Malapascua

Finding threshers
Malapascua, Philippines


Yet another early morning, I was at the Cebu Northern bus terminal for 7am in the rain. After being shepherded onto one of the many lined up buses and hoping it was going the right way, I was freezing!!! Jumper and leggings time! All the locals in their t-shirts and shorts seemingly not noticing the arctic temperatures.

The 3.5/4 hour drive turned into just over 5 hours. I’m not too sure why. We passed through several bus terminals along the way, with women hawking their goods, from baskets carried on their heads, straight through the open bus windows. The most popular local food choice seemed to be the white boiled eggs. I later found out these eggs often have undeveloped bird embryos inside, complete with feathers. Lucky I wasn’t hungry.

Maya is a small village on the Northern tip of Cebu island. And is the jumping point to head over to Malapascua island. After a short wait, we had enough people to fill a fairly large outrigger boat and we were off on a 30minute sail across the short stretch of water across to the island.

Malapascua island is famous for its thresher sharks that can be found at a nearby site. And the main reason I was here. After being dropped off at Logon beach around 1pm, I started what turned out to be a rather long walk, as I got lost! By the time I eventually found the small bamboo hut resort I was looking for, I was exhausted.

The main beach, Bounty beach is covered in palm trees and has a long strip of resorts, dive centres and restaurants. Just behind this beach is the village where all the locals live – and several other smaller resorts, where I will be for the next few days.

1.1337498649.bounty-beach

The rest of the day I spent lazing in the pool and organising some diving for tomorrow

Monday 14 May 2012

No chance of a lie in while on holiday! Up at 4.20am this morning. I was actually awake a lot earlier than that – one downside of living within the village is the numerous chickens that also live there. Each one trying to out-do the other with loud noise.

I was up early to leave on a 5am boat heading out to Monad Shoal to dive with the thresher sharks that visit the cleaning station in the early morning! This is the only dive site in the world where you can dive with these sharks on a regular basis – they are pretty much here every day. After a beautiful sunrise on the boat, we were all kitted up and ready to jump in!

The visibility was great (we don’t get anything like that in Mabul) and even on the descent there were 3 huge thresher sharks right infront of us. Their bodies are around 1.5-2m long, with a tail of equal length and a very shiny grey/purple/blue colour. They swim so majestically, circling around while the cleaner fish worked their magic. One of them came very close to us, just having a look.

In total we saw 5 of the sharks (plus a few other things including a small common octopus).

We were really lucky that it was quiet this morning, we hardly saw any other groups of divers at all. The dive site is pretty much a flat bottom at around 20-28m with a curved amphitheatre shaped wall which drops off much deeper. Being so deep means that even on Nitrox you reach decompression a little too quickly, so after about 50 minutes we sadly had to say goodbye to the sharks.

By the time we were pulling back onto the beach, it was only 7am! After a short rest, I was back out on the boat at 9am. I went for a day trip to a nearby island – Calangaman. It took around 85minutes, perfect time to have a short sleep on the way there! This was a beautiful island, one side of it being a long sand bar, with crystal blue water all around.

1.1337498649.sand-bar-at-calangaman

Our first dive was a wall, again the visibility was amazing – so crystal blue. Unfortunately nothing passed by in the blue, but the wall was covered in colourful soft corals. Almost as soon as we dropped in, a Denise Pygmy seahorse! These are around 1cm long and were only discovered in 2003. Very cute. Found a lot of different things from what I normally see everyday, including a twin spot lionfish – also very rare.

After a long lunch on the white sand and a walk around the beautiful island (including a huge Philippino family that insisted on having a photo with the white tourists!) time for the second dive!

Again this dive was great, the wall was covered in a forest of black corals. Never seen so much before.

The long ride back to Malapascua gave some time to have a sleep before hitting the happy hour at the bar! A couple of people who I have been living with in Borneo are also here at the same time as me (small world!).

Tuesday 15 May 2012

I had such a great time with the sharks yesterday, I decided to go again. So another 4.20am morning!

Again, it was awesome. There were a lot more people this morning, lots and lots of groups from various dive centres. So the sharks didn’t come as close and we didn’t really have much time to ourselves before everyone was surrounding us and the sharks. Even so, we saw 7 and it was great.

I relaxed the rest of the morning before heading out at 1.30pm to the House Reef. This was a sandy bottom muck dive, which I love. Found several frogfish, Seahorses (common and spiny), zebra crab (very rare).

1.1337498649.pygmy-seahorse

Then hit the bar…..

Wednesday 16 May 2012

One more time can’t hurt?! 4.20am is becoming a bit of a habit. But it was the best dive yet – we were a small group of just 3, no one else around, instantly surrounded by 4 sharks. We had around 30minutes with them before anyone else joined us. After that we found a few others, with 8 in total. Awesome.

Landing back on the beach by 7am gave plenty of time for a banana pancake breakfast (!) before heading off at 9.30am for a day trip to Gato Island.

1.1337498649.thresher-shark
Gato Island is a small rock island, part of a marine conservation area and used as a sea snake breeding ground. Although I didn’t actually see any sea snakes all day.

Of course I was here to dive. The underwater rocks were covered in beautiful soft corals and formed unusual swim-throughs. We found white tip reef sharks and bamboo sharks hiding in the gaps.

We spent lunch on the boat – being a circular rock it would have been impossible to try and land – and watched the hundreds of mackerel forming huge bait balls on the surface, being picked off by the nearby birds.

The second dive, we headed off through the tunnel running through the centre of the island, which was great.

We arrived back on Malapascua around 3pm, what else to do other than sit in the beach bar….

Thursday 17 May 2012

I had the intention of having a lie in today, sadly the chickens had other ideas. So by 6am I was wide awake.

No more diving today, I planned on walking around the island. But by 9.30am, it was just too hot, so I only managed about an hour before collapsing into the pool.

A whole day passed me by, I’m not sure what I ended up doing but found myself back in the bar for happy hour. Then treated myself to a nice meal at Angelina restaurant on the other end of the beach, it has come highly recommended by everyone. I had a pizza – the best food I have had in months! And worth every penny of the £7 it cost! (500p. Most resort food is around 200-300p and village food around 40-80p).

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