A trip to the Philippines is quite an adventure! We understand there are a whole lot of things you need to think about before you join us there. We have tried to compile a list of the most important and common questions we think you will have. Take a look here, and if you still can’t find the info you need, we always like to receive emails.
Booking your Expedition
Can anyone join a People and the Sea expedition?
We have just a couple of requirements if you would like to join us on Malapascua. The first of these is that you are at least 18 years of age. There is no maximum age limit! The second of these is that you are in a reasonable state of fitness and in good health.
All volunteers involved in diving activities (we do accept non diving volunteers!) are required to visit their doctors prior to departure with the Diving Medical Form which you can download below. This form must be filled out and signed by you (the volunteer) on page one, and by your Doctor (physician) on page two.
Other than these two restrictions, anyone is welcome to join us!
How do I join an expedition with People and the Sea?
Excellent! We are very happy you have decided to join us in Malapascua. We have no doubt it will prove to be one of the most fulfilling and memorable experiences of your life!
To get things moving, we would ask that you fill out our ‘Online Application Form‘. Having recevied that, one of our team will get back to you within two days.
You can also contact us by email. At a minimum, please indicate:
- Your full name
- If you wish to dive, or join as a land-based volunteer.
- (If diving, your current level of qualification)
- How long you would like to join us for
- When you would like to volunteer.
Please be aware that we do ask for a deposit of 20% of the expedition cost at the time of booking to secure your place.
What previous experience is required to volunteer with People and the Sea?
Our volunteer expeditions do not assume any previous experience, in either diving or scientific fields.
All we would say is that a positive attitude, a willingness to learn and a sense of adventure will add to the whole experience – not just for you, but for everyone involved!
What are the dates of the expeditions?
All of our expedition dates are available to view on the Expedition Dates and Prices page.
Our expeditions typically start on the first Saturday of each month. Thats means that we would expect you to arrive on Malapascua on that Saturday. You will be met by our Site Manager who will then take you to our expedition site and introduce you to the team!
We can accommodate a certain degree of flexibility with regards to your expedition start date. A lot depends on your level of diving experience and certification. If you don’t see a start date that suits you, get in touch with us directly and we can see what the possibilities are!
What if i am unable to join for the full four weeks?
It is important to mention here that we do welcome non-diving volunteers also. In this case your contribution would be exclusively to our on-going community engagement projects. Rest assured, there is plenty of important work to be done here – our approach understands the need to place the local community at the centre of any conservation efforts. If this sounds of more interest to you, then our minimum require stay is only two weeks.
With regards to ‘diving based’ expeditions, there is the option to join one of our expeditions for less than the usual four weeks. However, this will depend on your level of diving qualifcation and previous experience. In this case, please get in touch with us so we can discuss the options available.
What is included in the expedition fee?
Please see the Expedition Dates and Prices page for a full list of what’s included.
What is NOT included in the expedition fee?
There are some costs associated with the expedition that are not covered by the fee you pay to People and the Sea. Please take a look at the Expedition Dates and Prices page for a full list.
For any of these items, please feel free to contact us for any advice/guidance you might need. We are happy to offer you recommendations based on our experience.
Getting ready to go
How do I get to the Philippines?
The capital Manila, is a globally connected city and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport is by the far the countries busiest with the widest choice of flight destinations. If you choose to arrive in Manila, there are regular internal flights between Manila and Cebu City. The main operators of internal flights in the Philippines are:
- Cebu Pacific
- Philippine Airlines
- Air Asia
Another option that may make your journey easier is to fly directly to Cebu City. There are international flights arriving here from a number of major destinations: Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul and Tokyo and Dubai.
What are the Visa requirements for the Philippines?
The large majority of tourists are able to obtain a 30 day visa upon arrival in the Philippines. This can usually be extended for a fee (approximately 60 Euros).Your passport is required to be valid for at least six months from the date of arrival in the Philippines.
Click here to visit The official Philippines Bureau of Immigration.
Follow this link for a somewhat more simple explanation of the Philippines Visa Policy.
If you are at all unsure of the visa situation, you should contact your nearest Philippine Embassy.
How do I get to the field site on Malapascua?
You expedition begins once you arrive with us here on the island of Malapascua! Of course you will need to get here first. Don’t worry, we will give you detailed instructions and guidance on how to make the journey. Rest assured, the Philippines is an easy place to travel.
For most people, the journey will involve a transit through Cebu City (the nearest big city in the province). If you need to spend a night in Cebu, we can offer you some recommendations.
The journey to the island itself will take between 5-7 hours in total. We suggest you leave Cebu City early in the morning to arrive in good time on the island.
