One Week in Paradise | Malapascua Island, Philippines

Malapascua posterWe were given one full week off of work for summer vacation (don’t ever tell me teachers have it easy) and we knew exactly where we wanted to spend it: the PHILIPPINES. Because what more do you want from a summer getaway than perfect beaches, incredible scuba diving and dirt cheap rum&cokes?

Getting to Malapascua Island:

Getting to Malapascua is a bit of a trek. You have to fly to Cebu (Malapascua is a small island located off the the northern tip of Cebu) → cab to a bus terminal → bus to a ferry terminal → boat to the island. Pretty much every form of transportation.

We flew out of Busan and landed in Cebu past midnight. From the airport, we took a 10ish minute taxi to the Northern Bus Terminal (shown below).

Various websites/blogs we researched beforehand said that the buses come at specific times at specific intervals but there are really no set rules or times in the Philippines. Island life. So when we arrived at the bus terminal around 1:30am, we were able to take a bus immediately (non-air conditioned, however, for ~PHP130. The 180PHP air conditioned buses may actually stick to their schedules more. Both types are named “Ceres” but the AC bus is a bit bigger). We squeezed onto the TINY bus (this coming from a small Filipino girl) and made the relatively uncomfortable, rocky journey to Maya port.

We arrived around 630am and were mildly harassed by a few shady Filipino men trying to persuade us to take a private boat to Malapascua, rather than wait a couple hours for the public PHP80 boat (they’ll tell you that the public boat might not leave for 5 more hours, or not at all because of weather, etc etc). After some negotiating (they’ll originally try to charge you obscene prices upwards of PHP1000), the private boat took us on our half hour boat ride to Malapascua.

*Note: PHP45 ~ US$1

And we arrived here:

Malapascua Island, Philippines

Malapascua Island, Philippines Malapascua Island, Philippines Malapascua Island, Philippines Malapascua Island, Philippines Malapascua Island, Philippines Malapascua Island, Philippines Malapascua Island, Philippines

Malapascua was perfection. The [few] resorts are lined up along side each other on the pristine white beaches with the water footsteps away from your doorstep. Our resort was AMAZING (Ocean Vida Resort). Hammocks hung from palm trees next to sun chairs and couches. Flocks of fishing boats and dive boats congregated on the shoreline and sand. The scuba center was conveniently placed next to the outdoor bar, allowing you delicious mango daiquiris and lumpia as soon as you stepped foot off your boat.

Our breakfast buffet each morning offered us a perfect view of the ocean (and the mountain of bacon I feasted on every day wasn’t bad either). Friendly dogs roamed about (one, in particular, which was quasi-stalking us – he had a habit of sleeping on our front porch every night). Weather reports told us that it would rain 90% of the time (typhoon season), which ended up being one night. Even though it was cloudy most of the time, it was still warm (like it is pretty much year round) and probably more pleasant than it would’ve been if there were clear skies the entire time. We spent most our time on the island getting $12 massages almost every day, reading on hammocks and drinking/eating at the bar. PARADISE, I say.

When we weren’t napping on bean bag chairs or indulging in delicious seafood, we were training for our Open Water PADI certification. Our teacher, Tata, was absolutely AMAZING. Along with being an incredible teacher, he was probably the most entertaining and nicest person we met during the trip. Our certification course brought us to different islands, boat trips out to the middle of the ocean to various dive spots, and eventually, a deep dive where we descended 30 meters down the side of a cliff to see thresher sharks.


A baby thresher shark - about 2 meters long!

A baby thresher shark – about 2 meters long!

Malapascau was the perfect escape from our busy lives and crazy kids. The mellow island life without a ton of tourists was exactly what we needed. I think it’s safe to say we’re officially getting old when we prefer a holiday that has early mornings of productivity over blacking out til the wee hours of the night. But if growing up means getting scuba certified and having a full week without a hangover, then I’m game :).

Full review of Ocean Vida Resort + details about getting scuba certified in the Philippines & GoPro video coming soon!

Malapascua Island, Philippines


  1. Your post really makes me miss the Philippines. It’s so hard to believe that the weather there is so perfect while here, it’s changing to fall/winter conditions. Great photos here! Boat tours rule!


  2. I haven’t been to the Philippines yet, I’ll be sure to check back for some details. One question, did you head there only to get the dive cert? I’d like to head there, but I have no real interest in getting certified. Just curious.


    1. We didn’t go there just to go diving, there’s plenty of other things you can do – boat tours, snorkeling, stand up paddle boarding and overall just lounging around the gorgeous island! We originally were planning on going to Palawan, which is a bit more popular, but it was more expensive and travel time to get there was longer. We’ll be heading there (El Nido, to be exact) our next trip to the Philippines!


  3. I did a diving course in the Philippines but the area was not nearly as beautiful as this place! I really want to go back, your photos are lovely! I have slight travel envy that I never had time to go here!


  4. Wow, I am insanely jealous. I’m currently putting together my travel list for when I finish teaching, and I think it would be amazing to go stay at this resort for a little bit to relax before beginning my backpacking adventure. I would love to know how you insert your photos like that into your posts. It looks so beautiful!


  5. Kirsten, your pictures are beautiful! Where in South Korea are you located? I’ve been looking for Dive buddies and I’m thinking of trying to take a trip this month to Jeju. I actually doubt it’ll happen just because it’s so cold already (at least for this girl who grew up on a tropical island)… but next spring/summer I want to go like EVERY WEEKEND! (Ok, maybe not EVERY weekend… but I would if I could).

    Congrats on your PADI license. You’re going to love being a mermaid!


  6. I went to Cebu a few years ago and didn’t have the best experience so I’d love to be able to get back to the Philippines and actually enjoy it. I’ll have to look into Malapascua Island. It looks lovely!


    1. Yeah, we stayed in Cebu City for one night and I wasn’t really impressed.. The next time we go to the Philippines, we’re going to El Nido (Palawan)! Have you heard of it? It’s absolutely breathtaking!


  7. Your photos are beautiful! I think my favorite photo is of you reading on the hammock, that is exactly what I would be doing 🙂
    I am planning a long trip next year in south east Asia, and from your pics it looks like Malapascua Island might need to be added to the “to visit” list.


  8. This looks SO AMAZING!! Seriously, I am really motivated to make it to the Philippines now! This sounds like our kind of vacation–relaxing on the beach without a hangover and being productive! Love all of the pictures. Did you get scuba certified there? Do you have another post about the details on that, I’m interested in doing that in the future!


  9. The Philippines is well and truly on my list! And seeing this has only heightened that desire! Lovely 🙂


  10. You guys work for hagwons, don’t you? With only a week off you must do. :/ Yikes.

    But you’ve made me really want to visit the Philippines. ❤ Gorgeous!! I love your photos so much. It really does look like paradise.


  11. Maricel Fernandez · · Reply

    Hello Kirsten! It was great reading your article. Wanted to ask where you were able to do standup paddling. We’re going to Malapascua in a few weeks to dive but wanted to SUP in our down times.

    Thanks a lot!


    1. Hi Maricel! Our resort, Ocean Vida Resort, had SUP available on the beach! I didn’t get a chance to use them unfortunately so I’m not sure if they charge (I’m sure not much if they do) or if they let non-guests use them! They’re really nice over there so it wouldn’t hurt to ask!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: