Nepal was pretty intense to travel around, so after my epic trip there I decided it was time for a “vacation”. I picked a country I knew practically nothing about and ended up flying into the Philippines with literally no plan. I knew I wanted to do some scuba diving, so when I arrived in the Philippines, people directed me to tiny Malapascua island off of Cebu, which promised the opportunity to dive with sharks! COOL. So for one night I lived with my regretful decision to stay in Manila’s red light district, and flew to Cebu City and spent another night in Lapu Lapu. Then came the massive day of travel: a taxi, a bus, a small boat, a big boat, another small boat, and a motorcycle ride, all of which finally brought me to the Thresher Cove Dive Resorton Malapascua.
I checked into Thresher Cove and immediately registered for a scuba refresher class. I hadn’t been diving in two full years so the refresher was a great way to brush up on my rusty scuba skills. Then, because there’s no time like the present, I chose to register for the Advanced Diver PADI course which would certify me to dive to a depth of 30m underwater. The goal: to swim with majestic Thresher Sharks, which the resort was named after. Some studying + safety discussions with my dive instructor brought me down to see the Threshers twice. Both times I was extremely fortunate, with the sharks coming rather close to us, swimming around their “cleaning stations” which they circle every day. It was truly an awesome experience!!! Check out this GoPro video of mine, as well as this one, of my underwater Thresher encounters. (Sadly, after my Thresher dives, my GoPro housing failed underwater and the camera itself got corroded by the salt water. BOO!)
As a part of the course I also did a night dive. Night dives are somewhat nerve wracking experiences because between the absence of sunlight and he effects of buoyancy, you can’t tell which way is up or down unless you have sights on the seafloor! However, the nervous excitement is the feeling I crave, so I’m quite happy with the discomfort night dives offer. Plus, nocturnal creatures such as octopus come out to feed at night, and I was lucky to see one on this dive, splendidly gliding across its rocky seabed.
Gato Island is a marine sanctuary 1.5 hours boat ride away from Malapascua. Joyously, I convinced some other divers to make the long trip to check it out with me. Gato not only offers excellent corals and diverse marine life, but also extremely interesting caves and tunnels to dive through. My favourite dive here required use of an underwater flashlight to swim through a 30m long tunnel directly under the island, in which I spotted a white tip reef shark! COOL.
The Thresher Cove Resort itself was simply wonderful. I loved the ability to stay at a proper dive resort with a pool, in-house restaurant, and private beach, but on a backpacker budget. Thresher Cove offers all types of accommodation, from dorm beds up to large, private bamboo beach cabanas. Plus the dive shop and all its employees were simply wonderful. Highly recommended!
When I wasn’t diving on Malapascua I was exploring all the island had to offer (which isn’t much, if you’re not a diver!). I ate at a couple of local restaurants, walked to gorgeous white sand coves, and swam laps in the resort’s swimming pool. The crowd of people were excellent, as well, with the varied accommodation types attracting interesting divers of different ages and nationalities. Speaking with other travelers helped me decide on my next destination back on mainland Cebu; Moalboal.