A thresher shark swimming in the blue ocean

Malapascua Diving: Best Dive Spots And Where To Spot Thresher Sharks

Malapascua diving: Best dive spots and where to spot thresher sharks in the ocean around Malapascua island. The best diving in Cebu in the Philippines.

In Malapascua, diving is a must activity and one of the most amazing experiences. If you decide to travel to Cebu in the Philippines, you need to visit this cute tropical island with beautiful white sand beaches and great marine life. Exactly! In Malapascua waters, you can spot amazing thresher sharks and explore breathtaking diving spots.

Around Malapascua, the water is warm, clean and has good visibility. It’s easy to see, that Malapascua diving is truly worthwhile.

2 scuba divers underwater posing for the camera during a dive on Malapascua, Philippines
Scuba diving

In this article, we want to show you all the best diving spots you can find around Malapascua Island.

Not into scuba diving? No worries white sand beaches, green palms and crystal clear water make underrated Malapascua a must-visit for everyone planning to visit the Philippines.

pink colors during sunset in Malapascua with boats in the harbor
Sunset on Malapascua


Malapascua is a little island located at the northeastern tip of Cebu Island. Due to its size, you will able to explore everything on foot. The nice thing about Malapascua is that it has a good mix of touristic amenities and for now is not overrun by tourists. There are no cars around, which makes the island an incredibly laid-back place. And yes, if you are into scuba diving Malapascua is the place to visit in the Philippines. Why? We will enlighten you a bit further down.

The most famous beach is Bounty Beach. Several hotels and restaurants are next to the beach and give the island a very relaxed vibe.

a boy riding a bicycle on a white sand beach on Malapascua Island
Have you ever tried riding a bike on the beach?
white sand and blue water in the background
The colors of Malapascua

Malapascua is also close to beautiful Kalanggaman Island and we highly recommend you to visit.

aerial view on Kalanggaman Island's sandbar a must-visit on every 2 weeks Philippines itinerary
Kalanggaman’s sandbar

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS BEAUTIFUL PLACE HERE: Ultimate guide to Kalanggaman Island, a little piece of paradise.

In 2013 Malapascua was hit by typhoon Yolanda. Fortunately, it has recovered remarkably and we didn’t even notice that it ever happened.


Because of its unique marine life, scuba divers flock to Malapascua. So when you get to visit Malapascua, diving should be on your to-do list. Why? It is the only place in the world where you can see magnificent thresher sharks.

A thresher shark swimming in the blue ocean nearby Malapascua
Baby Shark, do do do do do do do do, Baby Shark

But that’s not all, besides beautiful coral walls and gardens, you will find reef sharks, barracudas, tuna, octopus, flamboyant cuttlefish, etc.

view on many fish and corals during a Malapascua diving trip
Quite the frenzy

The most famous diving sites are Monad Shoal, Gato Island, and Kemod Shoal.



This is the dive site that is the draw of Malapascua diving. According to PADI, one of the world’s 10 best dive sites to dive with sharks and it certainly does not disappoint. Your chances of seeing thresher sharks are high (75%) year-round.

Monad Shoal is the place where thresher sharks have a natural cleaning station. Sharks hang out here almost every day around sunrise. The dive itself might be quite “boring” (but subsequently also longer) as you will be at a stationary line and simply wait for the sharks to come by. At times you have a “swimming dive” too. In any case once you see those majestic creatures pass by you will be delighted. Don’t get to close though, their long tails can kill.

Even if you are not lucky enough to see any thresher sharks, you might see large schools of Barracudas or Manta Rays. Other than this, there will be not much else to admire.

manta rays pictured during Malapascua diving from beneath while they're swimming in the ocean
Manta Rays


Gato Island is a marine reserve. Accordingly, dives are diverse and you will see many types of fish (e.g., reef sharks and big schools of fish). You will also encounter beautiful corals and rock formations that are perfect to swim through.

a fish hiding between rocks and corals during a Malapascua diving tour
A shy fellah
A ball of fish in front of a wreck.
Fish school


The little brother of Monad Shoal is also a submerged seamount just way smaller. That makes the dive feasible for beginners as you will be diving somewhere between 10 and 15 meters of depth. However, you still might encounter thresher sharks, devil rays and even hammerhead sharks.


