Philippines // The Visayas //

Malapascua Island

Eight kilometres off the northern tip of Cebu, the tiny island of Malapascua is often touted as the next Boracay, largely because of Bounty Beach, a blindingly white stretch of sand on the island’s south coast. The island also has great diving, and is renowned for the chance to see thresher sharks. The nearest airport is Cebu, meaning that so far Malapascua has escaped over-development, but it’s changing fast, and many new resorts and dive shops have established themselves. The locals love to party and no matter when you visit, chances are there’ll be some kind of fiesta or pageant.

Diving is Malapascua’s main drawcard with a number of extreme dive sites that will get the adrenaline pumping more than your average gentle drift along a shallow reef, and there are several top quality outfits on the island. Divelink are both well-established, and recently opened Evolution is professional and also offers technical diving. Dives typically cost P1200-1500 including equipment. Sightings of thresher sharks at Monad Shoal have been less common in recent years, but they are still around, and given a few early mornings you should get lucky. There are also plenty of wrecks in the vicinity, including the passenger ferry Dona Marilyn, which went down in a 1984 typhoon and is now home to scorpion fish, flamefish and stingrays. Overnight trips can be arranged to the tiny volcanic island of Maripipi, where reef sharks and dolphins are common.