh seafood…. :-)

    Jun 3, 2008 | 4:55 pm

     
  9. Jenny says:

    Hi MM! how was the italian restaurant? some diver friends are going to malapascua this october and we hope to read your reviews about the restaurants there. thanks! :)

    Jun 3, 2008 | 5:47 pm

     
  10. corrine says:

    Thanks, MM for this post. Need a good referral which I always get from you. molly, I hope to try those scallops and remember to bring condiments…and maybe olive oil and lemon..who knows what sea bounty I might get in Malapascua.

    Jun 3, 2008 | 8:25 pm

     
  11. Krizteene says:

    Hi, MM! How is your holiday trip so far? Just like Quiapo, we indeed appreciate your effort to keep the page active. =) now, I also have the time to go through your earlier posts as I still have a lot of reading to do! since I resigned from my job last august, ngayon lang ako nakapag browse ng matagal-tagal ulit.

    Jun 3, 2008 | 8:29 pm

     
  12. dhayL says:

    Did you go fishing? Or atleast try it? Oh, i love your famous “back shot” photo MM! :)

    Jun 4, 2008 | 3:54 am

     
  13. Anne says:

    wow! I’m really inggit! Malapascua is one of my most favorite beach destination and I’m so hoping to go back there one of these days for some r and r…..

    Jun 4, 2008 | 8:51 am

     
  14. mojito_drinker says:

    hi MM-went to malapascua last year. went primarily for the diving, which was great. i didn’t expect much from the beach so i was pleasantly surprised how pretty it all was. loved the italian resto. tho my friends told me it was closed when they went in april.

    Jun 4, 2008 | 11:40 am

     
  15. Candygirl says:

    Oooh dive-envy me. Someday then :-)

    Jun 5, 2008 | 1:05 am

     
  16. ging says:

    Yes i remember the masahe while lying on a towel on the beach at sundown. It was like a massage-body scrub rolled into one because sand was on the towel and my skin.

    But the combination of a massage with the view of the sunset, candlelit trees, the sound of the waves crashing on the beach and a warm breeze wafting softly over my bare skin was ABSOLUTE HEAVEN!!

    We stayed at Hippocampus Resort (i think that means Seahorse in Latin). Room was not bad for 1,100 and food was good and servings huge.

    Jun 5, 2008 | 6:22 pm

     
  17. navyGOLF says:

    Cool pix MM! Just to share other activities there. Rent a bike and trek your way to the lighthouse tower. Don’t miss the sunset while you’re there, really nice photo ops especially for those lensmen . Take a boat ride and go snorkeling over Japanese shipwrecks, plenty of marine species. Island hopping to Ka-langgaman island, or island of birds. Fishermen frequent the place so just bring your cooked rice, charcoal and grill, and buy your fresh fish there, chow-time camping style!!! Another nice island you may want to visit next time is Bantayan, minutes away from Malapascua. They also have nice cottages to spend the night.

    Jun 10, 2008 | 4:32 am

     
  18. B&W says:

    Hi MM, include Bantayan Island in your destination list. It has more to offer compare to Malapascua. You will enjoy the Island very much. One of the Lonely Planet guy (writer) said that the main town of Bantayan is the ugliest town, which is exactly the opposite because the town has an 1800 old church. Give it a try.

    Feb 6, 2009 | 1:56 pm

     
 

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