The Tiny Philippines Island With A Shark Dive Perfect For Adventurers

There's an apex predator that roams tropical waters with a hunting routine quite unlike any other. The thresher shark, known for its unusually long tail, swims with elegant vigor toward an unsuspecting school of fish in search of its next meal. Then, with the precision of an airplane landing, it whips its tail upwards in an arc to stun an unlucky few. With speeds reaching 50 miles per hour, this impressive maneuver happens so fast that you might blink and miss the whole thing. For shark enthusiasts hoping to catch a glimpse of these majestic animals, you're in luck. Threshers have a year-round hangout in the Monad Shoal off the coast of the Philippines.


About 40 minutes by boat from Malapascua, the Monad Shoal is an underwater island with a flat surface at the top, perfect for threshers to come and get their teeth cleaned every morning. (Yes, you read that correctly.) About 100 feet below the surface, the sharks arrive at sunrise and open their jaws to cleaning fishes like the bluestreak cleaner wrasse, who dutifully remove ectoparasites from their mouths, gills, and skin. This symbiotic relationship is not only adorable, but it presents divers with a rare opportunity to see these elusive swimmers up close, as they prefer to hunt in deeper waters that are more challenging for humans to reach.

What to expect in thresher-filled waters

Monad Shoal is an advanced dive site, meaning you'll need to present your advanced diving certification to a divemaster before you can swim with the sharks. You can expect to wake up between 3:00 and 4:00 in the morning and be in the water by dawn so you don't miss the action. The threshers will arrive at the cleaning station in small groups of three or four. On a rare occasion, you might catch a glimpse of up to ten at a time.


Threshers are non-aggressive towards humans, with zero deaths on the books. In fact, this endangered species can be quite shy around divers. You may see them curiously circle nearby, keeping those large black eyes locked on you, or simply carry on about their day. To soak up every moment, it's common for divers to extend their dives with Nitrox and prolong each encounter. Once the thrashers move on, keep your eyes peeled, as they aren't the only regulars. It's not uncommon to spot giant manta rays, eagle rays, devil rays, reef sharks, octopuses, mandarinfish, and seahorses in this neck of the woods, along with hammerhead sharks from winter through spring.

Tips for planning your dive trip

Regardless of when you book a trip to Monad Shoal, a memorable encounter awaits. It's the only place in the world where you can see threshers daily. Evidently, like humans, these sharks are fans of having a solid routine. The conditions in the water are ideal from December to April, with high visibility and a low chance of rain. Of course, the better the views, the more likely you are to encounter crowds and high tour prices, so avoid weekends and holidays during the dry season.


Fortunately, there are several tour operators you can look into, like Ocean Passion Malapascua, a five-star dive resort affiliated with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). If you don't already have your certifications, you can enroll in the advanced open water course for $289 during your vacation. Once it's complete and you're ready to meet the threshers, a dive to Monad Shoal costs a mere $32, which includes all your rental equipment. Between harmless sharks and rock-bottom prices, we're all in.