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Sea view of Panagsama Beach
Panorama of White Beach in Moalboal at high tide.

Moalboal is a small town on the South-West side of Cebu island. It's mostly used as an entry point to Panagsama Beach, where most of the resorts, restaurants, bars and dive schools are.


At first glance it may seem like there is not much to do for a tourist in Moalboal itself, but it serves as an excellent basecamp for diving and exploring the surrounding area. The many diveshops in Panagsama beach are mixed with a lot of bars and restaurants, and you can find both luxury and budget friendly accommodation to return to after your excursions. Moalboal is mostly known for the diving its coastline's multiple reefs provide, but if you look a bit further there are many more natural wonders to explore. The mountains inland offer spectacular vistas and the area is covered by dense tropical rain forests divided by rivers and canyons.

Get in

The easiest way to reach Moalboal is from Cebu City. The road is in good condition, even in the second part in the mountains and is about 80 km.

By van

Most of the resorts/dive shops in Moalboal propose to hire van from Cebu airport to Moalboal. Be ready to pay around ₱3000 for this 3 hr trip.

By taxi

Taxis can be hired at Cebu Airport for ₱3,000 (fixed rate as of January 2012). Many of the hotels and guest houses in Panagsama Beach will send a car or van for pickup for about ₱3,000.

By bus

Watch out for problematic ticket collectors
Before boarding the bus, make sure you know the price you have to pay for the ticket. You can also read it off the ticket you get from the ticket collector (who will be on the bus during the whole journey). Do not pay more, this is the final price. It is also a good idea to pay the exact amount since the ticket collectors walk away with your money and tend to forget about the change. Some are very good at ignoring you. Also do as the locals do and pay your ticket as soon as possible and not shortly before you get off. This avoids discussion under time pressure.

As usual, the cheapest method is a local bus (2.5 to 3 hours). From Cebu airport, take a taxi and ask to go to the south bus terminal (the airport is in Mactan, quite far from Cebu city, so be ready to pay around ₱200 for this). The yellow airport taxis are more expensive - expect to pay around ₱300. White taxis can be found at the top of the ramp leading up to departures.

Then take the bus here (the main company is the yellow color buses of Ceres Liner). Be sure to use an already almost full bus to avoid waiting. The no-aircon (most are like this) travel will cost you ₱107 (Jan 2013) + ₱10 of terminal fee if you don't pay directly in the bus. Air-con buses are ₱111 (May 2012).

Coming from Dumaguete, it is possible to take the ferry boat between Sibulan (ca ₱100 by tricycle from the city center) and cross to Lilo-An on Cebu island. There, take another tricycle (around ₱50) to the nearby bus station. Ceres buses headed for Cebu City stop there regularly, and some of them go via Moalboal (ask the driver). The bus fare is ₱65 (aircon, july 2012)

Note: there are no ATM's in Panagsama beach so bring enough pesos for your stay. There is, however (2012), an ATM in the 360 pharmacy in MoalBoal town (about 4 km from the beach, reachable by tricycle). Although sometimes it doesn't work.

Get around

The easiest way to get around is to use tricycles. From Moalboal to Panagsama Beach, the usual fare is ₱50 (Aug 2013), drivers will start at ₱100 or even ₱150 but will go down to ₱50 in less than a minute, especially if you auction the ride with all the drivers around. Don't pay more than ₱70. To White beach most people were paying ₱100-150 in May 2012. If you don't have much luggage, another cheap way to get around is by "hubbal-hubbal", basically riding on the back of a motorbike. Moalboal to Panagsama by hubbal-hubbal is around ₱20-30. You can also take the shared tricycles that go back and forth between Moalboal and Panagsama for about ₱5-10.

Travelers have been threatened for more money for a tricycle / motorbike trip. So, please apply common sense when engaging one of such service.

If you are staying for a bit longer, it's a good idea to rent a motorbike. A smaller Honda XRM 125cc can be had for around ₱300 per day. Marcosas Cottages Resort in Panagsama has good motorbikes for rent (tel. +63 32 474 0064) at ₱400.


