Malapascua Island  



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malapascua survival basics

Many people turn up and things are not as expected, so BE PREPARED! Remember, this is a small developing island, so don't expect a full range of western facilities and services.

  • Money Most important: THERE IS NO ATM!!!! So bring cash, preferably pesos. Only a few businesses take credit cards so don't rely on that. The fees for credit cards are pretty high, up to 10%, so that is not great either. And like everywhere in the Philippines, travelers checks are usually impossible to cash. Most businesses only take pesos cash, so make sure you bring plenty. As all the small change on the island seems to end up in the church collection box, try not to bring it all in 1000 peso notes, or you will have trouble getting change for every 30 peso Coke. You may also need small change for porters and boats in Maya. You can sometimes change money on Malapascua, but there are no official money changers, so it is only when the resorts have enough cash. This means the exchange rate is horrendous. Lesson for today: BRING ENOUGH PESOS! Nearest cash point is Bogo which will take you several hours round trip.
  • Budget. There is something on Malapascua to suit every budget. Rooms can be found from P300-P7,000 per night. You can eat for very little in the village or dine on steaks on the main beach. But food is inexpensive and even the steaks come at very reasonable prices by Western standards. Dive prices vary a little, although as always with diving, budget should not be the primary consideration when choosing a dive shop.
  • Noise. Because the resorts are nestled amongst the villages, it can be quite noisy. Cockfighting is very popular, so most people own at least one cockerel. They are everywhere. The cockerels do not know that they are only supposed to make noise at dawn, and sometimes crow all through the night. Karaoke can also be quite loud. The Filipinos love their fiestas, so if you do not fancy joining in, they can be really really, really noisy. It is a good idea to bring earplugs if you think this will bother you, unless you are in an AC room which usually drowns out the noise. Tepanee and Logon are possibly the only resorts without cockerels nearby.
  • Touts. Beware of the touts or 'canvassers' on the main beach and where the boats dock. Although they wear official looking uniforms, they are not sanctioned by the officials and are in fact illegal. If you arrive by public boat they will swarm all over you. They will take you to the resorts or dive shops that they are paid to take you to and won't give you anything but negative advice about anything else ('they're very expensive', 'their rooms aren't so nice' etc etc). The more reputable businesses refuse to deal with them. But if you are too tired to look by yourself and are looking for a budget deal, this may be the way to do it. Just remember that your room price is probably higher than it would otherwise be. There can also be problems with people trying to rip you off in Maya port. See the transport page for more info. You can avoid all of this by getting a pre-arranged transfer and room booking.
  • Bugs. Insects are not too much of a problem on Malapascua, but a few mosquitoes tend to come out at dusk. If they bother you, bring repellent, or better, wear light colored cotton clothing that covers you up from about 5pm onwards. There is no risk of malaria.
  • Poverty. Although many of the locals are employed by the tourist businesses on Malapascua, many of them still live in poverty. You will see this as you walk around the island. If you want to give something to the community or children, rather than money or sweets think about school or medical supplies. You can also talk to some of the businesses on the island, as some of them are involved in community help projects and may be able to advise or assist you.
  • Creature comforts. There are many things that you may take for granted in everyday life that you will not find here such turning on a switch and having the light turn on, or turning on the tap and getting water. Malapascua is an isolated, developing island, and has all of the problems this entails. The water supply everywhere is brackish (slightly salty). Some of the resorts collect rainwater, but this does not completely remove the saltiness of the water which all comes from wells. 24 hour island electric has recently come to Malapascua, but it is still subject to occasional failure, and some resorts still run their own generators. Most of the resorts now run electricity 24 hours a day.
  • Internet access. Another recent advent to Malapascua is wi-fi. At the time of writing the fastest seemed to be at Thresher Shark Divers, but you can also try Malditos, Blue Coral and an internet cafe in the village.