LAST UPDATE: JAN 2020 This Moalboal Travel Guide curates all the essentials you need: things to do in Moalboal, where to stay in Moalboal, and where to eat in Moalboal.
IMPORTANT NOTE: There are news circulating that the strip where Chilli Bar, Cafe Cebuano, Marina, and the entire Panagsama beachfront establishments will be demolished within this year for safety and proper zoning purposes.
There is that place you frequent for many reasons. It is near, affordable, and has everything you need for a quick saltwater fix. Or simply you like the island vibe so much you want to live there. Siquijor [SIQUIJOR TRAVEL GUIDE], Siargao [SIARGAO TRAVEL GUIDE], and Malapascua [MALAPASCUA TRAVEL GUIDE] used to be that place for me.
Moalboal is that place for me. It is that convenient that early this year, I signed a piece of paper detailing the square meter of small land under my name. Yes, I got a tiny piece of land under my name, 5 minutes away from a nice beach. Yes, I can see myself living in Moalboal. Alone? Perhaps. With cats, dogs, books, garden, cameras, mask and fins, bikinis? Definitely.
I came here, normally alone. But this time around, I was with someone dear to show him my once midweek destination when I still lived in Cebu.
“Blue means drunk in German.”
“Blue is the color of sadness, in English,” I said, looking at the very blueness I bragged about some days ago. I never thought of it as something as sad. “Ah, the color of melancholia. Is it melancholia in English?” “Yeah, can be melancholy too. It is the color of distance,” I said, a Rebecca Solnit line forever engraved in my mind.
When I was in my 20s, I fell in love with the romance, sadness, and melancholia of blue according to Andre Aciman and Rebecca Solnit. I religiously followed their train of words.
Now in my 30s, living in one of the grayest cities in Southeast Asia—-too gray I sometimes I forget blue sky exist—-blue is the color of longing, of something, of someone that perhaps doesn’t exist. But it indeed is the color of distance, of something too far, too out of reach.
But here I am in Moalboal, the very place that has witnessed the breaking, the healing, the happy in-betweens way too many times back then.
Too many shades of blue that there is nothing much to do about it but embrace it with one’s eyes. At 33, I’m happy to report that blue is the color of home. Not of distance. Not of longing. Not of melancholia.
Moalboal is located in southern Cebu, and takes at least 3 hours by bus. Depending on the traffic situation, 3 hours can be stretched up to 5 hours. You have to go to South Bus Terminal, located at N. Bacalso Avenue, Cebu City, 6000 Cebu. You can simply put South Bus Terminal on Google Maps or Grab. If you’re not a local and have no idea how our jeepney route works, it is best, that you use Grab. Heck, I use it a lot to save some time. Time is more valuable, I would say.
AS OF JANUARY 2020: AIRCONDITIONED BUS (MORE LEGROOM) = PHP130-150.00
NON-AC/ORDINARY BUS (CRAMPED) = PHP110.
If you’re traveling with a group or you simply want to save a lot of time from going to the bus station, waiting for the bus, enduring the commute time, I highly recommend you book a private car. For as low as Php2290.00 and with up to 12 seats, you can have a comfortable and convenient ride to Moalboal. Yes, the driver is going to pick you up in your hotel in the city, either in Cebu, Mandaue, or Mactan. Perhaps you can also negotiate to pick you up at the airport and go right straight to Moalboal. Drop by at Carcar Public Market for some of the most delicious lechon in Cebu.
If you want to save an hour and your legs are not abnormally long, then shared van is the way to go. I have to emphasize the legroom. Normally vans can only accommodate 9 at the back and 2 beside the driver’s seat. But drivers have perhaps 10 mouths to feed that 11-12 seats can accommodate 15 people.
TICKET PRICE = PHP100.00-PHP120.00
Depending on your haggling skills, the price can vary. A semi-local, I usually pay Php30.00 for a motorbike ride, otherwise called habal-habal. For a private tricycle ride, it can be Php100-Php150.00 for two people. It greatly depends on the driver and your grit.
It costs Php30.00 for a shared tricycle ride to Bas Daku, otherwise called as White Beach.
Yes, there are three. And they all with internationally issued cards such as Mastercard and Visa. You have to bear in mind though that Moalboal is a country at heart despite its tourist volume. On some days, especially weekends, ATMs run out of cash. Better take extra precaution by withdrawing money from the city.