Kawasan Water Falls

Swimming in Kawasan Water Falls

The Kawasan water falls (a three step waterfall) is located in the rain forest approximately 20 km south of Moalboal (past Badian). If you take the bus from in front of the public market in Moalboal (near 360 Pharmacy), you can ask the bus driver or ticket collector to drop you off at the right place. The bus ticket from Moalboal to the water falls or vice versa costs ₱19.00. You also need to pay an entrance fee of ₱5.00 and will get an official receipt. Be careful of the 'guides' offer. The walk up to the fall is very easy and you do not need a guide.

A trycicle ride from Moalboal is possible but not recommended. Drivers usually charge ₱350+ for the round-trip with a 2 hour time limit at the falls. Taking the bus is cheaper, faster and more confortable.

If you are driving a rented scooter, the road between Moalboal and Kawasan Falls is excellent, taking around 30 to 40 minutes riding. There is very little traffic and great views of the coast. The entrance to the falls is signaled on the main highway. There is a ₱50 parking fee.

Getting to the falls from the highway is approximately a 30 minute ascent through an impressive landscape. You can take a nice cooling swim in the natural pools, or take a raft out to the falls. There are resting place tables for a charge, some small restaurants and very simple accommodation available.

The falls can sometimes be a bit crowded (especially on weekends) so if you're looking for more of a nature experience, go early (before 10AM) or check out the guided canyoning tours that are offered by some resorts in Panagsama. Tours start in the morning, above the waterfalls, and you make your way down wading along the river, swimming through deeper sections and jumping down waterfalls. Takes about one day, around ₱2,500 per person. Two good tour operators are Cyan Adventures and Planet Action Adventure.

White Beach

Picture of White Beach, taken towards the south outside Barefoot White Beach Resort

About 7 kilometres north of Panagsama you'll find White Beach or Basdako, meaning 'Big Sand', a nice white sandy beach lined with a beautiful coral reef about 30 meters out. Pack your mask and snorkel. White Beach is a popular spot to visit, especially during the weekend, so if you're looking for more quiet beach life go during the week or make your way a bit further north up the beach.

There are a couple of restaurants along the beach and also a few resorts if you would like to stay for the night. To the south you have the high-end Dolphin House Resort (from about ₱5,500/night) and a bit further north Blue Orchid Resort (from around ₱3,500/night) and Club Serena (from around ₱5,500/night). There are also some cheaper options for the budget-minded traveller, Barefoot White Beach Resort (around ₱2,500/night) and HK Beach Resort (around ₱2,000/night) are both good options.

Orchid Gallery

In Moalboal, turn off the national highway by the Petron gas station and continue up the road for about 200 meters to find the Orchid Gallery. It's not so much a gallery, but an orchid plant school that has a pool and nice shaded areas and some specimen of the local wildlife. You can buy orchids and other plants. There is a small entrance fee.

Lambug Beach

Take a tricycle about 20km south towards Badian to find Lambug, a beach that to a greater extent than Basdako reminds you of a deserted island. Especially during the weeks, you can sometimes find yourself completely alone on the beach. Should you like to work on your swing, there is also an 18-hole golf course nearby.



Not far out from the beach shore in Panagsama Beach, there is a drop-off. Near that area there are countless reefs, with soft and hard corals, many different species of fish. Sometimes you can spot lion fish, water snakes, and with some luck turtles. White Beach is also a good spot for snorkelling if you want to combine it with relaxing in the sun. Just a 10-minute walk from white beach are several of the most popular dive spots in the area. Easy Walking on a paved road brings you to Belgian Resort Divers and just beyond that, Sea Turtle House. In these spots live coral and tropical fish can be spotted less than 20 meters from shore...Very shallow water and large sand patches make it possible to easily walk most of the 100 meters to drop off that begins in less than 2 meters of water. Ideal for snorkelling or Scuba diving from shore, both of these small hotels offer reasonable room rates for overnight or weeklong stays. Sea turtles are very commonly seen while snorkelling from Sea Turtle house.

The popular "sardine run" area can be reached from the shore. Simply walk on the road leading to the water directly in front of Savedra Dive Center in Moalboal. Once in the water, wade or swim out towards the drop-off (20-30 meters from shore, depending on the tides). The visibility seems better during rising tide.


