Malapascua: Thresher shark diving

This diving trip to Malapascua, Cebu could not have started any worse.

For one thing, we missed our early morning flight. My brilliant self was looking at the arrival time in Cebu, instead of the departure time from Manila.

Charming Cebu Pacific’s ticket agent to accommodate us on the next flight (10AM), did not work.

“Ma’am, being a holiday, all flights to Cebu are full. I could put you on the 4PM flight – plus you have to pay penalties and the fare difference,” she said. Which would range to about P6,000-P8,000.

It was our fault, yes, but surely Cebu Pacific had a more humane missed flight policy?

I did some math – we would be arriving in Cebu at past 5PM. The trip to Maya Port would take almost four hours. We would then have to spend the night at one of the inns there and take the boat to Malapascua first thing the next day – but the thresher shark dive was at 5AM.

No can do.

We frantically checked EVERY airline available for the next best flight. We settled for PAL’s 12PM-ish schedule – and had to shell out a freaking P9,500 each.

And then, amidst all this panic, I misplaced my regulator – which I later found and retrieved at the airport’s X-ray machine by the entrance.

I was on the verge of crying, literally. Was this dive worth all the extra expenses, stress and added lines to my forehead?

Let’s see.

Up and early to Monad Shoal

So we missed all the dives of the first day – which was okay. Casty, who organized this trip, just told us to be up and early for the next day’s big event – diving at Monad Shoal, a cleaning station where manta rays and thresher sharks were regularly sighted.  Casty has been going to Malapascua since 2002, and has never missed a sighting in all of his trips.

Pressure for the boys of Divelink – the dive center we were with.

What I appreciated about our dive masters was that they’re just as passionate about giving their guests a great dive as caring for the ocean. I had a chat with a couple of them and they were involved, in one way or another, with non-government organizations that worked with coastal communities and spearheaded marine surveys and conservation work.

Okay, so back to the dive.

We were at Monad at 5:30 AM. We were to descend to 12 meters to a sandy bottom then swim out to the ledge and then descend again to about 28 meters…and we were to wait.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long. I would have been happy to see just two, but there were four of them cruising the area for more than 20 minutes. Had I not been close to my decompression limit, I would have stayed until they went away.

And here I was, mesmerized.

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It was a surreal experience, to say the least. What made these creatures so precious? Well for me at least, apart from being endangered, I think they’re such sleek predators.

Tip: Seeing them with your own eyes is way better than seeing the sharks from a viewfinder. So maybe for your first trip, skip the camera? But more than that, there will be more pictures of you as a subject, haha.

On the island which is shaped like a cat

Dive two and three was at Gato Island, named as such because it was a) shaped like a cat, or b) Spaniards used to drown stray cats there. We had to swim through a cave at around 15 meters and emerge on the other side, and search for sharks hiding in the crevices – and there were some white tips lurking underneath.

Fish were not as abundant as I thought it would be but the coral cover was pretty. Yes I’m a girl and I like all things purple, including corals.

A must during this dive? The standard issue Gato Island cave silhouette photo op🙂

Diving for voyeurs

The last dive of the day was a dusk dive at a nearby reef, for a chance to see Mandarin fish mate.  Why we disturb them while they’re getting it on, I have no idea.

Maite took this gorgeous threesome photo.

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Confession: I’m not a fan of night diving in general. Probably because I can’t see anything? (Gabi nga kasi eh). Seeing these critters wasn’t able to change my mind. Maybe I’ll give it another chance 🙂

So will I be back? For a chance to see those pelagics again and to try Angelina’s Italian restaurant (which I failed to do, I heard the pizza’s really good), of course I will be – and I will be more punctual next time.

Divelink Cebu

Malapascua Island

www.divelinkcebu.com

Phone: +63(32)514-6711

Mobile Phone: +639272470723

 Where to stay:

Blue Coral Beach Resort

Malapascua Island

Phone: +63(32)318-8009

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