Philippines – Malapascua and Kalanggaman – 7th March ~ 10th March 2013

This trip turn out to be different from what I planned initially.

When I book the tickets to Cebu City, I have not attained my diver’s license. My intention is just to relax in an island near to Cebu Island and Malapascua has been identified for this trip.

I was often told that if we want to look at Boracay 20 years ago, one have to go to Malapascua.

However, after getting my diver’s license, my options in Malapascua expanded.

7th March

Touched down in Mactan Airport on schedule, 0400hrs.

After clearing immigration and got my luggage, instead of using the usual airport taxi, I walk up the ramp opposite the arrival hall exit.

This ramp will lead you to the departure hall and once you are out of the departure hall, you can see a row of regular white taxis waiting for passengers.

I asked the taxi driver to bring me to North Bus Terminal. I am more comfortable with Cebu taxi drivers. They usually will turn on the meter without asking.

The fare to the bus terminal is P150. Fortunately there is no jam on the bridge as they are repairing both bridges that link between Mactan and Cebu at the same time!

To enter the bus terminal, one has to pay P10. This is really crap. On top of that, to use the toilet you have to pay P2!

The condition of the bus terminal is terrible compared to the bus terminal in Cagayan De Oro.

However, the staff is friendly and different bus companies staff will try to get you to take their bus. It seems like Malapascua is a very popular destination there and everyone assumed every tourist is going there.

 DSC05844 DSC05846I chose Ceres bus to bring me to Maya, which is the jump off point to Malapascua. Being a cheap charlie, I intend to take the non-aircon bus which cost P163. I then asked the staff how much is the fare for taking the air con bus. The air-conditioned bus even comes with free Wi-Fi but I can’t connect to it.

Surprisingly, the air-conditioned bus cost P170; only P7 more than the non-air conditioned bus. DSC05848 DSC05849This is a no-brainier question. Definitely air-conditioned bus for me then.

The air-conditioned bus depart every hour for Maya and the bus I am in leave at 0500hrs.

The traffic in Cebu City during that time is considered light. We reach Danao very soon and I saw the board that points to the ferry to Camotes Islands.

DSC05850 DSC05857I fell asleep on most of the journey and most of the roads are paved. Once after you passed by Bogo, that is where the whole journey slow down.

There is a lots of curve and bends and the road are not paved. So you are travelling like on a dirt road.

It took like another 30mins to reach Maya. The whole journey took 4 hours.

When I first look at Maya, I was like “wow!”.

DSC05869The place is bare. The place that sold the boat ticket to Malapascua is just like hammered 6 plank wood together and form a stand.

DSC05863According to schedule, the boat leaves every 30 mins but I can tell you this is not true. As long as there is enough people for a trip, they will just move out.

I paid P80 for my ride and they quickly herd us to a small boat.

DSC05867When you are at the pier during low tide, the bigger banca will not be able to dock by the beach. So you will need to take a small boat that will cost you P20 and transfer to the bigger banca.

If you have big luggage and need help, it will cost you P20 per luggage. Some tourist is surprised when they are being asked to pay for another P20 for this.

During my ride, many tourist question why the need to pay for another P20. Some of the tourist do not have small change and they said they only have P1000.

The boatman can’t do anything to them and did not collect any money from them in the end.

The transfer from the small boat to the banca is not for the faint hearted. The boatman in the small little boat will just use his hands to hold on to the banca and all passengers will need to take a high step to the banca. If you have big luggage, it is better to get the help from the banca boatman.

DSC05872 DSC05877I would say the condition of the banca is not what I would desire. It still float in the water but you can see that it is very old.

The ride took about 45mins and at Malapascua, we are again need to board a small boat to bring us to Logon beach. So it will be another P20.

DSC05883Once I am at the beach, I try to find my way to me accommodation, Hiltey’s Hideout Homes.

Hiltey’s Hideout Homes is build in 2012 so it is relatively new. I really do not know where is this place and all I know it is near to Malapascua Legend.

I just find a small dirt road that is nearest to the beach and start walking inwards.

DSC05894Soon I pass by Thresher Shark Divers and then Ging Ging Restaurant. I start to get worried that I may not be able to find the place.

DSC05895I then try my luck to walking further in and finally found Hiltey’s Hideout Homes.

