Of all the dive destinations in the Philippines, it is without doubt that Malapascua is the nearest thing to your minds eye view of the perfect tropical island; blue skies, azure blue seas, beautiful white sand beach, palm trees, no noise and pollution… It’s a beautiful little island.
The Island is small enough to walk around in maybe a couple of hours, in which doing so you’ll come across a few small villages, where in the late afternoon you’ll see the kids playing with their skipping ropes, the teenagers playing basketball, the fathers sat around drinking Tanduay and the mothers doing the laundry, looking after the kids, working in the sari sari store, doing the cooking and all at the same time…
Life on Malapascua used to be all about Bounty Beach, when years ago all the accommodation and resorts were, but as more and more places have opened things are little more spread out now. Age-old icons of Malapascua still survive the incoming new businesses, like Babe’s accommodation, where backpackers make sure they have plenty of mosquito repellent to see them through the night; Cocobana on Bounty beach, the very first cottages for tourists on the island; Ging Ging’s restaurant famed for it’s budget food and flies and Angelina’s where you can have, in our opinion, the 3rd best pizza in all the Philippines.
This is a beautiful island, where you will indeed have a fantastic holiday, but you would never had heard of this place if were not for a certain fish coming to be cleaned in the early morning…. The Thresher Shark.
You going to have to get up at silly o’clock I’m afraid, to go out on the boats to Monad Shoal to see the Threshers coming out of the deep gloom for their morning spruce up.
On the upside of getting up so early, you are going to have some great stories to tell over breakfast, when was the last time you could say that?!
Malapascuas claim to fame in two words is… thresher sharks. The dive site close to Malapascua called Monad Shoal is the only place in the world where you can predictably see thresher sharks being cleaned early in the morning. We have had some incredible dives here and for us, this is truly awesome.
British talk about the weather, the French talk about food, the Germans talk about punctuality, on Malapascua – everybody talks about thresher sharks. Did you see them, how many, how close… this is all before breakfast! You’ve then got the whole day ahead of you for more diving.
Monad Shoal is a sunken plateau that is about as big as Malapascua island itself where the top is between 18-25 meters deep. Traditionally, divers were taken to Manta and Shark Point to see the Thresher Shark but from 2012 new cleaning stations have been discovered where it is not uncommon to see 10 or so sharks on a dive and quite often extremely close.
In the past divers were taken mid afternoon to see Manta ebing cleaned however as the Manta population has declined, the sightings are less frequent.
Malapascua isn’t all about Threshers. Gato Island is a small island with an 80 meter tunnel going through it where white tip sharks are frequently seen resting. Be sure to have a look around for some macro life like frogfish, harlequin shrimp and pygmy seahorse. There is also a lovely school of wide jaw mackerel that with sunlight and clear viz the gleam of silver is a beautiful sight.
Kimod Shoal is very similar to Monal Shoal but then main reason to visit is to swim out in the blue at 30 meters between December and March and if your lucky scalloped hammerheads will come and say hello.
There are wreck diving opportunities with the Dona Marilyn being a good option for recreational divers. There are other options for technical divers (see technical diving). Around the island there are other dive sites like Lapus Lapus, Ka-Osting and the Lighthouse but our favourite is Evolutions House reef and Bantigue. A favourite memorable dive was at Evolution house reef where we saw not 1 but 2 hairy frogfish fighting for their space amongst hundreds of fire urchins!