A travel guide for Moalboal in Cebu, the Philippines

Have you ever dreamt of swimming through sardine runs, alongside shoals of fish, turtles and squid? Here in Moalboal, this just a handful of the marine life you can witness.

Moalboal is a very small seaside municipality located in the South West of Cebu, a popular island in the central Visayas of the Philippines.

Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

Why should you visit Moalboal?

Moalboal’s main pull for tourism is the diverse and fascinating marine life that lies in its ocean, some of it being just a short snorkel off the shore. Divers from all over the world come here and check in to the dive resorts that dominate the main waterfront area on Panagsama Beach before taking to the waters for long days of ocean descents.

Being located centrally in Cebu, a visit to Moalboal is usually combined with a trip to places such as Oslob, Malapascua Island, Bantayan Island, Bohol and Dumagette – to name just a few.

In my opinion there are two ‘main areas’ of Moalboal, one being the accommodation/ dive strip which lies on the ocean front {Panagsama Beach}, and the other being on what is locally known as the highway {main road}. Here on the main road you have a 711, McDonalds, and a fruit market, and it’s also the bus pick up and drop off point.

Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

If you want to come here to dive, most tourists will choose to stay on Panagsama Beach, but there is also White Beach too {if you want more of a beach beach}.

If you get a chance, grab a mango from the fruit stall for about 50PHP {80p}. Cebu is known for its gorgeous mangoes, and I can totally vouch for that.

What are the most popular activities in Moalboal?

As with any destination, particularly in Asia, when you walk the streets you will come across an abundance of tourist shops and agents, where you can purchase the popular tours in the area. I asked three agents for the prices on the main activities that circulate Moalboal and these were the average prices for each… {Feb 2017}

  • Island hopping

You will visit three spots by boat: Pescador island, Turtle spot and Sardine spot.

Price? 1,500PHP Leaving time? Any time of day.

Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

  • Canyoneering in Badian

Get up close and personal with this active adventure through the gatorade like waters and waterfalls of the Philippines, including the famous Kawasan Falls.

View my ‘All you need to know about Canyoneering in Badian’ post here

Price? 1,500PHP Leaving time? Morning {takes 4-5 hours to complete and must be done before sunset}

Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

  • Swimming with the whale sharks

Take a day trip down to Oslob to swim with these big beautiful creatures. Take note that the environment in which you view them is NOT natural. The whales are fed everyday, hence why their return is so reliable. Personally, I chose not to participate in such an activity. If you are looking to see them in their natural habitat, look into visiting Donsol.

Price? 2000PHP per person {includes whale shark ticket and return transfer from Moalboal} Leaving time? 5am everyday

  • Sardine run

If Island hopping is just out of your budget, don’t fear. The event most people will tell you about in Moalboal, and the one you’re probably here for, is the famous sardine run. The spot for this viewing {or one of the spots} is a short swim off Panagsama Beach. I actually saw a gorgeous display on the surface of the water whilst I ate dinner on the waterfront. Hire a snorkel from one of the many vendors in town, get your cossie on, your GoPro out, and swim out from the beach.

Price? 100-250PHP snorkel hire

Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

Other activities you should consider:

  • Hire a moped and head to Osmena peak {the highest mountain in Cebu}
  • Visit and relax on White Beach
  • Visit Kawasan Falls {you don’t have to do the Canyoneering to see it}
  • Take a road trip to Mantayupan Falls
  • Hire a snorkel and explore the waters from the beach
  • Soak in the Malabuyoc Hot Springs

Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

Getting to Moalboal…

If you are heading to Moalboal from Cebu City {travelling north to south}, you can get a bus from the South Terminal in Cebu which will take 3-4 hours and will cost you around 100PHP (or 130PHP for an air conditioned bus).

Tip: Buses heading south will be heading to Bato but there are two different routes. One is Bato via Oslob and the other is Bato via Barelli {this is the one you want for Moalboal}. Buses are pretty frequent and come around every 30 minutes.

If you are heading to Moalboal from Oslob {south to north}, I believe it’s only a 1-1.5 hour’s drive. For this you want a bus that’s heading to Cebu via Moalboal {I didn’t take this route personally, so be sure to double check the route before you jump aboard}.

If you are heading to Cebu from an international destination, Cebu has an international airport which you can fly into.

Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

A price guide for Moalboal…

I have to admit, when I first set eyes on a menu along Panagsama waterfront, I was shocked at the prices. During my first week in the Philippines I had not spent more than 129PHP on a single meal and had actually eaten many a time for 20-60PHP. Here on Panagsama waterfront, the cheapest starter I could find was priced at 160PHP and the average meal was 220-360PHP. Now, I’m not saying that’s expensive: 160PHP coverts to just £2.50. However this is a prime example of just how much the prices hike here in the Philippines in the tourist areas.

The Philippines IS cheap and you can definitely travel cheaply, but if you don’t research anything and plant yourself in the tourist epicentres… it soon adds up.

I visited Moalboal in February 2017 and so the following information is based on prices and conditions during my visit.

Accommodation guide:

  • One night {double bed} with a fan at a dive resort – 1000-1200PHP 
  • One night in a lodge or homestay {double bed} – 500PHP one pax / 600PHP two pax
  • One night {one bed} with a fan in a dorm – 300-400PHP

As I was travelling solo, the most cost effective accommodation for me was at a hostel. I stayed at Vivianne’s Nipa Huts and paid 300PHP per night for a bed in a dorm. It was clean, there was electricity, and there was WiFi. It was located in the tourist area {so I wasn’t alone!} and it was perfectly okay for my two-day stay. They did advertise hot water, and there wasn’t any, and it wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but it was a great budget option.

Browse the best price hostels and properties to stay in on HostelWorld here

See my ‘10 reasons I prefer hostels to hotels’ here and my ‘how to choose the best hostel guide’ here.


Full body massage – 300-450PHP

Pedicure – 100PHP

Laundry – 80PHP per kilo

Price of a meal at any of the resorts or restaurants – 160-320 PHP

Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog-16

See my tips for making friends when solo travelling here and my tips for solo travel in South East Asia here

Have you been to Moalboal?

What did you think? What did you get up to there? I’d love to know! 🙂

Thank YOU guys for reading <3

Love as always + happy adventuring,

Mollie x

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Moalboal Travel Guide Cebu Philippines | Where's Mollie? A Travel and Adventure Lifestyle Blog

  • stephaniestraveldiary

    I had never heard of Moalboal but it looks nice.

  • Harriet Kendall

    Hi Mollie! I am heading to Cebu for about 5 days and want to do all the activities you mentioned, would you say Moalboal is a good place to base yourself? Or are there nicer areas in Cebu that would be good to stay in?
    Thanks 🙂 x

  • Henry Gool

    I wish someone would post up a guide to where the hell you’re supposed to park if you’re driving there yourself. I’ve looked up the place on Google maps and all I can see are these tiny cramped up bike roads, definitely not wide enough for cars to pass through.

  • hey guys, I have been to Moalboal recently. Check this https://asaniquen.com/moalboal-cebu-2017 for our adventure. There’s an archery camp in Panagsama area, you guys should check it! I had a blast!

  • Myra

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