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Diving Cebu Philippines
scubadivingnomad - 9/30/2020 11:38 PM
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Category: Travel
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Diving Cebu Philippines

Diving Cebu Philippines

If you are looking for great diving conditions and a unique experience for your next international dive vacation, then Cebu Philippines should be on your short list. It has the only dive site with daily sightings of thresher sharks, another destination with a year-round sardine run, and many locations with frequent whale shark encounters. The cost of diving is among the most reasonable in the world and the selection of where to stay in Cebu is extensive.

The name Cebu can be confusing for the newcomer. Cebu City has a population of over a million people and is the anchor of the Metropolitan Cebu. Metropolitan Cebu has a total of six cities and six municipalities, with a combined population of three million people. There is also Cebu Island where the city is located. The island is 196 kilometers (122 mi) from north to south and 32 kilometers (20 mi) across at its widest point. Cebu island plus 167 smaller islands make up the Province of Cebu.

Cebu City and Mactan Island

Mactan Island is included in Metropolitan Cebu and is connected to Cebu City and Cebu Island by bridges. Mactan–Cebu International Airport, the Philippine’s second largest airport, is located in Lapu-Lapu City on Mactan Island. The island is not as densely populated as the rest of Metropolitan Cebu. Here you will find rural areas between the cities and towns. Most of the areas resorts are located on the eastern side of Mactan Island on the Cebu Strait. You will find simple beach resorts to five star luxury hotels. You will also find great diving.

The Cebu Strait has an outstanding reputation for diving. The strait normally has a current that is perfect for drift dives and the visibility is outstanding. There are also shallow corals and drop off forming exciting wall dives. This combination of shallow reefs next to deep walls and a running current means you will find many large pelagic fish species on most dives. Add in some wrecks and caves and you have something for everyone. Each dive center and resort has their own list of favorite dive sites.

Diving Malapascua Island Cebu Philippines

Malapascua is a very small island,1 mile (1.6 km) long and less than a half mile wide (about .6 km), located off the very northern tip of Cebu Island. The trip from Cebu City gives you breath-taking scenery alternating ocean and mountain views. The trip is about three hours by car or four and a half hours by bus. Then there is a 30-minute boat ride to the island. There are no cars on the island and only one paved road. To get to your resort, you either walk or ride on the back of a motorcycle. So why go there? The short answer thresher sharks.

Monad Shoal is located about a 20-minute boat ride from Malapascua Island. The shoal sits in 60 feet (18 meters) of water dropping off to over 650 feet (200 meters). Dotted around the shoal are a number of “cleaning” stations. Think of it as a spa for large fish. Cleaner wrasses, shrimp, angelfish and similar species gather together around these stations. In the first sign of daylight, thresher sharks arrive from the deep in search of an open station. When the shark approaches, the smaller fish will join the shark and start eating bacteria and parasites from the shark’s skin and gills. You can also see the shark widely open their mouth so that the small fish can dart in and clean the teeth. Often, other sharks are circling nearby waiting their turn. Monad Shoal is only known location that this behavior can be observed by divers consistently. While thresher sharks are the early morning crowd, other sharks and rays appear later in the morning.

Malapascua Island is not a one trick destination. There are over 20 dive sites including a few famous ship wrecks, a natural tunnel under an island, reefs, drift dives and great night dive sites. The lighthouse reef is a dive site just offshore. Numerous Mandarinfish make the reef their home. These fish are considered the most colorful of all reef fish. Near sunset as other fish start hiding to get some sleep, the male Mandarinfish starts a dance to attract a female. Once seen, it is a lifetime memory.

Moalboal, Sardines Anyone?

While the east side of Cebu Island has the Cebu Strait, the west side has the Tañon Strait between Cebu and Negros Islands. Here you will find the town of Moalboal, another outstanding dive destination. The Tañon Strait brings still a different style of diving. The strait is a migratory path for many pelagic fish and even some whale sharks.

There is a running current in the strait providing nutrients for the coral, resulting in great coral reefs. Small islands in the waterway, provides protection for many types of marine life and calm diving conditions for those looking for it. In addition to the pelagic fish, coral reefs and drift dives, Moalboal is noted for sardines. Sardines also thrive in the nutrient rich waters. They gather in groups called shoals for protection. It is not difficult to find these groups of sardines and it is not uncommon for them to number over one hundred thousand sardines.

Where to Stay in Cebu

Once you have planned out where you are diving, then you can plan where to stay in Cebu. Cebu City and Mactan will give you the widest range of accommodations. You will be able to find small comfortable places to stay to large international five-star hotels. Moalboal is a simpler place but does still have some upscale resorts. Malapascua island is isolated and primarily just for divers. Here the resorts are simpler but still very comfortable.

As a diver, Cebu should be on your dive bucket list