Scuba diving guide Malapascua: Best diving centers, liveaboards, dive sites and recommendations

A thresher shark in the waters of Malapascua Island, the Philippines

Located on the northern side of Cebu, Philippines, Malapascua is the only scuba diving destination in the world that offers easy access to thresher sharks all year-round. The island is a tiny tropical oasis that is well known for its long white sand beaches ringing a tropical interior of lush palms and a small number of hamlets. It was discovered as a dive destination in the early 1990s and has drawn thousands of divers worldwide to see the rare and timid thresher sharks and experience the wonder of this remarkable place.

Marine habitats include sandy bottoms, mangroves, seagrass meadows, and coral reefs. There are also some shipwrecks here, all within easy reach of the island’s coastline. Malapascua Island diving will also take you to spectacular dive spots that are home to large reefs, old shipwrecks, and vast underwater caves. The most popular Malapascua dive spot is Monad Shoal where you can find the thresher sharks.

Recommendations for diving in Malapascua

The best time to visit Malapascua Island is from March to May. When planning your dives, make sure not to miss Monad Shoal where you can dive with the thresher sharks.

Liveaboard to Malapascua

To experience the best Malapascua Island diving, we recommend hopping one of the three liveaboards on the island with the Philippine Siren in particular. This luxurious liveaboard can accommodate up to 16 divers which is perfect for a relaxing dive/snorkeling trip.

Diving center to Malapascua

There are several dive centers you can find to assist you on your Malapascua diving trip but we highly recommend opting for Evolution Diving Resort. It’s the most popular dive resort among international and local divers with great reviews online. Below you can find an comparison of our selection of the best diving centers.

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Price for a dive
Price for a day trip
Price for a multiple day trip
Maximum number of guests
Scuba diving gear included
Nitrox available
Diving organization
Scuba diving beginners course
Price for the scuba diving beginners course
Advanced scuba diving courses available
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The latest reviews

Thresher Shark Divers

USD 44
N.A.
N.A.
PADI
USD 419
Meals can be arranged on day trips
Rental of scuba gear, restaurant/bar, IDC

Dive Society Malapascua

USD 42
USD 230 (6 dives)
Starting from USD 450
SSI
USD 440
N.A.
Rental of scuba gear

Devocean Divers Malapascua

N.A.
N.A.
N.A.
PADI
N.A.
N.A.
Accommodation

Evolution Diving Resort

N.A.
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PADI
N.A.
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Accommodation, tech diving

Best diving centers Malapascua

Below, we have outlined our recommendations for the best diving centers at Malapascua island.

Diving center 1: Thresher Shark Divers

Thresher Shark Divers is a PADI 5 Star Instructor Development Course (IDC) center in Malapascua Island, Cebu. They are one of the most thriving and top-rated Monad Shoal diving operators, offering basic diving for as low as USD 36 per dive. A day trip with 5 dives on Malapascua Island costs USD 150 per person. They also offer diving courses such as PADI Open Water Course that include Instructor fees, free equipment rental for USD 419. There’s also an Advanced Open Water course that includes 2 dives with the thresher sharks for only USD 344.

Thresher Shark Divers also provides Tech diving and Tech diving courses. Following Tresher Shark Divers, they can provide mixes such as nitrox and trimix. Besides the PADI tech courses, they also provide Tech scuba diving courses from IANTD and TDI.

Diving center 2: Dive Society Malapascua

Located in Logon Beach Malapascua Island, Cebu, Dive Society is the choice for perfect and relaxing diving holidays. They offer plenty of dive packages to suit all your diving needs.

A single dive costs USD 42 per person, while a 6-dive package costs USD 230. This Malapascua Island dive center also offers a 6-day no limit package for USD 615. This package also include scuba gear and a 15 liter tank. Great if you would like to make up to 4-5 divers a day!

Dive Society also conducts certification courses including the SSI Open Water Diver (USD 440) and SSI Advanced Open Water (USD 295). Underwater photography services and night dives are also available at this dive center.

Diving center 3: Devocean Divers Malapascua

Devocean Divers Malapascua is a 5 star PADI IDC center and is established in 2011. They provide fun diving trips to various diving spots around Malapascua, including the famous Monad Shoal, with a maximum of up to 4 dives a day. For the Monad Shoal diving spot, Devocean Divers will dive at around 5 AM as this time is the most convinient to experience the Thresher sharks.

If you are up for fun diving, they offer different packages starting at USD 240, including accommodation and six dives. For certification, you can get a PADI Open Water, Advanced Open Water and other courses such as the Rescue Diver or Divemaster.

Diving center 4: Evolution Diving Resort

Evolution Beach and Dive Resort is a 5 Star PADI Resort and TDI Five Star Instructor Training Facility on Malapascua, Cebu's tropical island. This dive center offers daily diving trips to see Thresher Sharks daily as well as to other dive sites to see, among other things, Manta rays and Seahorses.

