It was a very early start for our day of travel – 6a.m to be precise. Luckily we had sensibly packed everything the night before so it was just a case of organising the final few things and heading for breakfast at 6.30. We had been advised the Western Breakfast would be the easiest which consisted of eggs, ham, bread and fruit. It was nice enough and all the staff from the resort came out to wave us off. The people had definitely been the highlight at Magic Ocean and while our stay had been short we definitely felt it was the right amount of time being so isolated. Our driver sped us of to Tagbilaran port where we boarded the ferry for Cebu and most of the 4 hour journey was spent sleeping in either the car or ferry. Sleeping while travelling is the best way to catch up on missing hours.
There was another driver waiting for us at Cebu and despite us taking our time (Carolyn had a slight sickness issue just as we arrived into port) we got packed in and ready for the next 4 hour journey to Maya port. This was by far the longest journey that we had on the trip and had been a point of consideration when making our itinerary. We wanted to experience the best diving on offer in the Visayas and so Malapascua had to be visited for the famous thresher sharks and other great diving. We were starting to question how amazing this diving would be and whether it would be worth it a couple of hours in after yet another hair-raising bend in the road. The roads were bumpy and the driving all kinds of illegal based on European standards. We eventually stopped at Inday Mae’s Eatery for a local lunch. It was difficult to know what to choose but after looking inside each of the pots we opted for a sort of pork stew (it didn’t look like any sort of offal) with a chop suey (they had told me it was veg which it definitely was but failed to mention the mixed meat through it) and rice. I treated myself to a Filipino Fanta too which was delicious and definitely contained at least 30 banned EU ingredients.
Thankfully it was only a couple more hours to the deserted port of Maya. Luckily for us our transfer to the island was organised through the dive centre who had a representative there waiting for us. Otherwise there is a public transfer but the timings are very limited. Since it was low tide we had to walk down the stairs to the rocky shore and jump aboard a small boat to take us over to the larger boat which whizzed us over to the island in around 30 minutes. Again when we arrived we transferred back to a small boat for the final few metres to the island. Jason from Thresher Shark Divers was there to meet us and sign us up for our dives. We sorted kit and went to Oscars the onsite bar for some drinks while our Thresher Shark Diver Specialty instructor Angus gave us a briefing for the thresher shark dive in the morning. He explained that very little is known about thresher sharks since they are deep dwelling creatures. However, Monad Shoal (the site at Malapascua) is so good to see them as they have cleaning stations there where the sharks can ascend very early in the morning before the sun rises to be cleaned by the cleaning fish before descending back down into the depths. This is why the dive time is a 5am departure to ensure the light is still dark enough to ensure the sharks presence. You can swim along the wall or along a sandy slope but either way any lights or flashes are strictly forbidden as they can scare the sharks. We also learned that the males have claspers and so seeing whether the sharks have these is the best way to sex them.
Suitably briefed we headed over to Tepanee Resort our home for the next 3 nights. There was a lot of stairs to finally reach our room but it was nice enough, one we requested an extra bed. We were really tired after our long day of travel so we headed downstairs to Angelina’s a popular Italian on the island for seafood pasta and some pretty awful Italian wine. I managed to make friends with 2 cats before feeling my eyes shutting and heading up to bed. It was a 4a.m wake-up the next day and we needed our beauty sleep.