Monad Shoal – Best Dive Site in Malapascua

Monad shoal is an underwater island located in Malapascua, Cebu, Philippines. It is the top dive spot in the area where you can find Thresher sharks all year round. It is actually the only place in the world where you can see and get a close encounter with Thresher sharks despite their elusive nature. For this, Monad shoal is considered as one of the top 20 iconic dive sites in the Asia Pacific according to Chris Mitchell of Sport Diver.

monad shoal
monad shoal malapascua philippines

Aside from Thresher sharks, you can also see manta rays, devil rays, eagle rays, and hammerheads in Monad shoal depending on the season.

Monad Shoal and the Thresher sharks

While Thresher sharks hunt for smaller fishes in the deep seas, they go to the seamount, particularly in Monad shoal just before or during sunrise to get cleaned up. The monad shoal has cleaning fishes like the bluestreak and the moon cleaner wrasse that clean the skin, gills, and mouth of Thresher sharks from ectoparasites and gnathiids.

Other pelagic fishes like the devil rays and eagle rays are also attracted to Monad shoal and go there for some cleaning.

Diving at Monad Shoal

Monad shoal is 1.5km long with a 200-meter drop. The top part of the sunken island has a flattish surface where the Thresher sharks go for some cleaning sessions. It is has a depth of about 20-27 meters from the surface.

Monad shoal is an advanced dive site. You need to have an advanced certification level to dive and encounter Thresher sharks. Thresher sharks can be seen regularly during the early hours in the morning just before or during sunrise at depths of 22-27 meters. Monad shoal is also great for enriched air dives, such as Nitrox diving, where you can safely stay longer underwater while waiting for Thresher shark sightings.

Going to Monad Shoal Malapascua

Monad shoal is located 7.8km from Malapascua island. Malapascua is in the northernmost part of the province of Cebu, Philippines.

To arrive at Malapascua, you need to board a plane going to Cebu City. If you are from the Philippines, you may also choose to ride a boat going to Cebu City. From Cebu City, take a bus from the North Bus Terminal that will take you to Maya, in the town of Daanbantayan – the northernmost town in Cebu. You may also bring your own car or rent a van to reach the port of Maya. The trip takes about 4 hours.

Once you arrive at the port of Maya, you can then take a motorized boat that will bring you to Malapascua island in about 30 minutes. In Malapascua, you will find different resorts that offer diving packages that include Monad shoal diving. You may also do advanced bookings for your convenience.

Going to Monad shoal from the island of Malapascua takes about 30-40 minutes by motorized boat.

Other tips and information

  • Be prepared to wake up at around 3-4 in the morning so as not to miss the Thresher sharks.
  • Thresher sharks and manta rays can be seen all year round, while Hammerheads can be seen between December to April.
  • The months of December to April is considered to be high season, which means more people visit Malapascua that come with higher prices. There is lesser chance of rain during this season, with March being the hottest time.
  • For better chances of seeing Thresher sharks in Monad shoal, avoid diving during major holidays like Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year, and Easter, since many will also go diving during these times.
  • Other dive sites you can enjoy in Malapascua apart from Monad shoal include the Gato Island, the Lighthouse, Lapus lapus, North Point, North wall, Chocolate Island, Bantigi, and some shipwrecks.
  • Malapascua is also a relaxing place to enjoy snorkeling or lazing on the beach with its beautiful white sand beaches