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Written by Scuba Instructors ~ DIVEIN.com’s Complete Guide to:

Malapascua’s Top Dive Sites 

Location

NE of Cebu Island

Depth

6-40m // 20-131ft

Topography

Majority wall diving with mild currents

Wildlife

Thresher Sharks, Whitetip, Manta, Devil Rays, Lionfish, Octopus, Triggerfish, pufferfish, mantis shrimp, anemone crab, reef fish

Temperature

25-30°C // 77-86°F

VIS

OK. 5-30m // 18-98ft

Nitrox

MAYBE- definitely YES for Shark Dive

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The author:

sylvia jenkins

Sylvia Jenkins

Scuba Instructor
Sylvia is a scuba instructor and underwater photographer

Malapascua, a skinny island situated North East of Cebu, Philippines, is on every diver’s bucket list!

The reason?

Their resident Thresher Sharks.

Malapascua offers a rare opportunity to have near-to guaranteed sightings, watching these beautifully graceful sharks getting their morning clean. With sharks ticked off your list by early morning, there’s time to check out the local sites.

There is an ample variety of spots, with deep walls, coral-covered pinnacles and shallower reef scapes. Or perhaps venture out to the nearby islands, like the locals’ favourite Gato Island or the idyllic Kalanggaman.

Malapascua has an awesome abundance of marine life, especially macro in the muck. Keep your eyes peeled for mantis shrimp, pygmy seahorses, frogfish, nudis and crustaceans. But remember to look up from the dirt, and hope to see a whitetip shark or eagle ray swim by. 

Being a small island, everyone knows everyone, and that friendly neighborhood vibe is felt throughout. Finish your day with a SMB (San Miguel Beer) or refreshing calamansi juice, enjoy the beautiful sunsets and share some great stories and smiles with the locals. 

Top Dive Sites in Malapascua

Dive Type


  1. DEEP SPEC
  2. Wreck Spec
  3. Boat
  4. Night
  5. Muck
  6. reef
  7. Macro
  8. Deep
  9. Shallow
  10. Current
  11. Wall
  12. Pinnacle
  13. Schools of fish
  14. Snorkelling
  15. Sharks
  16. TURTLES
  17. Rays
  18. FROGFISH

Recommended Level


  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Show only our favorite dive sites:


  1. Yes
  2. No

MONAD SHOAL

Look up “top shark dives” and nearly always, Monad Shoal, Malapascua pops up. Why? It’s the only place in the world where seeing magnificent Pelagic Threshers is pretty much guaranteed. Monad Shoal is a dive done pre-sunrise, requiring a very early alarm. But that doesn’t seem to deter anyone and it can get pretty busy down there. It is a requirement of all Malapascuan dive shops that your certification be at least PADI Advanced to 30m (100 ft). This is to deter inexperienced or new divers still mastering buoyancyand self control.

What you will see:

The site itself is an underwater island, serving as a sea mound/cleaning station at approx 25m (82 ft). Thresher sharks are quite jittery, and so divers want to be still with minimal disturbance. Since every minute counts, having Nitrox certified is a big plus. Or it’s a great opportunity to finally add Nitrox to your skills! The dive is almost cinema-like: you get yourself a good spot, stay quiet and watch the show of circulating sharks as they swim by you. But don’t forget to look up-there just might be a ray overhead!

Depths:50-130ft / 15-40m

Level: Intermediate (+Nitrox+Deep)

*NB:the use of underwater flash/strobes is strictly prohibited

monad shoal 1


DEEP SPEC Boat Deep Current Wall Schools of fish Sharks Rays Intermediate Our Favorite

LAPUS LAPUS

Lapus Lapus is located on the north west corner, pivoting around a rock outcrop next to the island. Popular with beginner and intermediate divers, the site has plenty to offer at shallow depths.

What you will see:

Soft corals smother the slowly sloping bottom, with reef fish such as angelfish, clownfish, pufferfish and boxfish bustling past. At changing tides, the current can pick up as you whip around the corner. This light drift dive is usually done Lapus Lapus - North Wall (or vice versa)

Depths: 40-66ft / 12-20m

Level: Beginner


Boat Night reef Macro Shallow Current Snorkelling FROGFISH Beginner Our Favorite

NORTH WALL

A continuation of Lapus Lapus, North Wall is often done as a combined drift dive. The current here is usually light-medium, making it ideal for new divers or those more comfortable at shallower depths. The dive site is split into two; the Western deeper rocky bottom at 25m (72 ft) and the Eastern half coming up to a shallower reef at 12m (40 ft). This means divers with a mix of certifications can still dive together.

