We 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 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.
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!