JOURNEY TO A DREAM ( A solo trip to Malapascua Island)

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I was flipping through channels one evening when I stumbled upon a documentary about the thresher shark. I got easily hooked by this bizarre creature, with its long tail, calm appearance and mysterious aura. My curiosity on this creature has even led me to discovering an island called ‘Malapascua’. I got interested in Malapascua Island where this magnificent creature can be found.  Since then, I have been dreaming of exploring the island and swim with the splendid shark. It took me almost 8 years until I finally set foot on Malapascua Island, it’s a dream come true and most importantly I traveled there alone. I was ecstatic, my emotions were wild, I’m freaking out because it’s my first time to travel solo and at the same time I am exploring my dream island. What a way to start my solo journey! [Read: Cebu to Malapascua Boat Schedule and Fare Rates]


Thresher Shark in Malapascua Island | Photo by Klaus Stiefel under Creative Commons

The island of Malapascua is situated in the northern tip of Cebu City, Philippines. It is a paradise island widely known for its vibrant and astonishing marine life. The rich marine biodiversity is an incredible diving spot. It is a diver’s haven and the only place in the world where you can find the magical Thresher shark in their natural habitat. Divers all over the globe flock in this tropical island to explore the hidden gems of its ocean and to have a glimpse of the enthralling Thresher shark.

Malapascua Island offers endless tropical vibe.
It is a paradise for every travelers and
\adventure junkies.
The pristine and powdery white sand of
Malapascua Island.


The stretch of the island shore is filled with powdery soft sand, an idyllic spot for relaxation and offers a peaceful vibe. Its azure waters are refreshing and is very inviting for a hot summer afternoon. The island is a total paradise, the locals are very accommodating and the food is absolutely delicious.

Calm shore, azure sky and a endless
summer vibes.
Malapascua Island is totally the ultimate
summer getaway.
                       

Here are some of the best activities that you can totally enjoy in Malapascua:

Say hi to the thresher shark!
Scuba diving is one of the top activities in this island. There are resorts that offer scuba diving lessons that include thresher shark viewing. Sadly, since I travel in a shoestring budget I wasn’t able to try scuba diving and swim with the thresher shark. It’s heart breaking for me but I know in my heart that someday I will come back to this island and I will swim with those beautiful sharks.

Finding Nemo!
Snorkeling is one of the best options if you travel in a tight budget but still want to explore the vivid ocean of Malapascua. There are local boatmen who offer snorkeling for Php400-450 (USD8-9), (depends on how you bargain) including the gears for three snorkeling spots. First stop is the coral garden.  The amazing life underwater, the colorful corals and the variety of fish will make you feel like you’re in a Nemo movie and the whole cast were actually present.  The rich marine life was just surreal.  Second spot is the Japanese shipwreck, it was quite creepy but really exciting. It was like the flying Dutchman in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It will give you chills into your bones by just simply looking on its decaying structure but the best part is, there are different species of corals bringing life to this ruined ship. Also, there are fishes and different sea dwellers that live there.

Third destination is another coral garden near this huge rock where sea snakes locally known as “walo-walo” hunt for food during sunset. This snake has a reputation of being one of the deadliest in the world due to its venom. Nevertheless, the life underwater was just breathtaking. There were huge walls of corals, an array of colors and an enchanting aquatic life.

Ride or hike!
Malapascua is not a huge island so you can basically explore the whole landscape from tip to tip by renting a motorbike or by just simply hiking the whole island. I opted for a walk to savor the scenery and to get in touch with the community and to know more about their culture and their way of life. The locals were very accommodating and they were more than willing to lend a hand. The view was amazing, the lush greens and unspoiled shore was just out of this world. It’s a pure paradise and a total tropical dream.

