Liveaboard Diving in Kimud Shoal
What to expect on a Kimud Shoal Liveaboard
A liveaboard to Kimud Shoal completes the holy trinity of top Malapascua dive sites; this is Malapascua's hammerhead shark destination. The underwater island of Kimud lies near Monad Shoal, and is similarly characterized by a steep slope into the deep of more than 200 meters. Hammerhead season is from December or January through April, and towards the end of it, you may be lucky enough to see not just an occasional individual or pair, but schools of hammerheads in numbers up to 200 whilst on your Kimud Shoal liveaboard in the Philippines.
Kimud Shoal Underwater
Kimud Shoal lies south of Monad Shoal along the same underwater topography; in total, it's about 45 minutes away from Malapascua island. To see the hammerheads, boats set out early (even earlier than for Monad), so that divers can descend at first light. Underwater, the top of Kimud Shoal is much smaller than Monad's 1.5 kilometer length. It also starts a little shallower, at ten meters. On one side, the shoal slopes to about thirty meters before dropping off into the depths. On the other side, the shoal simply drops straight down. Technical divers may have options to descend beyond recreational diving depths at Kimud, but please check that your chosen liveaboard supports technical diving.
Hammerhead shark activity at Kimud takes place in the blue water off to the side of the shoal. Advanced divers are best suited to manage the potential vertigo and disorientation that comes with lack of reference points. However, if the hammerheads appear, it's well worth it. In April, when the schools come, you'll be privy to a rare sight; only a couple of places worldwide are known for hammerhead schools. What's best is that you'll probably be the only or one of the few boats there.
Besides hammerheads, Kimud shares all the greats with Monad Shoal. Thresher sharks are regular Kimud visitors, if not with such reliability or numbers as at Monad. Manta rays, devil rays, and eagle rays can also all be seen. Other pelagic creatures include barracuda, tuna, mackerel, turtles, and requiem sharks. On the boat ride at the surface, there are even often dolphins!
One thing that distinguishes Kimud from Monad in particular, however, is its coral. A garden of hard corals, soft corals, and sponges, with plenty of reef creatures, crowns the plateau of Kimud shoal. This is a great spot to look for moray eels and frogfish. Along the sloping or vertical sides of the shoal, soft corals of many colors abound, housing a great variety of nudibranchs and shrimps for macro-lovers. Huge sea fans also decorate the drop-offs, which have dramatic overhangs on the east side of the shoal.
Liveaboards diving Kimud Shoal usually visit the Malapascua area for one to three days on Visayas itineraries of 6, 10 or 12 nights. On liveaboard.com, the S/Y Philippines Siren and M/V Seadoors both offer Kimud Shoal as a destination; Siren makes 10-night trips, and Seadoors does 6-night itineraries, with an occasional 12-night journey. At least one of their dives will be at Kimud, especially if it's hammerhead shark season. These liveaboards usually require a budget of around 250 to 350 euros per night.
S/Y Siren is a luxury sailing yacht from the world-traveling Siren fleet. It combines Malapascua with dive areas in Cebu, Bohol, and Negros. Seadoors offers slightly different itineraries, like the Camotes islands and Southern Leyte on its 6-night trip, and Camiguin, Siquijor, Negros, and Southern Leyte on its long trip. The long trip additionally includes three days of land tours to see waterfalls, markets, and tarsiers. Seadoors is a custom-build dive boat with a length of 25 meters, accommodating up to 16 divers with great diving amenities and comfort.
The experience level required by liveaboards diving Kimud Shoal is Open Water, with either ten or twenty dives, depending on the itinerary. However, if hammerheads are your reason to go, remember that the depth and blue water at the viewing spot make it more suitable for advanced divers.
Getting to Kimud Shoal
Cebu City and Malapascua are the departure locations in the Philippines for liveaboards to Kimud Shoal. Cebu City is a booming metropolis and the regional capital of the Visayas, with a port that sends ferries, cargo ships, and liveaboards out in every direction. Getting to Cebu City is easy with a 1.5 hour flight from Manila or direct flights from select Southeast Asian countries nearby. International flights can get to Cebu City via a transfer in Asia. Malapascua, on the other hand, has no airport, but it can be reached by taxi, van, or bus (and small boat). From Cebu City, getting to Malapascua requires a five hour bus journey; taxis take about half that time.
Best time to dive Kimud Shoal
Liveaboards to Kimud Shoal operate all year round, though its location in open water allows conditions to get rough at times. While the Malapascua area does experience slightly wetter weather during the regional rainy season of July through December, rain is infrequent compared to Cebu. Hammerheads peak in March or April, at the end of their December through April season. The water temperature in Malapascua can range from 24 to 30 C, with the lower temperatures corresponding to winter in the northern hemisphere.
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