If you plan to visit the Southern Philippines, it will soon be clear that it’s practically everywhere: island hoping, beaches, snorkeling, diving and waterfalls.
Unfortunately, in most causes it turns out to be either time consuming or budget burner, because:
- It’s hard to get there: long journeys by bus, or by jeepney or by boat.
- You need to book a tour to do snorkeling, or visit the waterfalls.
- Diving is far more expensive than you expected.
- Food and Accommodation are expensive.
- Except for the underwater world, there is nothing for you to do.
In Moalboal, to be more precise in Panagsama Beach, you have it all without those constrains:
- It’s easily accessible from: Cebu(3h), Dumaguete(2-3h) and Oslob(2h)
- There are reefs right in front of Panagsama Beach shore, where the corals spread around until they reach the drop-off.
You can observe a whole variety of tropical fishes, and sometimes sea turtles and sea snakes.
Just bring your snorkel, and it’s all there for free. If you don’t have one, you can rent one in Panagsama Beach.
No entrance fees, no tours, it’s all right in front of you.
- Affordable food and accommodation. You can still find cheap places to stay and eat.
- Affordable diving, near the drop-off or in Pescador Island. With prices lower than most places in Southern Philippines
- Several bars that line up along the main street.
- There are waterfalls near by, where you easily access them by bus.
- You can rent a motorcycle at a affordable price.
- On the White Beach you have a long white sandy beach.
Getting ThereFrom Cebu: From Cebu South Bus Station, take the bus on the direction of Lilo-An, that passes through Moalboal. Make sure it’s not the one that passes Oslob.
From Dumaguete: Take a jeepney to Sibulan, then the boat to Lilo-an. From there take the bus to Cebu, on direction of Moalboal.
From Oslob:Take the bus to Lilo-an. Change bus, to the bus to Cebu, but it’s one that passes Moalboal.
Note: Once you have reach Moalboal you have to take a tricycle to Panagsama Beach (unfortunately there are no buses or jeepneys to get there). A typical price for a tourist for the tricycle is 50php. If you arrive alone, try to share with some else, since it’s hard to bargain lower prices than that.
Budget AccommodationMoalboal Backpackers is the most popular place, with a loft dorm with sea view, and raft deck to relax for you to enjoy the tropical life. It also has some rooms, but they tend to be full quite easily, so book them in advance.
SnorkelingFrom Moalboal Backpackers and beyond, there are several passages to the beach. From there you only need to swim a few meters until you reach the drop-off, that runs in parallel to the shore.
To get the best snorkel: snorkel from pier upwards just before the drop-off.
The best time of the day is usually early in the morning during the low tide, or at the end of the day just before sunset.
My favorite spot is the point on the drop-off right in from of the Chili Bar.
Besides the typical tropical fishes, it’s common to see lion-fishes.
Less common, are the sea turtles and sea snakes, but sometimes you can see one or two per day.
Note: Watch out for the jelly fishes, specially after the rains. They sting pretty hard, leaving you in pain for several hours.
DivingPanagsama Beach has tons of diving shops, that offer PADI courses, diving near the drop-off, or diving in Pescador Island to watch the sardines school fish.
BeachThe beach in Panagsama Beach, it’s not exactly a paradise beach. It’s a small white sand strip, mixed with a lot of dead coral and small pebbles. If you walk outwards of Panagsama Beach, the sand strip is far better.
For even a better beach you can go to the White Beach.
The easiest way it’s to take a tricycle. If the tide is low, you can access it from Panagsama Beach shore, although it’s pretty far, yet it’s a nice long stroll.
WaterfallsThe Kawasan Waterfalls are located about 20km south of Moalboal. To get there, you can either hire a tricycle for the whole day; or first go to Moalboal, and from there get a bus on direction of Lilo-an. Just tell the bus driver that you want to drop off on the Waterfalls.
Note: Once you leave the bus, several locals offer to take you the waterfalls for a fee. It’s no need, since the trail it’s very well marked, and easily accessed.