#lazyingaround #swimmingwiththesharks

We were dropped off at the one end of the beach strip and had to schlepp it to the resort with our bags in tow … on the sand. I ended shoulder carrying my suitcase so as to not ruin the wheels. Most of the “high end” resort are located on the beach. When I say “high end”, they are 3 stars at most and you really must mentally prepare yourself to not expect high end luxury … or any sort of luxury. As a matter of fact, we had hot water for our showers, so that’s as luxurious as it gets. Behind the beach front are backpacker style hotels/homes for those who are on a shoestring budget.

Our resort was in the middle of the strip and I was happy to have made it in one piece after hoisting a heavy suitcase – yes, I need to exercise a little more. Time for the $2 tour.

The path leading into the resort.

The path leads up to the left side of the bar you see in the background.

If you were standing next to the bar as you walk in, you will see this area to your right.

Standing at the middle of the bar, looking at the dining area.

The dive shop behind the dining area with rooms off to right side on 2 storeys.

Our room was located in the top floor of the blue building you see on the right.

Leading up to our room.

Shangri-La level luxury.

And the view from the balcony outside our front door.

Having not had anything since breakfast and after a long journey, I decided we deserved something as a reward.
This look as appropriate a reward as any.

With something to meaty goodness to add to the mix.

With our bellies satisfied, we went for a walk.

So this is where I give my two cents on the beach. After watching a whole of bunch of Youtube videos on Malapascua, I was expecting a powdery white sand similar to Boracay. In reality, ever since Typhoon Yolanda struck in 2013 across the Philippines, it damaged a lot of the islands and ecosystems. For Malapascua, the sand close to the hotels was soft to walk on but make more difficult to walk on the closer you walked to the water. This is because dead coral bits were swept up by the tide and no effort has been made for a cleanup. To be honest, one would not expect any sort of clean up as this was not a luxury paradise like Boracay or Palawan. On top of that, a lot of boats were spread all over the place so swimming in the area was not safe. Are these major problems? Maybe – depending on your point of view. Compared to Kalanggaman Island and Bantayan Island, there is a major difference and you will see this soon. I crashed early as I had to be at the dive shop at 4.30am for the thresher shark dive.

As it was pitch dark outside and not a good opportunity to take pictures, I will describe in detail the harrowing journey to get to the dive site – hope you have a vivid imagination. The main attraction for Malapascua Island is the thresher shark and is therefore a diver’s paradise – this means that there are at least a 100 divers per day. The thresher shark lives around the Monad Shoal which is a sunken island. The top of the island is 100 feet below the surface and is considered the cleaning station where the sharks come to every morning in order for the little feeder fish to (for lack of a better term) clean the crap off the shark scales. The sharks come up every morning between 6-8am and go back down into the deep afterwards. The window is very small due to the fact that the sharks are sensitive to light.

I was down at the requested time and met a fellow diver who would be joining me. We each had our own dive master and after the gear check, we headed off to the beach and got into a small boat. From there, we made our way to a bigger boat where we swapped into and all the equipment was loaded on. We waited a good 30 minutes for divers from the other resorts to join us. With everyone on board, the boat made its way to the Monad Shoal and it took a good 30 minutes to get there. As we approached, I saw 5 other boats already there with divers jumping off. Let’s do the math – 5 boats, 15-20 people per boat … that’s a lot of humans to see a damn shark. Fast forward past the bits where we dressed up, did our safety checks and demo and off we went into the wild blue deep. When we got to the bottom (or top depending on how you look at it), everyone knelt in a line and held onto a rope. We were instructed not to move beyond this point otherwise we risk scaring the shark off and losing the opportunity to see a once in a life time moment (I say “lifetime” because I know I am not coming back to Malapascua).

Behold.

If I had remembered to properly set up my gopro, it would have been on Video+Photo mode but instead I noobed it up big time and could not get any pictures. But fear not, the video below makes up for everything.

The best part of this entire dive – I only saw the shark for 30 seconds before it disappeared into the darkness. My DM and I moved to another section of the line but I could only see fleeting parts of the shark in the dark and was not as good as the video above. See example below.

At least, I got to see it and I was happy. 30 minutes into the dive, the DM instructed we had to move on as the tanks were running low. Took a tour of the reef as we made our way back up.
Here is an idea of the other dives jocking for position to see the shark.

I forgot to mention that this was a wall dive as well. So here is a video as we came up.

Lovely sea urchins.

Everyone started coming up shortly after that and we were headed back to Malapascua. It was around 8am and I was ready for breakfast.
The DM steadying himself as we pulled away from the bigger boat in the background.

A shot of the itty bitty boat that we used.

8am and the sun is beating down hard.

Met up with my friends and headed off to the local restaurant for breakfast. Took a back alley to get there as it was located behind the resort.

Hello friends.

LOL.

Traditional Filipino breakfast consisting of garlic rice, 2 eggs, tocino (fried cured pork) and 2 hot dogs. Add a coffee and the total came to $5 CAD – damn good deal.

Walked back to the resort to get ready for my second dive for 9.30am. Passed by a bar and saw this sign – guess something went down in order for the sign to go up.

Back at the boat with the same DM and we headed out to the dive site known as the Coral Garden. This was more of a macro dive since the corals were pretty much dead or dying. The dive was good as I captured some good videos of little sea life plus there was only one other group of divers.

All that diving made me famished yet again. So found my friends and we trudged along the beach to find a place to satisfy our cravings.

First order of business.

Followed by the second order of business.

With this little guy giving me the winky wink for some reason. Just couldn’t figure out what that reason was …

This brings us to the end of the first fun filled day at Malapascua. The next two days would be full day trips to Kalanggaman Island and Bantayan Island. To be continued!

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