Profile picture of Keith Kellett
Profile picture of davide puzzo
Profile picture of Kiss From The World
Profile picture of Neha Singh
Profile picture of Lilly
Profile picture of Sara
Profile picture of Maria
Profile picture of Dharmendra Chahar
Profile picture of Shane Cameron
Profile picture of Pandorasdiary
Profile picture of Tracy A. Burns
Profile picture of Aditi Roy
Profile picture of Maite González
Profile picture of Anirban Chatterjee
Profile picture of Tara
Profile picture of Meg Stivison
Profile picture of Catherine McGee
Profile picture of Bindu Gopal Rao
Profile picture of Rashmi Gopal Rao
Profile picture of Paula
Profile picture of Carol Bock

Shark Encounters at Malapascua Island

According to some stories, some Spaniards have been sailing through the Visayas in the year of 1520 and ended up stranded on Malapascua on Christmas Day because of the unfortunate incident they called the island Mala Pascua, which literally means “Bad Christmas”. I am not certain how they could've thought it was bad luck to be in a beautiful island. Although the older local people still insist that their island's name is “Logon” (same name as the main village here on Malapascua) and not Malapscua. This island a popular dive destination in the Philippines. The picturesque island is home to a world famous treasure. A special kind of shark, the thresher shark.

As a young animal lover, I have always dreamed of seeing sharks and swimming next to them. I remember staying up late to watch dive expeditions being shown on National Geographic and Discovery Channel. Diving with the thresher sharks was part of my dive bucketlist.

Reaching Malapascua from Cebu City is not that quick, you will have to take the bus all the way to Maya which takes about 5 hours. For my trip, I took the bus to Bogo  and stayed there for the night. The following morning we took the bus from Bogo City to Maya Port. I enjoyed the bus ride as it passed through rice fields and mangrove forests. When we reached Maya Port, the locals immediately asked if we were heading to Malapascua. I was told that the usual price is 80 PHP but we arrived a bit late (most boats don't go to Malapascua in the afternoon unless you charter them because of the current) so we had to just say yes to them.

The weather was on our side that day despite warnings of thunderstorms that weekend. I sat and enjoyed the calming sea breeze for 30 minutes as the boat sailed smoothly over the placid sea. The other passengers looked like babies on a cradle slowly falling asleep.

Unknown to many, 2 years ago, Malapascua Island was also one of the islands ravaged by Typhoon Haiyan. Expats and locals both pitched in to recover from the destruction and while I was walking around there were little traces.

We did not make any prior bookings relying on the fact that it was off season in the island. It was not difficult to find accomodations. I saw more than 10 resorts all lining the coast of Malapascua. More than a decade ago, I visited the island as part of my mother's regular company outing. I could barely remember the details of the island and would've gotten lost if not for Lucas. He already went to Malapascua several times for diving.  I am always embarrassed when people ask me where I did my dives ( I probably did more dives in Mabul and Sipadan than in my own country).

It was my first dive in Cebu by the way! Anyways, we headed to French Kiss Divers first to try squeezing in a dive for that day (we needed vitamin Sea so much that they anyways their local staff thought I was Thai, not sure if I should be happy or not). They were nice enough to schedule a 3:30 PM dive.

After taking care of our dive for the day, we headed to Malapascua Exotic Island Dive & Beach Resort. Exotic is one of the established resorts on the island and they offer budget accomodations (for those who want to spend more on dives than their beds). We left our bags and had a quick lunch (they had a wide variety of dishes and the servings were good). Once we filled our stomachs, we walked back to French Kiss to prepare the dive gears and do all the necessary equipment check.

Shark diving is the main activity in the island but you can also do macro-diving. Malapascua offers sandy bottoms, seagrass meadows, mangroves and coral reefs. The island has other top class dive sites apart from Malapascua such as Gato Island, Lapus Lapus and Dakit Dakit. If you are spending more days in the island, you can even hire a boat to take you to Kalanggaman Island in Palompon.

DEEP SLOPE

Our first dive was at Deep Slope which was a unique underwater sand dune that slowly turns into a small wall which is covered with soft corals.  Pygmy seahorses, yellow and pink ones can be seen inside the different sea fans along that reef.  An interesting dive site for more experienced beginners and advanced divers. For beginners, you need to be aware of the slope and make sure to always check your dive computer to avoid diving beyond your limit. While doing the dive, I got a bit nervous when we suddenly saw a banded sea snake (more than a meter long) swimming along the reef wall (FYI: I hate snakes and centipedes).