Fun dives (1 to 4 dives) costs around USD 32 each. You will get more discount if you will book more dives (5 to 9 dives: USD 30 each, 10+ dives: USD 28 each). You can also get your (next) PADI certificate with Evolution Diving.

Best liveaboards to Malapascua

Liveaboards to Malapascua includes diving on the famous diving spot Monad Shoal to see the thresher sharks. Below, we have outlined the best Malapascua liveaboards.

Liveaboard 1: Seadoors

This well-known Liveaboard was built for divers to explore the Philippines' beautiful underwater world in comfort. It has eight air-conditioned cabins and caters to a maximum of 16 guests. Each cabin has a queen-size bed, bathroom with hot water and towels. You can also upgrade your cabin to a more spacious luxury cabin once you are on board.

Price: The price of the Seadoors liveaboards starts at PHP 14,420 (USD 299) per day.

Liveaboard 2: Infiniti

A beautiful liveaboard built for diving the fantastic dive sites of the Philippines year-round. Infiniti is equipped with state of the art diving amenities, and they offer 11 newly renovated rooms with a bathroom with shower and a large picture window or a porthole.

Price: The price of the Infiniti liveaboards starts at PHP 12,154 (USD 252) per day.

Liveaboard 3: Philippine Siren

Divers designed this luxurious liveaboard for divers to provide superior ease and comfort. It has a large shaded diving deck that provides individual stations and storage lockers. Guests are also provided with equipment such as an aluminum tank, BCD, regulator, 3mm wetsuit, weights, mask, and fins.

Price: The price of the Philippine Siren liveaboards starts at PHP 12,925 (USD 268) per day.

Best dive sites in Malapascua

Dive site 1: Monad Shoal

Also known as Shark Point, the Monad Shoal in Malapascua, Cebu is an underwater island on the edge of a 200 meter-drop off. Monad shoal is a cleaning station with blue-streaked cleaner wrasse and moon wrasse. It has become one of the world's famous diving sites since the early 1990s. The thresher sharks are one of the habitants of this dive site. These sharks can be regonzied by its small and long tail. The current can be strong, yet there are only minimal dive qualifications needed to enjoy Monad Shoal in Malapascua.

A disadvantage of this dive site is that it can be quite busy. During peak season, you will see almost 20 boats that carry more than 15 passengers each.

Dive site 2: Manta Point

Manta point is a popular diving spot in Malapascua where you can see Thresher Sharks and Manta Rays! It offers a great dive no matter what depth you dive at. At a depth of 40-45m, you will see a sea of fans and home to a giant school of vertical swimming shrimp fish. Please stay within your diving qualifications and limits when diving at this dive spot.

Manta point is also a good spot to look around and see shrimp, crabs, and rare deep water gobies. As you end your dive on this spot, you can see large Pelagics.

Dive site 3: Lighthouse

Lighthouse is a unique experience that you shouldn't miss if you are visiting Malapascua! With a depth of 10m, this diving spot is home to Mandarin fish. The Mandarin fish can be recognized by its wonderful diversity of colors. If you stay quiet at one place, the Mandarin fish will come out of its shelter.

Dusk is one of the best times to observe marine life on this spot because of the increased feeding and mating activity. You will usually see the unique mating dance of Mandarin fish, particularly around the full moon. Other sea creatures include blue-ringed octopus, reef squid, bobtail squid, cuttlefish, crabs.

Dive site 4: Chocolate Island

Chocolate Island is an incredible shallow diving spot with a depth of 16 meters. It is a small island located between Malapascua and the northern tip of Cebu. Its healthy soft coral is home to various sea creatures such as sea snakes, snake eels, moray eels, sea moths, large crabs, cuttlefish, and juvenile batfish. The macro life includes nudibranchs, shrimp, shells, and cowries to name a few. Flatworms are a common sight on this spot, and if you are fortunate, you can see them performing their their astonishing mating ritual!

Dive site 5: Dona Marilyn Wreck

A 98 meter shipwreck that sank while sailing near Malapascua Island during a Typhoon in October 1988. It lies 33m deep on her starboard side with the wreck's shallowest point at around 17m deep. Dona Marilyn Wreck is inhabited by thousands of tiny Glassfishes and colorful sweetlips, Scorpionfishes, Batfishes, and Nudibranchs. Eagle Rays can also be seen gliding by on this diving spot.

Dive site 6: Gato Island

The corals on Gato island are in perfect condition. Many overhangs, swim-throughs, and different rock formation types can be seen on this dive spot. Gato Island also provides an excellent environment for a broad diversity of different kinds of marine life. This diving spot is also an excellent spot for underwater photography as it gives opportunities for both panoramic and macro shots.

