Snorkeling in Moalboal | Cebu, Philippines

Snorkeling in Moalboal is amazing! If you find yourself on a trip to Cebu in the Philippines, then Moalboal along the west coast is a must stop destination. When it comes to clear waters and excellent snorkeling and diving, Moalboal is one of the best places in Cebu for these two activities.

In particular, for snorkeling, the reef is located right off the beach and makes for easy access. Learn more about Snorkeling in Moalboal below.

Snorkeling off Pescador Island, near Moalboal
Clear waters off Pescador Island, near Moalboal Cebu

Snorkeling in Moalboal

How to get to Moalboal, Cebu

If you are just arriving to Cebu, you will likely be landing in Cebu Mactan International Airport. If you are, you will first want to make your way to Cebu South Bus Terminal. This is the main bus terminal for buses heading to Moalboal and other points in the south of Cebu.

To do this, the easiest way is to take a taxi which should cost around 300PHP and take around 30-40 minutes.

If you want to save some money, you can also take the Sugbo Transit bus from the airport to Cebu South Bus Terminal. This bus doesn’t have a set schedule, however goes roughly every hour. Tickets are around 40PHP at the time of writing this article.

Once you have reached Cebu South Bus Terminal, look for buses heading towards Moalboal. The Ceres Bus is recommended and takes around 2 to 2.5 hours. It should only set you back a little over 100PHP for the trip.

Alternatively, if you have a busy itinerary and want to go to other places after Moalboal, like I did, you can rent a car and driver for the day. This may seem rather pricey as for a full day it cost around 5000PHP, however, the ease of travel and comfort of travel was worth it. Also, this allows you to do many things in one day if you are on a tight schedule. If you are looking for a car and driver for your upcoming trip, I recommend shuttledaddy based in Cebu City.

Snorkeling in Moalboal Tour

It’s easy enough when you are in Moalboal to just snorkel off the coast for free and you will be able to see many fish and coral. If you want, you can even snorkel out to where the sardine run is. However, for myself, I wanted to do things easily, so I booked a Snorkeling Tour that took me to 3 locations over the span of about 3 hours.

Lots of the dive shops can organize these tours for you, or you can do things a bit more local. So I booked a tour with a company called REM Tour Island Hopping Moalboal. They are 100% local based and they set up and arranged the boat, the equipment for snorkeling and the locations to go to.

They were also great with communication. When I first arrived in the morning, they had told me that the coast guard wasn’t allowing boats to go out to Pescador island but that if we waited a bit, the waters may calm and we may be able to go.

Sure enough, we waited and finally boats were being allowed to go to Pescador. If Pescador had stayed closed, they were very flexible changing the itinerary to include White Beach or do other things to make up for it.

As for safety, they had life jackets on the boat, and one of the boat guides was always in the water when I was and had a life preserver just in case I needed something to hold on to while snorkeling. He also took various pictures with my gopro of me so I could have those memories. The total cost for the snorkeling was 1600PHP + tips at end. So very reasonable since I was on my own.

So below, I’ll tell you a little bit about the locations that they took me to.

Pescador Island

Pescador Island
Pescador Island out in the distance

This is a very small uninhabited island off the coast of Moalboal which is world famous for divers because it has numerous great dive sites and a steep wall drop off right off the island. It also has a wealth of corals and fish. It took our boat about 15 minutes to get out to pescador. Once there we spent a good 30 minutes in the water just enjoying the various corals and small fish below us.

Clear Waters of Pescador Island
Clear waters of Pescador Island, great for Snorkeling

The boat guide also took me out to where the big drop off was and we got to watch the divers deep below us. It was quite a sight.

Air bubbles from divers at the drop off at Pescador

In the morning there weren’t a ton of other boats at Pescador, however, I would imagine at some times during the day it can get quite busy here.

Moalboal Sardine Run

This was the most fascinating part of the snorkeling trip. We headed from Pescador island to just off the coast at Panagsama Beach. Here where the coral reef drops off you can find massive schools of sardines. Even just snorkeling above them is like a dream. They all move in one mass and dart back and forth and form amazing shapes of thousands of small fish. It’s definitely a sight to see in person.

Sardine run in Moalboal
Thousands of Sardines!

So we stayed here too for a good 30 minutes just admiring how all these fish move about. The good thing is, that there really isn’t a specific season to see the sardines as they really like the waters off Moalboal and have pretty much been here permanently for the last few years. You can watch them in the video below from my GoPro.

Sardine Run while Snorkeling in Moalboal, Cebu

It is possible that if you aren’t doing a tour, you can snorkel from the beach at Panagsama out to the sardine run if you want to see it for free. If you don’t have snorkeling gear, I’ve heard you can rent it from most of the dive shops.

Turtle Watching

The 3rd and final spot on the snorkeling tour in Moalboal was looking for turtles. It was pretty amazing. We started to head back to the pier and on the way the boat guide was just scanning the water. All of a sudden, he stopped the boat, put some goggles on and dove into the water.

Next thing we know, he pops up and confirms that he found a sea turtle. It was quite deep below though, so he took my gopro and dove down to film it for me. It got startled and started to swim away and so we were able to watch it swimming for a good 5 minutes before we were getting too far away from the boat.

Turtle watching in Moalboal
Turtle Watching in Moalboal, Cebu

All in all, it was a great tour and highly worth it. If you ask if a tour is necessary, I would say not really. The corals right off the coast and the fact the sardines are close to the shore as well means you can see most everything on your own without the need for the boat.

However, I liked the ease of everything with booking the tour and the comfort and safety of it as well. Also, when looking at the price, it was quite a bargain as well since I was travelling solo.

Snorkeling Tips

  • Don’t forget sunscreen. Even if you are wearing a shirt and it seems like most of your body is underwater, you will still get burnt if you don’t have sunscreen on. I didn’t think about the back of my legs and I regretted it later that day when they turned a bright red and hurt for the next 3 days.
  • The boat driver is open to letting you stay at certain locations longer than others if you want. So you are generally free to dictate the schedule.
  • If your tour goes really well, I recommend to give a tip to the boat driver and guide. Mine did a great job both guiding and helping me see different things in the water.

Where to stay in Moalboal, Cebu?

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Moalboal is definitely a tourist destination in Cebu and thus has a lot of different options of where to stay. Some of the popular spots to stay are White Beach which is the northern part of Moalboal and is more of a sandy beach type area. The other spot is Panagsama Beach which is where the reef is. It’s not as conducive to swimming though as it’s not very sandy. I’ll give some hotel recommendations below:

Pescadores Seaview Suites – This beachfront hotel has great service, large rooms, and free WIFI.

Ravenala Beach Bungalows – Great hotel on White Beach with a bar and free WIFI. There is a restaurant on site and rooms are nice and clean.

D’Gecko Hotel – This hotel is located on Panagama Beach, so it’s very close to the reef and the good snorkeling. Great rooms, free WIFI, and a tour desk all make this an amazing place to stay.

If you want to see all the hotel options in Moalboal, click here.

Have any questions or comments about Snorkeling in Moalboal? Let us know in the comments below!