What you will see:

Following this underwater edge south will eventually lead to Lapus Lapus. In the rubble lives macro muck critters, such as nudis, crustaceans and seahorses. Continue shallower, and there are soft coral and small reef fish like butterflies and pufferfish. Sea snakes are common in this area.

Depths: 40-80ft / 12-25m

Level: Beginner


Boat Muck reef Macro Shallow Wall FROGFISH Beginner Our Favorite

DEEP ROCK

A coral covered curving wall creating the edge, and trenched out rocky bottom, this site supports a wide variety of life. Mild current is expected, and sometimes getting up & down from the site can be a workout. Due to its depth and conditions, Deep Rock is only suitable for intermediate and experienced divers.

What you will see:
Come down the line to 17m (55 ft), and spend the first half hunting out macro critters hiding in the pebbles such as flamboyant cuttlefish, ornate ghost pipefish, blue ring octopus and anemone crabs. Once your bottom time runs low, rise up onto the wall and plateau to see the corals and friendly reef fish to greet you. Keep your eyes open for its resident common octopus!

Depths: 40-100ft / 12-30m

Level: Intermediate

deep rock 2


Boat Night Muck reef Macro Deep Shallow Current Wall FROGFISH Intermediate Our Favorite

QUILLANO

Pronounced Gi-li-an-o, Quillano is a small pinnacle north of Malapascua. This site is the perfect candidate for a relaxing afternoon dive. Descend to the bottom of the pinnacle, and just slowly spiral back up. The base of the pinnacle is 16-18m (50-60 ft), therefore appropriate for divers of all levels. There is a mild current, which will pick up during changing tides. If this is the case, the guides remain on one side.

What you will see:

Surrounding the rock is mucky san; a chance to find seahorses, pipefish, flamboyant cuttlefish and lots of fire urchins with hitchhiking zebra crabs. On the pinnacle itself, giant frogfish, banded boxer shrimps, baby boxfish and small reef fish are seen. Inspect the whip coral protruding from the rock and you may find a whip coral crab or a goby with her eggs!

Depths: 40-100ft / 12-30m

Level: Intermediate


Boat Muck reef Macro Deep Pinnacle FROGFISH Intermediate

BUGTONG BATO

Butong Bato, meaning “single rock” is a large pinnacle absolutely teeming with life. Similar to Quillano, Bugtong Bato is referred to as its big brother. Due to its larger scale, this site is for intermediate and experienced divers. Like Quillano, there is a current and dive routes can be changed accordingly.

What you will see:

Residing at the base of 30m (100 ft), often there is a school of batfish and/or barracuda hanging out. Surrounding the upward sloping bottom is lots of black and whip coral, with puffers, butterflies and mantis shrimp residing in between.

Depths: 50-115ft / 15-35m

Level: Advanced (+Nitrox+Deep)


DEEP SPEC Boat Muck reef Macro Deep Current Pinnacle Schools of fish FROGFISH Advanced

GATO ISLAND

“You come for Monad, but leave remembering Gato Island”. A firm favourite of Malapascua, but a one hour drive, Gato is a 2-dive trip. If you have a sensitive stomach, take some sea-sickness tablets-it can be a bumpy ride.

What you will see:

Gato Island has an unique 30m (100 ft) tunnel, allowing you to cut through the island. Often there are white tips at the catherdral-esque exit. Depending on your diving and comfort levels, you may or may not want to go through. Boulders with soft coral create the scenery framing the passage, with macro life everywhere. There are plenty of nudibranch (sea slugs), cuttlefish, seahorses and crustaceans. Gato Island is a sea snake sanctuary, so seeing them is a given.