Hiltey’s Hideout Homes is just about 2 min walk from Ging Ging Restaurant and it looks a bit different from what I see from the web.

DSC05898It is not along the beach but the feeling is very homely. The German owner has decorated the property with more greens.

What I like is that the place is surrounded by coconut trees. The owner try to preserve the trees instead of cutting them down by changing the design of the house in order to accommodate the trees.

DSC05900The furniture are all  made of bamboo. Even the design of the room is very environmental friendly.

DSC05903 DSC05905The toilet and the shower is in two different room. There is a hole near to the ceiling between the shower and toilet. The light in the shower room will shine through the hole and brighten up the toilet. If the light is insufficient, there is another electric light source in the toilet which you can use.

DSC05902 DSC05901There is hot water in the shower room but it will be extra charge, This applies to the air condition. I was told that hot water is rare in Malapascua.

I am surprised that towels are provided and there is even a safe and fridge in the room. All these are without extra charges.

The only issues I have is the water pressure from the shower head is too low. The water pressure from the tap is fine but not from the shower head.

There are also only 5 connections to the Wi-Fi. So if all have been taken up, you just have to wait for a long time.

Also do not expect good cell phone and data coverage there. It just sucks.

You can also refill your water for P10 per liter. This reduce the amount of bottles you have to buy so can cut down on waste.

I was charge P1000 per room which is reasonable to me. There are rooms that is as low as P500 but those really depends on luck.

After settling down, I start to look for dive centers. I have approached two dive centers, Exotic and Thresher Shark Diver (TSD).

DSC05907In the end I chose TSD because they have a trip to Kalanggaman Island the next day. However TSD is very strict on safety which is good.

You will need to have at least one dive for the past 6 months and for Monad Shoal and Kalanggaman Island dive and you will need to have deep dive experience.

Even if you have dive at 30m is useless to them if you do not have the certification.

So I reluctantly pay P3200 for the Monad Shoal dive to see the Thresher Shark. Before the dive, I need to study about Deep Dive and take a mini test.

After I complete the dive at Monad Shoal, then they are willing to let me dive at Kalanggaman Island. To be honest, I do not know what to expect for the Kalanggaman Island dive. I just want to see that island with my own eyes.

After making some inquiry, I went to explore the island.

DSC05906 DSC05910As I am still tired by the journey, I just explore the east side of the island. I just walk along the beach and after an hour of walk, I walk to almost the end of east side beach.

Bounty beach is the most poplar beach in Malapascua. Almost every available space has been taken up by resort or dive centers. However the number of tourist is very few.

DSC05926 DSC05924 DSC05923 DSC05918 DSC05912

DSC05939After Fun and Sun Dive shop, you will see many fishing boats and the beach starts to get dirtier by the sea debris.

There are some boat builders and repairs along the beach.

DSC05938 DSC05941 DSC05943 DSC05944By the time I reach Bool, I am dead tired and have no more strength to explore Bantigue Cove.

DSC05947 DSC05950DSC05956I then turn inland and walk along the dirt road. I then saw a road that headed further north and I just follow the road.

DSC05960 DSC05963Soon I reach a small village with a nice beach but the beach front is pretty dirtied with sea debris.

This place has no tourist at all as it is really out of the way.

DSC05964 DSC05967 DSC05971I then turn back, walking up and down slope and reach back to the original point where I start to walk inland.

I then walk down the road and to look for a way out to the beach.

Actually for my past few visits, I have been giving out stationery like pencils, sharpeners, rulers etc. to the kids while I walk along the way.

DSC05975 DSC05981This time is no exception. When I reach near to the school, hordes of school children surround me while I give out the stationery and balloons.

DSC05995

DSC06084The kids are obviously very happy about it. Soon I have finished distributing the first batch of it.

I even saw a man with a self-made gun for hunting and he managed to get a bat!

DSC05977I soon found my way back to the beach and walk towards TSD to book my dive trips for tomorrow.

I again enjoy the view of Bounty Beach.

DSC06009 DSC06011 DSC06021After talking to the dive master and get some reading materials, I went back to the room to study and take the test.

When I am done with them, I made my way for dinner.

The nearest restaurant to Hilteys is Ging Ging Restaurant.

I often read good reviews about it so it is a must try for me.

DSC06028 DSC06029The restaurant is small. Staff is friendly.

I ordered my food and wait and I mean you will really have to wait for it.

