Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island, Daanbantayan, Philippines

Malapascua, a tiny island in the Visayan Sea north of Cebu, is well-known for its thresher-shark cleaning station, where divers gather daily to see these beautiful creatures ascend from below to be cleaned by fish before returning to deeper waters. Reef sharks can be seen here, too. What fewer visitors know, however, is that behind the strip of resorts that line Bounty Beach is a traditional village. There are quaint shops and restaurants as well as a large church, and the people are wonderfully friendly and inviting. It’s a great peek into real Filipino island life, meaning Malapascua is a worthwhile stop even if you aren’t interested in the sharks.

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Malapascua's Fishermen Viewing Deck

I feel like I’m betraying a well-guarded secret by telling people about this secluded slice of paradise, but it’s bound to be discovered sooner or later. Malapascua, a tiny little island off of Cebu’s northern tip in The Philippines, is known as one of the best dive destinations in the world - it’s the only place on earth where you can swim with thresher sharks - and also plays host to one of the prettiest little beaches in the world, a grotto on the western part of the island that offers sensational sunset views and a chance to watch the fishermen do their thing against a setting sun.

Malapascua Island, Cebu, The Philippines.

If memory serves me, I caught the sun rising from this quiet bit of beach five days in a row - and I would still be there, waist deep in the water, if I never had a plane to catch. Malapascua isn’t the most secluded island in the world - it’s popular among divers and backpackers - yet I was still surprised at how few people strayed from the hotels fronting Bounty Beach. Sunset or sunrise, I was usually on my own when I wandered the island - and out here in this private bit of heaven was no exception (I did find a human skull on this bit of beach, so maybe there’s a reason few people stray).

Catching Sunset in Malapascua

After a day full of activities visiting the island of Kalanggaman a hundred kilometers away, we reached Malapascua Island just in time to watch the magnificent sunset.

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