Malapascua Island has the charm that many have so often wished to find in a tiny isolated beach paradise. The beach bungalows nestled in between the locals’ homes makes you feel like you have really left the western world behind.
It is one of the hidden treasures of the Philippines.
Malapascua feels so exclusive since all resorts are still quaint
The beach and location is breath taking the only detractant is the amount of rubbish and plastic on this beach! As a sheltered bay it does tend to capture and retain a lot of rubbish!
Malapascua Island is a Philippine island situated in the Visayan Sea, 6.8 kilometres (4.2 mi) across a shallow strait from the northernmost tip of Cebu Island. Administratively, it is part of the insular barangay of Logon, Daanbantayan, Cebu. Malapascua is a small island, only about 2.5 by 1 kilometre (1.55 by 0.62 mi), and has eight hamlets.
Sunset on Bounty Beach
Malapascua got his name way back in time. It says that some Spaniards have been sailing through the Visayas in the year of 1520. Due to some bad weather their boat stranded on Malapascua on Christmas Day, 25th December 1520. While having a broken boat and sitting on a tropical island far away from home during a tropical storm, they called the island Mala Pascua, which literally means “Bad Christmas”. Nowadays everybody is talking about Malapascua island even though the older local people insist that their islands name is “Logon” (same name as the main village here on Malapascua).
Today Malapascua is a laid back island with lovely people living here. The “Thresher Shark” made the island famous by divers and every year more and more people coming to enjoy the white sandy beaches, the lovely small resorts, the nicest local people and excellent diving. Surely a great place to visit and to completely forget about the western world.
Malapascua Island or barangay Logon is believed to be the place where the Virgin de los Desamparados made a miracle sometime in 1890 when the island had only nine households of the Monteclar, Deogrades, Rosales, Gulfan, Rubio, Bohol and Bruces families. It was said to be a piece of wood that had never burnt. In 1907 the parish priest of Kandaya, now Daanbantayan town, Rev. Fr. Inocentes Maga, baptized it of its name upon the request of the local residents. The size of the image is not the original size and it is said to be growing until present. Devotees from different parts of the country and even abroad come during the feast days on May 11 and 12. The chapel was originally made of coconut palm and leaves but now it is made of steel and cement.
Similar to other islands, natives were dependent on fishing as a source of livelihood. Agricultural products such as corn and rice were supplied from neighboring islands, such as Cebu and Leyte. With the population increasing and fish stocks dwindling, tourism came to the rescue. Nowadays, the majority of islanders either directly or indirectly make a living out of tourism, which is developing rapidly. The growth of tourism has also increased local immigration to the island, thus the demand for housing. The lack of a pier for bigger boats – due to financial constraints – is keeping a brake on construction growth.
The site is best known as the only place in the world where thresher sharks can be seen regularly at and just before sunrise. They use the seamount as a cleaning station for bluestreak and moon cleaner wrasse to remove ectoparasites such as gnathiids from their skin and clean their gills and mouths. The shoal also attracts other pelagic fish such as devil rays and eagle rays. Manta rays and hammerheads are seasonal.
This shoal lies close to the island of Leyte, east of Malapascua and you can reach it in about 45 min. Besides sightings of thresher sharks and devil rays, there is a good chance to encounter hammerhead sharks. The top of the shoal is about 10-12 m deep and is covered in sponges, hard- and soft corals. The south side of Kemod shoal forms a slope which goes as deep as 30m before it turns into a great drop off. The rest of the shoal have stunning walls, covered with sea fans and corals. Yellow fin tuna, unicorn fish, mackerel and barracudas can be seen regularly. Best time for Kemod is between March – June.
An underwater pinnacle which starts at around 14-16 meter and is reachable in about 15-20min. The fairly small rock is one of the highlights of the divesites around Malapascua Island and a must go for everybody. The entire rock is covered with beautiful soft corals in different colors. In between you easily find 5-10 different nudibranch species, giant and clown frogfish, different crabs and shrimps and depending on the season you can also find pygmy seahorses or harlequin shrimps over there. Nitrox is highly recommended.
