Diving in Moalboal: Swim with thousands of Sardines!

Put The Suit AwayPhilippines, Travels2 Comments

Moalboal Header Image

Moalboal Header ImageThe Philippines has been proven to hold many diving spots to see turtles, shipwrecks and beautiful corals. But what makes that country amazing is that they contain spots like Moalboal that have yet something special to offer!

Imagine enjoying a nice dive 7-10 meters deep (23-33ft deep), you raise your head to look at the surface and witness thousands and thousands (if not a million) of sardines swimming in an almost perfect row! That is why Moalboal, a small fisherman village located west on Cebu island known for the Sardine Run, is such an exciting place for diving.

Diver looking at Sardine run in Molboal

Looking up to the Sardine run!

Trust us when we say this was quite an experience!

Now that we have covered what Moalboal has to offer, let us tell you more about how to get there, what to do and how much you should budget!

When to go to Moalboal

Moalboal’s Sardine Run is available all year long. However, the June-September period being the rain season, we recommend avoiding this time because some roads might not be traversable due to heavy rains and flooding. Also, keep in mind that February to May is the peak season for tourism in the Philippines. You want to book ahead of time.

How to get to Moalboal

From Manila:

You will need to fly to Cebu CityCebu Pacific airline has many flights daily but you should know that flight delays in the Philippines is a very common thing every day, regardless of the airline you are flying with. Also, ticket prices will rise very quickly as you get closer to your flying dates. So don’t wait too long! Note that Cebu is an international airport. You can fly directly from abroad without a flight connection in Manila.

Taking the bus is by far the cheapest way to reach Moalboal and travel in the Philippines in general. If you are a big group, a good alternative is to rent a van. You’ll get to Moalboal faster and stay fresh. We have traveled 8 hours on a bus without Air Conditioning in the past and this is not something we are eager to experience again.

When exiting the airport, disregard all the touts trying to get you in their vans or cabs. Turn right and head straight to the taxi lane and choose the right line. The taxi meters of the left lane start at 70 PHP (1.4 USD) vs 40 PHP (0.8 USD) for the ones in the right lane. Last time we took a cab from the left lane, we noticed the meter was going up faster. There is absolutely no difference between the two cab lanes in terms of comfort and service.

Get in a cab and go to the Bus South Terminal. It should take you 25-30mins with no traffic and around PHP 200-210 (about US $4). Once you arrive at the terminal, pay the entrance fee 10 PHP (0.2 USD) and wait for the Ceres bus line that leaves every hour to Moalboal. You should know that when the bus arrives, people climb in it every-man-for-himself style! So be alert and ready when the bus arrives. We almost didn’t get in ours! The bus cost us 115 PHP each (2.3 USD) and took 3 hours without traffic.

The bus will then drop you at the bus stop. If you’re not sure, you can ask the driver to let you know when to leave the bus. From the stop, take a Tricycle to get to Moalboal village. The tricycle will cost you 150 PHP (3 USD).

From Oslob:

Oslob is a famous spot for Whale Shark watching so it might be part of your itinerary already. From Oslob take the bus to Bato (buses every 30 mins) for 30 PHP (0.5 USD). Change at Bato terminal for the bus going to Moalboal which costs 70 PHP (1.3 USD). The trip should take between 2 to 2.5 hours depending on traffic.

Where to stay in Moalboal

Hotels are pretty cheap. We stayed in Savedra Beach Bungalows. The hotel has its own diving center and is located in front of the beach and close to the nightlife. Globally we were happy with the hotel however we came back with bed bug bites so it is hard for us to recommend the hotel.

Savedra Bungalows beach front

Savedra Bungalows beachfront

Savedra Bungalows Balcony View

Savedra Bungalows Balcony View

In order to find the best accommodation, we always check websites like TripAdvisor or Agoda.

Once you find the accommodation that suits you, we strongly advise to also check the fares on the hotel’s website as it will be sometimes cheaper than TripAdvisor and Agoda. 🙂

Nanda sitting at Café Cebuano

Lunch at Café Cebuano before diving!

