Guide to Diving in Malapascua – Thresher Sharks

Diving in Malapascua – Facts Sheet

Destination : Malapascua

Country : Philippines

Temperature : 28 – 32°C (79 – 87°F)

Typical Visibility : 35 – 45 m (115 – 145ft)

Season : December to May

How to go : Flight from Manila to Cebu city (3 hours), bus to Daanbantayan (4 hours), boat to Malapascua (30 minutes)

Types of Dives : Pelagics Dive

One of the Philippines best kept diving secrets, Malapascua Island offers something for every kind of diver. The Philippines is in many ways the Thailand of 20 years ago, the new wild west of Asia. However, it has one thing going for it that is much better than anything in the Land of Smiles, and that’s its diving locations.

For the scuba diving trip of a lifetime, head to Malapascua for a whole range of different experiences. Diving in Malapascua offers whitetip sharks, hammerheads, mantas, mandarin fish, cuttlefish, pygmy seahorses, coral gardens, colorful nudibranches and the world’s only place to see thresher sharks on a daily basis. There is a huge diversity of aquatic life to be seen.

If it had not been for the fanatastic coverage given to it by some German photographer divers in recent years, Malapascua would still remain unknown. However, now that Malapascua is well and truly on the map, diving has boomed. There are dozens of dive tour operators, hotels, shops and resorts that have opened on the island in recent years.

Malapasuca became even more famous when it was lucky enough to receive a visit from the famous Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin. The animal expert came here to make a documentary at Monad Shoal about the thresher sharks that frequent the place every day. This, more than anything else, is what really made the Malapascua shark diving experience popular.

The thresher sharks here are generally nocturnal creatures. They live in relatively deep waters and so normally it is not easy to see them. Although threshers are seen in other parts of the world from time to time, the waters of Malapascua are the only place on Earth where they can be seen so often. Thresher sharks are distinctive for their great big eyes and small yet very sharp teeth.

They are also very clever hunters. Feeding on schooling fish like mackerel and herring, as well as squid, they can use their tails to scare their prey. The result is that they corral the fish into very dense schools, allowing them to pick off their lunch at leisure. Sometimes, the thresher sharks will even stun fish using their tails, and they are also known for breaching – Jumping completely out of the sea.

You’ll be glad to know that thresher sharks are no threat towards humans. If startled, they usually tend to just swim away from divers. Note that thresher sharks will often circle, occasionally in pairs or threes. Therefore, if you see one swimming away from you, chances are you will soon see it again.

When you are diving you need to move slowly, and when you see the thresher sharks, you must stop. By making no rapid movement, keeping completely still, the sharks will come very close to you indeed. Sometimes they come so close to you that it’s possible to reach out and stroke them. Just make sure that you don’t chase after the sharks or use strobes when you take photos of them. Doing so could scare them away.

Top Malapascua Dive Sites

  • Monad Shoal – A submerged island that is just 30 minutes from the main island. This is the best site around for seeing the famous thresher sharks
  • Gato Island – This great site is 45 minutes away, and offers divers the chance to see white tip sharks and is a breeding ground in certain months for black band seas snakes.
  • Calanggaman Island – 1 hour away, this is the best place in Malapascua for wall diving. Here you can also see eagle rays, mackerel and tuna in large numbers.