A 10 minute boat ride takes you to this place at the northwestern side of Malapascua. A great rock formation down to 20m with beautiful soft corals, small reef fish, frogfish, lionfish, scorpionfish and nudibranches makes it a perfect dive site for beginners to advanced divers.
Lapus II lies right next to LapusLapus and starts with a sloping reef in 12m which turns into a small wall. The bottom here is at around 20m depth and the sandy bottom with a lot of black corals and sea fans is sloping down to a max. depth of 30m. Butterfly fish, damsels and anthias are living between the sponges, soft and leather corals which cover the entire dive site. Nudibranchs, frogfish and a high diversity of different shrimps and crabs made it their home. All in all a good dive site for all level of divers. Currents can be mild to strong.
This shoal is located south of Malapascua and is a perfect combination with Calanggaman Island. Walls are covered with soft corals, the plateau is covered in hard & soft corals and the fish life is much better than around the waters of Malapascua. With a little bit of luck, blue ring octopus can be spotted here as well.
The ferry became a victim of a typhoon named “Ruby” on the 23rd October 1988. It was a passenger ferry from Leyte to Cebu and a lot of people died on that last trip. To show respect, divers do not penetrate the wreck. It’s resting on the starboard side on a sandy bottom at a max. depth of 32m. The top of the wreck is in about 16m depths.The hull is completely covered in a garden of huge black corals. The entire wreck has a high variety of sea life. Here you can find everything from frogfish, nudibranch, whitetip reef sharks, marble ray, eagle ray, different pipefish and so much more. Nitrox 32% is recommended.
Far away and a great combination is Maria´s Point with the wreck of the Dona Marilyn or Gato Island. A small rock is coming out of the water and it goes down on the west and south side like a pyramid. It is covered with soft and hard corals in a diversity Malapascua can´t offer. There is not much fish neither critters around, but the colorful pyramid makes it a divers dream. Strong currents can be found there but it is still suitable for beginners and advanced.
The island is located between Maya and Malapascua and is basically just a rock coming out of the water. Some trees are covering the stones and birds made the island their home. From the walls of the island it slopes gently to a max. depth of 18m. The entire slope is covered in soft and leather corals, where a lot of different nudibranchs, shrimps and crabs find their home. Spanish dancers, seahorses and frogfish can be found there as well. It is a great dive site for all levels of divers.
A sandy area full of surprises! It is amazing how many critters you can find on a field of sea grass. Hairy frogfish, seahorses and sea moth are residents over there. Plans of making an artificial reef have been implemented and the result can be admired during every dive.
Before a beautiful coral garden, with corals just growing right under the surface and sloping down to a max depth of 12m – perfect for all divers. But sad to say, all these corals have been washed away by typhoon “Yolanda” and we don’t take any divers there anymore.
A very diverse dive site which offers a unique underwater sand dune, with a lot of garden eels. The bottom is covered in sand and rubble in which flamboyant cuttlefish are sometimes trying to hide. Pygmy seahorses, yellow and pink ones can be seen inside the different sea fans along that reef. The sand dune slowly turns in to a small wall which is covered in soft corals. Cracks inside the wall offer a perfect place for frogfish to hide and to wait for their next prey. All in all a very interesting dive site for beginners and advanced divers.
The underwater pinnacle is situated close to the dive site of LapusLapus and can be reached within 15 min. by boat. The shallow part starts in about 12m depth and slopes down to around 15m where it turns into a small wall. Pristine soft corals, sea fans and hard corals cover the wall which goes down to a max depth of 22m and turns into a sandy bottom. A lot of different nudibranchs, frogfish, lionfish, needlefish, pipefish and much more can be spotted on that dive site which is good for beginners to more advanced divers.
