Health and hygiene
Health and hygiene
Hygiene in the various bars and restaurants on Malapascua is generally quite good. You should be perfectly okay eating salads and drinking milkshakes and so on. However, everyone makes their own choices, and if you really want, you can play it safe and boring and only eat in places with foreign management and stick to food that’s been cooked to death.
There is no centralised water supply and everyone gets their water from private wells. We strongly advise against drinking tap water, as there is no real control with these wells. Some locals drink the water, partly because it’s a question of money and secondly because people who have lived all their life on Malapascua are used to the germs. As a tourist you should consider the water fine for showering, but nothing else. There is no reason to risk ruining a vacation when mineral water is readily available and cheap. On this note, we’d kindly ask you to try and minimise your purchases of water bottles, as there is no organized garbage collection and the empty plastic bottles are often burnt. You can refill your water bottles cheaply at Blue Water and Thresher Shark Divers and other places concerned about the environment.
There are no clinics or hospitals on Malapascua - the nearest basic hospital is in Daanbantayan (about 1h away by boat and bus.) And the nearest recompression chamber is in Cebu - six hours away by normal transport. Air lifting by helicopter is possible however. You can purchase various over-the-counter meds like paracetamol and rehydrants on Malapascua, and the dive shops are capable of taking care of any minor problems you may have. Bring your own ear drops if you require them, you can not get it here.
MALARIA AND DENGUE
Although there’s occasional outbreaks of malaria and dengue in the Philippines, Malapascua is not affected. There are some unsubstantiated reports of dengue, but they are few and far between, and the desease if ever present may well have been contracted elsewhere. Malaria is definitely not a concern. Of course there’s some mosquitos at night, but it’s really not bad at all - you only need to wear repellant if you absolutely can not stand a few mosquito bites.
DIVING AND INSURANCE
If you’re a diver, you really should have dive insurance. You may well be covered through your normal travel insurance, many are - but if you are not, then you should get one. If you have a serious case of decompression illness the medical bill can be astronomic as air lifting, meds and recompression is very expensive. It may bankrupt you for life or worse yet, they may refuse to treat you! It’s easiest if you organize insurance at home - we recommend getting it through DAN (Divers Alert Network) a worldwide non-profit organisation working to improve hyberbaric medicine and diver’s safety.
The Philippines have acquired somewhat of a bad reputation in recent years because of the problems in Mindanao. You can rest assured however, that Malapascua is far away from any of that. The people of Malapascua are Catholic, not Muslim. Many of them are employed with tourism and they consider Malapascua’s status as a tourist destination a great boon for the Island.
Violent crime against tourists is unheard of on Malapascua, and simple theft is fortunately very rare. On small islands everyone knows everyone - the social stigma of any wrongdoings would be unbearable. That said, there’s no reason not to exercise caution - don’t leave your valuables on the terrasse at night, lock your door when you leave the room. If you have a large sum of money you may wish to store it somewhere safe.