After a frustrating, exhausting, and hassle-fraught voyage to and through the Philippines, I lastly landed on the doorstep of Evolution Diving Resort. Little did I do know that the making an attempt journey was greater than value it, as a result of I had probably the most superb 5 days on Malapascua Island. Ever have a kind of journeys so good that you simply wouldn’t change a single factor about it? That was Malapascua for me.
Malapascua is a tiny island simply north of the island of Cebu and a few 5 hour drive from Cebu metropolis. Diving is the factor to do right here, particularly with thresher sharks. There’s a beachfront cluster of resorts providing restaurant fare and dive journeys, and an area village set inland simply behind them. Nightlife is just about nonexistent on Malapascua, which makes it blissfully quiet within the evenings.
In different phrases, you come to Malapascua to dive, perhaps hang around on the seaside between dives with some glad hour drinks, and sleep properly. For this lively, beach-loving, non-partying lady, it was mainly paradise.
After getting my first style of diving on Koh Tao a number of months in the past, I used to be desirous to take it to the subsequent stage with the Superior Open Water diving course at Evolution Diving. Nick from New Zealand was my teacher and an absolute LEGEND. Along with being tremendous educated and making me really feel secure underwater (which ought to all the time be a given for any dive teacher), he went above and past by taking pictures and movies for me with out my even asking, lending me his personal underwater camera and mask, and fortunately answering each single considered one of my (many) questions in regards to the creatures we noticed on every dive. Principally it felt like I used to be hanging out with a buddy for Three days as a substitute of attending class, which made it such a enjoyable expertise.
Security cease selfie. Yep, that’s me with what seems like a crew lower!
This Superior Open Water course was virtually nothing just like the Open Water course I took. There weren’t any movies to observe or checks to take; hell, there weren’t even another college students in it except for me! Every day, Nick and I might sit down on one of many couches exterior for a “briefing”, the place we’d go over my homework and any important information wanted for the dives we’d be doing. We had no class schedule, both: we’d determine both the evening earlier than and even the morning of which dives I used to be doing after which plan our briefings round them. As a commitment-phobe, I actually appreciated having this flexibility and freedom!
The course calls for five dives: PADI requires the Deep dive (30m) and the Underwater Navigation dive, and the opposite Three you’re free to decide on for your self. Evolution specializes within the Peak Efficiency Buoyancy dive, in order that they actually encourage college students to decide on that as one of many 3. In my view, it’s most likely THE most vital dive for many who haven’t performed sufficient dives to grasp buoyancy but (which is most AOW college students). Understanding my tendency to flail my arms round to rapidly hold from bumping into reef, the buoyancy dive was a no brainer. I additionally elected to do the Night time dive and the images dive (which we made right into a hybrid Picture/Fish Identification dive).
Take a look at my trim, y’all!
I used to be actually pleased with the buoyancy dive, which we wasted no time knocking out on Day 1. Nick drilled into me the significance of “correct trim” – i.e. the perfect positioning of your physique within the water, with knees bent at a 90-degree angle and torso horizontal and parallel to the ocean flooring. It’s a lot simpler to take care of impartial buoyancy and keep away from kicking the reef when you’re on this place. I additionally realized easy methods to use my breath extra to maneuver my physique up and down reasonably than paddling with my arms, although admittedly I nonetheless frantically paddle if I’m getting dangerously near touching one thing!
Dawn from the dive boat.
Picture by way of Evolution Diving.
We set out at 5am on Day 2 for a deep dive with the thresher sharks at Monad Shoal. You want to have a complicated open water certification to dive with the threshers right here, as they’re often discovered beneath the 20m mark and open water divers can solely go as deep as 18m. Or as in my case, you could be in the course of incomes your superior cert.
There are only a few issues I’m keen to get up this early for (#NOTAMORNINGPERSON), however I felt like diving with thresher sharks was properly well worth the absurdly early wake-up name. This deep dive felt extra like a enjoyable dive as a result of all we did was dive right down to 30m, then come again up a bit to observe the sharks – no abilities apply wanted. At Monad Shoal, there are a number of “cleansing stations” the place the thresher sharks are likely to circle round in early morning as fish eat the lifeless pores and skin and micro organism off their our bodies. The cleansing station we stopped at had a rope arrange for divers to perch on whereas watching the threshers.
I’ll always remember the second I glimpsed my first thresher shark, partially as a result of Nick captured it on video for me. It didn’t come too near us, however we might nonetheless clearly see it circling round. These guys develop to be 5-6m lengthy and about half their size is their tail, how nuts is that? Such cool-looking creatures.
The bluest sea I ever did see.
Later that day we did two dives at one other web site. I fumbled my approach via the underwater navigation dive the place I tried to make use of a compass and saved miscounting my kicks, and battled a leaking masks and a few concern with my weights on the evening dive. We truly noticed some actually cool creatures on the evening dive you could’t see through the day, particularly all types of crabs. I acquired a kick out of the boxer crab scurrying round along with his arms up within the form of a W, and the sponge crab with this big-ass yellow sponge on his again. Sadly no pictures as a result of, duh, it was darkish and we didn’t have the required gear for evening images.
I wrapped up my course on Day Three with the fish identification/images dive. We headed out to a dive web site identified for its superior reef and ample photograph ops and it was SO GOOD. I’ve by no means seen such a colourful reef in my life, not even within the Nice Barrier Reef. I swapped out my GoPro for a compact digicam with underwater housing and guide controls and went snap-happy the whole dive. Like I’ve stated earlier than, underwater images is especially difficult whenever you’re a beginner diver who’s not tremendous nice at buoyancy and subsequently can’t keep nonetheless sufficient to take a pointy photograph. I additionally discover it tough to guage how shut I’m to the reef, which leads to me not getting as shut as I might to take a greater shot. I ended up with one photograph I’m tremendous happy with although, so I’m calling it successful!
It’s like purple kale!
I do know you possibly can by no means actually have sufficient time in a spot whenever you’re touring, however man do I want I had a number of further days on Malapascua. I didn’t spend practically sufficient time lounging within the resort’s seaside chairs or hammocks due to a final minute mission I needed to work on every time I wasn’t diving. I did, nevertheless, eat each single considered one of my meals on the Craic Home, Evolution’s onsite Irish pub. They’ve some actually distinctive dishes on their menu, a lot of which you most likely received’t discover anyplace else within the Philippines. I used to be loving on their tuna burger and mahi particular – critically, seafood within the Philippines is so recent and scrumptious and I ate it practically each day I used to be there.
Additionally, that is tremendous random and perhaps not everybody’s cup of tea, however considered one of my most favourite issues about staying at Evolution was the candy and pleasant workers there who would play Bruno Mars on loop each evening and sing alongside (rather well, too). Filipinos love their energy ballads, as I’d witness again and again all through my month within the nation. I’ll unabashedly admit to belting out some Bruno Mars songs many a Friday evening again dwelling in NYC, so this made me actually glad. Principally I’m simply mentioning it right here in order that I’ll all the time keep in mind this spotlight, however perhaps it’ll convey a few of you pleasure as properly, do you have to ever make it to Malapascua and the Philippines.