Depth: 16-30m. The flat top of this sunken island lies in 15 meters. The sheer walls drop down to 30 meter

Visibility: 3-10m.

Current: Mild

Temperature: 25° C

We spent 40 minutes to explore the site. By the time we were done, the sun was already about to set so we headed back to our room to freshen up and see more of the island.

You can peacefully walk by the shore and take a dip. This little Japanese girl enjoyed playing with sand while her mother took photos of her. She was so adorable!

Although the Malapascua has a lot of establishments, it is still less touristy as Boracay ( I'm happy about that). It was off peak season when we visited and most of the people by the shore were foreigners.

We walked a couple of meters from Exotic and decided to get some drinks to cool down. Ocean Vidahas a great beach front, I loved the comfy lounge chairs by the shore that is perfect for spending a lazy afternoon. You can easily doze off there.

We were lucky to be there during happy hour although we did not intend to double the amount of cocktails we were drinking. Couple of sips later, I started hearing my stomach grumbling. They also had a good menu and so we ordered fish (I do not eat tuna, I will tell you why in another blog post). You can easily tell if the fish is fresh by how it tender and moist it is. By the time we finished dinner, darkness had enveloped the island. By 8 P.M, we headed back to our room and called it a night.

MONAD SHOAL

A lot of divers fly from different countries to see them so we had to go to the dive shop by 4 A.M. to be earlier than everyone else! Monad Shoal (approximately 8km from Malapascua) is a seamount rising 250m from the sea floor. The shoal is about 25 minutes by bangka. It is one of the rare places in the world where Thresher Sharks (Alopias pelagicus) can be seen regularly while scuba diving. Depending on the season you my also encounter white tip sharks, silver sharks, devil rays and giant manta rays. During our dive, they spotted two eagle rays at the cleaning station. Other regular visitors to the cleaning stations include lionfish,sweet lips, octopus and batfish. A lot of divers fly from different countries to see them so we had to go to the dive shop by 4 A.M. to be earlier than everyone else!

It is a dive for advanced beginners since the cleaning station is beyond 18m. Anything deeper than 18 meters is already considered as deep dive so if you are an open water diver who wants to see the thresher shark, you will have to take the Deep Dive Specialty Course.

When diving at Monad or anywhere else, you should follow strict diving rules to minimize the impact of divers and to increase the chance of a shark encounter.

Depth: 24-27m. Top of the shoal ranges from 24 meters to 27 meters,with a drop-off exceeding recreational dive depths

Visibility: 12-25m.

Current: Moderate

Temperature: 25° C

I was happy to finally cross this off my bucketlist of marine creatures to see. I saw two of them but they told me you can see more if you are luckier. Their huge eyes made me think of anime characters. I wanted to give them a hug!

Unfortunately, sharks are not well protected in the Philippines. Although Cebu province has an ordinance banning the catching and trading of all species of sharks and rays, sale of these still continues in several fish market. Sharks are fished all over the world for their fins which is a popular Chinese delicacy. This demand has caused the massive decline in the shark species.


CITY


Profile photo of Paula

Paula is a registered nurse turned model/marketer who recently crossed over to the non-profit industry.After surviving the Ormoc Tragedy of 1991, one of the worst floods in the Philippines, and the bullying during her childhood, she is an active liberal changemaker based in Cebu City, where she is currently working for RARE Philippines as an associate for Partnerships. She contributes in increasing public interest about the different causes such as gender equality, youth empowerment and environmental conservation.From January-June 2015, she volunteered for Fundlife International, assisting in the cultivation of potential of children who survived Typhoon Haiyan and expanding the opportunities for partnership with other organisations. Her aim is to help carry out positive social change that would allow children to dream beyond social injustices and protect the environment.As a passionate SDI Advanced Adventure Diver, she represented the Philippines during the Miss Scuba International 2013 pageant in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on Dec. 20 where she placed 1st runner-up.During days off, you can find her exploring the offbeat roads of unpopular destinations, helping organisations make the world a better place or prowling across the worldwide web in search for new recipes, unique adventures and good reads.She is a pragmatic dreamer who sees each day is an opportunity to reach our maximum potential, inspire others to act and love life more.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to toolbar