Moalboal and Badian in a Nutshell

At the turtle sanctuary
Cebu is famous for its beautiful beaches, historical sites, delectable cuisine, and extreme adventures (such as canyoneering and edge coaster rides). But aside from all of these, Cebu is popular for having some of the country's best marine sanctuaries and reefs, such that places like Moalboal, Nalusuan Island, and Malapascua became a magnet for divers from all over the world.

While Moalboal is famous for its spectacular dive sites, our group, however, is not a group of divers, but just a bunch of friends who love to snorkel and see how colorful the underwater world is. This did not keep us from exploring the coral gardens of Moalboal.

How to go to Moalboal:
  • From Manila, major airline carriers fly daily to Cebu. Flight takes about an hour.
  • From the airport, take a taxi to the Ceres South Terminal. This is a bit far from the airport, so be prepared to shell out around Php 200-240 for the cab fare, depending on the traffic.
  • At the terminal, board a Ceres bus bound to Bato Barili via Moalboal. Most of the buses are non-airconditioned, so it is best to travel early in the morning or late afternoons. 
  • You can get off at Gaisano if you want to buy food and other supplies for the duration of your stay. Otherwise, alight at the Moalboal terminal, and from there you can take a tricycle to your accommodation of choice. Haggle wisely. 

Where to stay in Moalboal:
Majority of the resorts and inns in Moalboal can be found in two areas: Panagsama and Basdaku. Most of the dive shops and backpacker lodges are in Panagsama as the sardine run can be found just a few meters from its rocky shores. Staying on this side of Moalboal can help you save a lot of money as you don't need to hire a boat if you are only after the sardine run. The downfall of staying here, however, is that there is no sandy shore, so if beach bumming and walking barefoot on the sand is your thing, you are better off to stay in Basdaku, where there is a wide off-white sandy shore and a bunch of resorts. Basdaku is near the Tuble Marine Sanctuary which houses a colorful blend of corals and marine life. The accommodations here are more expensive than in Panagsama. Warning: this place is very touristy and if I may say so, very "foreigner centric."

Our group stayed in one of our friend's aunt's house about 500 meters from the Moalboal terminal. Melo, (yes, of Agta Beach Resort fame), said they have plans of turning this house into a bed and breakfast in the future, but as of the moment, it remains private. The house is conveniently located near the public market, supermarket, pharmacy, 7/11, church, park, and local eateries. Plus, there's a helper who assisted us in cooking our food from breakfast to dinner. This made us save a lot on food.

Our tambayan
The big air-conditioned room can fit up to 12 pax.
Local chorizo and
Dried fish for breakfast
Island Hopping 
To appreciate Moalboal, you have to either dive or go island hopping and snorkel around the many marine sanctuaries in the area. Our group hired a boat (Kuya Dodong - +63923.937.6699) to bring us to Pescador Island, turtle sanctuary, sardine run in Panagsama, and Tuble marine sanctuary. The deal was Php 2,000 for 10 people, but the boat can fit up to 20 people. You'll just have to pay an additional fee of Php 100 per head if you are a group of more than 10.

Kuya Dodong's boat was stationed at HK Beach Resort in Basdaku, so we had to ride a tricycle from the Poblacion to Basdaku Beach. The tricycle ride was Php 50 per person roundtrip. Just let your driver know what time they will pick you up. Again, haggle with all your charm and powers!

The 7-km long ride to Basdaku
Here's the thing: there's an entrance fee of Php 5 per person at Basdaku Beach, and there's another entrance fee at HK Beach Resort for just passing by, even if you tell them that you will just board your boat that is parked right in front of them.

Basdaku Beach
Basdaku Beach is a public beach in Brgy. Saavedra, about seven kilometers from the town proper of Moalboal. While locals often refer to this as the "White Beach," the sand, however, is off-white and coarse. This spot gets crowded on weekends and holidays, with locals and tourists camping and having a picnic by the resorts along the beach.

Team Snorkeling with Kuya Dodong (on the right, in orange)
Our boatman, Kuya Dodong started our journey with a prayer for a safe and fun trip. We then cruised to our first destination: Pescador Island. Travel time from Basdaku to Pescador Island is about 30 minutes.

Famous as a playground of divers, Pescador Island boasts a rich marine biodiversity suitable for all levels--be it beginners or advance. It is also a nice spot for snorkeling as there are parts around the island that are shallow but still teeming with huge corals and a variety of fishes.Divers will definitely enjoy the "Cathedral," an open top underwater cave off the west side of Pescador Island. It also has a lighthouse.

Its name is derived from the Spanish word "pescador" which means "fisherman," a name apt for its surrounding reef that is abundant with about 2,500 species of fish.The island is located on the TaƱon Strait, off the western coast of Moalboal.

