Got some questions?

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.

Any volunteers involved in diving activities are also required to visit their doctors prior to departure with the RSTC Diving Medical Form (which will provide you with). 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?

Great! We are very happy you have thinking of joining us in Malapascua.

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.

Should that not be possible, you can also contact us by email. At a minimum, please indicate:

  • Your full name
  • 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 10% 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, even in 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 and introduce you to our team!

If you are joining us for a diving expedition, 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?

We strongly believe that for you to really make the most of your volunteering experience with us, you need a certain amount of time to get familiar with the island, the people and, of course, our team – you will work closely with them after all!

Having tried different options in the  past, we do feel that 4 weeks does represent the minimum length of stay to achieve meaningful and fulfilling outcomes.

There are rare, and exceptional, circumstances where we will consider shorter stays but we would need to discuss these in advance. This would occur mostly for those who are involved in a diving expedition and would arrive with a decent level of prior diving experience.

What is/isn't included in the expedition fee?

Please see the Expedition Dates and Prices page for a full list of what is and isn’t included.

For any of the items that are not included in the expedition fees, 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 closest international airport to Malapascua is Cebu City. It is served by a number of major interntional airlines (see below). We would suggest that this is the easiest arrival airport for you to choose.

The other option you have is to fly to Manila – the capital of the Philippines. While this is a better connected airport, you will then need to get an additional internal flight to Cebu. There are regular flights between the two cities operated by:

  • Cebu Pacific
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Air Asia
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. Our ‘Pre-Departure Handbook” will explain everything that you need to know. In addition to that, we will make sure that you are in contact with our Site Manager on Malapascua, who will be on-hand to help you out if needs be. Rest assured, the Philippines is an easy place to travel.

For most people, the journey will involve a transit through Cebu City. 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.It is for this reason that we recommend that you try to find a flight that arrives early in the morning in Cebu. If this is not the case, it would be best to arrive in Cebu on a Friday, spend the night in the city, and then be ready to leave to Malapascua early the next morning.

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. This is also the period in which typhoons can be experienced.

From October to February, the northeastern monsoon brings cooler winds from the north and dryer weather. It should be mentioned that typhoons do remain a possibility in the later months of the year

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 insurance in place prior to the start of your expedition. We will ask to see and retain copies of your insurance documents for the duration of your stay with us.

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

FOR THOSE THAT ARE DIVING, YOU ARE ALSO REQUIRED TO HAVE 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).

Ready to make a difference?

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, reasonably 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, and one that we would suggest, would be to obtain a Philippine SIM card for your phone. These can be easily purchased in Cebu City. This will offer you the cheapest way of communicating with other volunteers and PepSea staff while you are on your expedition.


The People and the Sea office has WiFi. While it can allow for Skype/Facetime calls, overall it should be considered rather unreliable. This is another reason for purchasing a local SIM card as this can offer a better connectivity on some days.


As a tourist island, there are other businesses where WiFi can also be found.


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. See the question above in the ‘Getting Ready to Go’ section for more information about visas.

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 can also accept up to 10 non-diving volunteers also (although this is rare). That means there will never be more than 16 volunteers on site at any one time.

Where will I stay during my expedition?

With a memeber of our Homestay Association – Inatô Homestay!

Without a doubt, one of the things that will strike you about the Philippines is how warm and welcoming the locals are.Inatô Homestay was set up to provide an alternative income to local families by making the most of their hospitality

The assosciation has proven very successful. It now has its own dedicated website where you can learn more about it, as well choose the family you would like to stay with.


If you feel that is really not your preferred option then you will it may be possible to arrange alternatives. However, these will incur extra fees.

What is Malapascua like?

Malapascua is a small, safe and vibrant island – one where everyone knows everyone!

Over the past 30 years it has grown to become a well-known tourist destination thanks to its proximity to the dive site ‘Monad Shoal’. This is one of the spots in the world where divers can reliably and regularly encounter the magnificent Thresher Shark.

As such, the island of Malapasuca has developed into a busy island, serviced by a number of dive centres and accompanying resorts as well as some restaurants and bars.

Despite this, the island does well to retain its charm and character, and still boats some beautiful beaches and spots to rest and relax.

