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Philippines :: Cebu : Malapascua Island

This island and surrounding area is right on and off the northern tip of Cebu and off the west coast of Leyte. As it is a 3 hour drive from the capital and the main diving centre of Mactan, it is visited far less. This also means that the diving infrastructure is not so well developed, but is improving.

Capitancillo Island has a wall on its south side with gorgonians and other coral formations. Manta rays, yellowfin and groupers are regular visitors and you will also see a good selection of smaller reef fish. Currents can be fierce and it is best to dive at neap tides unless you are experienced.

North of Capitancillo are the islands of Calangaman and Quatro, both of which are very little visited and offer some stunning diving, particularly the caves around Quatro. Coral formations are impressive here and depths can be both shallow - diving in 2 meters of water can be good - to unreachable at 150 meters. Nearby Kimod Reef hosts a good variety of large pelagics, including sharks, manta and eagle rays.

Gato Island, further north, is a good site to see sharks, especially between November and May. Coral formations are in pristine condition as are sponges and gorgonians. There is a cave that runs underneath the island and this is certainly worth a visit, although as it's inhabited by sharks and sea snakes, be prepared. Currents can be strong and night diving good.

Finally, Malapascua Island itself is now growing in popularity. Particular to the site are Mandarin fish that live in the surrounding reefs. There are five wrecks in the vicinity that offer decent diving, but operators generally are only prepared to go to them if there are enough divers. Closeby is Monad Shoal where you can normally spot thresher sharks.


Depth: avarage 30m

Viz: up to 40m

Currents: can be fierce

Getting there : 3 hrs north of Cebu City by road. Transfers to sites up to 1 hr by boat

Best months: Nov-May.