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.
Where is Moalboal?
Moalboal is a very small seaside municipality located in the South West of Cebu, a popular island in the central Visayas of the Philippines.
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 locations).
In my opinion there are two ‘main areas’ of Moalboal, one being the accommodation and 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.
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).
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.
Accommodation in Moalboal…
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).
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.
Things to do in Moalboal…
Island hopping around Pescador Island, with the chance to spot turtles, coral, and the infamous sardine run!
Price: approx 1,500PHP.
Snorkel through the 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 approx: 100-250PHP snorkel hire
Hire a moped and head to Osmena peak (the highest mountain in Cebu)
Visit White Beach
Soak in the Malabuyoc Hot Springs
Take a road trip to Mantayupan Falls
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. You’ll have to get up early as the trip is 4-5 hours, and you have to be done by sunset!
Price: approx 1,500PHP
Hire a snorkel and explore the waters from the beach
Visit Kawasan Falls (you don’t have to do the canyoneering to see it)
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.
Budgeting 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.
- Double bed with a fan at a dive resort – 1000-1200PHP (per night)
- Double bed in a lodge or homestay (double bed) – 500PHP one pax / 600PHP two pax (per night)
- Single bed with a fan in a dorm – 300-400PHP (per night)
- 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
- Activities: depends on what you choose! 200-2000 PHP per activity.
Have you been to Moalboal?
What were your favourite spots? I’d love to know!
Love as always and happy adventuring,
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