On the west coast of Cebu, south-west across the island of Cebu City, lies Moalboal, a superb diving location. It’s here where I saw my first whale shark and did my first decompression dive.
The dive sites in Moalboal can be described as: Walls! The coast of Cebu drops off rather suddenly past a shallow reef top, and the near-vertical reef walls are covered with soft and hard corals, sponges, anemones and tunicates. These are not rock walls – very little of their surface is not covered by life. I especially like the large soft coral fans, which are always home to cardinalfish, gobies and shrimp. There is also good macro in the crevices of Moalboal’s walls. I have seen robust and velvet ghost pipefish here, many species of nudibranchs and a lot of these commensal shrimp which populate the bodies of sea stars and crinoids.
Just at the Savedra house reef is a huge stationary school of sardines. These fish, my guess is there are several 10000s of them, have appeared and reappeared over the last years. The current school has been here for 4 years now. This is a video I made of them:
You will also have the chance to see turtles, sea snakes (I love these – what elegant swimmers!) and an occasional eagle ray.
Pescardor Island is the crown jewel of diving in Moalboal. The island is a 15 minute boat ride away from the dive shops. The island is not completely protected, but fishing is reduced in the area, and the corals are in very healthy shape. Endless schools of damselfish cruise over the reef, and the fish diversity between the coral heads amazes me every time: large parotfish, many different butterflyfishes, wrasses in multiple colors, gobies hovering in the small crevices of the reef wall, it’s all there.
Panagsama beach is the area with all the dive resorts. There isn’t really a beach in most places, but a rocky coast, and many restaurants and resorts are built right up to the waterline, sometimes even beyond it, on stilts. There is good food here, a nice French bakery, a Thai place, Italian food, and of course local Filipino food with nice seafood. You’ll find interesting people to talk to over a beer here. All the bars and restaurants are relatively close, so you wont have to walk far to meet up with other divers staying here.
Whom to Dive With: Savedra is the dive shop I was working with for a while, and it’s a really good dive shop. They offer many recreational and technical diving courses, and even instructor training a few times per year. Rebreather support, too. They are located right in Panagsama central, their house reef is great for night dives.
Another good dive shop is the Cebu Dive Center, a place with a fun, backpacker-ish atmosphere, and a bar right on the beach!
Where to stay: We work with a number of nice resorts in Moalboal.
How to get there: Fly to Cebu/Mactan international airport, and take a car, which will get you to Moalboal in less than 3 hours on a southwesterly route across the island of Cebu. From Malapascua you can get here in about 6 hours, and from Dumaguete/Dauin in about 4. Moalboal is well suited to be a leg in a dive trip with several destinations.
Pacificklaus rating: 4.972 out of 5 gobies.