Can I get money on the island?
There is an ATM on the island of Malapascua. However, especially in the ‘high season’ it is used a lot, and it is not uncommon for it to run out of money.
As such, we would advise that you withdraw some money in Cebu City prior to your arrival on Malapascua.
There is a safe in the People and the Sea office where money can be kept for the duration of your stay.
All of your accommodation, food and drink (water) expenses are included in the expedition fee. You will need to consider having money for the following items:
- Soft drinks and snacks
- telephone/internet expenses
- Personal expenses e.g. purchase of gifts/souvenirs/massage
- There are restaurants/bars on the island. You are of course free to visit them in your spare time.
When you book your expedition, we will send you a ‘Pre-Departure Handbook’. In there you will find a guide on the cost of these (and other) items that should allow you to gauge more accurately how much money you might want to take with you.
I have specific dietary requirements. Can you accommodate this?
Yes. Needless to say, you need to give us specific details about any dietary requirements that you have at the time of booking.
What will the weather be like?
Most of the Philippines have a typical tropical marine climate. You will find typically hot and humid weather throughout most of the year. From June to September, the country experiences a rainy season. In this period typhoons are common. From October to February, the northeastern monsoon brings cooler winds from the north and dryer weather. From March to May the Philippines experiences very hot summers. The country’s average temperature ranges from 25 degrees Celsius – 32 degrees Celsius (78-90° Fahrenheit), with humidity around 80%.
Basically, it will be hot. We would suggest that you pack accordingly! It would be wise to bring one set of warm clothes in case. But no more.
If your expedition falls in the rainy season, a waterproof jacket would be wise.
LIGHT long sleeved/legged clothes are recommended for the evenings – there are mosquitos on Malapascua!
Do I need insurance?
Yes. You are required to have two forms of insurance in place prior to the start of your expedition:
Scuba diving insurance: With regards to the diving insurance we would strongly recommend the insurance offered by Divers Alert Network. They are specialists in dive insurance and provide comprehensive and professional cover and support for any diving related injury/illness.
This is a recommendation only! You are of course welcome to fnd your diving insurance elsewhere. Please be sure to check the policy details carefully. You need ‘recreational’ cover up to a maximum depth of 30 metres (no technical/solo/decompression diving).
Travel insurance: There are a wide range of providers and levels of cover available here. As a guide, we require that you have coverage for the following:
- Emergency medical cover (for injury and illness).
- Liability to third parties
- Repatriation costs where required (for example (but not limited to) medical emergency or ‘force majeure event’)
- Cancellation of your expedition
People and the Sea will ask to have copies of these two insurance certificates on file before you join us in the Philippines.
Life on Malapascua
How can I be contacted on the island?
While Malapascua is ‘off the beaten track’, it is still well connected with the outside world.
Mobile phone reception on the island is, on the whole, quite reliable. We would obviously suggest that you check with your mobile provider about costs of using your phone in the Philippines, as it can prove to be quite expensive. Another alternative would be to obtain a Philippine SIM card for your phone.
Internet connection on the island is readily available, and can be of a reasonable speed. Skype/Facetime calls are possible, but not always as reliable.
What happens if I would like to stay longer?
No problem! We know you will love Malapascua – it is a fantastic place! If you decide during the course of your expedition that you would like to stay longer then you would need to speak to your expedition manager to discuss this. While we cannot guarantee that it would be possible, it is rare that we cannot accommodate this request.
What we would point out is that the tourist visa issued for stays in the Philippines is valid for one month. If you decided to stay longer with us you would need to extend your Visa. This can be easily done, but would involve a day trip to Cebu City. Costs on this are not exactly clear (!!) but you can reckon on it being in the region of 3000 PHP (Approximately 60 Euros).
The exact costs of extending the length of your expedition would need to be discussed at the time but you can get an indication from the Expedition Dates and Prices page.
How many volunteers are there on each expedition?
Currently, all People and the Sea diving expeditions are limited to a maximum of six volunteers.
However, we do also accept non-diving volunteers, of which we can accommodate 10 at any one time. That means there will never be more than 16 volunteers on site at any one time.
Are there opportunities for travel during the expedition?
While on the island you get one day off each week (nearly always on Sunday), so you don’t have a great deal of time to head elsewhere anyway. On that one day off, we do ask that all volunteers remain on Malapascua. If you don’t feel like just relaxing and taking in the island lifestyle, you are of course free to explore the island further. It may be small, but there is still plenty to keep you amused, and it is a very welcoming place to simply wander around!
