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Malapascua Island is a well known SCUBA Diving destination.
For GRANDPAckers, Malapascua is expensive (yet still affordable). Read on …
I made my own way from Bantayan Island to Malapascua Island by Ferry, Ceres Aircon bus and Bangka.
The ferry from Bantayan to Hagnaya leaves every 1-2 hours, takes 1.5 hours, and costs PHP175 each including the PHP5 Terminal Fee.
At the Hagnaya Ferry Port, you catch a Ceres bus to Bogo. The bus ride takes 10 minutes and costs PHP10 each.
Here you wait to connect with another Ceres bus that takes you to Maya.
The trip takes 1 hour and costs PHP40 each.
You are taken directly to the Maya Boat Terminal.
This is not the main Maya Ferry Terminal but a smaller one about 1km out of town.
The bangka to Malapascua takes 30 minutes and costs PHP100.
If your bangka anchors off shore, they will transport you to shore in a little boat.
Watch out for the SCAM … this little boat is free – but, sometimes, they try and charge PHP20 per person.
I still had my Globe SIM card that I purchased at Manila Airport for PHP1,000 when I flew in from Hanoi to Puerto Princesa. For this, you get a 1 month ‘unlimited’ Data Plan.
GRANDPAckers will need their own Mobile Data Plan on Malapascua. Many of the cheaper hotels only have a ‘wifi zone’ in the common area. The free wifi provided at your cheap hotel can be very ‘variable’; but, internet is ‘variable’ throughout The Philippines.
If you use the internet a lot (like myself) you are best to have a mobile plan of your own to fall back on.
I had a good signal with Globe all around the island. In fact, it is the first time in The Philippines that I got a strong 3G connection. Alas, it kept hanging, so I had to change my smartphone settings to force it to only use HSPA (H and H+).
You can walk everywhere.
Trikes / Motos:
There are no Trikes, only Motos. As a rule, a Moto should cost half the price of a Trike. Use the same rule of thumb.
Scooters can be rented for PHP500 / day; but why would you bother?
WHERE TO STAY:
If you read my post on Where To Stay, you will see that I went to quite a few hotels around the island and had a good look at pricing, beaches, and options.
In the end, I chose the BLUE CORALS BEACH RESORT.
BLUE WATER BEACH RESORT:
I used AsiaTravel.com to pre book 1 night at the BLUE WATER RESORT.
It cost PHP1,000 per night (including breakfast) with no in-room wifi.
The Blue Water Double Fan room is BELOW GRANDPAcker Standard.
There was no furniture; just a bed. Nowhere to hang your clothes (out came my washing line again).
The ensuite was ‘tired’ with no mirror, cracked tiles, a dripping tap, and no toilet seat.
The room was not very clean. The louvre windows were covered with dust – they hadn’t been cleaned for years.
That evening, I went to have my shower …
I was not going to shower nor brush my teeth in that!
The next morning, I was awoken at 4:30am by roosters crowing ‘any-cock-ll-do’.
The only good thing to say about the Blue Water is that the free breakfast was good.
BLUE CORALS BEACH RESORT:
Read my post on Where To Stay for all of the analysis and details.
The BLUE CORALS BEACH RESORT offered me a clean and tidy ‘Penthouse’ Fan Double for PHP1,000 including breakfast.
The room had been discounted down from PHP1,500 / night because I was taking 10 nights (and Tourist numbers were dwindling).
The room came with furniture, a wardrobe, and hot water shower.
It was clean and there was a daily maid service providing clean linen, towels, and toiletries.
It was a 2 minute walk to the best beach.
It was close to cheap bars and restaurants.
In the beachfront resorts, you will struggle to find Breakfast for less than PHP200 (including coffee), Lunch for less than PHP220 (including fruit drink), and Dinner for less than PHP300 (including fruit juice).
Make sure that you get Breakfast included in your room rate when you negotiate your price.
A good free breakfast will help keep your Lunch cost down and help fund your Dinner.
There are the normal ‘Tinpots’ scattered around the island and you will find one in the harbour village and several more in the back streets behind Bounty Beach.
As a rule of thumb, the ‘Tinpots’ charge PHP20 for a small serving of a vegetable dish, PHP40 for anything with meat, and PHP30-35 for a small fried fish. Budget PHP50 for a simple meal. A fruit juice is, usually, best bought elsewhere; budget another PHP40 for that. A veg dish with 2 vege spring rolls and rice is PHP40.
A typical breakfast of 2 fried eggs with rice should cost PHP30. Bring your own sachets of coffee – they usually provide hot water for free. Cold drinking water is also, usually, either free or PHP1 per 250ml from a dispenser.
I was, also, surprised to find a ‘Buy 1 Take 1’ burger cart on the north side of the harbour village.
BUDGET BEACHFRONT RESTAURANTS:
It is cheaper than the others but not, necessarily, better value for money.
You are paying to be on the beach.
I had a Chicken Adobo with Rice for PHP185. It didn’t come close to the one that I had at Shantal’s in Boracay.
OTHER BUDGET RESTAURANTS:
There are 2 ‘budget’ restaurants. Both are found in the back street behind Bounty Beach: GingGing’s and Mr Kwiiz.
To get to them, take:
- The path beside Oscar’s Bar; or
- The path next to Dive Society
And, head east. The first one you come to is GingGing’s. The service is terrible and the young girl serving the tables looks like she wants to commit suicide. you get what you pay for!
