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Thread: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

  1. #1
    RBW Member marlas is an unknown quantity at this point marlas's Avatar
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    Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Myself and my Partner have just returned from our well earned diving holiday in the Phillipines with Evolution Diving on Malapascua island. Can’t recommend it enough!

    Once we had decided on a holiday, we then had to work out where we were going – we knew we wanted sun and diving. As we both dive on rebreathers, we also needed a dive centre that was able to provide the necessary support. We sent out a load of emails to make initial enquiries, and from the outset, Matt at Evolution was very helpful, quick to reply, and clearly understood what we needed. It made the choice quite easy.

    Arriving at Cebu, our transport to the island was waiting for us. It is a three hour journey in the car followed by a forty-five minute boat crossing to get to Malapascua – not exactly my idea of fun! But, the fact that the island is a little more of a challenge to get to is what helps it to keep it the way it is – peaceful, relaxed and welcoming. Malapascua has very little development to speak of beyond the strip of dive centres on the south of the island. The place is absolutely beautiful…. White sand beaches and clear blue water – tropical island paradise!

    On arrival we were warmly greeted by David (one of the owners) and some of the many local staff. They even had food waiting for us. Our accommodation was onsite at Evolution. They have a number of beach cottages on site. All are well kept, clean, comfortable and reasonably priced.

    The following morning we met Matt and got a chance to take a look around. It doesn’t take long to realize that the guys have looked to establish Evolution as a centre for tech diving as well as recreational diving. They have everything you need – sofnolime, oxygen, helium (not too expensive either!), booster pump, gas analyzer, tools, stage cylinders, stage regs, rebreather cylinders……. Most importantly, you realise straight away that Matt is a very experienced and knowledgeable tech/rebreather diver himself and able to offer all the advice and assistance you could need.

    With regards to the setup for tech diving, this is again where the guys at Evolution set themselves apart. They are one of the only companies that we came across that offered a 'tech' diving rate (as opposed to a 'recreational' one). With the wealth of experience that Matt has behind him, he understands the potential demands of tech divers, as well as the possible frustrations of grouping 'tech' and 'rec' divers together on the same trip. With this is mind, he was always sure to consult with us on exactly what dive we were hoping to do (in terms of site, runtime, gas requirements etc), and then ensure that the logistics to make it run smoothly were in place. As such, we were always free to dive as long as we wanted, while never feeling that there were people waiting on us.
    On top of this (and very importantly!) the boat captains and crew were clearly well practiced in catering to tech divers - always there to help with kitting up when needed, always dropped in the right spot, happy to drift along following an SMB for a while (!), and with a good understanding of 'yellow SMB' procedures and what to do with the o2 drop bottle if needed - and always with a smile on their face (well... Philippinos always do!). Needless to say, the tech diving rate was a little higher, but this ensures that the dives you get are exactly what you wanted. It also included the hire charge of up to three stages cylinders per dive (all sizes available) as well as ALL your o2 requirements (whether for the rebreathers or bailout/deco gases). Well worth it in our experience.

    As for the actual diving itself… absolutely fantastic! If you didn’t know already, Malapascua is well known for its thresher shark encounters. And we certainly had our fair share. Diving on the rebreathers gave us the additional depth and/or time we needed to experience these stunning sharks all on our own. Add to this the eagle rays, devil rays and a host of other critters – we were more than happy. If you are a lover of beautiful, pristine reefs then Malapascua can’t offer you this. To be honest, there was not a lot of fish life. But this was more than made up for by the other weird and wonderful stuff we came across. On the house reef alone there was a few firsts for me – seahorses, pygme seahorses, ghost pipefish, frogfish, ‘grazing’ catfishes, sea hares, sea moths! The list goes on. You have to look for this stuff (or have one of the Evolution dive guides) but it was well worth it. And for those (like me) that like a bit of metal, there are wrecks on offer at both tech and recreational level

    We are already working out when we can get back there. The whole experience was exactly what a holiday needs to be – relaxed and taken at whatever pace we wanted. If I was going to find things to criticize it would be difficult. The food on offer was different every day, and was always delicious. Only thing was that I have quite an appetite after a day of diving that wasn’t always quite satisfied! But that would be it.

    Thanks again to Matt, David and the whole team at Evolution diving. Hopefully some pictures attached....!
    Attached Images

  2. #2
    Asia's rEvo Gal :) Jacqueline has a spectacular aura about Jacqueline has a spectacular aura about Jacqueline has a spectacular aura about Jacqueline has a spectacular aura about Jacqueline has a spectacular aura about Jacqueline has a spectacular aura about Jacqueline's Avatar
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Good to see a nice report from you. I was there back in 2004, probably the dive facilities were not so developed yet thus didn't gave me a good impression.

