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“Open water diving” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Thresher Shark Divers

Thresher Shark Divers
6013, Philippines
639276123359
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Type: Water sports
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Attraction Details
Owner description: PADI 5 Star IDC Dive Center, located on Malapascua Island in the Philippines. Offering daily thresher shark dives, mantas, hammerheads, reefs and wrecks, macro and muck diving, mating mandarin fish, seahorses, frogfish and much more. Small groups with experienced Divemasters and Instructors. TSD offers all the local dives sites, a full range of PADI courses from beginner to Instructor, dive internships and technical diving. British owned and run, professional and safe, with 8 years experience on Malapascua,
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities
Suzhou, China
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“Open water diving”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 4, 2013

I did the open water and open water advanced course with them and it was a really great experience. the staff were friendly and professional and the equipment was all clean and well taken care of. The food at the restaurant above the dive shop was the best I had while I was in the Philippines. I would highly recommend them for any diving courses. The staff are very good and made us feel safe and taken care of the whole time.

Visited February 2013
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“well organized, generally very professional dive center, just mind it's quite busy”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 1, 2013

The good :
Very organized, from the time I made the reservation including my lodging and a dive package to getting myself put on the manifest, to actually getting in the water, I knew where I was to be. The office staff put an effort into getting as many people on what dive they want to be even though they were swamped with people because it was Chinese New Year week (that meant some people got shifted from one boat to another going to the same location at a different time to make room for a bigger group which can be bad if you were surprised).

It never felt anonymous like some big operations, and all the staff both Western and local were friendly.

They always had several boats going out, with a variety of possible choices for which dives you want to do. Going to the further sites was good, as they were less trafficked with all the other local dive shops, so it's nice to have that choice. The surcharge on those was reasonable and always clearly explained.

Occasionally things slipped through (once they forgot my nitrox tanks but I should have double checked), but they were good to make up for it to me. But otherwise, all the essential equipment was on the right boat at the right time despite the numbers of boats and divers.

The DMs are good and know the sites. They do a good job of guiding you to see interesting things without being intrusive.

PS the food and atmosphere at the upstairs bar is good, I wound up taking almost all my dinners there

The bad :
There are many divers, several boats, and many divemasters. You have to be a bit flexible and double check the board to see if they rebalanced some people (see above). Double check your equipment got put on the right boat (always was in my case except that nitrox). Sometimes thing operate on island time (5:00 departure turns into 5:15 or 5:30, but I would have rather spent those 15 minutes in bed at that hour!).

I don't like the precommit to do a certain number of dives policy to get the quantity discount, I always fear that that's when I'd get congested and lose the money rather than risk a problem. Then again, the discount is big enough to make it worth the risk, but why is that necessary ?

A lot of Malapascua dive sites (esp Monad) get a lot of traffic, especially around CNY. That's not unique to this dive center as opposed to any other on the island.

Overall :
I think the staff and the diving were great, and I'd be eager to come back and use their services.

Visited February 2013
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Copenhagen, Denmark
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
“Diving factory”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

This place is too big for my taste. The staff is certainly friendly but it just got a bit too unpersonal for me and so I only had 2 dives while on Malapascua. 1 at Monad Shoal (awesome threshers!) and 1 night dive with so many other divers around that the main priority was to keep an eye on the dive master to not loose him of sight.

I would probably choose a smaller dive center if I ever got back to the island.

Visited January 2013
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scbrdvr, Owner at Thresher Shark Divers, responded to this review, April 22, 2013
Thank you to this reviewer for his comments. As the owner of TSD I take all feedback very seriously, both positive and negative. A diving factory is the last thing we aim to be and so I'm really sorry that this diver felt overcrowded.

Malapascua has had several periods recently when there have been a lot of divers on the island, and certainly not just at Thresher Shark Divers. Unfortunately this diver did his only two dives at the two dive sites that every dive shop on the island goes to at the same time every day, and so there were likely many other divers from other dive shops at the sites at the same time. These are:

1) Monad Shoal for the thresher sharks that are only there in the early morning

2) The mandarin fish night dive. The mandarins only come out in the 15 minutes at dusk so everyone has to go at exactly the same time.

TSD tries to keep away from other groups and other dive shops, but at busy times on the island it is not always possible. We have checked our records, and on this customer's night dive we had one boat on the dive site with a total of four customers on it. He was in a group of only 3 fun divers, and the 4th diver was in a group of his own.

It is possible he mistakenly thought that all the boats and divers at the dive site were from TSD, but they were not.

As we have great diving year round, when people ask me when is the best time of year to come, I always say that "low" season is our best time as, whilst the weather is usually still good, it is much less crowded. If this is not possible, at least try to avoid major holidays such as Chinese New Year when this diver came.

