One of the things I really look forward to when going to a remote island like Malapascua is the place’s island hopping tours. I love visiting out of the way coves and diving below the surface to underwater gardens.
Malapascua offers such adventure either through the resorts one is staying in or via the numerous dive shops that can be found along the beach front. We got ours from a nearby sari-sari store where I usually buy snacks and what-nots, it turns out that the owner’s husband works in one of the larger dive shop in the island and has a boat of his own. We sealed the deal at Php500.00 (2pax inclusive of snorkels, masks and vests) and off we went.
It was raining intermittently the past few days and we were so lucky for having clear skies the day we chose to tour around the island. There was a slight sea breeze with a few wisps of clouds sailing just above the horizon. A perfect day to go around.
Our boat calmly chugged along across the blue-green waters surrounding Malapascua, our boatman pointing out interesting houses and resorts dotting the shoreline. Twenty minutes later and we were oohhing and aahhing at the fine stretch of white sand covering the shore of a cove. Our first destination of the day; Bantigue Cove.
Dark coral stones lush with island shrubs and trees towers over a side of the beach. The green cover provides a nice shade to the otherwise blinding heat of the sun. The long stretch of sand at Bantigue is very very fine and very very white. I almost wished we had stayed to a resort closer to this paradise.
The water sparkles towards the blue horizon. I can see a few dark spots farther away from the shore, indications of marine life. After doing the requisite above water photos, I ran and dove down; snorkel and mask on my face, underwater camera in my hand.
Bands of light shimmered below the green water and snaked across the undulating white sand below the island. Small fishes roved across the streaming sunlight and starfishes lazily lay their five arms across patches of green areas. Schools of small Striped Catfishes moved across the algae-ridden parts of the seabed, taking strength in numbers. Everything was paradise except for the plastics that litter the shallower parts of the bed.
I wish we could have spent an hour or two more at this spot but we have to move. Our second destination was the shipwreck. Above the water one can see the Lighthouse near Guimbitayan. One can opt to access the tower for a panoramic 360-degree view of Malapascua.
But I’m really not that interested in that, what I want to see is what’s below our boat. So I don my mask, turned on my camera and jumped. Air bubbles exploded around me as I plunged into the depths of the clear blue waters. A basketball-sized jellyfish flapped its body and greeted me, I said a brief hi in return and promptly swam away from the massive creature.
The ribs of the sunken World War II Japanese ship came into view. Said to be a transport vessel, it was shipping in a supply of cement for gun batteries in the island when it was bombed. The ship was a good twent to thirty feet below from the surface. And like a spine of a fossilized dinosaur, it simply lay across the seabed, a giant now encased in organic sea life. Corals have now attached themselves into its rusting metal body and fishes made the nooks of its belly as their homes.
The wreck used to be larger than what we were seeing now. Our boatman relates how the locals have salvaged parts of the ship for scraps ‘til only the skeletons of the once mighty ship are left. Still, there are still parts of the vessel that stretches almost to the surface, seemingly reaching for the air that it once breathed.
Snorkeling around the wreck whetted by appetite for more underwater action and I got my wish on our next and last stop, a coral garden near an islet. Circling a group of rock outcrops known to the locals as Dakit Dakit Islands. Our boat anchored down in the middle of the sea and without ado, I dove down.
Soft corals waved at me from below and fished stared and quickly scrammed as I started my descent. It is a garden down below with flower-like blooms, veined ferns, hardened shrubs and massive tables of corals covering the ground. The ever present brains pop in and out across the land while colorful fishes in all shapes and sizes glide along.
I swam towards more corals but my will was not as strong as the current. It easily led me on its own course and since I really cannot do anything about it, I stopped struggling and let it flow. It was an easier way to check out the teeming water life below, but like a strict tour guide, it doesn’t allow side trips and lingering on an area too much.
I bid adieu to a platoon of Sergeant Majors swimming above a table of corals and broke the surface. I saw our boat anchored quite a distance away and waved to be rescued from paradise. Although I still wanted to see more, the current was just too strong for my unathletic limbs. It’s goodbye paradise; for now.
Island Hopping at Malapascua
Address: Malapascua Island, Daanbantayan, Cebu
Rates: Usually Php200.00 to Php250.00 per person depending on the number of persons
GPS Coordinates: 11.3302,124.121313
View Location on Google Maps: Click Here