Scuba Diving with Thresher Sharks in Malapascua | Philippines

Malapascua although a tiny island without any cars, has an amazing secret. The island off the coast of Cebu has world renown dive sites, amazing wildlife, and year round access to thresher sharks! I made a stop in Malapascua on a much larger dive trip through Southeast Asia in hopes I would be able to see the amazing animals. Malapascua is known around the world for its amazing access to an abundant population of Thresher sharks.

Thresher sharks are a completely unique species of shark, that have an extended tail fin they use to stun their prey. They look incredibly majestic swimming through the water and I was intrigued while researching dive opportunities in the Philippines. Keep reading to find out how you can visit the illusive sharks yourself, and explore everything Malapascua has to offer on your Philippines adventure.

Thresher Shark Dives | Getting There | Where to Stay | Thresher Shark Facts |


Thresher Shark Dives

We chose to purchase a dive package offered by the dive shop to do 2 thresher sharks dives and 2 other dives around the island, one of which was my first ever night dive. The Thresher Shark Divers shop was awesome and made sure we had everything planned to have the best potential to see sharks, and explore other dive opportunities at Malapascua.

To attend a thresher dive you must have completed an advanced open water certification as they bring you down to 18 meters or more. However, this shop will allow you to complete the advanced certification using the thresher dives for credit.

Certification will cost more than doing the regular dives, but you will not miss any of the sharks.

Two of the members of my group had to take this route to certification, and I was actually foolishly mad about it on the boat. Our group was the last off the boat at the dive site because they had to complete additional dive prep for their certification course, and I was so anxious to get in the water. However, fate worked in our favor and gave me another valuable traveling lesson in patience. The extra time spent on the boat was a blessing in disguise because while the other groups descended to the bottom of the line and began exploring around for sharks, we had multiple threshers circling us immediately after reaching the bottom of the line.

The other groups ended up wasting more than half their oxygen before seeing any sharks, and we were able to conserve virtually all our air by just laying on the bottom and watching them like they were on a TV. The threshers glide elegantly through the water unfurling their long tails through the water as they cruise by overhead. Threshers seem to be one of the calmer sharks I have swam with, and they seemed completely unbothered by our presence on their seamount.

These are excellent sharks to interact with if its your first shark dive or they make you nervous. The animals are extremely calm, unaggressive, and look almost comical. They have massive eyes and look like puppies almost. Sometimes they would pass less than 3 feet away from me and just continue doing circles around the seamount.

Dive Info:

  • Must have Advanced Open Water for Thresher Dives.
  • Can complete advanced certification on dives if necessary.
  • Look for dive packages with other dive opportunities.

Getting to Malapascua

The basic process of getting to Malapascua from Cebu includes a bus or taxi ride to the New Maya Port city at the northern most point of the island, followed by a short boat ride in one of the wooden passenger boats lining the port.

The bus leaves every hour from the Cebu North Bus Terminal and will cost you 230 pesos ($5 USD). The bus ride takes about 4 hours so we left on the first bus out to give us the most time on the island and ensure we did not miss our boat. There were a few stops along the route with opportunities to use the bathroom or buy snacks, but be prepared the bus is packed with people and chickens alike.

Once you arrive at the New Maya Port you and the other passengers will wait to board a boat that will cost 100 pesos ($2 USD). The boats typically wait until they have a decent amount of people so you may wait for a short amount of time. We also had to walk across a skinny wood plank hanging over the water to get on board. That was nerve racking considering I had my computer and camera equipment in my backpack, but all part of the adventure.

The boats operate every hour out of the port form 6:30am to 4:30pm

If you somehow miss the last boat you are gonna have to find accommodations in the port city and take it the next day, so that is why we made sure to get the earliest bus in case of any delays.

Once you are on the island you will quickly realize everyone gets around by motorbike, bicycle, or walking. You can easily walk across the entire island in an hour, and there are no cars! The locals treat the motorbikes like taxis and you can hire one for just a few pesos per trip.


Where to Stay

When you get to Malapascua you definitely have a few option for accommodations. For all my budget travelers the best thing you can do is stay at the Villa Sandra Guesthouse. This is my favorite hostel to have stayed at to date! I do not know if it was the combination of good vibes from the awesome dives, the affordable prices, or the people I met there that made it so special. I still have very close friends I met at this hostel, and I have been able to visit them all over the world and share many more adventures.

The best things about the Villa Sandra Guesthouse:

  • Its close proximity to the island’s port.
  • Fun, open, and lively environment.
  • Connections to island happenings and events.
  • Centrally located between beaches, restaurants, activities, and dive shops.

Other Things To Do on Malapascua

There are many other activities and places to see in your down time between dives on Malapascua. Although this island is relatively small there are many accessible beaches where you can relax, snorkel in the sea grass, and play with the locals. You can arrange day tours to other local islands, sandbars, and more through many vendors around the island.

While you are on Malapascua you need to try:

  • The yellow mangos!
  • Feeding the island’s resident monkey.
  • Attend a DISCO party during the full moon.

Thresher Shark Facts

  • They have gigantic eyes!
  • They are kind of cute?
  • They can swim 30mph and whip their tails more than 80mph!!
  • They whip their tail to stun fish before eating them.
  • Thresher sharks are actually pelagic species, inhabiting open ocean areas. Malapascua has many seamount formations that attract the sharks much closer to land.

Other Dives

The island also offers unique night diving experiences where you can see a plethora of nocturnal sea life. We got the chance to see giant sea stars, panda clown fish, Spanish dancers, and bioluminescence. When I tell you the bioluminescence on the dive ascents looked exactly like the move Avatar, I am not lying. We turned off all our lights and even our bubbles were enough to light up the entire ocean with bright neon colors. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life, and definitely one of my favorite dives of all time.

Did you know you can see Mandarin Fish on Malapascua?


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