Malapascua Island is a Philippine island located about 8 kilometers off the coast of northern Cebu, west of Leyte. The island is a popular tourist destination because of its white, sandy beaches, and is favored by divers as an excellent site for spotting thresher sharks and exploring historic wrecks.
The name of the island dates back to the arrival of the Spaniards, who landed on the island on a stormy Christmas day. Hence the name Malapascua, from the Spanish for “unfortunate Christmas.”
During World War II it was known as Logon, after the dominant southern community, by the Japanese and Spaniards who fought over the island. Some relics from that time remain on the island and in its waters.
Facts and figures
The island is just 1 km by 3 km in size. It is possible to walk around it within 3 hours. It has a population of about 3,000, while an average of 500 people visit the island every month. The western coast is considered the best area for swimming and snorkeling.
The island’s electricity has recently been upgraded to provide 24 hour electricity.
Strict security measures have been enforced by the local government in recent times. This has greatly reduced incidences of crime involving tourists.
From Cebu City, go to Maya and catch a pump boat to Malapascua. The island may also be reached from Leyte. Recently efforts have been made by the local government of Daanbantayan to make their transport system to the island more efficient.
Where to stay
Most of the resorts can be found along Bounty Beach. There is a wide range of accommodations, from simple rooms to hotels and private cottages.
Malapascua Island is renowned for its long unspoiled stretches of beach with fine white sands and crystal-clear waters. It is a popular site for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. There are various sites on the island and in its waters that are worth exploring.
Monad Shoal Marine Park
Malapascua Island is famous for thresher sharks, which along with other wildlife have been protected by designating a small sunken island close to Malapascua as a marine park. Just 18-24 meters wide, it is known as the Monad Shoal Marine Park. It is home to a shoal of tiny cleaning wrasse fish, which are responsible for attracting the sharks as they get rid of the dead skin and parasites of larger fish.
The thresher sharks have made the deep waters around the island their haven. The best time to see them is in the early morning. They do not pose a threat to humans, merely swimming away from divers who startle them with sudden movements.
Many hammerhead sharks may also be seen here, particularly from January to March. Devil rays and manta rays are also frequently spotted here. Whitetip sharks are seen occasionally. The marine park is home to many other types of fish too: barracudas, batfish, tuna, flutemouths, lionfish, pipefish, moorish idols, scorpionfish, bannerfish, unicornfish, and moray eels. Squid, octopi, and mantis shrimps can also be seen here.
Wreck dive sites
- Lighthouse Wreck – a shallow dive at just 3 meters deep, this is the site of a sunken Japanese landing craft. A great variety of marine creatures frequent this wreck, including hermit crabs, yellow-tailed barracuda, pipefish, octopi, banded sea snakes, and juvenile harlequin sweetlips.
- Lighthouse West – a dive site where many seahorses and mandarin fish may be seen.
- Doña Marilyn Wreck – an intact passenger ferry that went down near Malapascua Island during a typhoon in the 1980s. About a hundred meters long, it lies on its starboard side on the sea floor. The wreck is now covered with large corals. It is home to many whitetip sharks and blue-spotted and marble rays; devil and eagle rays pass through it as well. Highly skilled divers may be able to enter the wreck. As it was not salvaged, there are still some relics inside.
- Tapilon Wreck – the wreck of a World War II Japanese cargo ship that sank when it was hit by torpedoes. Broken into several large pieces, it is covered with soft corals and full of different sea creatures. Thousands of small barracudas can be seen swimming here.
- MV Asia Wreck – a wreck with open decks, which allow divers easy access into the ship.
- Pioneer Wreck - a torpedoed Japanese gunboat in deep waters. Sunk during World War II, it is still intact and stands upright. It can only be reached by divers experienced in decompression diving as it lies 42-54 meters deep.
- Local villages – Logon Village and the local fishing villages are charming and the residents friendly. There are a few restaurants in Logon.
- Ginbitayan – a historic village whose name means “hanging village.” Many Japanese soldiers were captured and killed at this site. Nearby is a sunken World War II Japanese wreck.
- Lighthouse – near Ginbitayan, the lighthouse offers a magnificent view. The key may be borrowed from Logon Village.
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- Ligan, Chris. “Malapascua Island security beefed up.” In Cebu Daily News, May 25, 2008. (Accessed January 17, 2009)
- ”Malapascua Island: The Home of Thresher Sharks.” In Dumaguete Info, February 14, 2008. (Accessed January 17, 2009)
- Malapascua Island.com (Accessed January 17, 2009)
- ”Natural Tourist Attractions.” In Cebu Islands, Philippines. (Accessed January 17, 2009)
- Rowthorn, Chris. Philippines: 7000 islands, endless possibilities, 8th ed. Lonely Planet, 2003.
- ”Wreck Diving at Malapascua.” In Dumaguete Info, February 14, 2008. (Accessed January 17, 2009)
Thresher Shark Divers - the premier PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Center on Malapascua. See their website for all the information you need on Malapascua including diving, resorts, nightlife and getting there.
- 'Island of Malapascua' at Malapascua Island of Cebu Province