Coral reef of Moalboal

Most divers come for the more famous diving spots in Pescador Island, which offer terrific diving and an amazing "sardine run" with a school of several hundred thousand fish. However, there are also a lot more spots do discover around the Moalboal peninsula. In some areas there are fish sanctuaries, and there is a marine preservation program in effect to encourage fishermen not to fish with nets. Moalboal is thankfully spared from dynamite fishing, and the corals are some of the best in the world. Though they are nowadays a bit more uncommon, you can still see both White and Black Tip sharks in the area and at times even Whale Sharks and dolphins pay the reef a visit.

Dives currently cost around ₱1200 with gear. There are a few "local owned" dive shops that are ₱1100-1200 per dive. Most of the dive shops operate 3 dives per day and you can even do your own diving schedule on low season. There are several dive shops along Panagsama Beach, and an equal number along the area of (or white sand beach) All hold some internaionally recognized certifications

If you are not a diver yet, the Moalboal waters are a great place to start exploring the underwater world. A beginners' course will set you back about ₱14,500-19,000 depending where you go. If you are staying for at least five nights in the area, almost all the area shops can teach at widely varying prices.

Other activities

Freediver in Moalboal

Although in Moalboal the most popular tourist activity is Scuba diving, there are a lot more outdoor activities to explore. The area is great for hiking, moutainbiking and canyoneering, and there are many natural wonders like caves and waterfalls to explore. There are a few companies that arrange adventure tours. In Panagsama you'll find Planet Action Adventure that offers a diverse program.


Freediving is becoming more and more popular in Moalboal, because the area offers great conditions for the sport. Close to the shore, the reef drops off to about 40 meters (sometimes more) and the water is usually calm and clear. There are several diveshops that offer courses and training session.[10]

  • Freediving-Philippines, Tongo, Basdiot, +639282634646, [1]. 9am - 5pm. 2 day beginner freediving course is US$ 195. Or choose an AIDA 2* course with international certification that lasts 2,5 to 3 days and costs US$ 285. Fun Freediving is also included in all course. 195 US$.
  • Element Freedive, Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines, 0920-421-9952, [2]. A Pure Apnea freediving school. Course offerings include all Student Levels available (Level 1 - Level 3) also this is the place to become a freediving instructor! Learn and train for only a few days or stay for a few months and get good! This is the place.


You can buy any kind of souvenirs on the beaches and locals will remind you if you forget ;)


Maya's Mexican is in the main Part on Panagsama Beach and does excellent Mexican food - a nice change. They do fresh shakes and have a great BBQ. Chili Bar also does good food, and has the best pizza in Moalboal according to a sign outside (many are inclined to agree). If you venture a bit further south along the beach you'll find Arista Restaurant, which sits right on the waterfront. They have a decently priced Filipino/German menu, and great service to go with the good food.

A place that can be a bit hard to find, but that's well worth the effort is Food Stop, just next to the road between Moalboal and Panagsama. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but they serve generous portions of delicious Filipino and Asian dishes for ₱150 each. If you go for dinner, go early as they usually close around 7pm.

  • Mayas Native Garden Restaurant (Mayas Native Garden Restaurant), Panagsama Beach (Basidot), +63 32 474-3084, [3]. 24.
  • Lechon Manok Stall (Grilled Chicken), Moalboal (Near market). This takeaway food stall does not have any signage indicating it's name but can be identified by the roasted chickens on a charcoal grill (lechon manok). It's located on the main highway, near the market and the church. Their chicken is stuffed with garlic, onions and a stalk of lemongrass, marinated and then roasted. There is no sitting area or any other side dishes being sold. ₱160/whole chicken.
  • Sula's, Moalboal (Directly accross from Fish & Meat market). Sula's is very popular with the locals and expats living in the area. It's a typical carinderia and has a huge variety of dishes. Prices are charged depending on what you order but a meal for 2 people, including rice, vegetable side dishes, two meat dishes and drinks, costs around ₱150. As in most carinderias, food is usually cooked in the morning, so getting there early (before noon) is advisable. ₱100-200.


There are a lot of restaurants along the beach where you can have a drink with a sea view. Chili Bar in Panagsama Beach is the most popular one and usually full of people all year around. You will find two billiards table there (as in almost all the other bars around) and there's a tournament on wednesdays. Across from Chili Bar is 7 Sins Bar, also with a pool table and lots of seating.

