Malapascua Island & Thresher Cove Resort and Dive Centre
After a few months of backpacking, I wanted to take some time to relax on a beautiful, quiet island. Initially, I chose Bali but wanted to choose a destination that was "less touristy," quieter, and more authentic. I stumbled upon Malapascua Island & Thresher Cove Resort and Dive Centre and it was the most spectacular gem.
A friend told me to check out Boracay, Philippines, but I took it a step further to look for a place that offered the same beauty and amenities, but offbeat and unpopular to most. A few hours of research on some of my favorite apps, I stumbled upon an island called Malapascua. Offbeat, beautiful, and pristine, Malapascua Island is a rare gem and special gem, off the coast of Cebu, Philippines. Looking for accommodation, I consistently found amazing reviews for Thresher Cove Resort and Dive Centre on Malapascua Island. With rates ranging anywhere from $6.50/night for a dorm to $200 for the Captain's Villa during High Season (Low Season at $70/night), I immediately booked it!
In true backpacker fashion, I opted for the dorm. To my surprise, the dorms are situated just a few steps from the sea! Imagine my surprise when I saw the sunset right from the outside seating area of the room!
Malapascua Island is very popular amongst scuba divers, as you have a 90% chance of seeing Thresher sharks! Thresher Cove Resort and Dive Centre specializes in these particular dives, and offers early morning "fun dives" to see the Thresher sharks, in addition to PADI certifications like Open Water and Advanced Diver courses! If those activities are not quite your thing, you can lay out by the pool and enjoy a mango shake from the on-site restaurant or use the kayaks and snorkel gear which is offered free! I took the kayak out a few times and discovered undisturbed beaches and lagoons!
Thresher Cove Resort and Dive Centre is a relatively new resort that opened April 2013. Nestled on the North Eastern side of Malapascua Island, the facilities are top notch and extremely well taken care of. Upon arriving on the island, you are warmly and personally greeted with a cold glass of mango juice and welcome leis made from palm leaves and the local Calachuchi flower! The staff knows your name and gives you a brief tour of the resort. It was really welcoming and made you feel like they were waiting for you individually!
The restaurant on the resort is PHENOMENAL! As a self-professed foodie, I am quite particular when it comes to food. Well... hats off to the Chefs! The menu is versatile with Western and Filipino options, and even offers a Backpackers Menu for those on strict budgets! I read some reviews that said the food was expensive, but I assure you will NOT get wonderful tasting, well prepared, gourmet options for these prices anywhere in the world! At most you at looking at about PHP425 (~$9.50) for the most expensive dish.
1) After arriving at Mactan- Cebu International Airport, take a taxi (make sure meter is on!) to Bus Station North.
A taxi should be no more than PHP200.
2) Once to the bus station, find a Ceras Line (big yellow bus) and tell the attendant you want to go to Maya Port, the last stop on the route.
A bus with no air con with cost about PHP160/ a bus with air conditioning is PHP180 (highly recommended!)
3) After the bus ride, which will take anywhere from 4-6 hours, you'll arrive at the Maya Port.
4) Take a ferry to Malapascua Island which is PHP80. If the tides are low, and a small boat has to take you ashore, it will be an additional PHP20.
Do NOT pay more than PHP100 total.
If you arrive after 6 PM, you may have to charter a private ferry. You should be able to negotiate between PHP1000-1200.
5) The resort will arrange a motorbike to pick you up for free!
EASY/COMFORTABLE Way: [Highly Recommended!]
For PHP4500 (~$100), the resort will arrange pickup from airport to resort in a nice air-conditioned car which takes you straight to the port, and your private ferry will be waiting to take you directly to the Thresher Cove!
I had the luxury of taking both methods to and from the Thresher Cove Resort. Obviously, as a solo traveler, the "Easy Way" can be expensive, but it is very comfortable, especially for backpacking. If you are with a group, apparently you can split the cost. On the other hand, the "Local Way" is very much an authentic experience, that I believe a backpacker will appreciate!
If you are looking for a wild nightlife with lots of bar and club options, consider Cebu or Bali. This island is for those who want untouched and clean beauty.
With two months of hardcore backpacking, I am so grateful to have found this gem in the Philippines. It was exactly what I needed to take a break and relax from constant moving between countries and immigration lines. If you ever find yourself in The Philippines, treat yourself to this amazing slice of paradise in the sun.