moalboal cebu

Planning a trip to Cebu and looking for a place to go outside the city center? Well, ever heard of Moalboal? Imagine cerulean waters, rich marine life, and a lot of waterfall action. Look no more because we’ve covered everything you need to know about Moalboal, Cebu — a slice of paradise, diving mecca, and adventure capital down south.

While it is a small town off the busy and bustling Cebu City, Moalboal is packed with an energy that is mostly a force of nature, with its many sights and activities that involve its bountiful waters. From pockets of beach perfect for lazy afternoons under the sun to the vibrant marine life down below, Moalboal has everything and more for the beach- and ocean-lovers.

Moalboal gained its popularity among travelers, both local and international, with its underwater treasure of million sardines swimming and circling just off-shore — more famously known as the “sardine run”. What’s good about Moalboal is that despite this growing attention among divers and backpacker travelers, it has still retained its laid-back charm and small-town vibe. It is not too remote but also not too busy or touristy at the same time.

Other destinations in Cebu and the Philippines in general boast of long stretches of powdery white sand beaches. And while Moalboal may not offer exactly that, its underwater action and glory more than make up for it. Are you ready to know what awaits you in Moalboal?

  • Check activities and attractions in Moalboal, Cebu, read our Things to Do article.


How to Go to Moalboal?

moalboal how to go

Moalboal is located at the south-western tip of Cebu. Cebu is one of the main transport hubs and travel destinations in the country, with numerous direct flights coming in from Philippine capital Manila and even international destinations like Singapore, China, Korea, among others. This is the reason why Moalboal is not that difficult to reach and should definitely be included in your itinerary.

All of the major airline operators in the country namely Philippine Airlines,Cebu Pacific Air, and AirAsia have flights going to Cebu every day from early morning until late evening. If you’re planning to stay in Cebu City for a day or more, it does not matter what time you arrive. But if you want to head directly to Moalboal upon arrival in Cebu, it’s best to take an early morning flight to Cebu.

Traveling to Moalboal from Cebu City

Cebu City is the main jump-off to Moalboal and you have different land transport options to choose from.

  • Traveling to Moalboal from Cebu City by Bus

From the airport or any point of origin in Cebu City, take a taxi to Cebu South Bus Terminal. MyBus also operates from Mactan Cebu International Airport to SM City Cebu every hour from 7:00AM to 9:00PM. Once in SM City Cebu, take a jeepney to Labangon, Bulacao, or Pardo and tell the driver to drop you off at the Caltex Gas Station fronting Cebu South Bus Terminal. This is indeed a much cheaper option compared to a taxi ride.

In the Cebu South Bus Terminal, take a Ceres Bus that goes to Bato via Barili and get dropped off at the Moalboal City Hall or bus stop. Make sure to take this route as the other bus bound for Bato, the one via Oslob, does not pass by Moalboal. The travel time takes around 2.5 to 3 hours depending on weather and traffic conditions.

  • Traveling to Moalboal from Cebu City by Van

There are also vans bound for Moalboal at the One Citilink Terminal in Cebu City, just a few meters away from the South Bus Terminal. As they run faster, travel time is just around 2 hours.

  • Traveling to Moalboal from Cebu City by Taxi

For maximum comfort but with an extra price, a much easier way to get from Cebu City airport or the main town to Moalboal is by taxi. They run on a meter but most drivers give a package rate which can be split among 4 people maximum.

Once you are in Moalboal town, hire a tricycle to take you to either White Beach or Panagsama Beach, depending on where you are planning to stay. But most tourists stay at Panagsama Beach as it has more accommodation options and things to see and do. The tricycle can fit up to 3 people. A single motorcycle or locally known habal-habal is also a cheaper option, especially if you’re just traveling solo and without big luggages.

Traveling to Moalboal from Dumaguete

The nearby island of Dumaguete can also be a jump-off point for Cebu and eventually, Moalboal. From downtown Dumaguete, take a multicab or tricycle to Sibulan Port. Walk towards the Sibulan Ferry Terminal and board a pump boat to Bato (Santander), Cebu. Once in the Port of Bato, get on a bus to Cebu via Barili and disembark at Moalboal town. Travel time is around 2 hours.

