Thanks for posting the suggestion millionario. hokasch and I were looking for somewhere to chat about the Philippines only the other day at the end of this thread!
I'm really looking forward to your posts because I only saw Busuanga and a couple of islands off Cebu on my first trip last year and as you say, these places are not exactly off the beaten track.
The places I went to were much busier than I'd been led to expect by LP's SE Asia on a shoestring guide. Malapascua in particular was very disappointing and nothing like description in the book ... filthy beaches covered in trash with loads of dogs (and some locals) using them as toilets, very poor snorkelling and the overpriced resorts were very very full. (It was Chinese New Year mind you!)
However another poster on TF recently recommended Sogod as a less touristy area and a good place to see whale sharks so I was thinking of going back to the Philippines for a second look next trip.
Can't wait to hear more from you!
I've never been to Malapascua myself but I read very good coverage on it, on the LP as well as Rough Guides, and I planned to go there as soon as I can.
One thing is sure, is that you should avoid the holiday seasons here at all costs - the resorts will be crowded with local people. Chinese New Year of course is a no-no (many Filipinos are of Chinese descent), Holy Week (2 weeks before Easter) is the period where every Filipino and his relatives are on the road, as well as Christmas (5 days of national holidays).
bronzedwarrior, if you may want to avoid Malapascua, you can head for very nearby and friendly Bantanyan. You should find some info on the net.
I'm also interested for any recent Malapascua coverage.
#2 millionario has been a member since 22/6/2004. Posts: 25
Just checked when the Chinese New Year is in 2010... 14th Feb!!
Right when I was thinking of heading there... Damn...
Time for a rethink!
Might just check out Bantayan Island - I've heard good things for there too.
#3 bronzedwarrior has been a member since 23/11/2007. Posts: 41
I haven't got time right now but I'll try and get some candid photos of Malapascua up on my flickr account later today or over the WE.
I went to Bantayan island too BTW ... much better except for the 24/7 karaoke at the resort where I stayed. ;-)
I can't remember the names of the places I stayed at offhand and unfortunately my LP guide is in storage in BKK (I think both places are mentioned in it... almost certain the one on Bantayan is). If they come back to me I'll let you know.
OK I've uploaded some pics of Malapascua and Bantayan on Flickr for you. They're in my Philippines set.
I found an online LP book and as I happen to have taken some pictures of one of the resorts they recommend I've included them too.
This is what LP says about the Logon Beach Resort.
In a secluded location high on a rocky point overlooking a private cove, this is an ideal honeymooner's resort. Balconied huts face the sunset and have wonderful views.
(The URL is very long so I won't post it but if you C&P that into Google you'll find the link)
This is what that resort and the "private cove" in front of it look like. I didn't notice any signs saying the cove was private but they probably find they don't need barbed wire fencing to keep the hordes out anyway.
This is what the back of the resort looks like... note the secluded location high on a rocky point with wonderful views.
Close up of the beach ...
A bit further along the same beach ...
The main beach on Malapascua is Bounty Beach which looks nice from a distance but not so great close up. The only fairly nice place for swimming and sunbathing is a very small beach accessed via the graveyard behind the big blue and white building in this picture.
Bantayan island is much nicer and the place I stayed at had very large and beautiful maintained grounds, reasonably priced huts (compared to Malapascua) and was on a nice stretch of relatively clean sand but unfortunately but you need very very good earplugs if you intend to do any sleeping whatsoever during your stay at this resort. This is because they don't just have half a dozen karaoke machines with tone deaf Britney Spears wannabes belting out 100dB renderings of Baby One More Time in the public areas like most resorts. Oh no, they go one better and rent out mobile karaoke machines so you can have one of your very own on your beach hut balcony.... and so can your Filipino neighbours next door.
You did say though that this was Chinese New Year. In my plans we're actually due to be there probably just before the 14th Feb. I assume these pics were either during or after the event?
I guess I'm hoping they would have a big clean up BEFORE the new year!
Probably will still venture that way and if it is still as grim as it looks from your photos, we'll head straight to Bantayan. Looks more up our street anyhow!
Well, not the karoake but I'm sure you get what I mean.
I'll let you know what we find...
#6 bronzedwarrior has been a member since 23/11/2007. Posts: 41
Yes I was there during Chinese New Year holiday last year but I don't think that affected anything except prices. Put it this way... if you didn't like Ko Mak much then you DEFINITELY won't like Malapascua.
Go straight to Bantayan is my advice. Try and find somewhere without too much karaoke.
Thanks for your post. The pictures are educational :)
I guess that the LP's coverage is from 2006 (older edition). If I understand correctly, typhoon Fengshen in mid-2008 severely damaged the properties in this area. That probably explains the cleanliness of the place when you went there.
#8 millionario has been a member since 22/6/2004. Posts: 25
I was there after typhoon Fengshen. (Sorry I said I was there last year but I meant last trip ... I visited the Philippines in January and early February 2009).
Much of the interior of Malapascua looked like a municipal refuse dump but I didn't notice any obvious structural damage to the buildings. If typhoon Fengshen was responsible for all the garbage on the beaches, how come Bantayan is so much cleaner? It's very close by, so presumably it got hit too and I went there just after Malapascua.
Just thought i'd step in as not many people have expressed their opinion.
Malapascua was actually a really great experience for me, but depends on what you are looking for. Abundance of great dive spots, really cool villages around (definitely don't agree with it being like a "refuse dump"), nice leisure time lying around in the hammocks listening to the waves (with no disco, karaoke, or any other annoying music). As it's famous for shark and ray dives, the majority of people there are also divers, i\d say, so not many part people (unlike Sabang or other girly bar places). So reasonable, friendly and relaxed crowd.
I'd definitely stay far away from the concrete resorts springing up. There are plenty of nice natural bamboo bungalows for around 10$ right on the beach with shower, balcony and breakfast included. And a bit urther from the beach you can get a bungalow for 5$, but then the price might include a wake up call from the local kids or roosters.
In short - malapascua is a really cool place, especially if you are into diving, otherwise it might maybe become a bit boring.
#10 Lodestar has been a member since 7/9/2009. Posts: 19