What to do in Moalboal

1. Diving Moalboal

This is obviously the main reason why you would come to Moalboal. Aside from diving with the Sardine Run, we recommend diving in the Marine Sanctuary, Pescador Island and exploring the Airplane wreck.

Diving in Moalboal with the Sardines

Facing the Sardine Run

We strongly advise calling the diving center and booking at least two weeks ahead of your dive. We tried to book through email, getting in touch with several diving centers. Only one got back to us to inform it was fully booked already. We were lucky enough to get a slot with Savedra Dive Center in the afternoon even though we showed up really early. They were among the cheapest available at the time and we were very satisfied with our experience with them! A single dive with them cost us 1,680 PHP (34 USD). You can find out about their rates here.

2. White Beach

When you are not diving, you can also enjoy tanning and laying on the sand. The beach in Moalboal not being the most exciting one (lots of rocks and corals), you can rent a tricycle for 350 PHP (7 USD) that will take you to white beach, which is 20mins from the village. Additionally, this is a good spot to enjoy the sunset and a couple of beers.

Moalboal White Beach Sunset

Enjoying the sunset at White Beach

White beach has an entrance fee of 30 PHP (0.6 USD). Take note that the beach gets very crowded on weekends, especially around sunset time!

3. Nightlife

Although we only spent one night in Moalboal,  we can recommend Café Cebuano for lunch and/or dinner. They have fresh seafood and prices range between 120-380 PHP (3-8 USD).

When it comes to meeting fellow travelers and have a drink, Chili Bar is the go-to place. You can even witness turtles enjoying their dinner from the balcony!

Strawberry Mojitos

Enjoying drinks with friends after a long day!

 

Turtle from Chili Bar Balcony Moalboal

Old friend joining us for dinner!

4. Kawasan Falls

Located 30mins driving South from Moalboal, Kawasan falls is a beautiful spot in the jungle. We are talking deep blue water, chilling on a raft, cliff jumping and canyoneering. However, because it is an Instagram famous place, many people come every day, making it a highly touristic place. You can either rent a bike or have a car picking you up. Transport is usually included when subscribing for the Canyoneering adventure.

The Budget

Here is an estimation of what you can expect to spend for your trip to Moalboal. Note that this is how much we spent as a couple.

Activity Budget
  Taxi Cebu Airport – South Bus terminal  Php 200 or US $4  (divided between the number of people)
  South Bus Terminal Cebu Entrance Fee  Php 10 or US $0.2  (divided between the number of people)
  Bus trip Cebu-Moalboal bus stop  Php 115/pax or US $2.3/pax
  Tricycle from Bus Stop to Moalboal  Php 150 or US $3 (divided between the number of people)
  Hotel (1 night)  Php 2,000 or US $40 (divided between the number of people)
  Diving (1 dive)  Php 1,680/pax or US $34/pax
  Food & Drinks (1 lunch, 1 dinner, drinks)  Php 1,200/pax or US $24/pax
 White beach transport + Entrance Fee  Php 165/pax or US $3.3/pax
  Total (based on 2 people)  Php 4,340/pax or US $87/pax

Conclusion

In summary, going diving in Moalboal was definitely worth the money and time. We loved the village vibes and really enjoyed the dive with all the sardines. We actually wish we had more time to experience different dives in the area. Besides, we were hoping to see sharks feeding but you need to go diving early in order to get a chance to see them.

In the end, we recommend booking your hotel and dives at the earliest possible as it gets sold out quickly. You don’t want to miss out as everything in the Philippines happens early!

Our personal feedbacks:

Alex:

“Moalboal is nice but I wouldn’t spend too much time there. It’s the kind of place you go to for the diving. Also, the diving spot with the Sardines is actually really close to the shore and we only rode the boat for like 5mins. However, those giant sardine runs still were an amazing thing to witness and they would be the main reason for your visit in Moalboal.”

Nanda:

“Another favorite diving spot as diving with the Sardine run is unforgettable. And the nightlife in Moalboal is nice and chill.  It is easy to make friends with so many bars around.”

Have you experienced diving in Moalboal or are you planning to add it to your travel list? Did you find this article useful? Prices have changed? Do not hesitate to leave us a comment or shoot us a message. We’d love to hear from you! 😉

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