Diving with Threshers in Malapascua


You don’t come to Malapascua by accident. It takes a fair amount of planning and time to reach this tiny island just north of Cebu, including a flight from Manila (usually) to Cebu City, followed by a 3-hour drive to the northern tip of the island, and finally a 30-minute ferry to Malapascua. You’re most likely here to see thresher sharks, as Malapascua is one of the only places in the world where divers can reliably spot these elegant animals, named for their long, scythe-like tails. If you’ve come all this way to see them, why not venture out with the pioneers of thresher-shark dives, Exotic Resort?

Malapascua features several fantastic dive sites, but its crowning glory is the near 100 percent probability of diving with threshers at Monad or Kemod Shoals. The big-eyed pelagic sharks rise from the depths in the early morning, coming to the shoals at dawn to get a good cleaning before the sun gets too bright in the sky. Divers who want to see these graceful but somewhat shy sharks, rarely seen by recreational divers, must head to the boat shortly after 4 a.m. — yes, you read that right.

Deep water and low light didn't lend itself well to great pics of the theshers

Deep water and low light didn’t lend itself well to great pics of the theshers

More often than not, these sharks inhabit water beyond the reach of recreational divers, and the shoals near Malapascua are the only two sites in the world where they regularly come up to recreational depths. But as exciting and rare as it is to see these beauties, these encounters aren’t all that Malapascua and Exotic Resort have to offer.

Exotic Resort Guide
Cave at Gato Island
flowing anemone
Gato Island

Multiple sites near the island offer interesting dive profiles and marine life. Gato Island, a marine sanctuary, is a great place for divers to find a sea bottom covered with soft corals, seahorses, tons of cuttlefish and nudis. Whitetip sharks frequent the area and are often seen sleeping under ledges and inside the small tunnel that runs from one side of the island to the other. Lighthouse Reef is home to mandarinfish, seahorses and blue-ringed octopus within a beautiful coral garden. And Chocolate Island is a great place to hunt for that perfect frogfish picture or search for nudis, seahorses and Spanish dancers.

green black nudi
Shark in a cave
Soft Coral at Gato
Sea Cucumber

It’s easy to choose which sites you want to visit, as all scheduled trips are easily visible on Exotic’s whiteboard in the dive area. Since the resort has multiple boats, it generally has divers heading out to multiple locations throughout the day. The boats are spacious, with fresh water and coffee on demand.  And since Exotic is a PADI 5 Star IDC facility, you can take any classes you want.

Divers who come to Malapascua should know that it’s a small island with limited resources. Service operates on “island time,” water resources can sometimes be scarce, and certain foods could be absent if shipments haven’t arrived recently. If you go to Malapascua expecting luxury, you will be disappointed, but if you come expecting a fun social atmosphere and outstanding diving, along with a truly unique shark encounter at Exotic Resort, then you’ll be quite happy you made the trip.

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