Malapascua

After that bumpy flight I got into Cebu!

Cebu is a very busy city and is perhaps not the best introduction to the Philippines. Its an industrial working city, so its busy, its dirty and it smells. However like many big Asian city’s it is filled with very western malls, which is where I spent my first day, doing some shopping.

I had heard of a Diving warehouse store, cheap diving equipment bought from source so I decided to head there in search of a bargain.  I followed google maps through a couple of rather dodgy neighbourhoods before reaching my goal 1 hour later…….. to a nice big closed sign! No cheap dive gear for Dan!

The following day I boarded a surprisingly nice coach to head towards Malapascua, one of the Philippines diving hotspots.

When I was diving in Bali I had seen a video of diving here and it looked amazing, Malapascua is one of the very few diving locations where you can see the Thresher Sharks regularly.

My 4 hour bus took me to Maya Port where I boarded a boat and went to the Island! Within seconds of being there I realised it could be considered paradise! No cars, lovely clear seas and white sand! An absolutely stunning place!

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I decided to go for a hike around the island. Its only a 45 minute walk from Tip to Tip so I was keen to see the whole island.

At the northern Tip is a lighthouse and I made this my goal! So off I went exploring, I soon saw the towering lighthouse but for the life of me I couldn’t get to it! I was so close yet so far!

I found a fisherman and asked him how to get to it, through his broken English I worked out he was saying to follow the beach, so that’s what I did.

The beach soon ran out and turned into a rocky cliff, well in for a penny in for a pound I though, so I decided to go off piste and do a bit of bouldering along the small cliff rocks. After 15 minutes or so on the rocks I came to a deserted beach. I took this chance to strip off and go for a nice swim! There rocks on both side of the beach and a cliff behind it so I decided to go full Monty just for fun!

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After my relaxing on the beach I was faced with a dilemma, did I abandon my quest for the lighthouse and head back or throw caution to the wind and head back the way I came.

Head down I soldiered on intent on getting to the lighthouse. After 5 minutes on the rocks I was about to move to the next when I looked down and saw a big old Sea Snake right where my feet were about to go! That shook me up I can tell you, id seen a load of crabs on the rocks but the snake got me worried, I decided to go over the snake and 30 seconds later while warily watching my slithering friend I put my hand onto the next rock on the cliff face.

The rock was soft, and made a squawking noise! Id put my hand on a bloody chicken! A chicken on a cliff face!!! I physically jumped and lost my footing briefly, I slipped about half a metre but managed to cut my flip flop clad feet!

I hobbled along the next 15 minutes of rocks before emerging on a more populated beach! Looking back the way id came I saw the lighthouse in the distance behind me! Id climbed right past it!

 

Dejected I stumbled to the nearest restaurant, sunburnt and bleeding. When I ordered my chicken burger I must admit I got some perverse pleasure imagining it was the damn cliff chicken!

I had an early night as I was due to get up at 4:30 to go out to the see the Thresher sharks. The dive site Monad Shole, is where the Thresher sharks come up from their usual 70-500m depth to get cleaned by smaller fish, this happens daily and dive shops offer a 90% chance of seeing the huge fish.

My luck however from the previous day carried over and I saw none! This was made worse by almost every other group of divers on my boat emerging full of beans about how many they had seen!!

I had two other dives planned for that day, 1 was a site called Dona Maralin, a 28 year old ship wreck of a ferry. Sadly over 100 people died when this ferry sunk. While the wreck is only 25M deep, it is out on the blue (open ocean) so the visibility is affected as there are no reefs to help keep bearings.

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As we descended down to 15M we realised on of our group was missing, our DM went back to the surface telling us to stay put. After 5 minutes I noticed on our group starting to get a bit panicky. So I swam over to distract him with corals and Nudi Branch’s (sea slugs) it was his girlfriend who was missing.

Our DM returned a few minutes later and signed she hadn’t been able to equalise so was back on the boat. I was really pleased Id been able to spot and stop the panicking diver, my rescue diver course paying off! The visibility meant the wreck wasn’t amazing, however due to a large opening we were able to penetrate in by a few metres, while inside the wreck I saw a beautiful ray swimming around.

I couldn’t identify the species but it was beautiful!

The final dive of the day was to the “Gato Tunnel” a small island with an underwater tunnel that ran from one side of the island to the other. Torches in hand we went down to explore the tunnel.

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It became very eerie as we entered as the light recedes and soon we were navigating by torch light, as we approached the exit, the blue of the sea outlined a silhouette swam past the exit, a very distinctive shadow.

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We sat and watched as 2 sharks swam around the exit, entranced as they came quite close to us. The darkness added to the experience and its certainly a dive I wont forget in a hurry!

The next morning I was up early again to give the Thresher Shark dive another try! 2 days an no Threshers was almost unheard of, even so I wasn’t confident id see any!

Turns out I had nothing to worry about! During the course of the dive I saw 5 of the things! 1 coming within two metres of me!

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Threshers are huge, and their long scythe like tail makes them very distinctive! It was a real rush seeing them underwater, knowing there arnt many places when this can be done!

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I left Malapascua the following day after 4 days in paradise! Id had a great time there and done some unforgettable dives. I boarded to boat to leave the island faced with 10 hours of travel to my next destination.

Moalboal and their sardine run!

 

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