Asia Dive Philippines

Taking PADI AOW in Malapascua, Cebu

A bunch of us decided we wanted to dive way deeper than the usual 18m… SO PADI ADVANCED OPEN WATER, WE’RE LOOKING AT YOU!

We took our first Open Water together at Malaysia’s Tioman Island, and figured, why not advance together too? Someone suggested Cebu, and we were contemplating whether to take on Malapascua or Moalboal. In the end, we chose Malapascua, of course. (I’ll come back for Moalboal and Oslob one day)

Getting there from Singapore


Took the verrrrry early morning Cebu Pacific flight from Changi Airport to Mactan Cebu International Airport, and then another four hours van transfer to the jetty. The transfer is organised by Thresher Shark Divers (website link) as part of the dive package. It was meant to be six hours, but the traffic was pretty good so… way better than expected. The boat ride was about an hour to Malapascua island.

On the way to Malapascua island. Tired, but excited.

Nearing the shore, the boat docked and we transferred to a smaller one. The sights of the beautiful clear skies and blue waters have got me way too hyped!


The waters were very clear and so was the weather. We were very blessed, because we were caught in a typhoon tail on the last day of our time on Malapascua island. The weather was grey, windy with light showers. So demoralising. All dives were cancelled that day!!! But FORTUNATELY, we’ve already done and passed our AOW. That was close!

Dive school and accommodation

Settled in at Thresher Shark Divers and we felt very welcomed immediately. Very nice and friendly peeps. I see some people taking their dive master or dive instructor course here, too. The dive school and restaurant’s system is pretty convenient. We just order any food or drink on tab – there’s no need for payment til the very end of the trip.


We were then shown to our accommodation. I was nervous because I didn’t know the details of the trip at all. For once, I did not do the planning. Haha! The control freak in me is taking a quick hiatus… But I was pleasantly surprised! Tepanee Beach Resort (TripAdvisor link) was apparently one of the best resorts out there on Malapascua and I’m loving the view.

However, be wary of the water supply… If you’re located on the upper level, chances are your water will be cut off if someone is showering downstairs at the same time. I had to shout to my friend to stop washing his dive equipment so I can take a damn shower! Omg lol!


And for the next few days, it was packed with early wake up calls, course dives and in the late afternoons, classroom sessions.

Doing the PADI Advanced Open Water course

We logged a total of six dives during the trip.

1st Dive – AOW Peak Performance Buoyancy dive
2nd Dive – Our first ever AOW Deep Dive at Monad Shoal
3rd Dive – Fun dive at Gato Cave
4th Dive – AOW Naturalist at Gato Wall
5th Dive – AOW Multi Level at Monad Shoal
6th Dive – AOW Navigation

We would be diving in the early morning til afternoon, and then head back to their classroom for theory until dinner time. There were 9 of us on the trip, with 7 taking AOW. So we were split into 2 groups. Four of us had Angus as our instructor, and I gotta say, he is such an awesome guy! Easy going and makes dives and classroom sessions very enjoyable.


We’ve also picked Malapascua because we wanted to see the famous thresher sharks!! I read that thresher sharks sightings are almost guaranteed, due to one of the sites, Monad Shoal, being a cleaning station for these bad boys. And true enough, we saw it during our first 6am dive!!! That was awesome! Saw it again the next day, but we weren’t as lucky as our other “already-AOW” buddies, who saw them up close in another dive.

Sadly I didn’t get to take any good photos of the thresher sharks.


I was nervous about night diving (but we took cave diving instead) because being underwater in the dark just sounds horrifying. But actually, it was not so bad if everyone stuck together. The photo above is the entrance of the Gato Cave. We got a surprise at the end of the cave.


A few white tip sharks just chilling around, awaiting our presence! Or not. Haha!


There were a few of them which made the course dive way more fun. For the next few dives we just did more navigational techniques and testing our buoyancy and trim.

Additionally, I was trying to get familiar with my new dive camera gear. I’ve been using Nikon AW120 which had been wonderful to me but URGH!!! The limit is 18m!! I should’ve had the foresight. So, I switched to Canon Powershot G16 along with a Fantasea Line FG16 underwater housing. I’m just happy it shoots in RAW so I can tweak the hell out of it in Adobe LightroomNEED. SOME. REDS! So far, it’s been pretty good.


I quite enjoyed our diving at Malapascua. There were some moments where I felt like I almost lost it, due to the ridiculous choppy waters but I told myself that I’d be wasting this trip if I didn’t make it out alive as a certified AOW diver. SO YEAH. Conquered my fear of drowning and crazy waves, and I’d like to give a shout out to Angus who was such an awesome instructor.


So finally did it! I finally got my AOW so deep dives, here I come!


Celebrated with some suspiciously colorful shots BUT AYYYY! Everyone was in a delightful mood so who cares! Thanks Thresher Shark Divers you guys were awesome!


Leaving Malapascua to Cebu City

Extremely sad to leave Malapascua. I loved the island and diving life. This time, it took us 6 hours to get back to Cebu City due to the rush hour. Traffic here is notoriously bad and we got the first hand experience. What a huge contrast of environment compared to the previous days.


Reached our hotel, Best Western (TripAdvisor link) during sunset and damn… The sunsets here remind me of the beautiful ones in my hometown, Brunei. For some reason, we can’t seem to get these type of paddle pop shades in Singapore. Why is that?


View from our hotel room. Isn’t that funny? Jollibee is almost like the ultimate mascot and symbol of Philippines and here it is, right outside our window. TWENTY FOUR HOURS!!!! Chickenjoy and Jolli Spaghetti I love you!! I also have to mention that our hotel location is pretty convenient for food and massages. There are plentiful of them scattered all around the vicinity of our hotel so that’s a huge plus. The nearby malls are within walking distance too, but we took a cab back when it got too late, just to be safe.


Had some R&R time so we went to try the zipline, which was a little underwhelming… Some other friends went off to nearby island Bohol to visit their friends and it looked way more fun, so maybe consider that if you aren’t sick of the island life yet.


Last hotel breakfast in Cebu City and back to Singapore we go. Malapascua has been great and I can’t wait to check out new dive sites as a newly certified AOW diver!

1 comment on “Taking PADI AOW in Malapascua, Cebu

  1. Pingback: Sardine run and whale sharks in Cebu – GIRL WANDERNAUT

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