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Malapascua Island is a small tropical island (just 2.5 km long and 1 km wide) that is located in the Visayan Sea about 9 km off the northern tip of Cebu Island.
Malapascua Island is often seen as a smaller and less commercialised version of the world-famous and heavily-promoted Boracay Island. The former's main beach, Bounty Beach, has a similarly blindingly white sand and the ocean is a similar dazzling blue colour.
But at the moment Malapascua Island is not overdeveloped and sports few of the nightclubs and karaoke bars that throng Boracay. Any nightlife that may exist is very laid back.
At Malapascua most tourists just enjoy getting away from it all, strolling along the beach and enjoying the views across the Visayan Sea.
One big advantage of Malapascua Island is that the dive sites there are much deeper and more challenging compared with the dive sites over shallow reefs that characterise Boracay. Marine life is prolific and includes manta rays and thresher sharks.
Monad Shoal is the prime dive site off Malapascua Island. It lies about 30 minutes from Bounty Beach and is renowned as the only place in the world where thresher sharks can be viewed before sunrise. Thresher sharks use the area as a "cleaning station" (that is, they come here to allow the local wrasse (brightly coloured marine bony fishes with strong teeth and thick lips) to remove parasites from their skin and to clean their gills and mouths.
Other marine life seen at Monad Shoal incles devil rays and eagle rays. Manta rays and hammerhead sharks can be seen at certain times of the year.
Unfortunately, most of the coral reefs at Monad Shoal has been damaged by practice of dynamite fishing.
Other Attractions near Malapascua Island
A two hour ride from Bounty Beach will bring you to the wreck of the "Dona Marilyn" passenger ship that sank during a typhoon in 1984.
Another short ride (about 8 km) from Malapascua Island will bring you to the Isla de Gato (Spanish for "cat island"), also known as _________, a marine sanctuary where poisonous black-and-white-banded snakes breed and whose skins have been harvested by locals since the 1930s for the manufacture of fashion bags and shoes.
Other nearby islands worth visiting include Dakit Dakit, Lapus Lapus, Maripipi, Calangaman, and Carnassa.
History and Religion
This island is known as "Malapascua" to Spanish and other foreigners and as "Logon" to locals.
The name "Malapascua" means "bad Easter" in Spanish. The origin of this name is said to have come from a Spanish ship, due to bad weather, that was stranded on this island on 25 December 1520. The Spanish were stuck on this small, isolated island and away from hearth and home, for week after week, and were not looking forward to spending Easter there as well.
Malapascua Island is home to a venerated image of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin delos Desamparados (= ____________________) is said by believers to have performed a miracle on this island in 1890. The image is said to be made of wood that has never burnt and has in fact been growing in size right through until the present day. There is a feast day held every May 11/12 devotees come to the island from all over the Philippines and even from abroad for this event.
Local residents have been long involved in subsistence fishing as a way to learn their livelihood. With local fish stocks dwindling, most residents now earn their living from tourism-related enterprises.
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Author: David Paul Wagner
(David Paul Wagner on Google+)