Evolution - Diving Malapascua Malapascua Island Reviews
Evolution = Awesome May 12, 2011
******This has also been posted to TripAdvisor****
This review will be two parts as there are two of us and we had different experiences. It is long VERY POSITIVE and worth reading if you want a good feel for Evolution, we hope this help you.
When we decided to go to Malapascua Island, I was keen to book with Exotic Divers as they are the biggest dive company on the Island.
I came across Matt Reed, one of the owners of Evolution Diving on Scuba board and then being the obsessive researcher checked out their website and trip advisor reviews.
I emailed Matt a few times regarding dive prices and accommodation which were always answered within 24 hours and full of information that came in handy on the most expensive and cheapest transport options to get to Malapascua, how many Threshers and Manta's they'd seen that day and other bits and amusing pieces.
We arrived at 10am on the island and decided to walk the whole way to Evolution which is on the other side. You can get a lift on a motorbike but we both hate getting hassled so we generally walk to get away from the mayhem, whether it be 500 metres to 2 kilometres. It was a 10 minute walk with massive backpacks on with no idea where we were going. You walk through the village but the locals are very friendly and pointed us in the right direction when asked.
When we arrived Matt wasn't there so co-owner David came up to us straight away and introduced himself and knew who I was which was nice. Since we weren't able to check into our rooms straight away we pulled up a seat at the Craic bar, plugged in laptops, charged Iphones and enjoyed a nice cold beer. There must be at least 8 power points around the bar so fantastic for checking in back home with their free wifi. We then produced our dive cards for David and filled in the usual forms. Then Matt arrived and introduced us to JoJo one of the DM’s who helped organise our crates for all our dive gear.
We stayed there from the 8-15th April and took one of their air con rooms for 2500 pesos per night. They only have four rooms at the moment. 2 with fan, 2 with aircon which face the Craic Bar and Dive operations. The room was large, new with a double bed and a single bed with lots of space and shelf room to put all our gear. There is no hot water in the rooms but it didn't matter as we were diving everyday. They have a nice sized veranda with two seats and a table to chill out plus 3 hammocks and beach chairs around the property to relax in. The beachfront is beautiful with white sand and the bluest of oceans.
The chef and kitchen staff at Evolution are food wizards. It was some of the best food I’ve ever tasted and I almost melted into the sand with a couple of the mains I had. They have a lunch menu with up to 3 items and a dinner menu with two starters, two mains and two desserts and the great concept is that it changes EVERYDAY. Dave has definitely scored the jackpot with the best chef in the Philippines. We ate at Sunsplash and Exotic and the food didn’t come close to the quality at the Craic Bar. There was always a mix of European and Asian food and vegetarian options if required. I have now grown to love green beans as much as the Chef does and try to eat it as much as I can when I cook meals at home now.
There was nothing that was too much trouble for the staff. I asked for a spare broom to keep on our balcony so we could sweep the sand off and a tub so I could do some clothes washing and they were provided to me in minutes.
The staff are what really make this place work. From Matt, David and Emma to the Craic Dealers (especially Janice), the Beagle and Juan Juan boat crews, the DM’s and the hard working dive operation guys who carry all those crates of dive gear and tanks. There was always a friendly smile and hello. Even little Zhandy chasing away stray dogs if they wandered onto the property.
JoJo, Nicola & James were great DM's who were confident in our diving abilities and let us explore without being too over-protective. Always ready to point us to critters of interest and photo opportunities.
Evolution are really the premier diving operation on Malapascua in my view. Just hope that it doesn’t get so busy from all these great reviews that they can’t fit us in next time!!
I miss Malapascua so much already and I know that most of it has to do with Evolution staff, Matt & Dave. See you all soon!!!
P.S Let it be known that Irish Dave does drink!!! Challenge him to an 'Irish Car Bomb'!
Roey is the researcher, I'm the slacker, so I knew nothing of these guys before I arrived. My first impression of Evolution was when we arrived at the Craic bar and Dave (one of the owners) personally greeted us, he knew Roey from the e-mails. Nice touch! I noticed they generally did this with all guests and divers. Another thing I observed was walk-in divers inquiring about dive prices.
I also liked that they never pushed anyone into diving with them. More than once I saw Matt or Dave talking to inquiring divers and saying "we're not the cheapest on the island but we offer safety, experienced trained staff, and great gear. Check out the other dive shops and shop around, feel free to come back and dive with us we'd love to have you". Relaxed confidence in their operation. I've seen so many dive setup try and lure you in and get you diving with them. Again nice change. Remember both the owners are experienced tech divers/ instructors and this shows. It is one of the most impressive dive operations I've dived with.
Diving. We did 15 or 20 dives each with these guys, with our own gear. What I noticed generally was lots of experienced divers diving here. Like they say about restaurants if you see the locals eating there its a good sign. Same with divers. That said, there were plenty of backpackers and new divers coming through so it appealed to all types of divers. The dive groups size was anywhere from 2-8. Generally about 4. Often 2 groups of 4 diving the same site but spread out. Monad and Gato trips had more for obvious reasons. If you go with the big operators on Malapascua your groups will be a minimum of 8 and that’s for local dives around the island. Small groups here were great.