When is the Best Time to Go to Moalboal?

moalboal weather

As Moalboal is mainly a beach destination, you would want to have sunny days, clear skies, and calm waters. And the best time to get this weather at almost 100% guarantee is during the dry season. The summer months of March, April, and May are the sunniest and hottest of days, sometimes reaching 36 °C, just the right Moalboal weather: perfect for an entire-time out on the beach basking under the sun for that golden tan.

The months of October through February have sunny days as well but with a chance of rain and even typhoons, especially towards the end of the year.

It is always best to look out for the country’s weather situation days before you plan to head to Moalboal or any destination for that matter, as it can get a bit unpredictable nowadays.

How to Get Around Moalboal?

moalboal how to go around

As mentioned, Moalboal is not a remote location so transportation in and around the area is already established and not something to worry about.

  • Tricycles

As Moalboal is a small and sleepy town, the best way to get around is to take the tricycle. They can be found at almost any corner or can be hailed from the streets when you want to take a trip from Panagsama or White Beach to the main town to get supplies, go to a store, or withdraw cash.

  • Motorbikes / Scooters

If you know how to drive a motorbike or scooter, then good news for you! Bikes and scooters are for rent in Moalboal for a day and if you rent for an entire week or more, the cost can go less. This is also a good way for you to go around the area and visit nearby attractions.

  • Walking

Almost everything you need is in Panagsama Beach already, from eateries to shops. And they’re all close to and nearby each other so walking around is also not a problem.

What to Do in Moalboal?

moalboal white beach

Moalboal is a beach haven and an underwater paradise so most of the things to do that can be done here really involve some sand, sun, and a lot of water action. From diving to snorkeling to chasing waterfalls, Moalboal packs a lot of adventure despite its size.

  • Sardine Run

Undeniably the main reason why people flock to Moalboal and what gave the place its stamp in the travel world: the world-famous sardine run. Imagine yourself swimming over a million sardines in clear blue waters just a few meters off the shore. Many who have tried it call the experience surreal, exhilarating, and definitely “once-in-a-lifetime” that cannot be missed. These sardines have only been encountered in Pescador Island (to be featured next in this list) but recently have moved to the reef very close to the shores of Panagsama Beach. This is great news for non-divers because now, you can have the opportunity to experience the sardine run. What’s greater news is that they can be seen here all year round! Snorkeling just in front of the shore of Panagsama is free, and there are many shops that offer snorkeling gear rental for a minimal fee.

Diving is still considered the best option to be in the middle of this huge dancing ball of millions of sardines. The reef drops off dramatically around 20-30 meters away from shore and this is where you can watch these fish congregate, move, glide, and race about when huge predator fish like jacks and tuna come near that will surely take your breath away.

These sardines are protected in Moalboal and so net fishing is not allowed. Fishermen are allowed to row out to the deeper parts, meters away from the shore to fish for food or selling. No wonder why these fish have called this part of Moalboal their home.

  • Pescador Island

Pescador is a nearby rocky island located in the Tañon straight. Pescador means “fishermen” in Spanish and is derived from colonial heritage and the fishermen who visit it for its rich marine life, making it also a very popular and well-visited site for divers from all over the world. This is another site where you can dive and watch the famous sardine run.

Pescador Island has amazing and distinct dive sites on the Northeast side and Southwest side, the latter popularly known locally as the Cathedral. It features a magnificent cave that offers a heavenly view of the surface, probably the reason how it got its name. This dive site is home to a vibrant and teeming marine life that includes hard corals, sea fans, tuna, schools of jack, barracudas, and frogfish.

If you’re not a diver, you can still enjoy the majestic marine life of Pescador. Snorkeling can be done here and be prepared to be greeted by colorful corals, parrotfish, and turtles that are frequent visitors here.

