Finding Nemo in Malapascua Island, the Philippines

Malapascua Island, Philippines

 

Underwater world of Malapascua Island was as great as over the water

 

Two weeks of my journey in the Philippines is finished. It was a complex mixture of good, extreme bad and something in between. The country was hard to figure out, but it gave me the biggest joy time to time. Over all, I’m glad I visited. If you ask me what was the favourite place during the two weeks, I have to say, Malapascua island. (note: I only traveled to southern part of the country – Panay, Guimaras, Negros, Bantayan, Malapascua island and briefly, Cebu)

 

Why go Malapascua?

It was one of the most laid back beaches I’ve ever been. The long and white sand beach is perfect for evening/ morning stroll. Sea level is constant, makes it a nice condition for swimming near the shore. Water is crystal clear. The beach resorts and bars in the island can be a comforting place to rest for a while. I’ve never met this many international travelers in other parts of the Philippines. And most of all, there are many great diving spots near the island. It is an excellent place for just snorkelers (like myself).

 

I saw the world of ‘Finding Nemo’ during my time at Malapascua Island. Being around the open ocean wanted to see one of the best movies in the world, Finding Nemo, again. The movie made such a big impact in marine life, and made a permanent damage to clownfish, because everyone calls it Nemo instead of their own name, clownfish. Anyhow, very appropriately, we watched it when we were in Bantayan Island, and the vivid life of underwater looked very realistic. And, I experienced how well made the movie is, during the snorkeling trips in Malapascua.

 

 

Diving/ Snorkeling

Calanggaman Island, the Philippines

Calanggaman Island, the Philippines

 

Monad Shoal

Clearly, the best attraction of Malapascua Island is diving. But there are many other diving spots around the world. What makes this place so special? Because of the Thresher Shark. Malapascua Island (Monad Shoal to be exact) is the only place in the world where you can encounter Thresher Shark daily basis, in a depth suitable for recreational divers. The top of the shoal ranges from 20 – 27m, with a sheer drop-off down to 45m. Thresher sharks like the fresh water in the early morning when the sun started to shine, so the trip always takes at 5am.

 

Calanggaman Island

Seeing the ‘drop off’ of Calanggaman Island was a surreal experience for me. Do you remember when Nemo swam off from the drop off and touched the boat? It looked exactly like that. And do you remember when the diver appeared at the edge of drop off, and took Nemo? The other diver took a photo of Marlin with a flash, so it temporarily blinded him? I was floating on the surface of the water with my snorkel mask, and watching the scene with the drop off, divers with cameras, and the underwater life were very much like from the movie.

I saw Gill, Moorish Idol, for the first time. He was stunning under water, the yellow stripe almost looked like shining like neon sign. I didn’t see surgeonfish (Dori), but saw many lookalike blue ones. Crown fish really does like to hang out in the coral. The underwater world wasn’t colourful as from the movie (of course), but it resembles quite well.

Besides of all the Nemo talk, Calanggaman Island is definitely a great diving spot. I’ve never seen that many different kinds of marine life at the same time. It was the best underwater scene I’ve ever seen as a snorkeler. The visibility was clear as far as 20km underwater.

 

Gato Island

As a protected sanctuary, Gato Island offers a great scene to divers. Seeing all the school of fish was surreal to me. They didn’t really care that we were swimming with them. I saw many tunas as well. This was the place where we saw sea snakes. Black and while stripped sea snake is poisonous, but they are very pretty to look at. They lay eggs on the shore as well.

These are only a few among many dive sites (that I’ve been) around Malapascua Island. There are many and diverse options.

 

 

Chickens

Rooster at Malapascua

Rooster at Malapascua

 

One more thing you need to know about Malapascua Island is the chickens (roosters to be exact). I was wondering why there were so many chickens in this small island and why they cried all day long. It was an extraordinary behavior as roosters from the knowledge I have about them. My guess was maybe they export them to the mainland or something but I was wrong. My question was finally answered by a local man. The chickens are living in Malapascua, and preparing to participate the weekly cockfight. People gather near the ring every Sunday, let the chickens fight each other. They were extremely well cared (shiny feathers, well fed, well trained) for this event. In Malapascua, they are the money.

I’m just telling you just in case if you are wondering about the chickens just like I was.

 

 

How to get there

You can always make a ‘special trip (hire a boat or tricycle)’, like local people call it, but it is possible to get there by public transportation. From Bantayan Island, you can take a ferry from Santa Fe port to Cebu City which takes about two hours. Then you need to head to Maya port, by bus, about 40 km away from the Cebu port. Take a tricycle only to Pedro, and take a yellow Ceres bus to Maya Port. From there, there’s a regular ferry leaves to Malapascua. It sounds complicated, but it is pretty a standard travel procedure in the Philippines.

If you are coming from Cebu City, just take a bus to Maya port (4+ hour trip), and take a ferry to Malapascua Island.

 

 

Where to stay

Malapascua Exotic Dive Resort

Malapascua Exotic Dive Resort

 

Malapascua Exotic Dive Resort was the first dive shop ever opened in the island. Dick de Boer, Dutch nationality, was the one first ever dived with the Thresher Shark at Monad Shoal where is a worldwide attraction now. He and his wife decided to build a resort and a dive shop, and now it became 5-star resort and National Geographic Dive Centre. The dive shop has expanded over the years, and they have the best gears, instructors and Divemasters in the island.

Exotic, as what locals call it, has wide range of rooms from super deluxe to GoPro lodge, where I stayed. They have in-site restaurant that serves meals and beverages.

Website: http://malapascua.net/

Email [email protected]

Phone: (+63) 32-4065428

Mobile: (+63) 999-9976601

(+63) 917-3276689

 

Finding Nemo

Finding Nemo


 

About Juno Kim

14 Responses to “Finding Nemo in Malapascua Island, the Philippines”

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  1. That beach looks spectacular! Best part — there’s no one on it. Is it always that uncrowded there?

  2. Ayngelina says:

    You have so many great photos of the Philippines, reminds me of how much fun I had traveling there.

  3. Erica says:

    My first drop off while diving was memorable as well. Just the sheer EMPTINESS of it all really hit me.

  4. So beautiful. Another place to add to list of places that I want to visit and snorkel. Simply, love it.

  5. Alex says:

    Yay, I love Malapascua! What a special place… though I feel the secret will be out soon!

  6. That beach with the thin path out to the palm trees looks unreal. Paradise!

  7. Collins R says:

    Such great shots! It’s really an awesome place to be.

  8. Andrew says:

    those beaches look like heaven on earth, and to find such place still so quiet is rare! maybe we are the last people in human history who can still find such a thing!

  9. Monnette says:

    Good for you! There are also many dive spots all over the Philippines — Apo Reef in Oriental Mindoro, Coron in Palawan, Apo Island in Negros Oriental, Balicasag Island in Bohol, Moalboal in the southern part of Cebu, Camiguin and the Island Garden City of Samal in Davao.

    By the way, raising roosters is popular all over the Philippines. My Mexican boss who witnessed a large area in the mountains of Cebu devoted to roosters called it a rooster ranch and it was the first time he ever saw one.

  10. christina says:

    Great post! I love all of those neighborhoods, especially St Germain! I have recently fallen in love with the area around the Canal St Martin, too. It is beautiful there!

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  2. […] one more reason to be excited about my travels. I’ve been to so many great diving spots, like Malapascua in the Philippines, Southern Great Barrier Reef, and even the nearby islands if Kota Kinabalu, but never tried it. But […]



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