This small town on the south-west side of Cebu offers easy access to some of the Philippines best known dive sites. Wildly popular with travellers, Moalboal is a small but lively coastal resort around 90km southwest of Cebu City. There is a lot to love about the place, its craggy coastline lined with shoreside bars and restaurants where you can sip a sundowner and gaze over the azure waters of the Tañon Strait to the distant hills of Negros. Directly offshore is a stupendous coral wall, so you can amble out of your hotel room, don snorkelling gear and encounter outstanding marine life.
Tourism has developed alongside diving and you will find accommodation to suit every budget from small guest houses to luxury dive resorts. ‘Moalboal’, which literally means ‘bubbling water’ also offers stunning top side scenery and nearby natural springs. Inland you will find dense, tropical rainforests divided by rivers and canyons. If you like being active, the mountainous peaks offer stunning vistas. If you prefer to relax there is no shortage of waterfront bars and restaurants with stunning sunsets along Panagsama Beach.
The underwater landscape in this area has walls, slopes, caves and canyons. There are also several reef formations that have species from a small Nudibranch to a giant Whale Shark. The rocky Pescador Islet close to Moalboal is one of the best diving site in the area with beautiful rock formation that seem to descend deep into sea and are adorned by large schools of Sardines.
The landscape and marine life together makes the diving experience very exciting. Several dive sites in Moalboal are known for hosting a very diverse sea life. Moalboal is also known for being regularly visited by Whale Sharks. The inland of Moalboal has a lush green mountain which hides deep valleys within. Most of the diving locations are within the fringe reef of a peninsula emanating from the Moalboal town.
4 kilometers to the west of the town is Panagsama beach, a rocky beach with diverse marine life around. It has a beautiful reef formation and is a popular diving spot. Other popular sites in Moalboal are Calles cathedral and sunken island, an underwater hill blessed with extremely diverse marine life.
SOME OF THE POPULAR DIVE SITES
This protected marine park is one of the most famous dive spots in the area for good reasons. Underwater this small island is a divers playground with tunnels, caverns and swim throughs. Fish life is abundant here and you will find white tip reef sharks, schooling barracudas, sardines, jacks and occasional thresher sharks. The diversity and mass of reef fish is breathtaking.
Best known for its sardine balls, this is a steep slope and wall dive with soft corals, sea whips, fans and good macro life. Expect to see a wide range of marine life from crustaceous critters and charismatic anemonefish through to solitary tuna and lazing turtles. It is a great, nearby dive site that is easily accessible whether on scuba or freediving.
This slope, plateau and wall site is also known as “Airplane” or “Airport” due to the small airplane wreck on the plateau. The wreck is now a healthy artificial reef which attracts unusual macro life including ornate ghost pipefish, nudibranch, frogfish and numerous crustaceans.
This slope and wall offer canyons, vibrant corals and great macro. Look out for turtles swimming and, for those with a well trained eye, or an excellent PADI Divemaster, pygmy seahorses are known to occupy the sea fans.
This beautiful wall dive is characterised by ledges, overhangs and crevices in which fish and critters shelter. Expect to see juvenile sweetlips, octopus, scorpionfish, moray eels and resting turtles. The wall starts from just 2 metres / 6 feet and bottoms out at 20 metres / 65 feet. Look out for electric clams in the deeper section.
WHAT TO SEE
Moalboal is at the heart of marine bio-diversity in the Philippines and its healthy reefs and steep walls support schools of snappers, jacks, barracudas, sardines, reef sharks, tuna, turtles, passing thresher sharks and even occasional whale sharks. Critters and macro-life are abundant here and highlights include pygmy seahorses, sardine balls, octopus, nudibranch, electric clams, cuttlefish, ghost pipefish, frogfish and a host of crustaceans.