Diving through the Blue Waters of Malapascua Island

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About Malapascua Island

The name Malapascua means ‘unfortunate Christmas’. But Malapascua Island is nothing sort of unfortunate with its aqua blue waters and the white sandy beach and a rich coral haven. Malapascua Island is one of the 7,107 islands in the Philippines.  It is located only 8 km off the north coast of Cebu, in the Visayan Sea, located across a shallow strait from the northernmost tip of Cebu. Malapascua is a tiny island, 2.5 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide with eight hamlets. It is part of the insular barangay of Logon, Daanbantayan municipality, in the province of Cebu.

Malapascua was discovered only in the early 1990s and since then has become a favorite diving destination of foreign and local tourists. Known for its white sandy beach called Bounty Beach, it also boasts of its beautiful coral gardens and spectacular diving sites and other equally interesting places like Gato Island, Monad Shoal and Kemod Shoal.

Malapascua can be reached by land originating from Cebu’s Mactan airport. A taxi or bus can bring you to Maya where a boat ride will take you to Malapascua Island. Some hotels in the island have arrangement for picking you up at the Maya port.malapascua222

Interesting Places in Malapascua

Most of the tourists come to Malapascua for its excellent diving sites.

1. Monad Shoal. This is probably the popular scuba diving destination near Malapascua. It is one of the two underwater islands close to deep water trenches which are natural cleaning stations for the beautiful pelagic thresher shark and other species. This is located about 20 minutes from the Malapascua Island. The shoal is a rather unremarkable 1.5 kilometer-long rock stump at the edge of a 200 meter-drop and has a flattish top at a depth of around 20 to 24 meters. There is little in the way of coral on the top of the seamount which is swept by a strong current.

Monad Shoal is best known in the world as the place where the famous thresher sharks can be seen almost on a regular basis, just before sunrise.  The shoal also attracts other pelagics such as devil rays and eagle rays. Manta rays and hammerheads are seasonal. Monad Shoal is suitable for Nitrox and because of the depth, it is recommended only for advanced scuba divers.

2. Gato Island. This is another fantastic dive spots in Malapascua Island. It has abundant marine life and considered an underwater paradise for the tons of exotic aqua marine life species it plays home to. Gato Island is also a popular breeding ground for sea snakes. It is one of the only remaining three sea snake breeding spots in the Philippines. Breeding season is from March to September and during these months, species of snakes like the black and white banded sea snake, gigantic moray eel, silver eel and other poisonous snakes abound. Other marine life species you can see are frogfish, scorpionfish, shrimps, shells, cuttlefish, pufferfish, tuna, mackerel, squids, stingrays, snappers, nudibranchs and pygmy sea horses. The site is also known for sightings of sharks such as the white tip reef sharks and bamboo sharks that are usually seen sleeping in the cave and sometimes lurking around the exit.

3. Kemod Shoal. This, like Monad Shoal is an underwater seamount starting at about 12 meters. At about half the depth, Kemod Shoal has more coral growth and small fish life compared to Monad Shoal. The top of the shoal at Kemod is probably only a few hundred square meters making it a much smaller site. It is possible to see thresher sharks and hammerheads here. The thresher sharks come up from their normal deep water habitat to get cleaned and there are no other known places in the world other than Monad and Kemod Shoals where these magnificent thresher sharks can be regularly sighted at recreational diver depths.

The Philippines does not only boast the beauty of Malapascua Island in Cebu as a diver’s haven. Panglao Island in Bohol, Tubbataha Reef in Puerto Princesa Palawan, The Different Dive Spots of the beautiful island of Boracay and the famous dive sites in Busuanga in Palawan are some of the most visited dive spots in the Philippines.

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