Malapascua

Malapascua is an unspoiled diving paradise with a major attraction – thresher sharks. So, if you are after big fish encounters, then you’re in luck. Alongside regular thresher sightings, this island boasts plenty of big fish action including white-tip, black-tip, bamboo, nurse, cat and hammerhead sharks. With exceptional macro diving, it also ranks highly for its wrecks and reefs, wall dives, caves, macro dives and spectacular night dives. Located off the northern tip of Cebu in central Philippines, the island might be quiet and small but it punches well above is size when it comes to dive sites.

Overview

Sharks and rays, wrecks and reefs, wall dives, caves, macro dives and spectacular night dives: Welcome to the underwater world of Malapascu, Philippines. A truly beautiful little island (just 2km long and 1/2 km wide) in the middle of the Visayan Sea and located just off the northern tip of Cebu (central) Philippines, Malapascua is at the centre of the Coral Triangle. This is a place where you can immerse yourself in a relaxed Filipino way of life. The pace of life here is relaxed and visitors are here for the diving. It helps that the island is incredibly beautiful – a tropical island paradise of blue skies, azure blue seas, stunning white sands fringed by palm trees. Exploring the island is easy – it’s only a 2 hour round trip if you walk. You can also hire a motorbike or hire a driver to take you to all the best spots.

With a population of around 4000, Malapascua is an island that relies on tourism and boat building. While the Thresher shark is a huge attraction, Malapascua is so much more with many exciting dive sites. Malapascua’s other claim to fame is its exceptional macro diving. All the marketing points to this place as a scuba diver’s paradise and well worth the visit. The diving here is truly world class. Big fish encounters, including manta rays at – up to 6 metres across – and divers have seen them on the same dive for the thresher shark.

Dive Sites

Monad Shoal (26m+)
AKA shark point! Take an early morning dive to this underwater island on the edge of a 200m drop off to witness thresher sharks. This is the only place in the world that has regular sightings of this shy shark before sunrise. Sightings of manta rays are common and this dive location attracts plenty of other pelagics. Macro diving is equally impressive here. With a dive depth up to 26+ and visibility is generally up to 15 metres. It’s a 30 minute boat ride from Malapasua Island.

Lighthouse (10m)
This dive site offers unique experience to see the rare mandarin fish, seahorses, scribbled and banded pipefish, juvenile sweetlips, banded sea snakes, hermit crabs, and many varieties of shrimp. As a night dive this location reveals another side to the marine environment with reef squid, bobtail squid, starry night octopus, the occasional blue-ringed octopus and cuttlefish.

Chocolate Island (16m)
This stunning shallow dive site is a macro photographer’s dream and perfect for all level of divers. It’s here you’ll see an abundance of marine life amongst the soft coral: Sea snakes, snake eels, moray eels, cuttlefish (including flamboyants), seamoths, dragonfish, pegasus and juvenile batfish. Plenty of macro action too: nudibranchs, flatworms, shrimp, shells and cowries.

Dona Marilyn Wreck (18m-32m)
Still in one piece, this passenger ferry sank over 20 years ago and lies in 32 metres of water. The wreck is covered in fishing nets that coral has claimed. It is also home to diverse marine life: cuttlefish, moray eels, zebra crabs, purple fire sea urchins, marble and blue-spotted rays and white-tip sharks. Qualified divers can explore inside this wreck and there is plenty to see inside as it has remained untouched

Gato Island
This site is a marine reserve and sea snake sanctuary. With plenty of underwater rock formations, Gato is home to various marine life including banded sea snakes, cuttlefish, seahorses, nudibranchs, frogfish, moray eels, scorpion fish, squid and big-mouthed mackerel, white-tip sharks, bamboo and cat sharks. Another highlight to this site is a 30 metre tunnel where divers can swim underneath Gato Island to emerge on the other side.

Best Times to Dive

A year-round dive destination with warm waters averaging 24ºC-30ºC depending on the season.
December to April is considered the high season. April is regarded as the best time for schooling hammerheads. September has been regarded as the best time for manta ray sightings and thresher sharks.

Other Activities

  • Trekking – Twin Lakes, waterfalls
  • Snorkeling
  • Surfing
  • Swimming/diving with Whale Sharks (year round)
  • Kayaking
  • Bird watching
  • Golf

Getting There

Malapascua is located off the northern tip of Cebu in central Philippines. Fly into Cebu via Manilla and travel to Maya in Cebu’s north. Our Active Travel Experts will arrange your transfers to the island of Malapascua (which is a scenic 4-5 hour journey and then a 30 minute boat transfer).

Accomodation

Malapascua offers a selection of accommodation to suit all budgets, from air-conditioned sea view rooms to garden cottages.

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