Are there any COVID restrictions still in place in the Philippines?
Yes. Unvaccinated individuals are NOT permitted to enter the Philippines.   You are considered fully vaccinated if you have received the second dose in a 2-dose series or a single dose vaccine more than fourteen (14) days prior to the date and time of departure from your country of origin. If fully vaccinated, you are free to enter the Philippines under the following conditions:
  • have acceptable proof of vaccination;
  • have valid tickets for your return journey to the port of origin or next port of destination not later than thirty (30) days from the date of your arrival in the Philippines;
  • your passport is valid for at least 6 months;
  • and have registered for a Bureau of Quarantine One Health Pass prior to your arrival. You will receive a unique QR code which you will need to present to your airline prior to boarding and on arrival at your airport in the Philippines
  • present either a negative RT-PCR test taken within forty-eight (48) hours prior to the date and time of departure from the country of origin/first port of embarkation in a continuous travel to the Philippines; or a negative laboratory based Antigen Test taken within twenty-four (24) hours.
  • However, you are exempted from the requirement to provide a test result if you are aged 18 and over and have completed a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination and received at least one booster shot.

Acceptable proofs of vaccination are:

  • World Health Organization International Certificate of Vaccination and Prophylaxis;
  • VaxCertPH certification if you were vaccinated in the Philippines;
  • the national or state digital certificate of a country which has accepted VaxCertPH under a reciprocal arrangement if you were vaccinated elsewhere overseas;

If you are unsure about any of this information, we would advise you to consult the Philippines Embassy in your country of residence prior to departure

Are there opportunities for travel during the expedition?

While on the island you get one day off each week (nearly always on Sunday), as well as every other Saturday (so 6 days off each month). This means you don’t have a great deal of time to head elsewhere. 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.

Scuba Diving

As a reminder, at this time our diving operations remain suspended in the wake of COVID. We are working hard to get them restarted.

What if I am already a qualified diver?

Even if you have chosen to join us for a diving expedition, no previous diving experience is required. 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
  • Snorkel
  • 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?

Yes. You need to get medical approval from your Doctor/GP before leaving for the Philippines. There is a specific form that will need to be completed that we will send to you at the time of booking.

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.

Will I get to see the thresher sharks?
Well, we cannot guarantee that! We will of course take you to Monad Shoal for the Thresher shark dive but, as reliable as they are, there are simply days when they don’t make an appearance. We do promise to do our best – we want to see them too!

Diving activities on volunteer expeditions focus on the immediate waters around Malapascua rather than on Monad Shoal
What are the qualifications of your diving team?

This is a great question – and one that is not asked often enough!

Safety is truly at the forefront of all of our expeditions – and that applies equally to activities on land as well as in the water.

All of our diving operations are subject to our ‘Diving Rules: Polices & Procedures’ document. This was created by one of the founders of the People and the Sea who has over 15 years of experience working as a full time professional within the diving industry at a variety of locations around the world.

All of the members of our diving team are fully qualified, active professionals working under the umbrella of PADI (the Professional Association of Diving Instructors). All members of our diving team are required to have provable experience relevant to the positions they hold, as well as holding all pre-requisite insurance cover.

The entire People and the Sea team undertake regular training on-site in diving & emergency management as well as first aid.

Still got some questions?



Scuba Diving

Complete your PADI courses with us prior to your scientific dive training



The Science

[/vc_column_text][vc_toggle title=”Is the science training demanding?” style=”rounded_outline” custom_font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:18|text_align:left” custom_google_fonts=”font_family:PT%20Sans%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” use_custom_heading=”true” el_id=”1486974479419-d8219b35-f97d”]

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.

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”What do I get at the end of the expedition?” style=”rounded_outline” custom_font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:18|text_align:left” custom_google_fonts=”font_family:PT%20Sans%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” use_custom_heading=”true” el_id=”1486976302576-b1f95037-48b3″]

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!

[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Will I be tested?” style=”rounded_outline” custom_font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:18|text_align:left” custom_google_fonts=”font_family:PT%20Sans%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” use_custom_heading=”true”]


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.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”I am studying for a degree/Masters. Can I use the data as part of my dissertation?” style=”rounded_outline” custom_font_container=”tag:h2|font_size:18|text_align:left” custom_google_fonts=”font_family:PT%20Sans%3Aregular%2Citalic%2C700%2C700italic|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal” use_custom_heading=”true” el_id=”1486976301406-5b50b928-626b”]

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.

[/vc_toggle][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][dzs_parallaxer media=”https://www.peopleandthesea.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/41_survey1.jpg” clip_height=”200″ total_height=”800″ enable_scrollbar=”on” breakout=”trybreakout”]s