Having completed the expedition, if you have more time, we would definitely recommend taking the opportunity to travel around the Philippines a little more – it is a truly remarkable country! Please bear in mind that if you choose to do this, you will need to obtain an extension to your Visa
What if I am already a qualified diver?
Diving is the core focus of the expedition. No previous diving experience is required as the over the course of the first two weeks of you time on the island will undertake formal scuba diving tuition. This will involve two courses: the PADI Open Water and PADI Advanced Open Water courses. More information on all aspects of the diving can be found on the Diving Info page.
However, we understand that some people may already hold one or both of these qualifications. If that is the case, you will not need to repeat the training:
If you are already an Open Water Diver, you will be asked to complete a Check Dive with our on-site instructor (involving at least one open water dive), and then undertake the Advanced Open Water Course.
If you are qualified to at least Advanced Open Water Diver (or higher) you will still be asked to undertake a Check Dive. This will apply to all volunteers regardless of experience.
We would ask that all volunteers with previous dive qualifications bring their certification cards and log books with them on the expedition.
The costs of any required dive training are all included in the Expedition Fees (with the exception of required PADI materials and certification costs). This means that all your professional instruction, kit hire, air fills, boat fees, and marine park fees will be covered. No need to worry about any extras!
Do I need any scuba diving equipment?
We do ask that you bring certain ‘personal’ items of scuba diving equipment with you. This includes:
- Diving mask
- Strap/Open heel fins
- Wetsuit boots
- Wetsuit – at least a 3mm full suit
For your safety, we do insist that volunteers use a dive computer on all dives. People and the Sea have dive computers that can use for the duration of your expedition for a weekly 12.50 Euro charge (and a 100 Euro deposit). Otherwise, you may choose to buy yourself one before you come and join us!
If you would like further information/advice about purchasing these items, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.
All other required equipment is provided by People and the Sea.
Are there any requirements for participation in scuba diving activities?
Yes. You need to get medical approval from your Doctor/GP before leaving for the Philippines. Please take a look at the ‘Can anyone join a People and the Sea expedition?’ question for more information.
In addition to that, anyone wishing to undertake a scuba diving qualification must be able to swim 200 metres and perform a ‘survival float’ (similar to treading water) for ten minutes.
Do you accept non divers?
We realise that there are some people who are either unable to dive (usually for medical reasons) or who may have tried it before and decided that it isn’t for them.
But that doesn’t mean that you are not welcome to join us on Malapascua. It is really only the diving itself that you wont be involved with. However, you would still have full involvement in all science training and survey techniques, and you would put these into practice on a selection of shallower sites that are suitable for snorkelling. All other aspects of your stay would be the same as for scuba divers.
So, diving or not, we will still be able to keep you busy!
If you are a non-diving volunteer, the cost of the expedition is lower to reflect this. Please take a look at the Expedition Dates and Prices page for further details.
Is the science training demanding?
People and the Sea expeditions do not assume any previous knowledge. As such the science elements of the program are not of an advanced level. The science will include basic lectures on coral and fish identification, survey techniques, the importance of conservation, marine protected areas and other related topics. We have created a science syllabus that is informative, comprehensive, accessible and while it is tailored to your stay on Malapascua, we feel it will provide valuable knowledge and skills for the future.
What do I get at the end of the expedition?
Our expeditions are set up to provide meaningful contributions to real scientific research projects, undertaken in partnership with academic institutions. However, we would like to make clear that participation in the expedition does not leave you qualified in the field of scientific research. We hope it will prove to be a starting point, and the inspiration to pursue greater things once you leave.
A certificate of participation will be issued at the end of your stay, and letters of reference are available on request.
What you do leave us with is your two diving qualifications. Both diving certifications are valid for life and do not expire. They can be used at any dive centres anywhere in the world!
Will I be tested?
The information we collect with the help of our volunteers is used in a variety of ways. In all cases, it is essential that the data is accurate and relaible.
In order to achieve this, we have to ensure that the volunteers we train are competent when conducting surveys without the assistance of our on-site staff. As such, in conjunction with our science trainng programme, we have developed a staged testing process that involves both land-based and in-water elements.
But don’t worry! Even for those people with no previous diving or marine science background, there should be no problems. Of course, it is our job to give you the training you need to pass these tests.
I am studying for a degree/Masters. Can I use the data as part of my dissertation?
A core focus of People and the Sea in Malapascua is to establish and maintain a robust, science driven, research base on the island. As such, we would welcome any university students who would like to incorporate their contribution on Malapascua into an academic research project.
The details of such a proposal would need to be discussed in advance.