Guest Post by Janet Ranola
The last time I went to Cebu City, I skipped going to either one of the two popular islands Malapascua and Bantayan. Boy was that wrong. Sure, I’ve been to the islands of Boracay and Bohol (which for me are equal in terms of shore and water quality), but every beach in every region of the Philippines is a must-see/must-swim-in/must-take-a-photo-on.
Unlike Boracay, Bohol and the equally popular Palawan destinations Coron, El Nido and Puerto Princesa, Malaspascua and Bantayan aren’t very “mainstream” if you may. Instead, they’re only known to be the beaches near Cebu, and visiting them can merely be something to do so that a travel to Cebu is maximized. The two islands’ lack of commercialization and crowds actually make them more beautiful and more special, so if you’re in for some soul-searching, being-one-with-nature trips, the islands of Bantayan and Malapascua will not fail you.
Bantayan Island: Boracay sans the crowd
Save for a short strip of accommodations and restaurants, Bantayan Island is a basic unpretentious beach. It has the same fine white sands and the same crystal clear waters of Boracay, and with frequent cheap flights to Cebu, it’s a bit strange how it hasn’t turned into a huge commercial destination. But hey, who’s complaining?! Certainly not me and my book and my iPod and a mango shake.
Cebu City to Bantayan Island:
- From the Cebu North terminal, take a Ceres Bus to Hagnaya. (4 to 5 hours travel time)
- From the Hagnaya Pier, take the ferry to Bantayan Island. (1 hour travel time)
Malapascua Island: Diver’s dream
If you want some interactions with the creatures of the sea, Malapascua Island is your best bet. Surrounded by several dive spots, the island is frequented by divers from around the world who visit one or all of the following dive sites:
- Gato Island – Play hide and seek with whitetip sharks sleeping under rocks. This dive spot is ideal for night dives, but be wary of the strong current.
- Monad Shoal – Want to see more sharks? Monad Shoal is the only place in the world where thresher sharks show up every day.
- Ship wrecks – There are World War II crafts and a passenger ferry somewhere in the sea surrounding Malapascua Island. Perfect for an interesting trip down the history lane.
Cebu City to Malapascua Island:
- From the Cebu North terminal, take a Rough Rider or Ceres Bus to Maya. (4 to 5 hours)
- From the port, take the boat to Malapascua Island. (30 minutes travel time)