The staff is efficient but not the food. It took them a long time to come back with my food. Having a meal in Ging Ging restaurant is a challenge. You have to battle with the flies there.

Finally the food arrived and it indeed taste good. The price is more affordable compared to those by the beach.

DSC06031 DSC06035After dinner, I returned back to Bounty Beach and Logon Beach to enjoy the sunset.

The sunset  is really beautiful though still not as outstanding as Boracay. Based on the view, I feel that the best place to view the sunset is Tepanne Resort and Blue Coral Beach Resort.

DSC06043 DSC06101After the sunset view, I returned to my room to prepare for tomorrow.

A few photos on Hiltey’s at night.

DSC06120 DSC061238th March

Woke up at 0430hrs. Washed up and walk my way to TSD.

One thing important to bring to Malapascua is a torch-light. Hiltey’s do provide a torchlight which is very good. However, the silly me decide to walk to TSD without a torch and you really need to be very careful.

There are remnants tree trunks that is on the ground where the roots of it is still in the ground.

I finally made my way to TSD cautiously.

I look up the sky and I was awed by the view. The sky is filled with stars and it was very beautiful.

To cut the long story short, we board a small boat that bring us to the banca. We then travel about 30mins to Monad Shoal and we suit up and down we go.

Unfortunately my old problem surface where I can’t equalize well. Our dive master Yuan from China is very patient.

She patiently wait for me. There is another member in the group which also has problem descending. Yuan assisted her and finally all the three of us made it down.

Maybe we did not make a reservation with the Thresher Shark. They did not appear today. We waited for about 10 mins and we spotted none.

We then slowly surface after doing a safety stop.

Disappointed, we left and head back to the dive center.

At the dive center, after sorting out some registration problems, I head out for my breakfast at Ging Ging. It took them 10 mins just to prepare two eggs and bread and the restaurant is not even crowded.

After gobbling up my food after the delay, I made my way back to TSD quickly.

My dive master is Gibb and he looked for me at the dive center.

They then bring all the gear up to the banca and we are again transferred to the banca using small boats.

Up the big banca and off we go to Kalanggaman Island.

DSC06149 DSC06154Kalanggaman Island is an island located off Leyte. This island is sometimes even not being identified on the map. You can try to search Kalanggaman Island in Google Earth and you cannot find it there.

DSC06158The nearest route to reach Kalanggaman Island is via Palompon in Leyte.

Kalanggaman Island is actually one of my highlights of this trip and I sign up for the Monad Shoal dive in order to go to Kalanggaman Island.

The ride from Malapascua to Kalanggaman Island took about 1 hr 45 mins under good weather condition.

When I first saw Kalanggaman Island from the boat, the island look lovely. The sand bar reminds me of White Island in Camiguin.

We began our dive. When I was down in the water then I realised it is wall diving.

I was pretty scared actually. Imagine you’re swimming in the infinity pool and you fell out of it.

When I dive over the cliff drop, all I see is the deep blue sea with virtually no bottom.

We dive along the wall and Gibb show me all the macro creatures in the sea.

It was really an interesting dive. I achieve a bottom time of 42 mins.

After the first dive, the boatman dock the boat at Kalanggaman Island.

DSC06173 DSC06178 DSC06190DSC06195They have also brought a staff with them to cook food for us. It is pretty delicious but again salty.

We just enjoy the sea breeze and food.

DSC06204Kalanggaman Island do have huts and toilets on the island but no hotels. So there is no chance of staying overnight there unless you want to sleep under the stars.

DSC06199 DSC06200 DSC06201 DSC06202The marine tax for Kalanggaman Island is not cheap either, P500!

There are places in Malapascua that offer Kalanggaman Island day trip for P800 per person.

DSC06456Kalanggaman Island do offer some water activities like Kayak.

DSC06222 DSC06225After resting for about 90 mins and I took one last look at the island, we went back to the boat for our final dive.

DSC06208 DSC06211 DSC06216 DSC06219 DSC06220 DSC06226The final dive is similar to the first one but they changed my regulator and my dive experience is much better.

I have also broke my personal record of diving up to 33m and I even manage to achieve a bottom time of 45 mins with 230 of air.

After getting back to the boat, we start our journey back to Malapascua.

Unfortunately we encounter bad weather on the way back. The boat was hitting the wave pretty badly and we took more than 2 hours to reach Malapascua.

