Last December, my best friend and I flew to Cebu in the Philippines for one sole purpose: diving! The original plan was to dive at Cebu itself to not lose time traveling, but the dive resort was fully booked. We broadened our horizons a little and settled on Moalboal, which was located about three hours away from Cebu city.
We both were coming straight from an insanely hectic week, maybe even month, so this was a holiday to purely just chill. If anything, I think this came with the determination to make do with our promise to dive by end-2017. I thought I hadn’t been diving for a year – turns out, it was two whole years. I forgot way too many things the first time we went underwater.
Quick disclaimer: not much pictures this time round. I thought it best to focus on gaining underwater confidence first.
Moalboal is well-known first and foremost, for its diving. It is also one of the most inexpensive but quality dive experiences I’ve had. We logged a total seven dives in total over three days.
- Turtle Hotel
Turtles are probably my most favourite creature to spot underwater. I’ve never seen this many turtles in a dive! Especially at the dive site, Tongo Point. Here I also saw the biggest sea turtle I’ve ever seen in my life. It was sitting on the edge of a cave, and we could get really up close to it. I love that it didn’t flinch as we inched nearer. Nonchalant about these nosey divers. Turtles are life goals.
- Pescador Island
The diving at Pescador Island was amongst the most colourful and peaceful for me. The reefs are extremely colourful and we regularly found ourselves swimming amongst schools of brightly coloured fish.
- Sardine Run
A MUST. This was incredible. Imagine being surrounded by millions of sardines that they just look like a black mass. In Moalboal, the sardines can be spotted all-year round. The area is also a marine reserve, so net fishing is not allowed. Don’t quote me on this, but that’s probably why the sardines stay.
One of my most favourite macro underwater animals to spot are nudibranchs. Also known as its less-glamourous moniker: sea slugs. They were a lot more elusive than the nudis back at Amed, Bali, but that made the quest more interesting.
- Electric Clams
Also a first for me in diving: seeing the electric clams. These creatures were found in caves, and when light is shone on them, a blue light would flash across – mimicking electric current, hence its name. The blue flashing is not electric current. They are a result of the reflection of a light source, such as a dive torch, against the creature’s reflective tissue on the outermost layer of its body. Very cool.
Moalboal is known for its diving, but it’s also one of the best places to snorkel. A lot of reefs are located directly in front of resorts. Turtles can commonly be found on the shallower parts of the coral because that’s where its food, algae, are found in abundance. We didn’t snorkel, but other guests at our resort said they could easily spot turtles from just snorkeling out front.
White Beach would be the longest stretch of sandy beach along Moalboal. The beach is filled with vacationing local tourists, which was nice. We only managed to visit here once.
We were incredibly lucky to spot dolphins resurfacing just beside out boat. I’ve never leapt from my seat in the boat without care and lunging towards the front for a better look. It was incredible. When we relayed our sighting to the owner of the dive resort, he said that Moalboal used to have lots of dolphins. You could spot them from the coast itself. Due to the increased tourist traffic, unfortunately the dolphins have stayed well away. Sad.
We didn’t manage to visit this because we kept this visit for the last day… when the typhoon came back. Kawasan Falls was closed as a result so we can’t go. If you visit Moalboal, definitely don’t miss this famous waterfall area.
We dived in the morning and the afternoons were spent basically doing… nothing. It was bliss to be honest. The wifi was spotty, but this was not a unique complain across resorts in Moalboal. I did manage to knock out some productive work there; without the distraction of fast internet, it was so easy to focus. The rest of the time was spent on a hammock overlooking the sea with a coffee in hand. Bliss.
7. Spectacular Sunsets
Like clockwork everyday at 5pm, I would find myself a spot facing the sea and wait for the sunset. Even on cloudy days, like the ones we had, produced very pretty sunsets. Look at this pastel wonderland of a sunset.
What NOT to do:
- Go to Oslob for Whale Sharks.
Just don’t. First of all, It is not natural for whale sharks to be parking themselves in Oslob. They stay there to be regularly fed by fishermen, and have been so focused on being fed, that the migratory patterns are simply disrupted. Whale sharks need to migrate to reproduce.
On top of that, the whale sharks that have been fed here so regularly, will associate any other boats as food sources. They get injured by propellers or worse, get poached – rather easily.
According to this sign that we came across, prior to “Oslob”, this dive centre would have logged 40 whale shark sightings in Moalboal. The number dwindled to a pathetic 3 in 2014, and for the first half of 2016, zero. Very, very sad.
To get to Moalboal, we arranged transfers from our accommodation. The rate was PHP 2,600 per way, which is standard. You can also arrange for transfers from the airport itself; a couple from our dive resort did this and they paid PHP 2,200. We were both girls arriving into Cebu in the early hours of the day, and wanted a safe and hassle-free ride to our resort – so we arranged for the transfer. If you’re a lot more adventurous, there are buses to get your from Cebu city to Moalboal. But to do that, you need to travel from Cebu Mactan Airport to the bus depot in Cebu city. You can only buy bus tickets
Where We Stayed
Asian Belgian Dive Resort.
Our facilities were basic but adequate, as most budget dive resorts typically are. The people there are incredibly friendly and helpful. They also have a resident dog and kid; so the place is always lively. I enjoyed my stay here.
The dive center itself was very good. One of those places that would get five stars on TripAdvisor. ALTHOUGH, a quick side note: I’ve gone on a couple of dives with top ranking TripAdvisor dive centres – and they were my LEAST favourite dive experiences. The boat was either crowded or the dive masters just don’t really… care, that you might be feeling nervous.
The dive instructors and masters at Asian Belgian were incredibly friendly, competent, and most importantly, knew exactly how to make you feel at ease.
Foodwise, Cebu is not particularly exciting especially if you compare it to the typical Thai or Indonesian flavours. We knew this and heard from other friends who’s visited Moalboal, so we came prepared – with lots of chips and instant noodles. The food in the Asian Belgian dive resort was not bad – I highly recommend the calamares and prawn fritters, Spaghetti tuna carbonara, and the veggie cheese omelette.