Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Malapascua, Cebu, Philippines

Malapascua is located north of Cebu Island, about 3-4 hr car ride from the Cebu Mactan Airport to Maya port (the road condition is bad) and a short 30 mins away to the island. This place is paradise, the island is shaded by coconut trees, beautiful white sandy beach and coral garden. The island became well known in the early 90s as a famous dive destination for Thresher Shark sighting. Every diver goes there in search for this mysterious yet stunning shark. I was not going to miss out my chance!

White sandy beach
My first trip was in 2007 and 2nd in 2008, after hearing so much about this magical place, I have to check it out. The midnight flight from Singapore to Cebu work out well to give us more holiday time, as in we travel during the night and arrive the next morning on the island. Even though a bit tired but it feels good to be on a white sandy beach and blue water. :-)

The group
We booked the whole package thru Exotic Dive Resort, the package covers transfer to/from airport, accommodation, food and diving. Hassle free! Don't even bother about taking bus or taxi from the airport when you have to lug 20kg of dive equipments with you.

Before I got there, I have heard so much about this famous Dive Master, his name is Paul, so of course I have requested for him to be our group DM. He was young, spontaneous, funny and enthusiastic. It makes a lot of difference when a DM is working for money or with the love of diving plus enthusiasm. I had enjoy my trip both time with him as my DM.

Dawn dive
The dive schedule is very different compare to other place where you can have a light breakfast before your first dive, over here the first dive leaves at wee hour at 5am, when it is still dark. Why? To see the Thresher Shark which believed to be coming to the cleaning station during dawn time when the water temperature is not too warm and the light is not too strong. 2nd dive usually leave after breakfast at around 9:30am, 3rd dive after lunch around 2pm and a dust or night dive around 5 or 6pm.

Dive boat
There were several dive sites that I like, top of the list is Gato Island, an hour away from Mala, usually done on a day trip with 2 dives, healthy coral, many cavern, tunnels and swim thru. Beautiful light penetrate thru the opening. Home to some huge white tip reef sharks that sleep under a huge rock and also banded sea snakes and plenty of seahorses. 2nd in the list would be Monad Shoal, although there is good day and bad day. On a bad day, there were so many divers that you see nothing but bubbles, on a good day, we get to see Thresher sharks, manta rays and mobula rays. The visibility at this site is always low, plus it's an early morning dive without the sun light. When I saw my first Thresher Shark, it was spooky with the big black eyes and mysterious appearance yet the silver body with it's long tail made it so stunning! Took my breath away! The water temperature is also colder in the wee hour, I usually dive with my hood to keep me warm. Using nitrox will let you stay longer at the depth of 20-23m. Paul and I ever did a 70mins dive here waiting for the Thresher. :-) Light House would be my 3rd favorite as it offers lots of critters for macro photography. Huge mandarin fish mating and posing that you don't have to fight over with other photographers. :-) 4th will be Dona Marilyn a passenger ferry that sunk back in 1988. 98m long sitting on the seabed at 33m and top at 20m. Even though this dive site creep me, I still think it's a beautiful site. Last but not least would be the house reef, only 12m deep, but lots of critters! Best for photographer.

Cock fight arena
Over these 2 dive trips to Malapascua, I was lucky to see all what I wish for, Thresher Sharks, Manta Rays, Eagle Rays, Marble Ray, Mobula rays, Blue Ring Octopus, Pigmys, Seahorses, Mandarin Fishes, Frog fishes and many nudibranches. We even sighted manta and thresher jumping off the surface of the water. Amazing!

Food were delicious and the service from the staff were excellent, I even have a chance to visit the Cock fight arena in the village, mine blowing! But after seeing the brutal ending, it's not so fun after all.

Diving is definitely one of the best in Philippines, just to have a chance to see the mysterious Thresher Shark top it all. Not to mentioned Hammer head at Kemod Shoal...:-D

Travel date :  28 Apr - 1 May 07, 20-24 Mar 2008
Travel route : SG -F-> Cebu -> C -> Maya -> B -> Malapascua
Accommodation and diving : Exotic Dive Resort (http://malapascua.net/)
Type of diving : Muck, reef, wall, wreck, cavern
Water temperature : 25-30°C
Best time to dive : Dive-able all year round. Feb-May best time to dive.

 -F-> Flight -B-> Boat -C-> Car
Thresher Shark
Manta Ray
Dive boat
House reef
Soft coral
Soft coral
Porcelain Crab
Xenocarcinus tuberculatus Crab
Saw Blade Shrimp
Flabellina exoptata

Chromodoris strigata
Yellow seahorse
Periclimenes tenuipes

Dasycaris zanzibarica shrimp
Xenocarcinus conicus Crab
Hippocampus bargibanti
Crocodile snake eel

Pleurobranchus areolatus
Hypselodoris infucata

Plakobranchus ocellatus
Dona Marylyn 
Dona Marylyn 

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