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"Cheap-o Hawaii": Malapascua, Philippines

Prime scuba-diving waters off the island of Malapascua
Prime scuba-diving waters off the island of Malapascua

“Bad Easter”: that’s the Spanish translation of Malapascua, the Philippine island we visited recently. But I like to call it “Cheap-o Hawaii.”

It has all the amenities Hawaii offers – including a multitude of water sports, crystal-clear waters, exciting (and chill) nightlife, friendly locals and sunbathing. All without the crowds and inflated prices you'll normally see in Hawaii.

Just off the coast of Cebu, this smaller Philippine island is a haven for scuba divers – both beginners and experts. Although we didn’t go on any of the scuba diving excursions ourselves, I recommend the restaurant at the Malapascua Exotic Dive Resort to taste the best iced coffee, feel a nice sea breeze, see the sun reflect off the sparkling sand and water, listen to relaxing tunes and smell the delicious food cooking.

If you’re not ready to embark on an excursion into the deep seas, boat companies on the island offer combination private tour and snorkeling packages at certain sites.

And if you are more of a land lover, Malapascua is home to picturesque hikes along the shoreline and through its lush interior. If you really don’t want to do anything except soak in the sun, the island offers gorgeous beaches. Massages at the beach cost about $10 (no, I didn’t forget a “0”). Even our sea-view bungalow didn’t set us back more than $50 a night. In comparison to Hawaii, the local folk are friendlier and some are even kind enough to remember your name as you walk by.

However, travel to Malapascua is not for the faint of heart. Being a typical city girl, I was not receptive to the three-hour-plus, bumpy, non-air conditioned bus ride from Cebu City to a small port where we took a wobbly boat, then a bigger open-air boat and finally arrived at this small piece of heaven.

On the brighter side, I have great memories of the bus ride providing us with Cebu’s scenery and smells of tasty Filipino street food, the tiny boat allowing me to see for the first time the clarity of water surrounding Cebu, and the bigger boat giving us an extensive preview of the beauty surrounding Malapascua.

Yes, some destinations are worth all the hassle it takes getting there.

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Prime scuba-diving waters off the island of Malapascua
Prime scuba-diving waters off the island of Malapascua

“Bad Easter”: that’s the Spanish translation of Malapascua, the Philippine island we visited recently. But I like to call it “Cheap-o Hawaii.”

It has all the amenities Hawaii offers – including a multitude of water sports, crystal-clear waters, exciting (and chill) nightlife, friendly locals and sunbathing. All without the crowds and inflated prices you'll normally see in Hawaii.

Just off the coast of Cebu, this smaller Philippine island is a haven for scuba divers – both beginners and experts. Although we didn’t go on any of the scuba diving excursions ourselves, I recommend the restaurant at the Malapascua Exotic Dive Resort to taste the best iced coffee, feel a nice sea breeze, see the sun reflect off the sparkling sand and water, listen to relaxing tunes and smell the delicious food cooking.

If you’re not ready to embark on an excursion into the deep seas, boat companies on the island offer combination private tour and snorkeling packages at certain sites.

And if you are more of a land lover, Malapascua is home to picturesque hikes along the shoreline and through its lush interior. If you really don’t want to do anything except soak in the sun, the island offers gorgeous beaches. Massages at the beach cost about $10 (no, I didn’t forget a “0”). Even our sea-view bungalow didn’t set us back more than $50 a night. In comparison to Hawaii, the local folk are friendlier and some are even kind enough to remember your name as you walk by.

However, travel to Malapascua is not for the faint of heart. Being a typical city girl, I was not receptive to the three-hour-plus, bumpy, non-air conditioned bus ride from Cebu City to a small port where we took a wobbly boat, then a bigger open-air boat and finally arrived at this small piece of heaven.

On the brighter side, I have great memories of the bus ride providing us with Cebu’s scenery and smells of tasty Filipino street food, the tiny boat allowing me to see for the first time the clarity of water surrounding Cebu, and the bigger boat giving us an extensive preview of the beauty surrounding Malapascua.

Yes, some destinations are worth all the hassle it takes getting there.

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Wow!! That's so picturesquely described!!

April 17, 2012

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