Malapascua is a dreamy island in the middle of the Philippines, just offshore from the main island of Cebu. Cebu is best known as one of the top places in the world to dive with thresher sharks but Malapascua brings something different to the table.

Despite the draws of something new, I couldn’t resist visiting some old friends and so, once again, I found myself up at 4am and on my way to Kimud Shoal, an hour trip by boat, watching the sun rise over the reef. As always I took enough pictures to fill an album after 6 days and 12 dives with them turning up and putting on a show every day.

Despite the draw of the threshers, this was my fifth trip to the Philippines and I was looking for something a little different. There are many dive spots and smaller reefs that are overlooked due to the attraction of large things and I was keen to find them. Surrounding Malapascua island, there are around twenty reefs with a lot of macro life, frogfish, shrimp, cuttlefish, seahorses etc, all worth a look at. A few of the small outer islands do trips occasionally to a place called Gato Island. This island is famous for its nudibranchs. I was lucky enough to find many that I had never seen before as well as exploring a great cave dive site that was packed with candy crabs, pygmy seahorses, ghost pipefish and sleepy white tip reef sharks.

 

Another highlight was Chocolate Island, not just because of the name. This island showed me corals that I have never even seen before and the amount of life here can trick you into thinking that you are the first person to ever visit this reef. Much of the marine life did not even seem afraid of us clumsy divers, stopping to investigate as if they have never seen humans before. In just one dive here I managed to take over three hundred pictures that will take weeks to go through just on their own! Chocolate island really did live up to its name, providing the sweetest reef and marine life that I would love to have brought a bit of home.

So, if you like both big and little in the same place, this is the diving trip for you. Between the majestic sharks and the macro life of the smaller islands, there is something for everyone. Special thanks to Elgen, my guide, for his excellent eye, as well as Evolution Divers and the people of Malapascua for their generosity. Until next time, eat plenty of chocolate and safe diving.