I apologise to this guest and I hope he gets the chance to come back another time and give us another try.
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Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“Professional and well-organised”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2013

Really enjoyed diving with Thresher Shark Divers. First of all, they were very helpful in explaining their rates and introducing me to the different dive sites. They were the only dive shop (of about 5 I visited) that actually had a nice book to browse with descriptions of the dive sites and photos of what you might see there. Why doesn't every dive shop have this? They generally seemed very well organised and tightly run. The food in their restaurant/bar area is great. The thresher dive is fantastic and there's some great macro dives around the island as well. Note that the mandarinfish Lighthouse dive can be pretty boring unless you are an underwater photographer. They're actually very hard to see at dusk so their amazing colours are only visible with flash photography.

Visited February 2013
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Taipei, Taiwan
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Advanced regular air divers should look for a different dive shop. Also, avoid TSD during busy season!”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 20, 2013

We stayed at Malapascua for 5 nights and I did 10 dives with TSD. First off, I have to say that the email communication, payment system and front office management was excellent. We had no problems paying for our dives in advance, there were no hidden charges and the transfers from Cebu to the island and back were on time and reliable. From this standpoint, I would give them 5 stars.

Understand that I was diving with TSD during Chinese New Year, which I knew was going to be a busy time. However, I did not expect 50 to 60 divers diving with this one dive operation. The boats were massively overcrowded. 15-18 divers per boat. And sometimes they would take 3 boats out to the same site. I'm guessing this is normal for Chinese New Year, but it seems to me that they over booked themselves.

Upon arriving at TSD i was given a thorough introduction to the dive shop and how things operated. At least, that was according to one of the owners. Unfortunately things don't operate exactly how she thinks they do. Here are a couple of examples:

1) Arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled time of your boat departure - Excellent idea. you have time to get things organized, so that everyone can board the boat on time and get to the dive site. HOWEVER - most dives left very late, 15 to 30 minutes after their scheduled time. Which means if you arrived 15 minutes before the scheduled boat departure, you were left standing around for 30 to 45 minutes! One particularly bad time we waited over an hour for boat departure because we didn't board until 30 min after our scheduled boat departure and then there was a dead battery on the boat. So we had to wait and wait and wait until a new battery was delivered to the boat. After waking up at 4:00 am to see the thresher sharks for a 5:00am boat departure, we didn't leave until 6:15am. Completely unacceptable. I did three morning thresher shark dives - we were the last boat to the dive site EVERY SINGLE MORNING. (and there were 18 other boats at the dive site waiting for us).

2) You will have dive briefings before your board the boat - Ok, seems logical. Arrive 15 min early so that you can have a dive briefing, meet your dive master, meet your dive buddy, get your gear organized. HOWEVER, I did 10 dives with TSD. I only had 2 briefings during this allotted time. I only twice knew my dive buddy before getting on the boat. That is completely unsatisfactory and unsafe. It turns out that dive briefings usually happen on the boat (5 out of 10 of my dives happened this way). I had three dives where I was not given a dive briefing AT ALL! One particularly bad time I was not given a buddy at all and the dive master didn't show himself to me until AFTER he was in the water. I was literally all geared up without knowing what the plan was.

3) Advanced diver that uses regular air? Get ready to be disappointed. I came back to the boat on 6 of my 10 dives with 85-100 bar of air left in my tank. On some of my dives, we were only down for 25-30 min before being told to go back to the boat for a safety stop. They would regularly fill the tanks to 200-220 bar, but I'd only get to use 80-100 bar before being told to return to the boat for a safety stop!

One exception to this was my visit to Calanggaman Island. I had a dive master named Livia and she was absolutely excellent. I was able to use all of my air in my tank down to 35 bar for both dives and I was able to record proper 1 hr + dives rather than these 30 to 35 min dives that I had experienced before (at the same depth). She was an excellent DM that went super slow so that you could enjoy the beauty underwater.

If you are a nitrox user, I'm sure that you would enjoy TSD. They seem to take care of nitrox users more than regular compressed air.