Dive site 7: Deep Slope

This dive spot is a fascinating reef separated by a unique underwater dune. Gobie eel type fish frolicking in the sand can be seen on this spot. The mini wall is covered in colorful corals, sea fans, and sponges. It hides a wide array of marine life, including morays, scorpionfish, frogfish, and plenty of brightly colored reef fish.

Best time to visit Malapascua

It is possible to dive all year round in Monad Shoal Malapascua, Cebu. The best time to dive in Malapascua is from March to May. The average air temperature is from 24C to 32C. The water temperature varies between 24C and 30C. The visibility is reduced from November up to the end of January because of high plankton density. For the rest of the year, the visibility in Malapascua remains from 15m to 30m.

Both Thresher Sharks and Manta Rays can be spotted in Malapascua year-round, but Manta rays' best seasons are Spring and Winter. From December to April, you have the chance to see schools of Hammerhead Sharks.

How to get to Malapascua

Malapascua Island is not a hard site to visit. Take a flight to Mactan–Cebu International Airport, the nearest airport to the island. From the international airport, going to the island takes around 5 hours, and it can be easily arranged through your chosen dive center or hotel accommodation. If there is no private transfer available, here are the two options to reach Malapascua Island from Mactan–Cebu International airport.

Option 1: By bus

Ride a cab from the airport towards Northern Bus Terminal in Cebu City, then take a Yellow Ceres bus (PHP 170 for ordinary bus or PHP 230 for airconditioned bus) bound for Maya Ceres Bus Terminus in Maya, Cebu. The travel time is around 4 hours. Upon arriving at Maya Ceres Bus Terminus, take a 2-minute walk towards Maya-Malapascua Ferry Terminal, where you can ride a local boat (PHP 100) for 45 minutes to Malapascua Island. The earliest boat you can take is at 6:30 AM. There’s a boat that leaves every 30 minutes until 4:30 PM.

Option 2: By taxi

If the 4-hour bus ride seems too long, you can cut this travel time to 2.5 hours by riding a taxi from Mactan-Cebu International Airport directly to Maya-Malapascua Ferry Terminal. However, it will cost around PHP2,500. If you decide to go for this option, it’s best to find other tourists to share the ride and fare with you.

Accommodations on Malapascua

If you're looking for the best hotel and resorts to enjoy your stay in Malapascua, Cebu, then here are the accommodations you can choose:

Bluewater Malapascua Beach & Dive Resort ($$)

Bluewater Malapascua Beach & Dive Resort is a friendly beachfront dive resort, perfect for travelers seeking relaxation and peace of mind. They have rooms that are ideal for everyone who wants a place to sleep at night. Electricity is available for 24 hours. Wireless internet will be available at the Reception Area and some parts of the resort to keep you connected.

Bluewater Malapascua Beach also has its restaurant facing the gorgeous bounty beach, as well as an outdoor pool.

Price: Overnight stay costs around USD 60.

Malapascua Legend Water Sports and Resort ($)

Situated on Malapascua Island, Malapascua Legend is the ideal place to experience Malapascua, Cebu, and its surroundings. It's a haven for complete relaxation! You can enjoy access to any of this lively city has to offer. Most of the rooms include slippers, television LCD/plasma screen, separate living room, and internet access.

Price: An overnight stay starts at USD 30 (without airconditioning).

Hippocampus Beach Resort ($)

Settled on the main beach of Malapascua Island, Cebu, Hippocampus Beach Resort offers 18 rooms with three different categories: basic fan standard rooms, deluxe beachfront air-conditioned rooms, and superior air conditioning rooms. Hippocampus Beach Resort also has a beachfront bar and restaurant with a beer garden, bean bags for sunset happy hour, and tables on the beach. They also have an in-house scuba diving school and an in-house Kitesurfing school.

Price: An overnight stay starts at USD 30.

Mangrove Oriental Resort ($$)

Mangrove Oriental Resort is a budget-friendly resort in Malapascua that offers air-conditioned rooms. It's easy to stay connected during your stay at Mangrove Oriental Resort as free wifi is provided. The resort features room service, a concierge, and an in-house coffee shop. You can also enjoy a good breakfast, which has made Mangrove Oriental Resort a favorite choice among travelers visiting Malapascua, Cebu.

Price: An overnight stay starts at USD 50.

Malapascua Budget Inn ($)

Malapascua Budget Inn is perfectly located near the public market and bounty beach, and it's just near Malapascua Island Port. The room accommodations that they have been designed for both backpackers and travelers looking for convenience at a very affordable price. Malapascua Budget Inn also offers tour packages and scuba diving packages through their affiliated diving schools and shops, which provide a great value of experience with flexible rates that will match your budget.

Price: You can book a room at Malapascua Budget Inn for as low as USD 23 per night.

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