As you come down to Panagsama from Moalboal and the road turns left, continue straight on down to the beach and take a left to find Ester's Bar. The nice sea view is accompanied by friendly service.

On Saturday nights, there is a disco in Pacitas, just a short walk south along the beach from Panagsama's center. There are also very often discos organised by locals in different locations. Ask around where it is, everybody knows. On your way to Pacitas you can also stop off at Andi's Talisay for some late night singing at their open-mic night.


  • Rositas Cottages, (Panagsama Beach, South end). Rosita's cottages are more like little rental homes as they include a fully equipped kitchen (fridge, stove, oven, water dispenser, cookware) and your own porch area. Rooms have fans and AC (optional), flat screen TV with cable, hot water shower and good WIFI. This is a great place for long term travelers to take a break and "live at home" for a little bit. 700-1000.
  • Moalboal Backpacker Lodge, Panagsama Beach, Basdiot, +63 905 227 8096, [4]. A very popular place among backpackers. The dorm is a loft, with plenty of light and space to met people. Free wi-fi. You can use the kitchen for an extra 20 pesos daily. Friendly staff 275/350/480, dm/s/d, weekly discounts.
  • Barefoot White Beach Resort, White Beach, Basdako, Moalboal, [5]. Clean, relaxed and close to the beach. There is no pool or restaurant, but the manager there will buy groceries in town and cook for you if you ask. Around php 2,500 for a standard room.
  • Mayas Native Garden, Panagsama beach, +63 915 480 96 10, [6]. Mayas is located in the heart of Panagsama Beach. Mayas Native Garden is a new resort close to the sea, consisting of five native cottages built with western standard. There is a big surrounding garden, with a myriad of plants and flowers. The spacious restaurant offers delicious food with great atmosphere from morning to evening.
  • Quo Vadis Dive Resort, Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, +63 32 474 3068, [7]. Nice, clean and close to the beachfront. The resort has a pool, two bars and a really good restaurant. Free wifi. There is also a dive centre that offers what are probably the best prices on the beach for boat dives. Rooms are php 1,275 - 3,600.
  • Nidos Garden, Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, +63 32 474 3068. Simple and clean rooms without aircon. Has the same management as Quo Vadis, so you can use their pool and Wifi. ₱980 per night.
  • Susan's Beachside Resort and Restaurant ₱1000 (fan) and ₱1500 (air-con). All rate's include free breakfast, cable TV and Wi-Fi. Nice clean rooms right on the ocean. You can relax and go snorkelling, visit White Beach or Kawasan Falls. Fantastic for families or single travellers. There is a bar and restaurant that looks right over the ocean.
  • Turtle Bay Dive Resort, Tongo Point, Basdiot (From Moalboal take the road to Panagsama Beach, then turn left after 1km, then follow the signs.), +63 32 316 4133, [8].
  • Sunshine pension house, moalboal (1 block from the beach panagsama). Cheap fan rooms with a nice pool around 850p nice friendly owners
  • Sea Turtle House, looc,White Beach-Saavedra,Moalbal,6032 Phillipines, 0063918 356 11 22, [9]. checkout: 12 Noon. Perfectly-situated for seeing beautiful ocean views, sunsets, turtles swimming past, this tropicalresort features local- style cottages with hot water,CATV air con available in every room and excellent internet in the public areas or All rates include a well-prepared breakfast in either American or Filipino style. operated by on-site owners and their on-site manager, Arlene. resrvations and current room rates availabe from 1200-2400.

Get out

Oslob: To reach Oslob (more specifically Tan Awan) for the whale shark interaction, take any Ceres bus heading south on the highway towards Bato (70php). You will be dropped off at the Ceres Liner bus station from where you can board another bus towards Oslob. Inform the conductor you want to be dropped off at Tan Awan (19php). The Ceres buses are very frequent (every 30 minutes or less) and the trip takes less than 2 hours, including the bus change. Please be aware that the whale sharks are attracted by the constant feeding from small local boats. There will be plenty of people splashing in the water with their life jackets and fins. If you are still interested, go early on a weekday to avoid the crowds and be mindful about the animals.

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