malapascua cebu

Travel to Malapascua Island in Cebu and discover why it’s a diver’s dream destination. What makes Malapascua Cebu so special? What are the best diving sites here to see the famous thresher sharks? What are the top island activities and local delicacies you should add to your bucket list? Here’s the ultimate guide to all of the best things Malapascua Island has to offer.

Cebu, Philippines has over 160 islands and islets but Malapascua Island is probably its most famous one. Located in the northern part of Cebu, Malapascua Island continues to make waves in the ecotourism industry because of its unique offer: diving with thresher sharks.

Malapascua Island is the only place in the world where you can dive with these majestic sea beauties in their natural habitat. In fact, thresher sharks are regarded as local celebrities on the island, with thousands of tourists visiting every single year for guaranteed encounters. But that’s not the only thing that makes Malapascua, Cebu a true island paradise in the Philippines.

There are many dive spots in Malapascua Island where you can find other sea creatures like hammerhead sharks, seahorses, and the beautiful and psychedelic Mandarin fish. Underwater photographers can dive at night to catch the Mandarin fish in all its glory. The underwater scene in Malapascua Island is teeming with beautiful corals and rock formations, perfect for divers, underwater photographers, or anyone who want to experience life under the sea.

Moreover, there are many powdery white sand Malapascua beaches here that can rival the famous Boracay Island any time. Whether you’re looking for a lively beachfront where you can sip on a cocktail with friends or a secluded beach where you can relax, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life, Malapascua’s small island charm will definitely captivate you over and over again.

If you’re planning to visit the thresher sharks and explore the beaches in Malapascua, Cebu this year, here are the top things to do on the island that you should include in your itinerary. If you’re not fond of diving, don’t worry! Malapascua Island has a little bit of everything for many types of traveler.



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Explore the Marine Life in Monad Shoal and Other Malapascua Diving Spots

malapascua monad shoal

There are over 20 dive spots in Malapascua Island and each one has amazing sites and experiences to offer to both amateur and advanced divers. Many Malapascua resorts arrange dive tours for their guests. Even if you’re an experienced diver, joining a dive tour will help you maximize your exploration underwater because the guides already know where the best spots are. Here are 5 of the best dive spots to include in your Malapascua Island tour.

1. Dive with the Thresher Sharks at Monad Shoal

It’s one of the famous diving spots in all of Malapascua Island because this is where the famous thresher sharks can be spotted year-round every single day. Yes, that’s right. Thresher shark sightings are guaranteed! In fact, it’s the only place in the whole world where you can encounter these majestic sea creatures.

But you know what’s more amazing? The fact that diving to see these thresher sharks is completely eco-friendly and sustainable. Compared to whale sharks that are often led to dive sites with food and sometimes, motorboats, the thresher sharks in Malapascua Island naturally swim to Monad Shoal every day for their natural cleaning session.

Monad Shoal is teeming with wrasse, a small electric blue fish that cleans sea creatures naturally from small fish to big sharks. If you’re diving with thresher sharks, try exposing a bit of skin and the wrasse will eat up those dead skin cells with gusto! Don’t worry, it won’t hurt. In fact, it’s a bit ticklish! The best time to see the thresher sharks is very early in the morning, around 4 o’clock in the morning. This is when they have a natural cleaning session with the wrasse.

Despite its popularity, Monad Shoal is for experienced divers only with an Advanced Open Water Diving license. Monad Shoal has a length of 1.5 kilometers and a depth of nearly 27 meters from the surface. But don’t feel bad if you miss them, you can still swim with manta rays, eagle rays, hammerhead sharks, and devil rays in Monad Shoal.

2. See the Underwater Caves in Gato Island

Many diver tourists come to Malapascua Island to see the thresher sharks in Monad Shoal. But many people also say that they leave the island loving the diving experience in Gato Island more! The underwater scene in Gato Island is filled with beautiful rock formations and corals. There’s an underwater tunnel where you can swim through. Inside the small underwater caves, you’ll find big whitetip reef sharks and sea snacks resting. You can also encounter big schools of fish during your dive.