Well, being in the tropical country, any day is a good day. It is sunny most times of the year. Rainy season starts in June and ends in November. But it does not mean it rains 24/7. It simply means days are punctuated with rain shower. More often than not, it is very sunny, and the waters are calm, perfect for snorkeling, island-hopping, and diving.
For the service, the facilities, and the view, this place has everything. With my ten years of traveling, I haven’t experienced sheets so soft and well-chosen. I had to ask the staff where they bought their sheets, but they did not know. I have to ask the owner himself. Pescadores Seaview Suites is located in the far end of Panagsama, which makes a peaceful place to bunk for the night.
It has its own entertainment room overlooking the sea. It is equipped with fun games such as billiards, football board game, retro games for the kids and kid’s at heart. It also has a playground for kids, perfect for families traveling with the little ones.
It has a nice swimming pool overlooking the sea.
TIP: Have a photo shoot come sunset time or early morning before anyone wakes up and uses the pool.
The house reef (refers to the drop in front of the resort) is some of the most vivid I’ve seen as well. Pescadores Seaview Suites provides snorkeling gear for free. This is a must! You can even borrow an underwater camera. You only need to deposit Php2000.00 and you can bring the camera for your action-packed activities.
TIP: Wanna see turtles? Snorkel in the morning, around 7 to 8 am in the house reef.
Another unique character of Pescadores Seaview Suites is how the staff gather in the morning in the breakfast nook and synchronically greet everyone good morning. They then introduce themselves and assure the dining guests they are there in case they need anything. That’s sweet and thoughtful start of the day.
White Beach, I would say, is way more peaceful and inviting than Panagsama. It might not have the hype, the sardines, Pescador Island Panagsama Beach is known for, but if you’re the type that likes a calm and relaxing area, stay at Bas Daku/White Beach.
Most of Moalboal’s visitors are actually non-divers. Seeing the resident turtles and sardine run and the remaining lively corals make Moalboal appealing to sea lovers. Moalboal, despite its tourist volume over the years, remain attractive.
Hmm, island-hopping in Moalboal only involves one island that is Pescador Island. A boat costs Php2000.00, it is a bit cheaper if you can join with a group. Island-hopping in Moalboal includes the following.
The main reason we were in Moalboal was to dive. Finally! Despite coming here countless of times, I have never attempted to dive its waters. I was more than contented with snorkeling and free-diving up to five meters (haha). But this time around, I dove twice: once in the house reef and the second was in Pescador Island.
If you’re up for some Chinese-Filipino fusion food, Pescadores Seaview Suites’ Island Wok answers your cravings.
One of the best places to dine in Moalboal. Expansive menu. The people who run it love food and love cooking. You can tell it from the menu itself. Can be really packed. And at times, you have to wait.
Best place for a semi-fancy dinner in an elegant setting with ambient lights and wooden furniture. Arista Seafood Restaurant is always packed, so you better call in advance.
The most affordable beachfront restaurant in Panagsama stretch. They serve everything, everything that the locals or foreigners like. Expect their version of pasta or pizza, anything non-local disappointing.
Their coffee is good. They also serve mango float, a typical Filipino dessert. It is the perfect girlfriend for black coffee. There is nothing special about their food. A bit pricy.
Best spot for some drinks. Not a huge fan of their food.
Oh well, Shaka does not look like too chaka. Haven’t tried it, but judging from their smoothie bowls photos, they have Instagram and the Instagram audience in mind. I’ve heard though their smoothies look and taste yum.
Haven’t tried this place. I keep on passing by this place. Nice romantic vibe in the evening. I should try it one of these days.
Good coffee and croissant. I love the perverse, almost hedonistic, visuals on the wall. Perfect place for European breakfast.
Just across Chilli Bar. Not quite popular, but it is a good spot for some quite time overlooking the sea. Try their Filipino dishes.
Best spot to have some drinks while watching sunset.
This is unethically done, but many people, sadly, do not really care the sad treatment of whale sharks. They are not chained, but they are fed, which alter their generations-old habits and routines. Some whale sharks have cuts from the boats machine. Many of them tend to get too close to boats thinking it is the bearer of food. If you want to do ethically, go to Sorsogon. They do it better there.
This, I love. I have done this at least three times now. There are several changes, but it still wakens up the adrenaline junkie hidden in my wobbly arms and belly.