Scuba diving Moalboal, Philippines means huge school of sardines right in front of the village, macro life, turtles, plane wreck and occasional whale sharks.
Wall dives at Pescador Island with schooling jacks and trevally as well as some macro is an experience that I recommend. From entry-level to experienced divers, there are different types of dive sites around Moalboal.
It is a good place to take a course too. The sardines and Pescador Island are the most interesting sites for scuba diving, for scuba divers of all levels.
Guide to Scuba Diving Moalboal, Philippines
The Visayas region of the Philippines has long been a mecca for scuba divers, with enthusiasts arriving from all over to experience the teeming underwater realm beneath its waters.
The focal point of all this diving activity is squarely on the island of Cebu, since Mactan has the only international airport and hub for all sea-lanes serving all the Visayas. Cebu Island attracted tourists because of this proximity.
Pescador Island has become famous for the giant schools of sardine bait balls that come and go around the island.
These bait balls attract larger predators such as tuna, barracuda, mackerel and occasionally, thresher sharks.
There are around 30 dive sites in the area. Visibility can range anywhere from 10 metres on a very bad day to 40 metres. Some sites can be affected by strong currents.
How to get to Moalboal
You can reach Moalboal is via Cebu City, where there is a domestic and international airport. The other alternative is to reach Moalboal via Dumaguete City in the province of Negros Oriental
From Cebu airport to Moalboal, you can ride the taxi or van that can take you directly to Moalboal. For a more budget-friendly travel, you can take a taxi going to the South Bus Terminal and ride a bus going to Moalboal town proper.
From Dumaguete City, you can ride a tricycle going to the next town, Sibulan. From there, you can take a ferry that goes to Lilio-an, Santander. Take a tricycle to the bus terminal in Bato, where you can ride a bus going to Cebu City that passes by the town of Moalboal.
From the town proper of Moalboal, you can ride a tricycle or habal-habal (motorcycle back –ride) going to Panagsama, where most dive shops are located. You can also ride the same vehicles going to the White Beach or “Basdaku”.
The House Reefs: The reef drops off right in front of most of the Dive Centres along Panagsama Beach. Schools of jacks and tuna hunt on the reef covered in hard, soft and fan corals. There are resident frogfish and turtles. Even whale sharks have been seen on the fringing reef while scuba diving Moalboal. At night dives you can see decorator crabs, cuttlefish, snake eels, sea snakes and more. Depth is about 5 – 55 metres.
Cathedral Cave (Pescador): An unbelievable variety of corals and fish life can be found here – frogfish, schools of lionfish, barracuda, tuna, snapper, jacks, and clown fish. There is a chimney starting at 37m, exiting at 22m and 16m. The cave is magnificent when filled with light in the afternoon. The wall is covered with soft corals. Depth is 5 – 65 metres.
Marine Sanctuary: There is a gigantic sea fan forest between 25 – 40 metres. Amongst the enormous fan corals are lionfish, leaf fish, harlequin ghost pipefish, and the long-nose hawkfish. Napoleon wrasse, bumphead parrotfish and white tip sharks also frequent the area. The current can sometimes be strong at the top of the reef. Depth 8 – 45 metres.
Sunken Island: Experienced divers will love this dive site while scuba diving Moalboal. The top of the island starts in 22m and goes down to more than 250m. At the top are big shoals of fusiliers chased by jacks, big lionfish, moray eels, redtooth triggerfish, bannerfish, Spanish dancers. Several whale sharks have been encountered here. Currents can be fierce.
Tongo Point: Cracks, ravines, small caves and some swim through line this steep wall. Inside the caves spot turtles, juvenile barracuda, shoals of razorfish, leaf fish, harlequin ghost pipefish. Bring a torch. Mandarin Fish hide in the shallows, deep in the coral. Depth: 5 – 55 metres.
What to expect while scuba diving Moalboal
Scuba diving Moalboal is famous for its resident school of sardines. A whopping one million of these shiny silvers used live at nearby Pescador Island but in recent years have relocated to the wall right off of Moalboal’s Panagsama beach.
The other wall dives would allow you to experience other marine lives as well.
As I noticed at a lot of the dive shops in the Philippines, there is far less hand-holding in Moalboal than in Indonesia or Thailand so newer divers should know what to expect and be mentally prepared when diving in the Philippines.
The sardines congregate right at the reef drop-off on Panagsama beach. Shore diving is a breeze here. If you swim 20-30 meters from shore, the reef drops off dramatically, as deep as 70 meters in some places.
And it is here where you can watch the huge cloud of sardines creating different shapes and forms against the backdrop of the spectacular reef wall. It is a definite must-do for scuba enthusiasts
Other things to see and do in Moalboal
Besides snorkeling, scuba diving and free diving, there are many activities which can keep you engaged in Moalboal.
You can hike along the Kawasan River, through out the jungle, discovering quaint villages and finally reach the Kawasan Falls.
If you are high on adrenaline rush, you can chose from canoeing, kayaking, rafting or mountain biking. You can even trek through jungles to visit the highest peak in Cebu, the Osmena Peak.
You can even relax by the white sand beach and watch the beautiful sunset.
You must visit the orchid farm. There is an orchid farm and gallery in Moalboal that features hectares of orchids and other tropical plants and a swimming pool.
Check out Lambug Beach, if you want a paradise by yourself. While there is no accommodation, Lambug beach can give you a nice break without noise.
Motor biking and mountain biking. If you want to explore the town, there are motorbikes and mountain bikes you can rent in Moalboal.
Best times to visit Moalboal
Diving in Cebu is good all year round. The visibility is not much affected by the seasons, ranging anywhere between 10m on a very bad day and 30+m on good days.
December to February, the temperature in daytime is around 32C. Temperatures in night time drops to 23 – 25C. There are occasional rain showers. The water is a bit cooler, 26 – 27C.
March to May, the temperature in daytime about 32C. It does not cool off very much in the evening; you can expect also 30 – 32C during most of the nights.
The water is only a bit cooler, 27 – 29C. It rains very seldom, sometimes not in weeks.
June to November, the temperature in daytime about 32C. Cebu and the Visayas have not a strong rainy season. Usually it’s bright sunshine in the morning and a short but strong and refreshing downpour in the afternoon. After that, sunshine again. Water temperature is 27 – 29C.
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