Who would have thought sardines could be so amazing? Faced with huge schools of millions of fish, forming swirling shapes as they move together, it’s breathtaking to watch such a spectacle.
Cebu Island is at the very heart of the Visayas Region and it’s capital, Cebu City, is the central hub for the region, you can hardly avoid passing through it at some stage of your holiday, assuming you do go to more than one location that is!
Getting to Moalboal couldn’t be simpler. A two and a bit hour taxi ride from the City or airport in Mactan, over reasonably well maintained roads (look out for the stunning view from the top of the mountain range looking down to the Tanon Straits and across to the island of Negros) brings you to the provincial town of Moalboal.
The town itself is a bustling hive of activity with a mixture of market stalls selling fruit and veg (you simply must, must, must try Philippine mangoes – they are without doubt the best mango in the world), people waiting to catch the bus to the City and tricycle and motorbike drivers waiting to take you wherever you want to go.
The dive resorts are spread along the coastline, with the main concentration being around Panagsama Beach. While ‘beach’ is not necessarily the best way of describing the coastline now (there is no beach really), it’s where you’ll find the majority of restaurants and bars.
By no stretch of the imagination is this party town, but there are a number of good restaurants offering a variety of food types and a few bars that can introduce you to the wonders of the San Miguel world!
Outside of diving, there’s plenty of things to do, such as the Kawasan Falls, chilling out on White beach (yes, it is a proper white sand beach) and for the people with a sense of adventure, Jochen at Planet Action can get you river climbing, canyoning, horse riding, mountain biking, all properly good fun in beautifully wild surroundings.
Get yourself down to the beach at twilight, San Miguel in hand, watch the swallows swarm around and settle on a banca, see the fishermen paddle back to the shore from a days fishing and watch the sun set over Negros. You won’t be thinking of your job back home, promise.
Moalboal is like the Pandora’s box of Philippine diving – you never quite know what you’re going to see until you dip in and have a look. Whether it be millions of sardines being hunted on by jacks and thresher sharks at Pescador Island or the tiny denise pygmy seahorse sitting pretty on its gorgonian fan on Sampaguita or a turtle chilling on a table coral at Tonga marine park… you just never know what you’re going to get.
Many people describe Moalboal as having a sardine run. Just to clarify, the sardines are not running or migrating anywhere, they have been there for many years. The sardines numbers have fluctuated in size and location over the last few years although most spectacular in 2010 when they were at their greatest number and thresher sharks came out of the deep to hunt on them. From mid 2013 the sardines left Pescador Island and a smaller school congregated off the mainland of Panagsama beach. The moral of the story is if you plan to visit Moalboal do contact us first as we have ears on the ground and can tell you exactly what to expect.
Pescador Island is the main draw card to Moalboal. It is a small island 15-20 minutes by banka boat from the mainland and you can dive around it in one or two dives. It has some beautiful hard coral on the south side with a healthy population of antheas, fusiliers and damsel fish. Look in closer and you will find stonefish, frogfish, scorpion fish and if you drop down deeper there is a chance of seeing yellow tail barracuda and white tip reef sharks. The Cathedral Cave on the west side is always worth a look around is a good photo opportunity and chances are you’ll bump into a turtle along the way.
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Along Moalboal, its essential wall dives. In the south, dive sites like Sampaguita, Tonga and Talisay offer some very nice coral reef in the shallows. Keep an eye out for ornate ghost pipe fish in the crinoids and flame file shell living in the nooks and crannies. Going further north is Airport or Compton Point where a small fiberglass plane has been sunk. Look for Pegasus and banded pipefish. And Rhonda which is covered in huge light pink gorgonion sea fans. As always, keep an eye our in the blue because you never know when a whaleshark will pass by.