Category Archives: Malapascua Island

Thresher Sharks SCUBA Diving

SCUBA Diving with Thresher Sharks – Philippines

Introducing Thresher Sharks!  Imagine seeing a shark with a long tail that can be as long as the total body length. Thresher Sharks can only be consistently spotted in a few places in the world, so when was in the Philippines I had to see them up close.

What’s a Thresher Shark? 

In this post I’ll cover why thresher sharks have such long tails, what thresher sharks eat, how big thresher sharks typically are, and where to find thresher sharks, in addition to showing some videos of threshers in motion.  I’ll also detail my specific experience SCUBA diving to see thresher sharks  at the bottom of this page as well.

Thresher sharks are mostly known for the size of their tail (“upper caudal fin lobe”), which is typically equal to the length of the rest of their body!  Check out this below photo:

Thresher Shark  shows off its impressive tail - Thresher Sharks Philippines
Thresher Sharks have tails equal to the rest of the size of their body. Photo credit: Rafn Ingi Finnsson

Why do Thresher Sharks have large tails?

Thresher sharks are active predators – they use their huge tails not only to swim, but also to swat and stun much smaller prey fish. Whack!   When hunting schooling fish, thresher sharks are known to “slap” the water, herding and stunning prey.

Snorkeling in the Philippines – Malapascua Island

While I’ve never gone snorkeling with so few fish in Malapascua, Philippines, the water was clear and we had a great group and our first ever encounter with a Sea Snake! I’ll post about the Sea Snake soon, but in the meantime, here are some fun pics from our snorkeling experience below.

With hardly any fish and great visibility, we mostly just played. Our international group of friends were from Italy, Sweden, England, Holland, and the U.S.


 I’m often asked, is there good snorkeling in Malapascua?  If you’re looking for clear water, it’s wonderful. If you’re looking for lots of fish, I don’t recommend. With that said, I had an amazing time!



Snorkeling in the Philippines near the Island of Malapascua




Sea Snake in Malapascua Philippines Visit50 Feb2011

Who needs sunscreen?

While many people in the United States tend to soak up as much sun as possible, the exact opposite is true in most parts of Asia. People go to great lengths to avoid any exposure to the sun – especially on their face, as you’ll notice in this below photo from the Philippines.

To protect your skin from the sun, you could use SFP 50, wear large hats, or you could avoid the sun entirely. If it’s completely unavoidable, why not wrap your face in towels like a mummy. See below.

Smile for the camera!

Fear of sun in the Philippines
Smile for the camera! We asked the guy behind me to smile for the photo. Really, he’s smiling. Can’t you tell?  — Photo taken on the way to Malapascua,Philippines
Who needs sunscreen when you can wrap your face like a mummy! - Philippines
he reeeeeally doesn’t want any sun on his face



Where Rum costs less than Coke

Every now and again the pricing on a menu makes you do a double-take, but not because it’s ridiculously affordable or too pricey. Check out the below menu and see if you notice anything interesting.

On the little island of Malapascua, in the Philippines, at Malditos bar, you can order a Rum and Coke for 60 php ($1.43 USD). A double rum-and-coke, with twice the amount of rum, actually costs 50 php (10 php less, $1.19 USD). Huh?  Want to drink a triple rum+coke? Good news for you, the price goes down another 10 php to 40 php ($0.95). Amazing. The Coca-Cola is actually much much more expensive than the rum. Obviously we ordered doubles and triples!

Notice the Rum+Coke pricing. 60 php, or 50 php for a double Rum+coke, or 40 php for a triple. I thought it was an error but they confirmed – apparently the rum costs less than soda. – We obv ordered the triple.

It looked like an error so I pointed it out to the bartender, but surprisingly it’s correct.  The rest of the menu seems logical, for another 30-40% they’ll make your Gin+Tonic a double or Screwdriver a double.

Frustrating Filipino Time

Filipino Time – The Philippines is one of my favorite countries that I’ve visited, but one aspect that I certainly don’t miss was their businesses’ apparent lack of appreciation for people’s schedules. Travelers refer to it as “running on Filipino Time” or running on “Philippine Time” or “Pinoy Time.” In the Caribbean I’d experienced what it’s like to be a place “operating on island time,” but this is much worse.  Perhaps being “prompt” is a western concept.  The customer’s time is consistently not valued. It was as if the times listed on published schedules were merely guidelines.  Schedules for flights, buses, and boats were often delayed or canceled without notice or reason.


Malapascua island

Introducing Malapascua island – now with electricity!

Some of the friendliest people I met were in the Philippines on  Malapascua island – we didn’t want to leave!  Everyone seemed to genuinely appreciate having us on the island. Tourism can be a double-edged sword. The influx of money can do wonders for a local economy, but it often strips that town of its own culture (I’m talking to you Thailand, specifically Phuket).

While people have been coming to Malapascua to see Thresher Sharks for years, it’s VERY difficult to get to, and it didn’t always offer electricity.  It’s still difficult to get there, but thanks to some generators, the island now has (nearly) 24 hours of electricity in most hotels. It’s new enough that you see signs advertising that they have 24 hours of electricity; it reminded me of old motels growing up that would advertise on signs that they have color TV. Ooooh!

Malapascua Island, Philippines

The beaches on Malapascua island were both empty and beautiful – it’s so difficult to get to, so only travelers that are very determined will make it. The people that are most determined tend to be going there to see Thresher Sharks. More on that in that post (click the link).

The Moral Dilemma of Buying from Children

“Buy some shells?” An adorable 8-year old asked me this on my first day on Malapascua Island in the Philippines, and proceeded to ask us every day on the beach. While relaxing on my beach chair, I was typically immersed in my book, so I didn’t notice them at first. When I’d finally look up, I’d find myself surrounded by three kids with their saddest faces, asking me to buy shells or hand-made jewelry or some other trinkets.

I was planning on traveling for another 3 months, so there was no way I was interested in having any additional possessions or keepsakes (even ones I might actually want when I’m home). None of that matters, because I’d be happy to help some children and at first glance, any amount of money you give them seemed like a wonderful donation. Then I learned more about it. There’s a bit of a moral dilemma of buying from children.