Malapascua Island – “The Little Boracay”
Malapascua is a tiny island, only about 2.5 kilometers long and 1km wide, at the northernmost tip of Cebu island province, a barangay of the municipality of Daan Bantayan.
Malapascua, now known as the “Little Boracay,” was “discovered” fairly recently, only in the early 90s. It has become known for its beautiful white sandy beaches with coral gardens and excellent dive spots nearby where thresher sharks and manta rays can be sighted on a regular basis. Diving experts and enthusiasts claim that, to date, this is the only place in the world where divers can reliably sight thresher sharks. Thresher sharks are 6-meter pelagic fish with long, whip-like tails.
My family had been to the island more than 5 years ago. Our route getting there from Tacloban City was via Villaba, Leyte, where we took a commercial pumpboat and crossed the Visayan (or is it Camotes Sea?) to the young City of Bogo, Cebu. From Bogo, we took a one-hour jeep ride to the town of Maya, the jump-off point to Malapascua. That was a long trip.
This time, we took off from Tabango, Leyte upon invitation by the municipal government led by Mayor Bernard Remandaban, on a 7-island familiarization tour which is one of the tourism thrusts being promoted by the municipality. Malapascua forms part of this island tour package being pushed by Tabango.
The trip was a 2-hour boat-ride direct to Malapascua Island. Leaving Tabango a little past 10 in the morning, we reached the pristine, crystal clear waters of Malapascua around noontime, just in time for lunch.
Done with the hearty lunch, I surveyed the area around and could no longer find the place or cottage “resort” where we stayed in during our first time in the island years ago. Malapascua was hit badly by recent Typhoon Frank, the damage still visible in the dead palm leaves of coconut trees and unrepaired roofs of some of the beach huts and cottages. Minus these photographer’s “eye sores,” the beach scene at Malapscua, nevertheless, remains postcard-perfect.
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Getting there from Cebu City involves motoring to the town of Maya, the jump-off point, which is about 145 kms from the city. A bus or van ride would normally take between 4 to 4.5 hours via narrow and winding roads with scenic landscapes along the way.
One passes thru Mandaue City, Consolacion, Liloan, Danao City and other towns and on to Bogo City till you reach the Maya pantalan (wharf). The journey continues, this time by pumpboat – a 30-minute ride across the 8-km shallow strait to Malapascua Island.