Depths: 25-85ft / 8-25m

Level: Intermediate


Boat reef Macro Shallow Current Schools of fish Sharks Rays FROGFISH Intermediate Our Favorite

DOÑA MARILYN

In 1988, this 98m inter-island ferry and 400 of her passengers met their end in a strong tropical storm. For twenty years, she gained new life as a great wreck for experienced divers. In 2018, illegal salvaging ships with large wrecking balls came to break her apart for scrap. Now, a shell remains, with large craters littering the site, a disturbing reminder of the demolition attempt.

What you will see:

The Dona Marilyn’s bottom sits at 35m, the shallowest part at around 20m. Due to her mid-channel position, currents are strong and recommended for experienced divers. Despite her sad history, Dona Marilyn has a spooky haunted house vibe with big fish. Monsters you can see: whitetip sharks, marble rays, giant scorpionfish, moray eels and schools of jacks.

Depths: 66-130ft / 20-40m

Level: Advanced (+Nitrox+Deep)

doña marilyn 2


DEEP SPEC Wreck Spec Boat Deep Current Schools of fish Sharks Rays Advanced

KIMUD SHOAL

A large seamount neighbouring its big brother, this site has its own sharks to boast about. A popular site in February and March, there is the possibility to see scalloped hammerheads swim by.

What you will see:

Descend the mooring line and allow yourself to drift off into the big blue. Since a large portion of the dive is conducted in the open ocean, inexperienced divers might find this disorientating. For those more adventurous types, this dive promises great fun!

Depths: 50-130ft / 15-40m

Level: Advanced (+Nitrox+Deep)


DEEP SPEC Boat Deep Pinnacle Schools of fish Sharks Rays FROGFISH Beginner

CHOCOLATE ISLAND

Take the bangka ferry from Maya, Cebu Island to Malapascua, and this bite-sized island will pass you by on the left. Chocolate island is a shallow, relaxing dive site, making it perfect for beginners and veteran divers alike.

What you will see:

An abundance of underwater life such as crustaceans, seahorses, nudibranchs, cardinalfish, frogfish etc. make it perfect for underwater photography. Chocolate Island is an absolute must for nudibranch nerds! Come back at night, and see giant cuttlefish, sea hares and Spanish dancers!

Depths: 18-66ft / 5-20m

Level: Beginner


Boat Night Muck reef Macro Shallow Snorkelling Beginner Our Favorite

KALANGGAMAN ISLAND

Type Malapascua into Google images, and it’s Kalagggaman signature white sandbar you’ll see. Though slightly distrurbed by tourists desperate to get an insta-worthy snap, the snorkelling and diving makes for a good addition to your trip.

What you will see:

Similar seascape to Capitancillo, a suitably shallow snorkelling reef surrounds the sandbar, with a deeper wall lining its edge. Along it, is a beautiful array of corals supporting lots of reef fish, including massive shoals of moorish idols. As with much of the Philippines, turtles are a popular sighting around this islet and maybe you can see one catching a nap. Suitable for all levels.

Depths: 18-130ft / 5-40m

Level: Beginner (+Nitrox+Deep)


DEEP SPEC Boat reef Macro Deep Shallow Wall Schools of fish Snorkelling TURTLES Beginner Our Favorite

CAPITANCILLO ISLAND

Less famous than nearby Kalanggaman, Capitancillo makes for the perfect break from Malapascua and spectacular diving. Capitancillo is a picturesquely petite island, and boats will usually park here for lunch. Take the five minute walk around and enjoy its cute lighthouse. Due to its surrounding shallow reef, snorkelers and divers alike can enjoy this sanctuary.

What you will see:

Being a coral island, the dives are predominantly wall dives, ranging from 15-40m (50-100ft) in depth. Along it, beautiful fan, whip and black coral protrude, with macro life hiding within. Usually sitting in the same spot, pink and yellow pygmy seahorses can be found by eagle-eyed dive guides. But remember to look up and see the schools of sardines, jacks, unicornfish and memorising fluorescent anthias. But the best bit is at the end, as you pop up over the wall. Through crystal clear waters and sun rays, a reef teeming with life lies before you, making for breathtaking views.

Depths: 18-130ft / 5-40m

Level: Beginner (+Nitrox+Deep)


DEEP SPEC Boat reef Macro Deep Shallow Wall Schools of fish Snorkelling Beginner Our Favorite

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