Just how hard can it be to choose a dive destination in the Philippines?  Very hard is the answer!  With more than 7000 islands, several different dive regions and a UNESCO World Heritage Site reef system - all directly in the middle of the world's most bio-diverse dive region in the Coral Triangle it can be a daunting task planning a dive trip to the best place in the Philippines.  The likely truth is there is no ‘one’ best place as it just depends on what type of diving and marine life you’re looking for.

After plenty of research and asking all my dive buddies that have dived in the Philippines I finally decided on Malapascua Island.  This charming island is located 8kms Northeast of Cebu, 25kms West of Leyte and takes about 3-4 hours by road from Cebu Mactan International Airport, topped off with a 30 minute Banka (outrigger) ride to the island itself.

In summary a trip to the island of Malapascua will not disappoint you.  It’s certainly the place to almost guarantee seeing Thresher sharks and many other fantastic and sometimes rare creatures that lurk in the corals or muck.  (Tip: Hire a motorbike for the day and go and explore the island, you’ll love it).  I will definitely return soon….

Dive Centre used:   Thresher Shark Divers -

Accommodation used:  Tepanee Beach Resort -

Airline used to Cebu: Airphil Express -

Malapascua is a developing tourist location that still has plenty of authentic local charm, fantastic friendly people, great food and awesome diving.  It’s famous for its Thresher Sharks that can almost be guaranteed to turn up every morning, year round at a site known as the Monad Shoal.  This site is a sunken island at 18-24 metres with sides that drop off to 230 metres, from which the Threshers come up from their hunting grounds to be groomed by Cleaner Wrasse.  It truly is an amazing experience to watch these majestic animals cruising right by you or if you’re really lucky they sometimes circle around you time and time again.  In the afternoons the Monad Shoal is also a great place to see Manta and Devil rays, all three of which I was lucky enough to see on my visits there!

All around the island there are fantastic dive sites that possess such diverse marine life that it’s difficult to explain, these sites are particularly attractive to the Macro enthusiast.  Another of Malapascua’s highlights must be the ‘Randy Mandy’ dive at the lighthouse where the rare and beautiful Mandarinfish can be seen mating.  Most of the dive centres also run day trips to explore more remote sites that are and absolute must.  Calanggaman Island is a white sand picture postcard island with fantastically vibrant wall dives off its fringes, this was the site of my very first Pigmy Seahorse siting (I wish I had a magnifying glass).  This two dive day trip is a real treat including a barbeque on the beach and time to go and get those paradise pictures to make everyone jealous back home.

"You come to Malapascua to see the thresher sharks, but you leave remembering Gato", this is a very true statement from Thresher Shark Divers (TSD).  A short trip away, Gato Island is a marine reserve and sea snake sanctuary that will amaze most divers that are lucky enough to dive there.  I have never seen so much diverse marine life, beautiful healthy corals of all colours and sizes and so many ‘special’ creatures like white tip sharks, sea snakes, octopus, seahorses, nudibranchs, scorpion fish, frogfish and oh! well the list goes on!