Bum, baby, bum!
Since the island have fine powdery white sand, crystal clear waters and towering palm trees its shore was perfect for beach bumming. Lying in the soft sand while listening to the sound of the winds and cherishing the hot tropical sun is a perfect past time to relax after a tiring day of exploring. The swaying of palm trees in a summer breeze and the view of the ocean glistening like crystals in a hot afternoon sun was just remarkable. You can just sit there forever and forget about the time and let all your worries be washed away by the tides.
                                      
Beach Bumming is one the most popular activity in this Island.
Just lay in its soft powdery sand and just chillax.

Feel the heat in your skin! Let the sound of the
waves soothes your mood.


“Ging-gings”
Aside from the picturesque beauty of this island, Malapascua also offers an authentic and fresh local cuisine. Due to the bountiful ocean that surrounded this island, you can guarantee that their sea food was fresh and delicious. One of the best local restaurants or “karinderya” was “Ging-gings”. Their sumptuous menu matched with fresh juices was heaven-like in a really affordable price. Most locals and tourists eat there and you must be willing to wait because it will take several minutes to complete your order since it is freshly cooked. Their mouth-watering menu have grilled fish, fresh vegetables and different sea food dishes. Ging-gings diner has free wi-fi so you can upload your photos on your social media accounts while waiting for your order. There are also other small diners along the streets that offer delightful local dishes in an affordable price.

Where to stay?
There are numerous hostel and transient houses in the island of Malapascua. During my stay, I was very lucky to get a really nice room for just Php300 (USD6) a night. The room had its own restroom, comfortable bed, electric fan and a mosquito net. Some of the resorts in the island have expensive rates but there are a lot of transient houses, dormitory rooms and home stay houses that offer reasonable prices for backpackers and adventure junkies. Also, upon arrival there are locals that will offer you rooms for a cheap price. The rate per night is around Php300 to Php500 (USD6 to USD10).

***Escape Manila recommends that you book your accommodation in advance especially during peak season. Here's our recommended places to stay in Malapascua:

How to get there
Take a flight from Manila to Cebu. From Mactan Airport take a taxi to North Bus Terminal and catch the earliest trip to Maya Port. I took the first trip at around 2am and I arrived in Maya port at around 6am. The earlier the better. Travel time is approximately 4 to 5 hours.

The fare is Php150 (USD3) for non-aircon buses and Php190 (USD4) for air-conditioned buses. I chose the non-aircon bus because it’s cheaper. At Maya port take a local boat that cost Php80 (USD2) per head. It will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes to reach the paradise island of Malapascua.
              
My whole experience to this island was pure bliss. It created a great impact in my life, it rekindles my childlike wonder and it awakened my soul to the wonders of discovering and living out of my comfort zone. I met so many amazing people, backpackers, honeymooners and locals that prove that there are no strangers in this world.

Detour
If you have plenty of hours to spend, take a detour to Kalanggaman Island in the municipality of Palompon in the province Leyte, Philippines. This utopia island has an enchanting charm and beauty that will surely captivate the heart of every wanderer. It’s like a piece of heaven in the middle of the vast blue ocean. The crystal-clear waters and calm shores were perfect for a tropical island escape. The long stretch of sugary white sand and the mesmerizing sandbar were perfect spots for beach bumming and Instagram goals. The tropical island vibe was so irresistible.

There were local boatmen in Malapascua that offer day trip to Kalanggaman Island for eight hundred (Php 800) including lunch. It’s just 2 hours boat ride from Malapascua to reach this astonishing island.

The mesmerizing sand bar of kalanggaman Island
The view from the boat while approaching
Kalanggaman Island

Travel Tips!!
B.A.R.T (Be A Responsible Traveler)
  • Leave no Trace
  • Dispose and Segregate your waste properly
  • Do not throw cigarette butts, straw and any plastic to the ocean. It will destroy corals and harm our marine life.
  • Avoid touching and disturbing the aquatic life during diving and snorkeling. It will have a negative effect in their ecosystem.

About the Author: 
Edss Tolentino, works as a Visual Merchandiser in a retail brand. He is  an aspiring travel writer, an adventure junkie and a seeker of the unknown. His goal is to explore the 7,641 Islands of the Philippines and share its beauty to the world.

***Text and photos by Edss Tolentino.
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