    But, I have to agree that diving was fantastic.

    Cheers

  3. #3
    RBW Member jlovold is a jewel in the rough jlovold is a jewel in the rough jlovold is a jewel in the rough jlovold is a jewel in the rough jlovold is a jewel in the rough jlovold is a jewel in the rough jlovold is a jewel in the rough jlovold's Avatar
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Quote Originally Posted by Jacqueline  View Original Post
    Good to see a nice report from you. I was there back in 2004, probably the dive facilities were not so developed yet thus didn't gave me a good impression.

    But, I have to agree that diving was fantastic.

    Cheers
    Evolution Diving opened in 2010, and is in a class of their own on Malapascua, if not in Asia...

  4. #4
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Hello Marias, thanks for all the info. I went to the PI back in 03', to Alona. And while I found the German owned dive op to be accommodating and entirely pleasant, the diving, even in a supposed 'park' was missing any fish over a .75m. The best diving I did was at an island that charged a small fee and was outside the 'park'. Good amount of fish and the only place I saw anything of any size-a 1m+ Napoleon Wrasse and a 1m+ Giant Trevally, both below 40m. Never would have seen them without CCR.

    If you like wildlife and untouched wrecks, and aren't trying to do things on the cheap, I can wholeheartedly recommend the liveaboard Golden Dawn in Papua New Guinea. The capt dives and teaches CCR and is one of the most knowledgeable divers I've ever met. Best diving in the world hands down, and fantastic scenery above the water. Not cheap, but worth every penny, you won't want to dive anywhere else if you don't have to.

    Close second is Indonesia. My CCR friendly recommendations:
    -Aqua Marine Bali
    -Blue Marlin liveaboard to Komodo
    -Alor Dive, land based Alor
    -Maluku Divers, land based Ambon/Spice Islands

    Happy trails, -Andy

  5. #5
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Hello Marias, thanks for all the info. I went to the PI back in 03', to Alona. And while I found the German owned dive op to be accommodating and entirely pleasant, the diving, even in a supposed 'park' was missing any fish over a .75m. The best diving I did was at an island that charged a small fee and was outside the 'park'. Good amount of fish and the only place I saw anything of any size-a 1m+ Napoleon Wrasse and a 1m+ Giant Trevally, both below 40m. Never would have seen them without CCR.

    If you like wildlife and untouched wrecks, and aren't trying to do things on the cheap, I can wholeheartedly recommend the liveaboard Golden Dawn in Papua New Guinea. The capt dives and teaches CCR and is one of the most knowledgeable divers I've ever met. Best diving in the world hands down, and fantastic scenery above the water. Not cheap, but worth every penny, you won't want to dive anywhere else if you don't have to.

    Close second is Indonesia. My CCR friendly recommendations:
    -Aqua Marine, Bali
    -Blue Marlin liveaboard, to Komodo
    -Alor Dive, land based Alor
    -Maluku Divers, land based Ambon/Spice Islands

    Happy trails, -Andy

  6. #6
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    thanks for the report. i was out there diving OC with thresher shark divers 2 years ago. it was pretty cool seeing the threshers but even then Monad Shoal seemed over-crowded with too many dive boats on the site. i remember hearing folks saying at the time that two more shops were just opening up. hopefully there's still room for the threshers out there...

    must have been incredible seeing them on CCR (assuming you could get far enough away from the bubbling crowds)!

  7. #7
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Marlas could you please tell us some more about the wrecks that are in the area?

    Silent Running is there a trip report from your dives with Aqua Marine? I dive Bali a lot and was wondering what they did for O2 fills?

  8. #8
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Hello Marias, thanks for all the info. I went to the PI back in 04', to Alona. And while I found the German owned dive op to be accommodating and entirely pleasant, the diving, even in protected areas, was missing any fish over a .75m. The best diving I did was at an island that charged a small fee and was outside the 'park'. Good amount of fish and the only place I saw anything of any size-a 1m+ Napoleon Wrasse and a 1m+ Giant Trevally, both below 40m. Never would have seen them without CCR.

    If you like wildlife and untouched wrecks, and aren't trying to do things on the cheap, I can wholeheartedly recommend the liveaboard Golden Dawn in Papua New Guinea. The capt dives and teaches CCR and is one of the most knowledgeable divers I've ever met. Best diving in the world hands down, and fantastic scenery above the water. Not cheap, but worth every penny, you won't want to dive anywhere else, if you don't have to.

