My Dive Trip to Balicasag and Malapascua

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My Dive Trip to Balicasag and Malapascua

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1 My Dive Trip to Balicasag and Malapascua on Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:11 pm

Joe

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Okay, I thought I'd share an experience I had on my trip to the Philippines around February of 2015. I hope others will share their previous trips too, so that we can all learn and benefit from one another's experiences.

Most of us living in Taiwan who scuba dive make trips to SE Asia whenever possible as it is close to Taiwan. The Philippines doesn't get much closer.

So my last trip was to Balicasag and Malapascua. If you have been to Balicasag then you will know that the final destination is Alona Beach. For those who aren't familiar with Malapascua, then you should know that it is highly recognized for it's Thresher Shark dive.

My first so called "Island Hopping" destination was Balicasag. I flew into Manila from Taipei and arrived in the afternoon. There are two domestic flight options to get to Alona Beach which is where you will reside in order to take boats out to Balicasag (just off shore). The first option with the most flights is Cebu, where you will transfer flights and continue to Tagbilaran. Once there, you can then take a 45 minute motorized tricycle  to Alona Beach which is on Panglao. The second option is to fly directly to Tagbilaran from Manila. I chose to fly directly. Keep in mind there is only one flight from Manila to Tagbilaran and it's early in the morning.

There are many places to stay on Alona Beach, none are very far from the beach, which is where you will find most of the dive centers. The quality can vary from shop to shop and the price is usually similar with the exception of the high end dive centers. So shop around the day you arrive and find a value. I dove with Island Adventure. They had all new equipment as of 2015 and the price was the most common average on the street.


As for the fun stuff, I recorded about a dozen dives in 4 days. The best one was "Divers Heaven" on the northeastern side of the island. There were Sea Turtles everywhere, but most of all, the tornado of Jack Fish stole the show (see the middle of the video above). It is said this is a common event, I dove that site twice and on the second dive they preformed for us.

My second favorite site was the "Marine Sanctuary" on the northwestern side of the island. The hard coral garden at the top of the reef wall is no more than maybe 5 meters deep and packed with hard corals and colonies of tiny fish galore. There were huge Sweetlips on the prowl. A huge bed of giant Tridacna Clams of every color. You could see the methane gas bubbling up to the surface amongst all the hard corals (see the introduction to the video above).

There are some nice dives around Alona, but try to do as many as you can at Balicasag, because it is far better.

So that's part one of my trip, next is Part two Malapascua.



Last edited by Joe on Mon Aug 31, 2015 12:39 am; edited 4 times in total

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2 Re: My Dive Trip to Balicasag and Malapascua on Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:48 pm

Joe

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On with part two...

So I left Alona on route to Cebu. I chose to take the ferry from Tagbilaran to Cebu. The next form of transport was a taxi to the North Bus Terminal, where I had a 4 hour trip to Maya. Maya is a small port where you will take a 30 minute boat trip to Malapascua. This is very difficult to accomplish after 5pm so be sure to arrive before then. I arrived afterwards and a group of us negotiated a group rate to the island which was similar to the daily rate. It can be done, but I would advise against arriving after 5pm. The alternative is to stay one night in Maya and take the boat early in the morning, as to not miss any further down time for diving.

The diving around Malapascua can be nice. Deep Rock was the best as far as off shore dives go. The best diving aside from the Thresher Shark one is Gato Island. It's a one hour boat ride from Malapascua. This is where you will swim under the island on the east side and exit on the western side. One tip worth mentioning is to be the first one in the water, so as to be the first to exit the opposite side. The reasoning is that the White Tip Reef Sharks that circle the exit point wont be spooked away by divers in front of you (see middle of the video in the first post of this thread).

The highlight of the dive trip is of course the Thresher Shark diving at Monad Shoal. The shoal is an under water island that rises up to about 25 t0 30 meters in depth. It is there that the sharks will visit every morning at sunrise. They are looking to be cleaned by the cleaner fish that reside on the shoal. This is one of few places that you can consistently see these creatures year round. I would say the odds are 60/40 that you will see them and 40/60 that you will see them up close.

I dove the site three mornings in a row and saw them on the first two dives. The first day was the best as I had two close sightings. The second day they were distant with the exception of one passer by. Unfortunately the third day was a bust. All in all, I would say that I felt fortunate, that I had success on the first two of the three dives.

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