You will have to get up early. It’s a longer boat ride and you should be at Monad Shoal before sunrise, so be ready to wake up before 4.30 AM. We jumped into the water around 6 AM.

You will increase your chances if you go deeper. Therefore, it is beneficial to have a deep dive certificate (or the adventure dive certificate). 30 meters are just deep enough to encounter thresher sharks.

You might not see any sharks. It’s nature right so there is never a guarantee. But chances are very high: around 75%. We have to be honest, we were not that lucky. We only caught the glimpse of the tail of a thresher shark. If you are not lucky. Try it again, if you have time.


Thresher sharks mostly live in the tropical oceans in North America and Asia. Even though they are sharks and you might be asking yourself why would I want to see a shark and possibly be eaten by a shark (haha). Don’t worry. Not all types of shark are super dangerous. Besides, thresher sharks are really cute. In general, sharks are not into diver meat.

Thresher sharks are famous for a distinctive large tail that resembles the arc of a rainbow. The tail of the thresher shark may weigh up to 33% of the shark’s total body weight. It helps to herd bony fish and to whack at them (don’t be the one to get whacked). This is how they hunt and why they have such a large tail.

Unfortunately, thresher sharks are an endangered species and are listed as vulnerable to extinction.

Are you into big fish? If you read this article we assume that you are! Thus, make sure to read our article on snorkeling/scuba diving with whale sharks in Oslob. We are sure it’ll help you make a decision if you should go check it out or not.


Malapascua lies north to the island Cebu. Therefore, the best way to visit Malapascua is via Cebu City.

Cebu City is easily reached by plane from other airports in the Philippines. Once you are in the city go to the bus terminal north. Look for a bus company called Ceres they will take you to Maya New Port station. From where you will continue by boat for about 30min. A typical Filipino boat called Bangka will leave Maya for Malapascua once it’s full. We paid P100 (per person) and an additional P20 to be transferred (by smaller boat) to the shore at low tide. Boats leave every hour until 3 PM. Those times might change so make sure to start not too late in Cebu City.

Like all journey’s in the Philippines the distances on the map are misleading. You should prepare to travel somewhere between 6 to 8 hours.

If you plan to explore more places in the Philippines have a look at our article on Bohol.


Have a look at some of the examples of great and affordable places we like.


2 bungalows underneath some trees
Neverland, Malapascua

This place is SO awesome and we will definitely stay there once we are back in Malapascua. It has cozy and comfy private native Filipino huts surrounded by beautiful nature, breakfast for $4 and FREE YOGA in the morning close to the beach. Bargain!



view on a pool and a hotel building
Slam’s Garden Resort, Malapascua

If you like something a bit more fancy next to the beach with a swimming pool, then Slam’s Garden Resort is great value with just $27 a night for 2 people. Rooms have spacious bedrooms with a fridge and a nice location close to restaurants and the beach. There is a new diving school called Ocean Passion, so if you are thinking about learning to dive, they are using the swimming pool at the resort for training. How convenient.



a hammock hanging between two trees in front of several buildings
Malapascua Starlight Resort

Starlight is a really nice resort and only a 5-minute walk away from Bounty Beach. A double room costs around $35 which is great value. Next to the hotel is a local market where you can get local food for much cheaper and you get to explore more of the locals’ way of life.


Enjoy your time in Malapascua and we hope you will see thresher sharks or at least a tail like we did 🙂

Did you enjoy the article? Let us know in the comments section!


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About the author
Since I was little I always wanted to see the world. Travel to new places, get to know new cultures, see how other people live. I love beaches and I love discovering tropical destinations. That is why, together with my partner Nico, we created this blog to share with you the most beautiful beaches and stunning holiday destinations which we visited during our travels.

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