On gear!! I used my own so I can’t fairly comment apart from it all looked in good condition. Something I really liked was all your gear was put in a large crate and labelled with your name when you arrived. Stored in a crate and carried to the boat in a the crate. Everything in one spot and no forgetting stuff. Simple but awesome, 1st time I've seen it anywhere.
Monad shoal and Thresher Sharks are what you’re here for. The Evolution dive masters (DM) were all very competent divers, most pursuing some level of tech training. All appeared better than the average DM that I've had in other places. They all dived their own gear in tech setup's. They lead by example with their technique and instruction. They were very aware of their dive groups. At Monad they instructed us to stay off the bottom and hover. AND if we had to, fin pivot on sand (not coral) while waiting for sharks. Doesn't sound very important but it is. What disappointed me about Monad (thresher sharks) was the number of other boats and the way operators treated the reef. I saw guides/DM's from other groups sitting on coral in front of their divers POOR FORM! The coral here is trashed from divers sitting, standing and beating the crap out of the coral. Good on you Evolution for standing your ground, and enforcing good diving and looking after the reef. The situation was the same at the mandarin fish dive. Other groups were all over the coral, we even had one guy kneel on staghorn coral in front of us. Jo Jo our DM thankfully made this mad diver aware of his actions and moved this guy on. For our group, JoJo found a clear patch of sand so we were close to the coral and mandarin fish but never interfering with either (see photo's!).
The dive sites are great, lot's of macro, frogfish, pipefish, nudi's, seahorses etc. Bantigue was great if your a macro camera person (like us) . The newly established house reef is not the “OH WOW” dive most tourists are after, but it was my favourite. Sand and seagrass bottom. Little macro critters everywhere. It would appeal to more experienced divers with camera's. I hope the guys keep it for the more experienced divers and it doesn't get trashed by diving traffic.
The accommodation was great. Clean, and well serviced, and being sooo close to the bar and dive shop (20 m) there was no issue with noise. For the price it was great value. Good Aircon and great fan (I reckon we only needed a fan). No fridge, no TV, but I can't imagine the need for either. Bathroom clean and neat. Cold showers BUT the dive shop showers are nice and toasty from being in the sun if you really desire a warm shower. Oh if your staying there breakfast's included!! The guys can help you with other accommodation options especially if your on a budget. If your not on a real tight budget, the transfer from Cebu is good value if you can split it between 4 or more people. Van is nice clean and new. Door to door pick up.
The Craic bar!! Awesome hang out. We visited pretty much everywhere on the island to have a beer and the Craic was probably the nicest, chilled out bar we and also quite popular. Hippocampus would be the next choice. The Craic staff are awesome and the food is some of the best I've eaten anywhere. They generally offer a limited number of dishes each day but the food is absolutely awesome, and varies in international style. I can't say I experienced food like it in the Philippines anywhere. Even in Australia I can't remember finding food this good without paying A LOT.
In an effort to minimise plastic bottles the bar will also fill your old water bottle (we used 1lt) for 15 peso which is great value and a great initiative. Free WiFi for customers too. The bar was the focus in between dives (as some where to chill and talk....not drink!!) for everyone. The owners, Matt and Dave were there most of the time chatting and talking. They were unassuming and genuinely friendly to everyone. The place had a real homely welcoming feel.
I was really impressed when Matt found out a few of us were interested in tech diving. He organised an impromptu evening talk on, gear, and tech training. There was no mention of courses or signing up for anything (no "so who’s signing" up at the end), just a really informative run through of gear, what’s good what’s bad and what to expect if you go down this path. It was very well received and informative.
Very professional dive set up, safe, environmentally aware. Very high standards.
Excellent dive staff, JoJo is a macro demon!!
Excellent bar, excellent food
Friendly hands on owners.
Would I go back? At the drop of a hat. If I do tech training in the future I will most likely do it here. I was that impressed. And no I'm not affiliated with these guys in any way just a very happy customer.
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Dive shop with great value and dive masters you can trust! Apr 06, 2011
when i was researching the web for a dive shop on Malapascua, there were more than the stars i can see in my city at night.
what caught my attention was their commitment to involve the local community. I was torn between Evolution (www.evolution.com.ph) and another very popular dive shop, but i chose Evolution for their involvement with the community. They employ local dive masters. Their local dive masters were former fishermen who knew the places very well. what better way to help the community and environment besides involving them in the protection of the precious dive sites.
I had a wonderful time diving with Evolution, going on almost every dive, if there is one. The dive masters were great, very attentive and always looking out for you. they kept a small group size, even though it cost them more.
The most amazing part, i saw my 1st shark here! :) my luck had never been so good. :D and after a few days of no thresher sharkss, I saw 1 on my last dive. it was surreal! i need to be back soon! would love to dive with them at Tubbatha, but it was fully booked for the whole dive season 2011 when I asked in Nov 2010!