  • Turtle Watching

moalboal turtle

Speaking of turtles, you don’t need to go far to Pescador Island. These beautiful creatures are often seen gliding around the shallow waters of Panagsama, just a few meters away from the shore. So get the most out of your rented snorkeling gear and watch the sardines and then be alert with the turtles once near the shore!

  • White Beach

Since Panagsama Beach is where all the action is, dotted with shops, hotels, and restaurants from end to end, there’s very little beach space for you to just lounge around. Head 7 kilometers further north to White Beach as it has a wider stretch of beach for you to just relax, get a tan, and laze around. It can still get busy as a lot of locals head to this beach as well.

To get to White Beach from Panagsama Beach, just take a tricycle that only takes 20-30 minutes. A minimal fee is required to enter and stay at the beach.

  • Kagasangan Festival

The Philippines, in general, does not run out of reasons to have fun and celebrate. It is even said that there is at least one festival happening in the country every single day. Moalboal is no exception! If you find yourself in the area during May 15-16, then you won’t miss out on the chance to celebrate Kagasangan Festival with the locals. It is a relatively new festival and honors San Juan Nepomuceno. Kagasangan means “corals” and is a fitting name for a festival in a town that is teeming with abundant marine life, and a reminder for them to celebrate, honor, and take care of such resources.

  • Canyoneering and Kawasan Falls in Badian and Alegria

One of the most exciting and breathtaking (literally and figuratively) experiences near Moalboal is the Canyoneering adventure in Alegria and the Kawasan Falls in Badian. The tour starts with a 10m cliff jump into a deep pool of water. You then walk and swim downstream through the small rivers and waterfalls of Kanlaob River. After about 3.5 hours, you will reach the Kawasan Falls. 

Once you reach Kawasan Falls, you can continue the adventure by jumping off higher cliffs of about 16 meters. The waters in this waterfall are incredibly turquoise blue and cold for a relaxing time after all the adrenaline rush.

Where to Stay in Moalboal?

As mentioned, Moalboal is mainly divided into two areas namely Panagsama Beach and White Beach. Panagsama is where all the action happens and where you will find more places to stay, dine, and dive. White Beach also has resorts but may be more expensive as they are not too many in the area. Here are some Moalboal beach resorts, hotels, and other accommodation types based on price or budget:

Backpacker / Budget-friendly Accommodations in Moalboal

Moalboal is definitely budget- and backpacker-friendly as it has several accommodation options that are very affordable:

1. Moalboal Backpackers Lodge

Regarded as the first hostel in Moalboal, they offer beds in dormitory fan rooms and they also have private rooms. Wi-Fi is free in the entire area.

Rate: Dorm rooms start at Php250 per bed per night and private rooms start at Php500 per night

2. Chief Mau Hostel

One of the newest hostels in Moalboal but is already getting good reviews from travelers. The dorm rooms are fully air-conditioned and have lockers and an en suite bathroom. The hostel also has its own restaurant and a lounge deck inside.

Rate: Dorm rooms start at Php500 per bed per night

3. Mayas Native Garden Resort

The resort offers both fan and air-conditioned rooms. The property is close to Panagsama Beach surrounded by many restaurants and eateries so it is a good option for its price.

Rate: Starts at Php700 per night

Mid-range Accommodations in Moalboal

For a comfortable stay and access to more facilities and establishments without breaking the bank, check out these options:

1. Quo Vadis Dive Resort

Located along Panagsama Beach with great access to restaurants, shops, and dive centers. It has its own swimming pool, restaurant, and PADI-certified dive shop.

Rate: Starts at Php1100 per night

2. Savedra Beach Bungalows

It is in a very central and strategic location in Panagsama Beach. All bungalows are facing the beach so step outside and you’re already a few meters away from the famous sardine run.

Rate: Starts at Php1350 per night

3. Dacozy Beach Resort

One of the best-reviewed accommodations in Moalboal that features its own swimming pool and restaurant. And while it only has 5 rooms, each one has its own balcony.