Mr Kwiiz’ is a bit harder to find.
Follow the same path all the way to the end until you get to the Exotica Resort. From there, cut through some houses and little shops and across an open area. You should find Kwiiz on facing you on the right.
One lunchtime, I tried their Eggplant Adobo with Fried Egg for PHP60 … which is only a few pesos more expensive than a Tinpot. It was nice.
I returned for dinner another night and tried their Chicken & Veg Curry for PHP165. It was a good sized portion with a whole chicken thigh.
All of the other restaurants on Angelina Beach and along Bounty Beach are targeted at Tourists and charge Tourist prices.
Typical mains are priced from PHP250-PHP350 … or more for the best dishes.
Expect to pay PHP55-60 for a San Miguel Pilsen.
- The Ocean Vida Happy Hour closes at 6:00pm
- Oscar’s closes at 7:00pm
Something ‘fancy’ and ‘pokey’ like a Long Island Iced Tea will cost PHP180-200 (i.e. PHP90-100 each during Happy Hour).
YOUR HEALTH & SAFETY:
There is no reason to feel unsafe in Malapascua (IMHO).
But, be sensible. Don’t flash your wealth nor leave things unattended.
Malapascua gets power outages. Not every day but now and again. Bring a torch.
Read my posting on Where To Stay to get more detail about the beaches around the island.
The best beach and swimming is in front of Kokays resort.
Many of the beaches are not well kept by the locals and are ‘untidy’ with debris and seaweed at the waterline.
Bounty Beach ties with the North West Beaches for second place.
WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO SEE / WHAT TO DO:
SCUBA DIVE / SNORKEL:
You come to Malapascua to SCUBA Dive. If you are not coming to SCUBA Dive, don’t come … there is not point in paying the inflated accommodation and food prices if you are not going to SCUBA.
There are many SCUBA Dive Shops to choose from … many are integrated into the resorts. The Dive Resorts offer discounts on Diving if you are staying with them (or discounts on rooms if you are Diving with them). HOWEVER, these ‘bundled’ deals are usually the more expensive options as they are either hitting you with the hotel ‘rack rate’ or the published ‘dive rate’.
In Peak Season, the cheapest dive is about PHP1,300 (hire equipment included) – decide for yourself whether or not these cheaper dive shops are ‘safe’ and/or ‘reputable’.
It is more usual to pay about PHP1,800-2,000 per dive (hire equipment included). This is EXPENSIVE.
They offer discounts if you book 5 dives and deeper discounts for 10 or more. A ‘rack rate’ for 5 dives including rental equipment is about PHP8,250 (PHP1,650 / dive). Even these ‘discounted’ dives are relatively expensive.
Always make sure that there are no ‘hidden’ fees such as Marine Park Fees, etc.
As a rule of thumb in The Philippines, target to pay:
- PHP800 / dive if you have your own equipment
- PHP1,200 / dive if you have to rent all equipment
- With ‘legitimate’ park fees on top
I was in Malapascua in mid May – just as the Tourist numbers were dwindling. The offers started to come out. One dive shop was offering PHP1,100 / dive (PHP1,000 / dive for 5 or more). These cheaper offers are, usually, for dives around Malapascua Island itself … but, the best diving is found further afield.
I wanted Nitrox, so I walked into a Dive Shop that did Nitrox and negotiated PHP6,250 for 5 dives ALL INCLUSIVE (except for my Dive Computer which I always have with me). That was PHP1,250 / dive including marine / park fees, torches, etc … and to the more remote (and best) dive sites:
- Monad Shoal: For Thresher Sharks (2 dives)
- Marylin Wreck: For a Soft Coral wreck dive
- Gato Island: For Macro, White Tip Shark, and Cave diving (2 dives)
My Advice: Even in peak season make them an offer – if the boat isn’t full, they are still making a profit out of you … offer them the prices that I’ve given you (above) and see what you can get away with.
GO FOR A WALK:
If you read my post on Where To Stay you will see that a walk around the island is a pleasant one.
You can do it in 2-3 hours; however, it is a bit exhausting in the heat of the midday sun.
A nice Evening walk would be east along Bounty Beach and up the eastern coast paths to the north eastern tip of the island (and back).
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
There are no ATMs on the island … bring plenty of cash.
Many resorts take credit cards but charge you a 6% fee for the privilege. Dive Shops typically charge 3%.
There are the usual ‘splatter’ of little shops dotted around the island. The main shops are in the Harbour Village.
- 6.6L bottle of water PHP100; PHP50 to refill it
- 750ml bottle of Tanduay Dark Rum (80 proof) PHP100
- 1.5L bottle of Coke (PHP60)
- PHP1 for 250ml of water from a coin ‘slot’ machine
Unless you specifically want to come to Malapascua Island to SCUBA Dive here (usually to see Thresher Sharks), don’t bother coming.
If you do come, the ‘place to be’ is in the south west of the Island (see Where To Stay).
WHEN TO GO:
The ‘rainy season’ starts in late June and lasts through to September / October.
GRANDPAckers should arrive between mid May and mid June. One week here should be more than enough.
At this time of year, you will be able to negotiate cheaper hotel rates and cheaper SCUBA rates. In Peak Season, Malapascua is likely to be ‘out of the GRANDPAcker price range.
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