Malapascua island diving

Wreck Diving in Malapacua

Wrecks on Malapascua Island

From beginner to technical diver, Malapascua has a wreck for you! 

A shipwreck is one of the most exciting locations a diver can dive. They are attractive to divers for many reasons:

  • They serve as an artificial reef, which creates a habitat for many types of marine life
  • Often a wreck is a large structure with many interesting parts and machinery, which is not normally closely observable on working, floating vessels
  • Wrecks often have an exciting or tragic history
  • Wrecks presents new skill challenges for scuba divers

In many places in the world ships are scuttled to create artificial reefs, on Malapascua all wrecks sank due to accidents or bad weather.

Impressive and Exhilarating

the dona marilyn

The Dona Marilyn is general thought of as the best wreck dive in the central Philippines (Visayas) area. She was a 98 meter passenger ferry that sank in a typhoon on October 24th 1988 while on the way from Manila to Cebu.

extend your bottom time with Enriched air nitrox

Due to it’s depth, from 18-32 m, it is ideal to dive this magnificent wreck on EanX to extend your time exploring it.

Nitrox fills are available for certified divers, if you aren’t yet, we recommend you doing the  PADI Enriched Air Nitrox course.

Wreck diving and technical diving

Ship wrecks are usually resting on the bottom on deeper parts of our oceans beyond the reach of recreational divers.

We offer a range of technical diving courses and the Dona Marilyn wreck is a perfect wreck for technical dive training preparing you for deeper challenges such as the Pioneer wreck.

Dona Marilyn Wreck

Wreck Diving Malapascua Island

Depth 18-32m / Travel Distance 90 mins

The Dona Marilyn was a Cebu-Manila passenger ferry that sank in a typhoon over 30 years ago. It was a huge disaster and many people lost their lives. The wreck is around 100m long, and now lying on its starboard side, amazingly still all in one piece. Long lost fishing nets encrusted in coral are draped all over it, giving it quite a spooky feel!

Marble rays, blue-spotted rays and whitetip sharks live under the bow and eagle rays and devil rays sometimes pass through. The wreck is covered in a healthy growth of soft coral, and the resident fish grow to a large size. Several varieties of sweetlips grow bigger here than at any of our other dive sites and the juveniles are often seen. Large cuttlefish and scorpionfish are common as well as nudibranchs and flatworms. A giant moray eel is living in the wreck. You can also see many of the beautiful purple fire sea urchins, accompanied by their resident zebra crabs and Coleman’s shrimp. Penetration is possible for qualified divers. 

Sadly the boat was recently partly salvaged before the dive association of Malapascua managed stop it, but it still remains mostly intact and is still a very impressive wreck. 

Due to its depth and often strong currents this is suitable for experienced divers only. 

Lighthouse Wreck

Depth 5m / Travel Distance 5 mins

The wreck at Lighthouse was a Japanese World War II landing craft. It was bombed just before landing with a large shipment of cement destined for a gun emplacement. The wreck is in very shallow water – 3m average – and is broken up with the hull in two pieces. The nearby rocks that you will see are actually bags of cement and you can still see the weave imprints on some of them!

Marine life around the wreck include yellow-tailed barracuda, hermit crabs, octopus, pipefish, juvenile harlequin sweetlips, and banded sea snakes. This is a great boat for wreck diving newbies and you may even dive on it during PADI Open Water course dives. It is also perfect for practicing reel use and running a line in preparation for wreck penetration into the Dona Marilyn Wreck (shown here) on the PADI Wreck Diver Specialty Course.

Nearby is  a great dive site for night dives, easily reached from the wreck to see abundant mandarinfish and seahorses.

Pioneer Wreck

Depth 42-54m / Travel Distance 10 mins

The “Pioneer” Wreck is still unidentified but thought to be either the Japanese WWII Oakita Maru or Mogami Maru.

It is about 60m long, in the upright position and still mostly in one piece. There is a torpedo hit on the stern but the prop is still remaining. The wreck has more fish than anywhere else on Malapascua due to its depth, as well as sharks, rays, barracuda and groupers. Only diveable when the tides are right, so you should arrange this in well in advance. Find out more about technical diving at TSD Tec.

Tapilon Wreck

Depth 22-28m / Travel Distance 30 mins

The ‘Taplion’ Wreck, is an unidentified World War II Japanese cargo carrier, named for the nearby town on the mainland. The boat was hit by torpedoes and although it lies in several sections, it is still recognizable as a vessel. There is an abundance of life on this wreck and it is covered in beautiful black coral, some bushes containing hundreds of almost invisible shrimp jumping around.

There are also many species of flat worms and nudibranchs, as well as moray eels, cuttlefish, squid, and scorpion fish. Huge marble rays are sometimes seen; also the fire sea urchin and its accompanying zebra crabs, squat lobsters and Coleman’s shrimp. Sometimes we have several ornate ghost pipefish and frogfish in residence and if you are lucky you will see a flamboyant cuttlefish.

A recent attempt to salvage the wreck uncovered bullets and bones so this is not a dive for the faint-hearted!