So technically, I’ve already declared paradise found at least twice on this blog. First, way back in 2009 when I landed on the Perhentian Islands in Malaysia and felt certain that I had indeed discovered Heaven on Earth. Then, in 2011, I found myself on Koh Rong in Cambodia, and my Eden-Meter went wild again. Over the years I visited islands throughout Southeast Asia, The Caribbean, Central America and the Mediterranean, but never found another that truly competed with the raw beauty I had found on those two islands.
Finally, in 2013, I found Malapascua — and the trifecta was complete.
Just one drop in the Philippine’s 7,000+ island chain, Malapascua came on to my radar based on the effusive recommendations of one of I know. It didn’t even make the list of Lonely Planet’s top seven Visaya Region highlights — but something about the way Lindsay gushed inspired a serious case of wanderlust in me.
After another long, epic day of transportation hell that started before dawn and ended at sunset and defined travel in the Philippines, Heather and I landed on a dark, quiet beach. Along with a third traveler we befriended on the boat over, Megan, we settled for the first beachfront bungalow we could find and quickly succumbed to travel fatigue. And when we woke in the morning, this is what we found.
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Our little bungalow faced directly out to Poblacion Beach, a small C-shaped curve of sand stretching around a bay filled with bangkas providing transportation to and from Cebu island. Our little two story bungalow was quite pricey by Filipino standards at 500 pesos each, though I know that in many places $12 a night per person for an oceanfront room seems quite the bargain.
Giddy with excitement over finding the white sand and turquoise waters we had been hoping for, we set off to explore the southern stretch of the island, where the small hum that is tourism in Malapascua is centered.
Poblacion Beach is stunning, and could hold its own in a World’s Best Beaches competition — let me just establish that before I say what I say next.
Poblacion Beach is a dump compared to the sensory-numbing beauty that is Bounty Beach.
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Time on Malapascua melted away, and scheduled hours were replaced by casual moments in which we were laying out our sarongs for beachfront massages, taking endless photographs of colorful bangkas, eating lazy lunches with toes in the sand, or snuggling with members of the island’s resident adorable puppy pack.
Oh, and sometimes we swam. And by swam, I really mean: moved slowly in a dreamlike state through the warm tourmaline waters, marveling at the way Malapascua had managed to make a real version of the HDR photography so favored for desktop computer screensavers.
This kind of paradise isn’t really conducive to raucous nightlife — it brings about a contemplation in people for which Full Moon Party-style antics would only be a nuisance. Appropriately, the most happening place in Malapascua once the sun starts it’s inevitable descent is a quiet sunset bar floating a couple hundred feet from shore.
Luckily, there’s a free ride.
Malapascua was exactly what I needed, and along with Batad would be one of my top two destinations in the Philippines. Together, these two places taught me a lesson. Paradise does exist — it’s just never easy to get to.
Stay tuned for our adventures around the island and under the waters of Malapascua! What’s the most beautiful island you’ve ever been to?