3. Swim with Squids at Bugtong Bato

Bugtong Bato or North Wall is a dive site near Malapascua Island. Divers will enjoy the sloping reef in Bugtong Bato as well as a mini wall, the sandy bottom, and all the underwater creatures that hid in the corals. It is a famous spot to see some squid, lionfish, zebra crabs, seahorses, cuttlefish, blue ring octopus, and whip coral shrimp. If you've always wanted to swim with a large school of batfish, do include this dive site in your Malapascua diving tour. It’s always best to check the local weather before a dive. Sometimes, the currents here get pretty strong that tours often finish early.

4. Capture the Psychedelic Mandarin Fish at Lighthouse Reef

Have you always wanted to dive at night? Head to the Lighthouse Reef and tick off this item from your bucket list. Here you’ll find one of the world’s most beautiful and psychedelic fish: the Mandarin fish. Malapascua Island is one of the few places in the globe where you can spot it and if you’re lucky, you can even witness their mating dance.

Underwater photographers dive here not just for the Mandarin fish but also for the blue ring octopus, seahorses, and a small but equally captivating World War II shipwreck.

5. Dive with Barracudas at Kemod Shoal

This dive site is closer to the province of Leyte but still included in many Malapascua tours. Like in Monad Shoal, you can also find thresher sharks here, as well as hammerhead sharks, barracudas, yellowfin tuna, mackerel, and unicorn fish. The site is teeming with corals, sponges, and sea fans.

Go Beach-Hopping at Malapascua Beaches Like the Langub Beach

malapascua mandarin fish

If you’re more like Disney’s Ariel from the movie Little Mermaid and you want to "spend the day warm on the sand", here are some of the best Malapascua beaches to explore. Most of the hotels on the island are facing the beach so they're accessible by foot. Majority of these beaches are included in Malapascua motorcycle tours so better ask your hotel or tour provider for details on how to get there. If not, you can hop on a habal-habal and ask the local for the nearest one. Here are our top picks:

1. Enjoy a Peaceful Afternoon Swim at Langub Beach

This beach is a fan favorite among tourists who want some peace and quiet. In fact, despite it being a public beach, the shores are mostly unspoiled. The azure waters, white sand, lesser crowds, and amazing sunset truly make it a beach paradise. If you want to do some beach yoga, you can do it on the shores of Langub Beach in peace.

2. Drink a Mojito at Bounty Beach

This is the first beach that will greet you upon arriving on the island paradise. As Malapascua Island’s main beach, it is probably the most commercialized with a lot of hotels, restaurants, and dive shops near the shore. If you fancy a cocktail while watching the sunset, simply walk into one of the beachfront bars and get yourself a mojito.

3. Discover the Unspoiled Beauty of Guimbitayan Beach

A bit secluded, the Guimbitayan Beach is one of the unspoiled, hidden gems in Malapascua Island. You need to take a steep and slightly bumpy motorcycle ride to reach the beach but the tranquility and beauty of the beach make it all worth your while.

4. Capture a Panoramic View of Malapascua at Lighthouse Beach

As the name suggests, this beach is near the Malapascua lighthouse where you can enjoy amazing panoramic views from the top. But what makes the Lighthouse Beach famous is the Japanese World War II landing craft wreck in a shallow snorkeling spot. Like most beaches in Malapascua, people go here to watch the sunset in peace.

5. Practice Photography at Logon Beach

Compared to the other Malapascua beaches, Logon Beach is mostly tidal. The waters are very shallow and there are several motorboats used for tours that are often seen moored here. But the crescent-shaped beach is popular for its lineup of classy beachfront hotels and restaurants. It’s also a great spot to capture the sunset and some island vibes for travel photography.

Unwind at these Malapascua Resorts

malapascua resorts

Majority of Malapascua resorts can be found on beachfront properties. After all, who doesn’t want to wake up next to the beach? Here are the top Malapascau beach resorts that tourists swear by.

