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Thread: Malapascua

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    RBW Member grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp's Avatar
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    Malapascua

    Just back from 11 days with Evolution Diving in Malapascua, a small island just off the northern tip of the Philippines island of Cebu, a trip I justified by arguing that I needed to get up to speed on my brand-new camera system before the big trip to Bikini in August!

    Getting There. Fly into Cebu City, then public bus (not recommended – it takes forever and would be a nightmare with a lot of gear) or private transfer to Daanbaantayan (3 hours approx) for the 40-minute boat ride to Malapascua. Evolution charge about $100 for a one-way trip in a mini-van, so the more people the cheaper it gets.

    The Place. Evolution Diving is run by Matt Reed and David Joyce. They have 4 rooms with small en-suites (2 have air-con) with four more planned and a bar with tables at which to eat. Talking of eating, the food at Evolution is very good — outstanding at times — unlike almost everywhere else on the island (though apparently there is a decent Italian place 15 or so minutes away). In fact, it was so good, I ate every meal there; the only negative (sorry, Dave, I had to say it) was the lack of wine and espresso coffee, both of which were available next door thankfully.

    Dive-wise, they have a workshop with plenty of bench space at the right height for working on your gear, tubs for washing stuff, a compressor and hire gear room, and small classroom. Evolution’s food and diving prices were very reasonable.

    Capabilities. Whilst most of Evolution’s business comes from O/C divers, it is very well set up for technical and rebreather diving. Matt and David are both techies, though only Matt dives a rebreather (a Pelagian?). That means they have the fundamentals well in hand: bailout cylinders (5.5 & 12 litre), oxygen @ PHP 0.6 per litre (US$0.02 approx), trimix @ PHP 2.7 per litre (US$ 0.06 approx), and sorb @ US$ 18 per kg (a bit pricey but only if you don’t allow for what it takes to get the stuff to Malapascua) are all available as is a Stansted booster pump, electrically-powered and amazingly quiet. And they have 2- and 3-litre cylinders for hire, so there is no need to cart your own up there.

    The only negative is that the nearest recompression chamber is in Cebu City, so dial down those Gradient Factors and don’t skimp on the deco.

    The Diving. To be honest, if Truk and Palau rate 10 out of 10 (which I think they do), then overall Malapascua would rate a 6 or 7. The best dive is the wreck of the Mogami Maru, a 50 m coaster sunk in WW2 by what looks to have been a single bomb into the engine room and now sitting upright in 52 metres of water. It is a nice — if small — wreck well worth the effort with some promising places for ferreting around in and a great place to practice wreck photography. Just watch out for the stonefish. The current on the Mogami Maru can be bad and was on my second day, but conditions were perfect for my first dive: no current and 30+ m viz. Pity I screwed up my camera settings making every picture but one a blurry dud.

    There are two other wrecks: the Oakita Maru sitting in 26 m — very broken up and of passing interest for a few interesting artifacts (shells, grenades, tyres, shoes) — and the ferry Dona Marilyn, which I didn’t dive. But Malapascua’s biggest claim to fame is the Thresher Sharks that come to the nearby Monad Shoals to be cleaned. Threshers are elusive but well worth the effort of getting up at the crack of dawn, the best time to see them. I saw three and they are impressive animals, especially when one comes right at you out of the gloom. Monad Shoals also has vertiginous walls that drop down past 100 metres; they would have been good if the viz had been better (at best it was 30 metres or so; at times it got down to 10) and Matt told me that down deep is the best place to see a Thresher, down where they belong, though he did admit you had to be lucky to do so. If Threshers and Hammerheads are your thing, then there are also the Kimud Shoals, but I did not get to dive them.

    Apart from that, the other dive sites are the usual: mostly shallow, plenty of soft corals and small fish. They are still recovering from the Filipino national pastime of dynamite fishing. But they are recovering and were pleasant enough if at times crowded with O/C divers.

    Overall Assessment. Evolution is a very well set-up, competently managed, rebreather-friendly and reasonably priced operation, and Malapascua has some excellent diving. Strongly recommended for rebreather (re)training, camera familiarization, or just diving for the fun of it with a gem of a wreck, sharks, and some serious deep walls to add to the experience.

    Some pix attached. Any questions, PM me.

    Graham
    Attached Images

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    RBW Member grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp's Avatar
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    Re: Malapascua

    Few more pix.

    Graham
    Attached Images

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    RBW Member tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining is a name known to all tecdivertraining's Avatar
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    Re: Malapascua

    Great review, Matt is a really nice guy and worked hard to get the place were its at, I just need to find some time to get over and visit him

  4. #4
    Still Searching matt_reed is an unknown quantity at this point matt_reed's Avatar
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    Pelagian

    Re: Malapascua

    Hi Graham, thanks for posting...glad you enjoyed the trip. We enjoyed having you(other than when you went next door to the competition for coffee!)

    We look forward to seeing more CCR divers here and are happy to discuss and support various request... just email or PM me.

    Mat...I'll have to organise for you to visit and we can do some exploration and training at the same time; I still need a few cards off you

    Regards,

    Matt.
    ps I think I'd rate us an 8 compared to Palau(but with macro that Palau doesn't have)....and don't really think it's fair to be rated against Truk, as nowhere can possibly compare.

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    RBW Member Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: Malapascua

    Thanks Graham for the Report, which camera and housing have you got?

    Im interested in getting a good setup in the good few months coming, as what i have been looking at cost a fair wack for me, Canon 5D Mk 11 with Hugyfot Housing...

    It seems that quiet a few people here use the 5D, and i have seen lots of pictures from various trips using this camera, they look fab.

    Looks like You enjoyed Your trip

    Best,

  6. #6
    RBW Member grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp will become famous soon enough grahamsp's Avatar
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    Re: Malapascua

    Canon 550D with a Tokina 10-17 fisheye, Aquatica housing, 6" port and twin Inon Z-240 strobes.

    I think the 550D* is a good pick as it is essentially a 7D (less one DIGIC 4 processor) in a smaller package**. This makes for a smaller and cheaper housing (about $2k). And it is 90-metre capable right out of the box.

    I love the whole setup, even if it weighs in at a hefty 7 kg. So, while the 5D is a great camera, I think it is overkill.

    Graham

    * Now superseded by the 600D; same diff though.
    ** My thanks to Andrew Fock for the tip; it saved me a sh*tload.

  7. #7
    RBW Member Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll is a jewel in the rough Clive O' Driscoll's Avatar
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    Re: Malapascua

    Quote Originally Posted by grahamsp  View Original Post
    Canon 550D with a Tokina 10-17 fisheye, Aquatica housing, 6" port and twin Inon Z-240 strobes.

    I think the 550D* is a good pick as it is essentially a 7D (less one DIGIC 4 processor) in a smaller package**. This makes for a smaller and cheaper housing (about $2k). And it is 90-metre capable right out of the box.

    I love the whole setup, even if it weighs in at a hefty 7 kg. So, while the 5D is a great camera, I think it is overkill.

    Graham

    * Now superseded by the 600D; same diff though.
    ** My thanks to Andrew Fock for the tip; it saved me a sh*tload.
    Ok thanks for the info. and the heads up

  8. #8
    RBW Member Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545 is a splendid one to behold Lancer4545's Avatar
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    Re: Malapascua

    Hey Graham,

    Nice pics....It seems you have got your head around the new camera :)

    Regards,

    Lance

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