Malapascua Island is just off the north tip of Cebu (see on Google maps below). it is about 2km by 0.5km, and you can walk around it in 1-2 hours. It has a population of around 4000, most of whom live off tourism, fishing, boat building or coconuts.
The name Malapascua means 'Bad Christmas' in Cebuano. Legend has it that it was so named because the Spanish first landed here one stormy Christmas Day in the 1500's. There is some debate about the name because although 'mal' definitely means 'bad,' 'pasco' means Christmas in the local language of Cebuano but 'pascua' in Spanish means Easter. So perhaps it was a stormy Easter after all.
Malapascua was first 'discovered' by present-day foreigners over 30 years ago, when Swiss national, Freddy of Cocobana Resort bought land. Ten years later he opened the island's very first resort. Freddy is not a diver, but at the same time dive safaris were coming up from Cebu and making the first ever dives with thresher sharks. Malapascua quickly became known as a premier dive destination in the Philippines and divers starting visiting regularly.
Today, Malapascua remains a beautiful, sleepy island, as yet unspoiled by tourism, with white sandy beaches, lush green palm trees and surrounded by clear blue waters.
There are no cars on the island and most buildings are only one floor high. The locals are friendly and like to say hello and chat. They may even invite you to their homes for dinner, or at least to sit down, join them singing songs and playing guitar, and toast each other with a rum and coke.
Bounty Beach and Thresher Shark Divers are located on the south of the island, on the long beach you can see on the lower end of the photo above and on Google Maps below.
Fiestas: There are many
fiestas throughout the year with beauty pageants, discos, booths, food
and drink. Westerners are always welcome.
Basketball is the national obsession and games are played at courts all over the island. You may even be here at the right time to cheer on the Thresher Shark Divers team.
Cockfighting comes second after basketball, and you will see the proud birds (and prouder owners) all over the island. For the less squeamish, you can find a fight most Sundays. You will be welcome to watch, especially if you want to place a bet!
Malapascua is suitable for families, with a swimming pool at Legend Resort (open to non-residents for a small fee) as well as the beautiful beaches. If this is not enough to completely relax you, the massage ladies will soothe away any remaining stress, with a coconut oil massage for less than the price of a Western beer.
As for sightseeing, the island is small and the main attractions are the beaches, the snorkeling and the diving. Many people enjoy walking around the island to see the local villages, and the local children will clamor for you to take their photos. There is a lighthouse open to the public, and the cemetery is worth a visit. It has a certain interest, despite the skulls and bones that can sometimes be seen!
We use several resorts on the island, each with different facilities and its own charm. Find out more about Malapascua's resorts.
Malapascua has some excellent restaurants. Many are Western owned and run and they have set a high standard for the island. The food is of excellent quality, and is generally a mix of Filipino and European dishes. German, English and Italian cuisines rank high in the ratings. There are also some excellent curries and even Mexican food! And if you are a meat or fish lover, the Philippines is really the place for you.
"Oscar's" is the island's newest restaurant and once you try it, you likely will not want to eat anywhere else! It is a new concept in dining on Malapascua with a daily-changing menu, serving a mix of high quality but reasonably priced international dishes made from the freshest ingredients.
Our favorite is the Pub Upstairs, an open air bar, right above Thresher Shark Divers inside Oscar's. Its location, surrounded by palm trees with a view over the sea, is idyllic. With a wide selection of imported liquor as well as imported beers and an extensive cocktail list, you are sure to find a tipple to suit you. It is a popular choice for divers' decompression time, comparing how many sharks they saw that morning. Happy Hour runs from 4-7pm. Come around 7pm to see our newly certified divers get their free Shark Bite shot.
This is a TSD Special and is not to be missed! Enjoy a cruise around the island in the late afternoon, with a plentiful supply of alcohol on board! We will stop for snorkeling, including at the Lighthouse wreck, and you can even take a turn at driving the boat. It is always lot of fun and a great chance for photos. Included at no extra charge is our daily mind-blowing sunset!
We are very fortunate with the weather on Malapascua. The Philippines has two seasons: "rainy season" (July-December) and "dry season" (January to June). Luckily, it doesn't mean that it always rains in rainy season - in fact we can go for months in rainy season with very little rain. As Malapascua is away from the mountains we experience much less rainfall that Cebu City. We are rarely affected by typhoons, which tend to pass near to Luzon in the north of the Philippines.
Diving and the weather: We lose very few days diving out of every year. There is almost always a protected area on the island that we can dive. It is very difficult for us to say how the weather will be at a certain time of year and of course the weather is hard to predict far in advance. The few storms we have are spread out fairly evenly through rainy season with a few more in November and December. This can change from year to year.
This very much depends on the kind of holiday you want and the marine life you want to see. Our personal favorite time to dive here is September. Mantas are usually at their peak, and there are usually many thresher sharks. The weather is generally sunny but not too hot, and there are not many tourists. This means fewer divers in the water, fewer people on the beach, and faster service in the restaurants.
A few points to think about when making your decision:
Contact us if you have any further questions about coming to Malapascua and the Philippines.
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