Malapascua Island

This tiny island — around 2.5 kilometers long and one kilometer wide — supposedly got its name from Spanish explorers who, stranded on its shores during one stormy December day, experienced a “malas pascua” (unfortunate Christmas). We guarantee your experience will be much more enjoyable.

Malapascua’s secluded beaches offer some welcome solitude, and make a great place for a seaside barbecue. But it was Monad Shoal that launched the island as a premier diving destination. Monad Shoal is one of the few places in the world where the thresher shark is a regular sight. Although these sharks often favour much deeper waters, they visit the shoal to enjoy the services of cleaning wrasses. Devil rays, eagle rays, and even manta rays and hammerheads can be sighted here.

To further feel like Jacques Cousteau, hop on a boat to Gato Island. This rocky spot in the middle of the Visayan Sea is a marine sanctuary for sea snakes, as well as a home to seabirds and flying foxes. It also holds a large underwater cave with all sorts of holes that lead to coral canyons, white-tip reef sharks, pygmy seahorses, nudibranchs, squid, eels, and an array of fish.

Wrecks also abound, including the Light House Wreck (a Japanese WWII landing craft), the Donya Marilyn Wreck (a downed local passenger ferry that dates back to 1988), and the Taplion Wreck (an unidentified Japanese WWII cargo carrier).

Although most of Malapascua’s sites are for advanced divers only, those intrepid enough will be thoroughly rewarded.