1. Experience Bali in Malapascua Island at the Tepanee Beach Resort

This Bali-inspired, Italian-run hotel sits on top of a hill facing Logon Beach. With is beautiful cottages, ocean-view rooms, wooden floors, and balconies, the Tepanee Beach Resort is one of the most sought-after luxury hotels in Malapascua Cebu. After spending the whole morning hopping from one dive spot to another, you can slip into the resort’s jacuzzi or get a massage at the in-house spa.

2. Find the Hidden Cottages at AABANA Beach & Watersport Resort

This Malapascua Island resort has consistently won the TripAdvisor Travelers Choice Award from 2013 to 2017. Also known as the Mike and Dioses Cottage, this “hidden” part of the beach resort is quieter and has less foot traffic. It’s so secluded that you can find ducks and geese wandering around the area. They have tropical-style cottages from travelers who just want to reconnect with nature.

3. Help Save Mother Earth at Evolution Dive & Beach Resort

Want to know what makes this beach resort a top choice? First, it has the least impact on the environment. Second, the resort makes use of locally sourced materials for construction, including the cogon and bamboo. As part of their efforts to save Mother Earth, you won’t find any disposable vanity kits or plastic straws at the resort. As the name suggests, Evolution Dive & Beach Resort offers one of the best diving and snorkeling tours in Malapascua Cebu.

4. Stop and Smell the Flowers at Malapascua Garden Resort

Aptly named, this Malapascua beach resort has a beautiful, landscaped garden in front of its townhouse-style rooms. Homey and comfortable, the Malapascua Garden Resort is just 3-minutes away from Bounty Beach. You’ll love the ala carte breakfast and room service options. And if you’re traveling with kids, you’ll definitely love the babysitting services so you can join the dive tours early in the morning!

5. Enjoy Your Cocktail Like a Millennial at Hippocampus Beach Resort

If you’re looking for a beach resort with that youthful vibe, look no further. Book a room at Hippocampus Beach Resort. Formerly called Loida’s Beach Club, the renovation gave the beach resort a much-needed transformation and it sure worked because it's now one of the hippest and brightest-looking hotels in the famous strip in Bounty Beach. Its on-site bar serves up awesome cocktails for you to enjoy while watching the sunset.

Enjoy a Gastronomic Food Experience at La Isla Bonita and other Malapascua Restaurants

malapascua where to eat

Due to the thriving eco-tourism industry, there are many restaurants in Malapascua Island that serve the best of various cuisines — not just local Cebuano or Filipino cuisine, but also Asian, Mediterranean, and even German!

Here are some of the restaurants you can check out, especially after a day of dive-spot hopping, snorkeling, and exploring the island.

1. Enjoy Cheap But Good Eats at La Isla Bonita, Especially the Vegetarian Dishes

If you’re craving for vegetarian dishes, head to La Isla Bonita restaurant in Logon Village. Its menu consists mostly of Filipino and Asian cuisine with a few international dishes. The restaurant takes pride in using only the freshest, quality ingredients and cooking it with great care.

The seafood dishes range between PHP 200.00 and PHP 300.00. There are a lot of vegetarian and vegan choices too. Great value for money plus, the servings are big!

2. Savor the Unique Fusion Dishes at The Craic House

The Craic House likes to describe itself as “an Irish pub on a Filipino beach”. As the in-house pub at the Evolution Dive and Beach Resort, the pub’s gastronomic specials include dhal curry, Jalapeño falafel wrap, classic mac 'n cheese, and the quite intriguing pork and apple burger. They also have sharing platters like the Tex-Mex and Mezze platters. The serving portions are huge and the prices start at PHP 295.00.

3. Grab Some Breakfast at Ging-Ging’s Restaurant & Food Garden

It’s one of the top budget-friendly restaurants in Malapascua with main dishes starting at PHP 100.00. It’s near Bounty Beach and is a popular breakfast joint for travelers who want affordable, comfort dishes like salads, fish curry, and vegetables with prawns. Their tropical fruit salad comes with crowd favorites such as fresh bananas, mangoes, and pineapple.

4. Load Up on Sashimi and Kinilaw at The Ocean Vida Restaurant & Beach Bar

Craving for sashimi and kinilaw (ceviche)? Head to The Ocean Vida for your Asian and European food favorites! Their buffet options are quite popular. You can load up on croissants, yogurt, made-to-order omelet, bacon, assorted cold cuts, and marmalade! Their seafood dishes feature the day’s fresh catch by local farmers. You can get their famous Pizza Malapascua for only PHP 250.00.

5. Savor Some Italian Comfort Food at Ristorante Angelina

This Italian restaurant in Malapascua Island serves up Italian favorites such as pasta and carbonara. But they also have Filipino favorites like crispy pata (crispy pork knuckles), barbecue pork and other Asian delights such as Singapore-style bee hoon (rice vermicelli noodles) and Indonesian fried rice. Travelers love the homemade ice cream! Main dishes start at PHP 250.00.

Taste the Must-Have Local Delicacies Like Danggit in Malapascua

Like many island destinations in the Philippines, Malapascua dishes up some of the best seafood dishes, thanks to the abundance of the freshest catch every single day. If you're looking for local food gems and must-have local eats on the island, here are some that you should add to your foodie bucket list.

malapascua danggit

1. Eat Danggit for Breakfast

The Philippines has a lot of dried fish delicacies, many of which are exported abroad. Danggit is made of rabbitfish that is salted and dried. It looks small and it curls up when fried. Don’t be fooled by its size! When you bite into it, you’ll realize why people that tasted danggit rave about this dried fish.

You can eat it any time of the day but it’s ideal for breakfast, paired with garlic rice, sunny side up eggs, and dipped in vinegar. You can find it in many restaurants in Malapascua and when you do, try asking for extra atchara (pickled papaya) because the combination is to die for.

2. Fall in Love with Binignit

Got a sweet tooth? You’ll definitely love this dessert! Binignit is a delectable mixture of coconut milk, cooked bananas, sweet potatoes, sticky rice, taro root, jackfruit, and tapioca pearls. This typical Visayan dish is creamy, sweet, and often served hot. It is best served cold too! We know it’s a lot but believe us, your sweet tooth will thank you once you’ve tried this sweet, creamy dessert soup.

3. Sip a Cup of Hot Sikwate

Sikwate is the local take on an age-old favorite: hot chocolate drink. The cocoa beans used to make the tablea de cacao (blocks of cacao) are dried naturally then roasted and milled. These blocks of cacao are then boiled and mixed with a batirol (a traditional wooden whisk). The process produces cocoa butter and makes the velvety, dark liquid frothy. The addition of sugar and milk finishes the drink, creating a smooth, sweet concoction.

Sikwate can be taken on its own but it is best served with slices of mangoes on the side or a piece of suman (a traditional rice dessert). And speaking of mangoes….

malapascua mangoes

4. Eat Mangoes Like a Pro!

Mangoes are popular in Asia, especially in Thailand. But Philippine mangoes are known for their distinct sweet taste. And Cebu mangoes are definitely exceptional! That’s why one of the best food souvenirs here are dried mangoes. Of course, when you’re in Malapascua Island, it’s best to taste the fresh ones!

There are many ways to cut and eat a ripe mango. In Malapascua, you’ll see firsthand how Filipinos cut these luscious beauties like a pro. They use a “curve” cutting technique that helps get most of the flesh out. In many Malapascua Island tours, you’ll find that mangoes are always served as a fitting dessert!

Experience the Island Life in Malapascua This Year!

A trip to Malapascua Island isn't just about diving to see the thresher sharks. It's about experiencing a different kind of island life, one that is far from the party and bustling island life of Boracay Island.

In Malapascua, Cebu, you're not only diving deep to see the majestic sea creatures, but you're also immersing yourself in the island culture. You'll see firsthand how the locals are able to sustain their eco-tourism model. You’ll see how the diving rules are strictly enforced to ensure that the activities do not pose any harm to these sea creatures and their habitat.

A trip to Malapascua Island allows you to commune with nature, with the sea, with the people, and experience peace in a true island paradise. Malapascua is a sanctuary for many sea creatures and an oasis for travelers.

Are you planning to dive deep in the island life in Malapascua, Cebu? Explore Malapascua tours and activities that can help you make the most of your trip.