    Close second is Indonesia. My CCR friendly recommendations:
    -Aqua Marine, Bali
    -Blue Marlin liveaboard, to Komodo
    -Alor Dive, land based Alor
    -Maluku Divers, land based Ambon/Spice Islands

    Happy trails, -Andy

  9. #9
    Still Searching matt_reed is an unknown quantity at this point matt_reed's Avatar
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Quote Originally Posted by RedSeaDiver  View Original Post
    Marlas could you please tell us some more about the wrecks that are in the area?
    Thanks for the write up Ian, it was good having you here and a shame I couldnt squeeze in more dives with you!

    RedSeaDiver, you can have a look on the evolution website for a bit more info, but in short there's 2 main wrecks -
    Dona Marilyn - a 100m long ferry wreck sunk in 1988 in a storm, she lays on her starboard side in 32m(110ft) of water leaving the shallowest point at around 15m(50ft). Covered in black corals and surrounded by fish life, and open to some penetrations. You can swim pretty much from bow to stern inside, and as she has rarely been penetrated by divers there are still quite a lot of interesting things to see. Many artifacts of the people who were on board at the time of sinking, as well as cups, plates, glasses, and many pharmaceutical supplies including plastic bottles of shampoo etc and blister packs of something like aspirin, and medicine bottles of liquids.

    Mogami Maru - a converted japanese fishing vessel sunk in September 1944 by the Americans as they retook the Philippines. 60m(200ft) long, sitting upright in 52m(170ft) and relatively intact. Fairly small but enjoyable for at least 2-4 dives due to artifacts and "poking around" factor. We have found vinyl records with the labels intacts which show the name of a geisha singer and the producer and the song title. unfortunately unable to play them though! We've found a sword polishing block, teacups identical to ones I found in Chuuk, and recently we've come across some human remains. So lots to see and I'm confident more treasures to be found there.

    Check out this video and this
    Hope that answers your questions...

    Matt.

  10. #10
    RBW Member s3v3rin is an unknown quantity at this point s3v3rin's Avatar
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    Re: Phillipines, Malapascua Island, Cebu

    Hi,

    I went diving with Evolution because of this trip report here!



    Here's my impression of the diveshop (sorry, I just copied it from Trip-Advisor):


    I contacted Evolution Dive by email after I read a trip report in a forum... response came back less than 15 minutes later... all my questions (Rebreather support, transfer from airport to Malapascua, ...) answered so I booked my flights.

    Leaving the airport the driver was waiting for me and after a stop at a shop to get some water he drove me (ca. 3h) to a harbor where one of the nice Evolution dive boats got me (30 minutes) to the island. Arriving there I was friendly welcomed and after some paperwork the showed me my working space in the tec room where I could setup and store my gear. Tools were provided by them and the tanks were filled with the gas mixes I asked for.

    The next morning I did a check dive (together with open circuit fun divers) to make sure that everything on my rebreather is working.
    The local crew on the dive boats (have a closer look at dive boat names^^) was absolutely professional: they new when and where to touch my equipment when helping me gearing up. After the first dive they knew which bailout/deco tank I want to have on which D-Rings...
    For the afternoon Matt Reed (one of the owners), a dive master and myself planned a tec-dive (V-Planner).

    All the dives on the following days Matt himself guided me on his rebreather (very experienced, knows what he is doing and plans dives on your desires... sometimes on a privat boat just for us two! We had a lot of fun on the dives and also after the dive during the debriefings (beer^^) in the diveshop's restaurant (the Craig House) where you could also order from the daily changing menu. The girls there were really friendly and (same for the dive crew) called you by name speaking very good english (as far as I can tell).
    I also stayed in their beachfront bungalows which are really nice, big, next to the shop but still quiet!
    For the night I had to spend close to the airport Matt also organized a nice room + transfer.

    I definitively can recommend Evolution Dive, not only for tec diving... I have seen one of the Philippino recreational dive guides under water with absolute perfect trim/body position in the water. They are also really professional and with their sharp eyes finding cool stuff you will enjoy safe and good diving!

    Fazit:

    - : quite expansive food in the restaurant (but it is really good and fresh!!!)
    - : organized transfer expansive (but I'd rather pay more and not have to sit more than 3h in a non aircon bus with chicken shitting on my heavy equipment, bargaining with public boat captians or carrying my bags to find decent accommodation)

    + : everything you want - Evolution will arrange it for you
    + : absolute professional (from the boat crew, equipment rooms, diveshop setup, ...)
    + : even more friendly (than you anyway expect in the Philippines)
    + : good and safe diving
    + : reabreather/tec dive - friendly
    + : nice place (quiet area, awesome beach in front of the shop, ...)
    + : ...

    Hope to be able to get back there soon for some more diving and having a good time!!!



    Grüßle Jan

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