The only dive site which can be seen from the dive center of Sea Explorers. Small rocks are coming out of the water and make a stunning atmosphere especially during sunset. Strong currents can be found at this dive site, but during other times of the day it is a perfect dive site for check-up dives, open water and advanced divers. Between those soft corals you will find flatworms, nudibranchs and different shrimps. Schools of small sardines hiding in these waters while tunas and jacks often patrolling the place in hope to find some prey.
The dive site is a training site and located only 5 min. away from Sea Explorers Dive Center at the south western side of Malapascua Island. The bay is very shallow and slopes gently down to a max. depth of 12m. The entire bottom is covered with sand and some patches with sea grass where you can find sometimes seahorses or ghostpipefish inside. Definitely only for absolute beginners to do their confined water skills or their first discover scuba dive.
This is a beautiful place to take a walk with a sand path running alongside the beach. There are plenty of places to stop along the way and sit and enjoy the view either on the beach itself or at one of the bars or resorts where you can enjoy a drink.
In 1994 a lighthouse was built on the island, and the panoramic view from the top is a sight worth seeing. There is a cloud on the horizon, which makes the ambiance more magnificent.
Only 10-15 minutes boat ride away from the dive center, is a site for night dives. The dive starts with the observation of mating Mandarin fish. Seahorses, Blue ring octopus and an abundance of critters can be found here as well.
Mangrove Oriental Resort offers a refreshing sight of the lagoon. It’s a quiet secluded place perfect for people who doesn’t want to be disturb. A classy resort on a hill, about 15 minutes walk from Bounty Beach which is where the action is.
Japanese Wreck Marine Sanctuary
It offers something quite unusual for divers: underwater caves with swarms of sea snakes. Another attraction which draws in lots of divers are the rare Thresher Sharks which there’s a good chance of observing near the submerged island of Monad, 20 minutes by boat from Malapascua.
Within 45 min by boat we can reach Gato Island. Gato is famous for its sea snakes and big whitetip reef sharks, which are resting in small caves underneath some rocks. A very beautiful dive is the tunnel, where you start from the north east and exit at the west side of Gato Island, especially if one or two white tip reef sharks are waiting you at the exit. It’s one of the best locations in the Visayas sea with an unbelievable variety of underwater life. Stunning rock formations, swim throughs and a lot more awaits you at this top dive site.
The beach and location is breath taking. It is part of a cove with coconut trees, white sand beach and many boats on the water and on the sand.
This picturesque spot is also perfect for snorkelers and swimmers, reachable in about 75-90min. It’s a beautiful wall dive with great coral growth. Rare longnosehawkfish, nudibranches, and even the odd thresher shark can be found along the wall, amidst the large black corals gardens. Pygmy seahorses can be seen at the deeper fan corals as well. During the dives we often offer BBQ on the beach. This daytrip is an unforgettable experience for all, divers, snorkelers and families. Often we combine this dive site with Nunez Shoal.
A beautiful island located further north of Malapascua. This is a full day trip and the journey to that piece of paradise is only 3 hours away. Visibility is normally better than at other dive sites around Malapascua. Huge sea fans and a slope with breathtaking black corals in different colors are covering the bottom at one of these dive sites. A big diversity of reef fish such as sweet lips, parrot fish, groupers, turtles and much more can be seen here. Also black tip reef sharks are often spotted around Sambawan Island.
The view around the island was spectacular. There’s a lot of activities can be done here, such as Cliff Diving, Seashell collecting, Islet watching, Sunset viewing from the airstrip atop the island and snorkeling.
A huge volcano lies a little bit further north of Leyte. Dark sand covers the beaches and the bottom of the sea around Maripipi. Muck diving must be absolutely amazing here and can be compared to Dauin. For now we only found 2 great dive spots around this island, but many more are waiting to be discovered. Maybe you will become a Sea Explorer yourself one day.