Malapascua Island



Malapascua Island in a Nutshell


Malapascua Island is one of the few places in the world where divers have a great chance to see Thresher Sharks up close every morning when they come to get cleaned.  


Intro To Malapascua Island


Malapascua Island is located on the northermost tip of Cebu Island in the Visayan Sea in the Philippines.     

Malapascua's main attraction is the daily parade of thresher sharks that come up to Monad Shoal to get clean at dawn. 

Although most divers come to Malapascua Island to get close to  thresher sharks, there is also great reef and macro diving all around the island with nightly sighings of mandarinfish and lots of macro subjects like pygmy seahorses and blue ring octopus.


Overview of areas and best dive sites


Monad Shoal

The most famous dive site at malapascua Island, boats leave Malapascua Island just before the break of dawn for the sunken island of Monad Shoal. Thresher Sharks hunt deep in the ocean most of the day but come up to the top of Monad Shoal at 90 feet to get cleaned by cleaning wrasse every morning. Manta rays and devil rays are also regularly spotted and sometimes hammerheads can be seen during the months of January to April.


Aptly names as it is close to the lighthouse, this is where divers comes every day right before sunset in anticipation of the mandarinfish mating dance. Seahorses, squid and poepfish are also often seen here.


Gato Island

A little longer of a boat ride brings you to Gato Island, where the reef is prsitine and chances of seeing pygmy seahorses are very good. White tip reef sharks, blue ring octopus are also often sighed by divers.



Malapascua Island Marine Life & Photography Subjects

Although thresher sharks is the main event in Malapascua Island, don't forget to bring your macro lens as there are pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish, blue ringed octopus, frogfish and other great macro subjects at the many dive sites around malapascua island. 

Practice your ambient low light photogrpahy as all the dive operators do not allow the use of strobes while shooting thresher sharks, manta rays and devil rays at Monad Shoal.


Best Time To Dive Malapascua island


Diving in Malapascua Island is good all year round. The rainy season is mild and runs from July to December.


Malapascua Water Temperatures


Water temp drops to 78 degrees in January and rises to above 85 degrees in May. 


Malapascua Underwater Visibility


Visibility is typically good in the 60 - 80ft range.


Getting There


Malapascua Island is about a 2.5 hour transfer by car from Cebu City to Maya and a 30 minute boat transfer from Maya to Malapasua Island. 


Cebu City can be easily reached via an hour flight from Manila or other cities in Southeast Asia.



Options for combination trips

South of Cebu Island are the dive destinations of Dumaguete and Apo Island, where divers can combine thresher sharks and whale sharks on the same trip.


Non-Diving Activites


Malapascua Island is relatively limited in terms of non-dive activities. There are restaurants and bars all along the beach in the area. 4 dives a day and three meals is a full schedule, especially as an underwater photographer maintaining a camera rig. Bring a book, talk to new friends and take in the amazing sunsets on the days you're not night diving.


Reviews (2)


My partner and I visited Malapascua before the typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Located in the Visayan Sea, the island was a gem. Its dive site, Monad Shoal, is famous for the sightseeing of an endangered shark species, thresher shark. I was told that it was guaranteed to see them when diving in Monad Shoal. Indeed, we saw three thresher sharks, quite close during our dive. But scuba divers should start early in the morning, I meant early here, be ready to wake up at 5 am in the morning for the thresher sharks dive. And it is a deep diving (around 25 to 30 meter deep). It is best to have at least advanced open water license to dive in this dive site.

Other dive sites in Malapascua are also interesting; we saw various species of nudibranch; mantis shrimps, scorpion fish, ghost pipefish, crabs and cuttlefish.

We also did night dives at dive site called Lighthouse where we saw so many seahorses! It was amazing to see them that many at night. I was wondering where did they hide during the day. We also did a mandarin dive in this dive site.

We were diving in Gato island, about 45 minutes from Malapascua. We saw plenty of reef-sharks and nurse sharks to observe and tunnels to visit. There were several dive sites surrounding the island. We visited dive sites: Whitetip Alley, Nudibranch City and Cathedral.

Overall, Malapascua diving is a combination of observing the big marine species and the tiny ones.

Visited on 05/2012 - Submitted on 10/15/2014

Malapascua is an isolated island off the northern tip of Cebu. It is a wonderful blend of picturesque beaches, laid-back island atmosphere, excellent food, solid nightlife, friendly people and world-class diving. It is a great place to unwind for a while and get some diving in.

The standard diving around the island ranges from solid reefs at places like Deep Rock and Deep slope to incredible muck diving right off the beach at any of the various House Reefs. It may be fun to try your luck at finding the critters, but sticking close to your guide is the best way to be rewarded with such rarities as pygmy seahorses, blue-ringed-octopuses and pipefish. The intricate sunset mating dances of the mandarinfish at Lighthouse Reef should not be missed.

While the near-shore diving is pretty special, the majority of dive travel here is for the thresher shark cleaning station found at Monad Shoals. These animals are found on 95% of the dives year-round with slow periods experienced most frequently around the full moon. Do not be discouraged by the early hours or the crowd of other divers setting up at the lineup on the bottom. The animals have grown accustomed to seeing divers and swim in to get cleaned regardless of the crowd. When the first shark materializes from the blue your efforts will be rewarded. They will often just swim circles past the group, giving everyone a number of solid views before your NDL is reached.

One caution is that the island has no ATM's and the dive shops do not accept cards for tips, so bring plenty of cash. Getting to Malapascua requires a 3-4 hour taxi ride from Cebu airport and a water taxi out of Maya. Everyone along the way in Cebu will ask for tips including porters, drivers and even just people standing by. Use discretion. The buzz subsides once you step foot onto Malapasua Island.

Visited on 08/2014 - Submitted on 08/23/2014