Backpacker Weekend in Malapascua Island
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Want to go to Malapascua on a tight budget? Read on. The King of Sinulog with his travel buddies are off to his favorite island in Cebu, Philippines. Translated as “Bad Christmas”, it is one of the best diving spots in Cebu where you can see an abundance of the non-biting thresher sharks, boat-sized manta rays and World War II Japanese shipwrecks, the little island situated north of Daan Bantayan Cebu, Malapascua. Here is an account of our weekend at one of the best backpacker hostels and also featuring free things to do and cheap places to eat in the island as well.
How to get to Malapascua Island
We actually started the weekend early as we were already a bit tipsy when we reached the Cebu North Bus Terminal via taxi service. We just finished eating our midnight La Paz Batchoy at Vicente’s in Mandaue to cure our hangovers and are ready to doze off during the 4-hour land travel.
There are actually two options in going to Maya Port, one is the van for hire and the other is the Ceres Bus Liner. We chose the latter since it has more leg room. There are trips scheduled as early as 1AM. By choosing the bus, we figured that we can sleep more comfortably, stand and stretch at any given time, we were not in a hurry to get there and that the fare is more or less the same at PHP 180 per person one way.
Arriving at Maya Port, we learned from the locals that the pump boats to Malapascua are usually on an hourly schedule. They usually charge PHP 80 per person one way and PHP 20 for the ‘boatee’, small boats that carry you from the shore to the pump boat. Boatees are legal and are needed especially when it is low tide since the pump boats can’t dock to the shore. However, in some instances, boat operators may charge you up to PHP 150 per person one way to compensate for the passenger capacity of that specific boat schedule or else wait another hour for the next trip. This is pretty much understandable since they use a fixed volume of crude oil to run the boat. My advice is for you to arrive at Maya Port during normal peak day hours (9AM to 3PM) as to avoid getting ripped off by some operators.
Where To Eat in Malapascua
By far, this is the most important question. Laughs. Arriving at the island, we immediately went to our go-to dining place, Ging-Ging’s Restaurant. Better ask a local where it is since it would be quite hard for me to describe its location. This place serves Filipino, American and a little bit of Italian Cuisine. It basically has almost everything from breakfast to dinner serving pizza, pasta, salads, pancakes, sandwiches to smoothies and cocktails. By the way, they also offer cheap accommodation and diving services for that matter if you want convenience and a location near Bounty beach where the expensive resorts and restaurants are located.
We got to try their tocino, egg and rice combo for PHP 75. Their pork adobo with rice was also priced at PHP 80. Their banana pancakes were also at PHP 70. For our drinks, we had tea with lemon at PHP 25.
For me, it is the best value-for-money restaurant in the island. The only aspect they need to improve is the time it takes for them to cook the food usually averaging from 30 to 40 minutes. Better go there at non-peak eating hours, bring something that could entertain you while waiting and most importantly, go there when you’re not starving to death.
For snacks, you can go to the barrio and buy yourself bread at the bakery for only PHP 5, cooked banana on a stick at PHP 10, tempura and fish balls at PHP 10 per stick or try out buy one take one burgers for only PHP 35. There are also a number of cheap barbecue stalls in the island for about PHP 150 per person and roasted chicken at PHP 200 good for three persons which usually open at dinner time. Just ask any local of their location since pretty much everything on the island can be reached by foot.
We’re actually in Malapascua to experience what it’s like to stay at a hostel. Although, there are other better accommodations with the same price, what we’re after is interacting with people our age who are from different countries. We wanted to learn about other cultures, what it feels to have traveled to various places and what it’s like to be a solo backpacker like most of the guests and at the same time enjoy the fun activities on the island with them. Well, truthfully and most importantly, we’re also here searching for our soul mates who are not Filipinas. Laughs. Thankfully, we came upon Villa Sandra Guesthouse, the backpacker’s place.