After the typhoon
This small and remote island off the northern tip of Cebu in the Philippines is one of those places you visit that really has an impact. Its white sand beaches, very friendly locals and truly unique scuba diving make this an unforgettable place.
About a year ago when I was researching places to visit in the Philippines – Malapascua kept coming up again and again. So I already made this place a “Must Visit Location”
Then in November 2013, the largest and most powerful typhoon ever recorded smashed through the Philippines and Malapascua took a direct hit.
The images and video I saw on the news was heartbreaking to see. Nearly every roof in Malapascua was gone. All the shade was gone because every leaf on every tree was blown away. They called it “toothpick” island because all that was left was the stumps of bare trees sticking up like toothpicks.
I had to visit this island to see for myself the damage and help by spending money here as the island and its locals are heavily dependent on tourism.
The typhoon and its trail of destruction may have scared some people from visiting the Philippines but now is the time you should visit!!
The main attraction for this island and what really put this place on the map for tourism is the Scuba Diving – And not just any diving – what makes this place special is that it is the only place in the world where you are pretty much guaranteed to see thresher sharks every day!
It’s a very early start to see these creatures. Usually meeting at the dive shops at 4.45am!! The thresher sharks are very light sensitive as they usually live in the deep ocean. So you have to be early – just before sunrise to see them.
Here in Malapascua they are found at a dive site called “Monad Shoal” which is a sunken island in the sea. They come up from the deep ocean to this place to get cleaned by small fish called “wrasse” which eat the parasites from other fishes bodies, in this case the thresher sharks.
Nobody really knows why the thresher sharks come to this particular “cleaning station” but you can see them everyday in this dive site in the Philippines. So for this reason if you are a diver then Malapascua is a must!
There are other dive sites around Malapascua also. I went to “Gato Island” which is about 2 hours away. Not many fish here but lots of nice colourful corals!
There are some very nice beaches around the island and slowly they are being cleaned up from the typhoon debris. At the time of writing this all the major resorts on the main beach were fully up and running and the beach was in tip top condition!
If you don’t like beaches, diving or swimming then I’m not really sure what you can do here. I heard the snorkeling is not too great. But on the weekends there is some crazy disco that the locals hold in the basketball court in the centre of the village.
It’s a huge wall of speakers playing a variety of music until the small hours which is very bizarre at first as you get old ladies and very young children, basically the whole island seems to come here and party. Its really strange but very fun and a you have to go! The music will stop you from sleeping if you don’t go. You have been warned!
Prices can really vary for accommodation and food here, there is really something to suit everyone’s budget. I was staying somewhere for 300 peso per night (£4). If you are on a budget you should stay close to the village (this is where the boat will drop you off) the cheaper places are around here along with cheaper food!
If you are not on a tight budget there are some really nice resorts further round the main beach. Only a 10-minute walk from the village. There are also some really great restaurants across the island. The more expensive places seem to be closer to the beach.
To get to Malapascua island its very easy. Take a bus from the Northern Bus terminal in Cebu City. It will take about 4 hours and cost 200peso. Make sure you buy your ticket on the bus. The bus is to Maya Port.
Once in Maya you get the boat to the island. The cost of this will vary on how many of you there is and what time it is. We got a little ripped off due to it being night time. To avoid this remember to leave Cebu City before 12pm. The buses leave the city every hour or until it is full.
If you are in the Philippines then this island is a must! Very easy to get to and cheap too!!