Rate: Starts at Php2300 per night

Luxury Accommodations in Moalboal

If you want to splurge and level up your Moalboal vacation, these are some of the more luxurious options you can stay in and enjoy:

1. Pescadores Seaview Suites Resort

Air-conditioned rooms with dry rack and fan, private bathrooms, all with a resort with great sea views and pool. They also have a KTV room for those karaoke nights and a massage and wellness facility.

Rate: Starts at Php2600 per night

2. Turtle Bay Dive Resort

Located at the coastline of Moalboal, it boasts of a private beach area, an outdoor lagoon-style swimming pool, a games room, and a bay view Restaurant. Air-conditioned rooms come with a terrace and en suite bathrooms.

Rate: Starts at Php4600 per night

What are the Best Restaurants in Moalboal and Other Places to Dine and Drink?

restaurants in moalboal

It may be a small beach town but Moalboal restaurants offer varieties of cuisine for any of your food cravings. Cockonuts is regarded as one of the best and value-for-money eats in Moalboal. Their menu is a mix of Filipino favorites and Asian and European cuisine. Best-sellers include calamari salad, Thai green curry, and grilled chicken. The best part, it is located at the heart of Panagsama Beach so you can’t and shouldn’t miss it.

Little Corner restaurant is one of the most popular restaurants in Moalboal. It features grilled seafood, a wide variety of dishes, and a beautiful view of the sea while dining. Top recommendations include Chicken Canton, Squid in garlic sauce, and pancakes.

Pleasure Principle Resto-Bar is owned by a British national who is becoming a Moalboal legend with his stories and entertainment. They’re known to serve the best pizzas and breakfasts in town. Café Cebuano has sea views, fresh fruit shakes, and freshly-grilled seafood. They also have some of the best coffee in the entire Moalboal.

Ven’z Kitchen is a small eatery but has a lot of options including dishes for vegetarians. If you want drinks and dancing, head to Chili Bar. It has billiard tables for guests and a good party is sure to start at some point of the night.

When in Moalboal: Sample 3 Days and 2 Nights Itinerary

If you’re planning a trip to Moalboal, we recommend at least 3 days and 2 nights to maximize your tours. Here’s a sample itinerary to help you plan your trip.

8:00 AMArrive in Cebu
11:00 AMArrive in Moalboal (via bus or van) and check-in hotel
12:00 NNLunch in one of the restaurants
2:00 PMStroll around the area and rent a snorkel.
Experience the sardine run and find turtles near shore
5:00 PMRelax until sundown
7:00 PMEvening stroll and dinner at one of the restaurants in Panagsama Beach
8:00 AMBreakfast / coffee at hotel or have breakfast at one of the restaurants in Panagsama
8:30 AMPick-up by canyoneering tour operator
Whole day canyoneering, lunch and swim at Kawasan falls
5:00 PMArrive back in Moalboal hotel, relax, and get a massage
6:00 AMDive at Pescador Island
12:00 NNCheck out of hotel
4:00 PMArrive back in Cebu City

Other Tips and Reminders When Traveling to Moalboal

  1. Mobile phone and data signal in Panagsama Beach is stable and good. Most of the resorts and hotels also offer free Wi-Fi but is not that reliable all the time.
  2. ATMs are available in Moalboal town proper, particularly in Gaisano Mall. However, transportation to and from town can become expensive so better to withdraw more than enough cash at once.
  3. Always be a responsible and conscious traveler. Practice cleanliness especially at the beach and pick up trash when possible. Respect the marine animals as well as the locals, they share the same home. And leave nothing but with good memories!

Explore the Natural Wonders of Moalboal

Whether you are the sightseeing type, an adventure junkie, or an underwater enthusiast, Moalboal offers you what you need and more all in one place. So bask under the sun, swim with million sardines, and have a marvelous time at laidback Moalboal, Cebu.

Start planning your trip to Moalboal today. Be sure to research tours and activities that you can add to your itinerary for a hassle-free adventure.