Getting Scuba Certified in Malapascua, Philippines


Since I’ve been living in China I have been looking for new, “off the beaten path” places to travel in Asia. I may have hit the jackpot when I found Malapascua, a small island north of Cebu in the Philippines.

While planning my trip, I knew I wanted to go somewhere to get my Advanced Open Water Scuba certification and I wanted to be somewhere warm with lots of exciting aquatic life to see. I was able to tick all of these boxes in Malapascua.

Getting Advanced Water Scuba Certified in the Philippines

My friend and I chose to dive with Thresher Shark Divers, a shop located very centrally on Malapascua with tons of experienced instructors and dive masters. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

They were a little bit more expensive than some of the other shops on the island, but with diving you certainly get what you pay for!

I did speak to some other travelers who had great experiences with other dive shops, so you can definitely shop around once you arrive.

The diving was also amazing. I was able to see Thresher sharks every morning I went out with TSD (making the 430am wake up call bearable) and spent most days bouncing between different local sights or taking short day trips to other outstanding spots. The sea life was incredible.

Besides the trademark threshers, Malapasuca is home to several different types of rays, amazing tropical fish, sea snakes, and corals. I had an absolute blast doing my naturalist course because there was never a moment that I couldn’t find a new creature to identify.


Exploring Malapascua

I loved Malapascua because it was definitely off the beaten path. There weren’t many tourists, and those that were there were all there to dive or relax on the beach. The island itself had a very laid back and relaxed vibe, and the locals were extremely helpful and friendly.

While I had an amazing time, there are a few things to note about the island if you are considering a trip. Most important to understand is that Malapascua is not a party island.

Yes, there are bars and restaurants, and the village even has a weekly disco, but it is not the place to do if you are looking to party with a little side of diving. There also isn’t a ton to do on the island. If you like to dive or lay on the beach, excellent!

But if you are looking for land adventures this may not be the best place.

How to Get to Malapascua

Getting to Malapascua is a bit of a process. First, you’ll need to fly in to Cebu City, then take a 3-4 hour bus/taxi ride to the port town Maya, and finally take a 45-minute boat ride to the island. Once you arrive on the white sand beach and see how amazingly blue and clear the water is, though, the journey will be totally worth it!

My 8 days on Malapascua were not nearly enough. Everyday was better than the last, and I am already planning my next trip back!

Where to Stay in Malapascua

There are several options of where to stay in Malapascua, ranging from higher-end with air-conditioning, to rooms in dive shops with fans and mosquito nets. Here are some options based on your budget: 

Higher End: Tepanee Beach Resort
A $60/night resort with a spa, private beach and air-conditioning. 

Medium: Blue Water Resort

Budget: We Call it Rainbow Paradise

Have you been to Malapascua in the Philippines?


About Author

Samantha is a travel addict and nomadic teacher currently living in Shanghai. Any chance she gets, she is getting off to a new location or explore, either in China or somewhere with a great deal on tickets. Before China, Samantha spent two years in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and two years in Doha, Qatar. During her time abroad she has had the wonderful opportunity to travel all over Central America, central Asia and some of Eastern Europe. As much as Samantha loves to travel, she also makes time to return home to Florida to see her family whenever she can. Her current ambition is to travel to and explore 40 different countries by the time she is forty. Only 12 to go!

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