Malapascua

Thresher shark Malapascua

Malapascua, literally meaning Mala (Bad) Pascua (Easter) is a small island located 8 kilometers off the northern tip of Cebu Island in the Visayan Sea. The island most likely was given this name by Spanish seafarers stranded on the island, but not all historians agree.

Travelers are attracted to Malapascua by pristine white sanded beaches and great diving sites because it is one of the few places in the world where Thresher Sharks are frequently sighted. There are no roads on the island passable by car and the only way to get around is by foot or habal-habal (motorcycle). Fortunately the island is only measuring 1 kilometer by 2,5 kilometer and everything is within an easy stroll.

The superb Bounty Beach on the South side of the island is where most of tourist facilities are clustered and is frequently listed among the best beaches of Asia. A 20-minutes boat ride from Bounty beach is Monad Shoal one of the best dive spots in the world. This is sunken island starting at a depth of 20 meter and a natural clean station for Thresher Sharks. Aside from sharks the island is also a good place for spotting Manta Rays.

The influx of tourist in recent years have brought great changes to Malapascua, electricity is now available 24 hours per day and the population has more than doubled in numbers. Malapascua is sometimes compared to Boracay - Philippines prime destination. Boracay also started as a laid back alternative for backpackers and is now one of the most developed destinations in the country. So far mass tourism hasn’t discovered Malapascua, most likely because of its remote location. To get there you will need to take a 4 hours bus drive from Cebu City to Maya, followed by a 45 minutes crossing by banka.

Best time to visit

Weather patterns in Malapascua are typical for a tropical climate with a relatively dry season between December and a rainy season for the rest of the year. Most visitors tend to visit the island during the dry season when temperatures and humidity are relatively low and the skies tend to be clear and sunny. Rainfall however can occur during any part of the year and is also quite common during the dry season in Malapascua. From July to September there is a small chance of a typhoon hitting the island and it’s a good idea to checkout the weather forecast if you are planning to visit the island during these months.

Internet & communication

Most of the hotels and dive resorts offer free Wifi access to their clients. Mobile operators Smart and Globe have good coverage on the island and it’s easy to top-up your prepaid card in one of the local convenience stores.

Money

Currently there are no official money changes or ATM’s on the island, so bring plenty of pesos. Some stores change USD or accept credit cards at unfavorable rates. The nearest ATM accepting MasterCard or Visa cards (Maestro / Plus) is located in Bogor, more then an hour away on Cebu Island.

Immigration & visa extensions

Most nationalities are issued a free 30 day tourist visa on arrival. This can be extended by another 29 days in the district office of the Bureau of Immigration in Cebu, which is located in Mandaue City on P. Burgos Street, near the Mandau City hospital. For a 38-day visa extension you will need to bring your passport and two photocopies of it, a return ticket and pay a fee of 3050 Peso. The whole process can be completed within two days. Dress properly, shorts and t-shirts are not acceptable or you will probably be refused entry.