4) Professional dive masters - I've dived all over the globe for 20 years. I've seen my fair share of bad dive masters. TSD has a couple of those. There would normally be three dive masters per boat, leading three different groups. At times, the dive masters would clash the two groups into each other underwater creating confusion for many divers. This happened on 2 of my 10 dives. Other times the dive masters seemed to be in a hurry to get people down and the back to the boat. They need to understand that most divers are seeing these sharks for the very first time, so they shouldn't rush the divers and have them swimming all over the place so that they use all of their air quickly and return to the boat ASAP. There was also a ton of miscommunication about who was diving with who. The dive board at the shop said who the dive master was every morning. However, with at least 12-18 DM at the shop per day, you never knew who was who. Very impersonal place. I'd recommend Livia as a dive master she was excellent. I had a terrible run in with a DM in training. Her name was Henna. She was assigned to be my dive buddy on one dive and she verbally scoffed at the idea. As soon as we got in the water she tried to lose me as fast as possible. At one point during the dive, when two groups had collided together, she came over to me, very angrily and pointed at me to go in another direction than where our divemaster was taking us. I calmly pointed to where we should be going and she shook her head and took off, without me, in the other direction. Once she realized her error, and returned to the group, there was no apology or anything. If you ever have Henna as a DM when she gets certified, ask for a new DM.

All in all, this is a pretty big dive factory. Some people love that style, but not me. I found the owners to be very standoffish. They didn't even bother to come out to say good by when my family and I were leaving the island. I doubt they even knew when I was leaving or who I was.

The main reason to come to this island is the Thresher sharks. They are magnificent and plentiful. I'll give two stars for the sharks. The other star is for the front office and email communication. It was excellent.

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
scbrdvr, Owner at Thresher Shark Divers, responded to this review, March 27, 2013
As the owner of TSD, I take any negative feedback seriously. Both myself and all of management read this review with disappointment as it does not represent the dive services we aspire to provide and especially worked very hard on over this busy Chinese New Year period. I am very sorry that this guest did not enjoy his entire experience with us. He must have mistaken someone else for me as I was not on the island when he was there (the owner he mentioned may have been one of the managers), but I did investigate his problems as soon as the review was posted and also contacted him directly.

We take pride in looking after all customers whether they are in groups or alone, whether they are doing one dive or 20 dives on Nitrox or Air. Everyone receives a thorough arrival briefing, during which we emphasise that they should let us know if they have any problems immediately. Had we known his issues while he was here, we would have most certainly tried our very best to rectify them. There are unfortunately some things that are beyond our control, such as the problem with the battery for which we sincerely apologise. Fortunately on that dive we saw 9 thresher sharks so hopefully it did not spoil the dive. It is not our normal practice to leave late. However during busy times like this it is often the customers who are late and cause delays in the boats leaving. We ask that divers be there 15 minutes in advance in part because people are invariably late, forget/misplace equipment etc. and so arriving early gives time to sort this out. Unfortunately divers are not always there when they should be, and the staff have to balance having the boat leave on time with waiting for any late arrivals to grab their wetsuit. Generally the boats do leave on time but if all the divers are not there, if there are too many people around etc, the briefing would happen on the boat, and this perhaps should have been better communicated to this diver.

Monad Shoal (home of the thresher sharks) is a huge underwater reef that is frequented by all the dive shops on Malapascua. Because we have our own moorings on a certain part of the reef, the other boats are usually in a different area and generally do not affect our divers. We do not know what time the other dive shops will leave for the dive; everyone does not leave at the same time and we leave at the best time for our particular spot. I have been on Malapascua for 10 years, running shark dives every day, and contrary to Malapascua diving folklore, I well know that earliest is not always best and often the last boat gets the best sightings :)

Regarding nitrox divers: The cleaning stations are at an average depth of 22-28 meters and therefore it is usually the no-decompression limit that is the limiting factor for the dive time, rather than air consumption. Air divers can only safely dive for about 35 minutes without going into deco. Staying down beyond these limits will put divers at risk for Decompression Sickness (the Bends). I have checked the DMs dive computers for the shorter dives of this guest and they were all ended due to their No Decompression Limit.

That’s why we recommend Nitrox on the shark dive; not to give customers preferential treatment, but to give them a longer bottom time. We are a long way from the nearest chamber in Cebu and we therefore err on the side of caution and set a minimum no-deco time of 5 mins which is also explained in the orientation and our rules and regulations form that everyone reads and signs. Safe diving practices are our priority above everything. Perhaps this could have been communicated better.

Our boats are large and custom made for diving and to hold 15-18 customers. Having checked our boat records, on all the dies this ciustomer did with us, the maximum number of diving customers was 13. For this number of divers we would always allocate at least 3 Divemasters plus a permanent boat crew of 3 persons to help assist divers in and out of the water. So although the number of persons on the boat may have seemed high, the ratio of TSD staff to customers was low. We are sorry if he perceived this as over-crowding, but we provide this number of staff to create a more personalized service.

All feedback is very helpful to us as is this. We pride ourselves on having a personal approach even when busy – we like to think we offer the advantages of a large dive shop (such as larger choice of dive sites) with the benefits of a small shop environment (such as small group size).

Having contacted the guest directly, he has agreed to try to return at another time and get to see us at at our best :-)
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