It is also raining in Malapascua so there is no sunset view tonight.

After I washed up, I went back to TSD to pay my bill of P8000.

I then went to Ging Ging for dinner again and it was very crowded. After my meal, I just went back to my room and rest for the day.

DSC062669th March

I woke up at 0500hrs and went to beach to view the sunrise.

It is not spectacular but I just enjoy watching day break.

DSC06290DSC06323DSC06339I just walk along the beach and saw some children. I gave some stationery to them and they are very happy.

DSC06401I also have an interesting encounter seeing kids catching crabs during low tide.

DSC06381 DSC06384 DSC06391 DSC06396I am impressed by their skill of where to look for them.

I then walk to Logon beach. Between Logon beach and Bounty beach, I would prefer the latter as it is cleaner. At Bounty beach, I saw staff of the resort cleaning up the beach where in Logon beach, only the area outside La Dolce Vita is clean.

DSC06430 DSC06431 DSC06452At Logon beach, there are many boats parked on the beach awaiting to be repaired or maintain.

I can’t believe I can spend 3 hours just by walking along the beach.

I went to have my last meal at Ging Ging. Pancake with chocolate and banana. Gosh, they are always trying to stuff me to death!

DSC06458I return to my hotel to pack up and prepare my way back to Cebu City.

How I wish I could stay a little longer.

DSC06467 DSC06470I left Hiltey at around 1030hrs after I paid my bill and bid farewell to Volker.

I walk to Logon beach and buy my boat ticket there. The operation is same as Maya. A small boat will bring us to the big banca and we start to made our 45min trip back to Maya.

DSC06440 DSC06441

When we reach Maya around 1130hrs. The boat we took manage to dock near to the pier. So they do a makeshift plank and we then walk on it to reach the shore.

DSC06538I walk towards where the bus park and ask about the schedule.

Ceres Bus staff mentioned that every hour the bus will leave for Cebu City. I only saw a non-aircondition bus waiting for passenger. The thought of taking a non-aircondition bus under such hot weather does not entice me.

I then ask when will the air conditioned bus arrive but they said they have no idea.

Soon I saw an air-conditioned bus arrive. I asked the bus driver what time will the bus leave. He said every hour there will be an air-conditioned bus leave Maya for Cebu City. However do take note that I get to know from one of the staff in North Bus Terminal that the last  air-conditioned bus leave Maya at 1500hrs.

The fare is also P170 and I just wait inside the bus. Surprisingly the bus leaves at 1153hrs. So please try to arrive early. Remember there is schedule for almost all transport in the Philippines but following the schedule is another matter.

This is where the trip start to go wrong.

The weather is so hot that even the air condition is not helping.

The sun is shining into the bus and though I have used the curtain to block it, it is still making me feel sick.

The bus driver way of driving also make me feel nausea. When we are approaching Cebu City, traffic start to slow down.

The bus driver make two toilet break stops along the way and I can tell you the weather is terribly hot.

The whole trip from Maya to Cebu City took 5.5 hrs! By the time I disembark the bus, I am in a daze.

I am still feeling sick when now I am writing this report.

I quickly walk out of the terminal and flag down a moving taxi and tell the taxi driver to bring me to Ayala Mall.

I just buy some water and change some money in Ayala Mall. This is the first time I left a destination with less than P3000 which makes me feel a little uneasy.

I then walk to Tune hotel to check-in. I have actually book for 3 nights but in the end I have wasted one night as I have extended my stay in Malapascua which is a decision I did not regret.

Tune Hotel is pretty standard. Tune Cebu lobby is at 2nd floor and the check-in is by a non-smiley staff.

I was so tired by the journey back to Cebu City that I did not even bother to leave the hotel to have dinner.

10th March

This is my last day in Philippines.

I intend to go to SM Mall to buy some stuff.

So I walk to the jeepney terminal at Ayala Mall and wait for the 03Q jeep. After waiting for 20mins, the jeep is still nowhere in sight.

WP_000335 WP_000337 WP_000336So I ask the security and he assured me that the jeepney will come.

After some time, the security told me to take another jeepney 14L at the intersection of Mindanao Street and Bohol Street to SM Mall.

WP_000338I thank him and in less than 5 mins, I am on my way!

After some shopping, I took a taxi back to Tune Hotel and back to Ayala Mall for lunch.