Approaching Pescador Island

Pescador Island features crystal-clear waters

A clownfish playing hide and seek with us

Blue starfish at Pescador Island
We spent around 10 minutes in Pescador Island and while all of us were already amazed by what we saw underwater just by snorkeling, Kuya Dodong and his assistants assured us that our next destination would even be more spectacular than this. We took that as a cue to move on to our next destination: the pawikan (sea turtle) sanctuary.

Our boat stopped amidst the vast sea, and our boatmen unloaded the big raft for us to hold on to. The moment we jumped into the water, we were immediately amazed by the stunning corals and fishes we saw. It was beautiful! We then held on to the raft as Kuya Dodong swam and dragged us to where the sea turtles are. There were about five of them, some are as big as a man's torso, and some small as a car pillow. Seeing these turtles swam their way into the colorful corals is such a fantastic show!

Prelude to the turtle sanctuary

beautiful corals everywhere we look!

A diver bubbling his way through the turtle sanctuary

Brain corals
While it seems that there are more sea turtles nearer the shore in Apo Island, the small number of sea turtles swimming on the reefs of Moalboal is compensated by the beautiful backdrop that is the humongous table and brain corals and schools of fish of varying size and colors. In Apo Island, the backdrop is mere sand and water.

Hey, Pong!
Photo by: Jen Santos
Dudan trying to chase the pawikan at the turtle sanctuary Photo by: Catherine Santos
Photo by: Catherine Santos
Photo by: Catherine Santos
Photo by: Catherine Santos
We spent about 45 minutes at the turtle sanctuary, and not a single dull moment here. Everything under the waters were spectacular!

Our next stop was the marine sanctuary in Panagsama Beach, where we could view the famous sardine run. The spot was just a few meters away from the rocky shores of Panagsama. While Kuya Dodong said it was not the right season to view the sardines, we were still able to view about one percent--one percent of a gazillion sardines!

As soon as we  immersed our masked eyes into the water, we saw, right there and then, a ton of sardines swimming in synchronized motion, as if depicting a twister under the clear blue water. It was surreal!

Snorkeling over a million sardines. Photo by: Jen Santos
Sardines pa more! Photo by Jen Santos
Raffy and the sardines. Photo by: Melo Sabitsana

Catch of the day: Octopus
Our last stop was the Tuble Marine Sanctuary about five minutes away from Basdaku Beach. Our boat brought us to where we could snorkel, and then we swam towards the direction of the beach where we had lunch. 

While Tuble Marine Sanctuary is shallow, you shouldn't underestimate the marine life beneath its surface. It may not be as vast as the turtle sanctuary, but the corals are breathtaking!

Kuya Dodong recommended that we eat lunch at a restaurant owned by Ate Lennie, where we can have the octopus cooked and our food reheated. We paid Php 250 for cooking charges.

Camping on Basdaku Beach
Adobong Pugita
Grilled Fish
Adobong Pusit
Side trip to Badian:
If you are already in Moalboal and you have a few more days to spare, visit its neighboring town, Badian. Here, you can check out Kawasan Falls and Lambug Beach. To go here, you have to ride a bus bound to Bato. Ask the driver to bring you to the side-street leading to Kawasan Falls. If you are heading to Lambug Beach, hire a habal-habal or multicab that can bring you from the highway to the beach as it is quite far and the road is rough. In our case, we rented a multi-cab from Moalboal to Kawasan Fals entrance to Lambug Beach. Fare is Php 50 each.

We were unfortunate not to be able to go to Kawasan Falls as it was temporarily closed due to typhoon Queenie, so we went to Lambug Beach instead. The beach has a laid-back feel, and its sand is finer than Basdaku's. There are a few resorts here that you can check out should you wish to stay overnight.

Lambug Beach
The other side of Lambug Beach

Ode to the sun
Sunset as seen from the veranda of our room

Overall, our trip was epic! Moalboal's underwater scenery is one of the best in the Philippines--comparable to Pangalusian Island's marine sanctuary, and as my friends from Team Snorkeling said, it's even better than Apo Reef's!

Special thanks to Team Snorkeling (Irog, Glen, Jen, Kel and Rodel, Glynn, Dudan, Wilma, Cath, and Efren) for a fun, epic weekend! Darla, Inday, hindi na namin kayo ibabalik sa ahensya...for now. Peace!

And nice meeting you, Raffy, Enzo, Marie, Jecca, and Paula! Melo, thanks for offering your aunt's house! See you again in Biliran!

'Til our next trip! Snorkel pa more!!!


  1. Hello! How many hours does this snorkeling hopping take? We're planning to do the canyoneering in the morning and then go snorkeling in the afternoon. We'll be done with the canyoneering at 2:30 pm, is it still worth it to head to basdaku beach and snorkel?

  2. Hi,
    I am a friend of Kuya Dodong and am wondering if you would be willing to update his contact information on this site. His updated phone # is 09505833652.
    Thank you SO much!!


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