DSC06543 DSC06544I finally settled at Gerry’s Gill and ordered a Grill Squid and the size of the squid shocked me. It is enough for two person!

DSC06553I slowly but surely finished the food and paid the bill of P340.

I went back to the hotel for my final packing.

I understand that both the bridges linking between Mactan Island and Cebu Island is under repair. So I left the hotel 3hr 15mins before my flight.

Surprisingly the traffic is smooth even on the bridge.

So I arrived early and wait aimlessly in the airport.

I absent-minded left my backpack at the security scanning after they scanned my bag and fortunately one kind passenger found me and alerted me.

The state of Mactan airport is really terrible. I really do not understand how can they justify themselves to collect P550 terminal fee.

The airport should be torn down and new one be built.

In summary, I enjoyed my stay in Malapascua. Though it is a small island, but it is peaceful and tranquil.

There is virtually no nightlife to talk about. At 7pm, the beach front is almost dead except for those few restaurants or bars operated by the resort.

It is a lovely island and I hope they do not follow the footstep of Boracay.

Next time I will remember to give those Thresher Shark a call before I head for Monad Shoal. :p

About these ads

7 thoughts on “Philippines – Malapascua and Kalanggaman – 7th March ~ 10th March 2013

  1. Thankyou for an excellent report.

    Here are some things I would like to make comment on.

    I didn’t realise they took you to Logon Beach from Maya. All my past visits, the Bangka boat went straight to Bounty Beach then you had to walk the plank. I wonder if that is only temporary or a permanent thing now. I know they want to build a pier on Logon beach, near the town.

    My first visit it was low tide at Maya. I asked the boatman how to get on to the Bangka boat. He said “JUMP”.

    You say you can’t find calanggaman on Google. Try Kalanggaman. It is even spelt that way in one of your photos.

    I have walked from Ayala mall to SM Mall several times. It is about 20 minutes walk. No need to wait 20 minutes for a jeepney.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Nice to see you here. It is really my honour and we really miss you in TA.

      It seems like the boat has been dropping off passenger at Logon for quite sometime already. I do not see any construction of any pier that you have mentioned.

      As for calanggaman, yes I understand sometimes it is spell as Kalanggaman. However in Google Earth, you cannot even find the island but you can find the island being tagged, that is what I meant.

      Jim, we really hope to see you more often in TA.

  2. Like you, I also hope that Malapascua will not be developed the way Boracay has been developed. The country/rural feel in Malapascua makes you go back there time and time again. Besides, its dive sites are better than those in Boracay.

    1. Yup, I hope Malapascua will not be further developed. Even the transfer from small boat to the bigger banca is also an experience and shows how rural the place is. If ain’t broken, don’t fix it!

  3. Hi,

    This is among the most clear, and descriptive blogs I have seen of Malapascua and the way to get there. An excellent aid for first time visitors.

    Your photos of Malapascua are luring me to visit it again!

    Calanggaman is already on my bucket list – unfortunately I missed it when I visited Malapascua.

    Great work and keep it up – i am following your blog fro now on :)

    By the way, one comment of yours intrigued me “Even if you have dive at 30m is useless to them if you do not have the certification” – How can a person dive to more than 20 meters with an OW license in the first place? From what I remember, Padi OW allows us to dive only upto 20 meters (and advanced allows us to dive only upto 40 meters) – so why would any good dive master allow a person to dive to 30 m without Advanced certification? Or am I missing something out here?

    1. Well, it is only a certification.

      During my OW dive, I have already dived at 29m. So I am comfortable with it.

      Certification sometimes is just a way to cover one’s backside. Imagine if I do not have a AOW and anything happened to me beyond 20m, the dive master and dive center will get he blame but they will say “he is certified!” It is just like TA BIR case. You want good driver without + BIR or bad driver + BIR?
      :)

      1. Ah – Gotcha.
        I am one of those (over?) cautious divers … I did my first dive of more than 20 meters only after getting my advanced certification! he he!

        Of course, I soon also realised that I (along with most humans) got colorblind in deeper waters – so I now flit between diving and snorkelling…

        By the way, I have just added my “treasured” diving and snorkelling photos to my blog – http://expattraveller.blogspot.com/2013/04/scuba-diving.html

        Feel free to play the game of “Identify me!” with the fish :)

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s