The small town of Moalboal on Cebu Island is home to potentially the most impressive natural phenomenon in the Philippines – the sardine run. Since visiting the town offers the chance to dive and snorkel with millions of sardines, tourism in Moalboal is taking off. If that’s not enough to convince you, there are some other great reasons to visit the area. One of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines – Kawasan falls – is an easy day trip away. Although Moalboal isn’t known for its beaches, the pleasant white beach is just a few kilometres away. With some great activities on offer, a visit to Cebu Island and Moalboal should be a definite inclusion for any itinerary of the Philippines. Find out everything you need to know before you visit with this Moalboal travel guide.
How to get to Moalboal, Cebu
As Moalboal doesn’t have an airport, you’ll need to fly into the Mactan-Cebu International Airport – the airport nearest to Cebu City. It’s one of the busiest airports in the Philippines, with plenty of domestic flights arriving there daily. Click here to find the best flight deals to Cebu City with 12Go Asia. From the airport you can either use a bus or taxi to reach Moalboal.
Bus – The cheapest way to get from Cebu City airport to Moalboal is by bus. Unfortunately the buses don’t run directly from the airport, so you’ll have to make your way to the Cebu South Bus Station by taxi.
There are 2 types of taxi available at the airport – the cheaper white taxis and more expensive yellow taxis. Take a white taxi, which should cost around 250-400 pesos on the metre to reach Cebu South Bus Station. Traffic in Cebu City is terrible, so it can take around an hour to get there despite it not being all that far!
Once you’re at the station, you want a bus heading to Moalboal or to Bato via Barili. Whichever bus you get will take around 3-4 hours to reach Moalboal. The main company servicing these routes is Ceres Liner, with their tickets costing 130 pesos for an air-conditioned bus and 100 pesos for a non air-conditioned bus.
The Ceres bus schedule from Cebu to Moalboal can be found here, with information on the first and last bus each day. Some of this information may be out of date but from what we know generally buses leave from Cebu South Bus Station to Moalboal around every half an hour.
It becomes a bit of a free for all to get on the bus and get a seat, and you don’t need to pay for your ticket until you’re on the bus. There is plenty of space for your luggage beneath the bus, but to be safe keep your valuables with you inside the bus.
Once you arrive in Moalboal you’ll need to take a tricycle to your accommodation. We recommend staying in the Panagsama beach area, and a tricycle to the area should cost around 50-80 pesos – although the price may double at night.
Taxi – An easier way to get from Cebu City airport to Moalboal is by taxi. As the taxis from the airport run on the metre it’s not possible to know an exact cost in advance. As a rough estimate, you should expect to pay around 2500-3000 pesos to go from Cebu to Moalboal.
If you’d prefer, you can arrange a private car/driver from Cebu city to Moalboal. Realistically though, it’s easy enough to get a taxi at the airport – even if the queue can take up to 20-30 minutes.
Getting around Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal is a small town, which makes it very easy to get around. If you want to rent a scooter/bike it will cost around 200-300 pesos per day – or potentially less if you’re renting longer term. Tricycles are available to take you to attractions around Moalboal too, but fares depending on how far you’re going.
Everything you need is in the Panagsama beach area, so we recommend staying there. Panagsama beach is home to the famous Moalboal sardine run, which is one of the biggest attractions of the town itself. The Panagsama beach area is small and everything you need is within walking distance along one main road.
Best time to visit Moalboal, Cebu
The weather in Moalboal is relatively good throughout the year as the town is quite well sheltered from the Philippines’ monsoon season. Although the town does get rain throughout the year, it’s not as bad as many parts of the Philippines.
The least rainy months in Moalboal are January-May, making it one of the best times to visit. Fortunately though, whenever you visit you should get at least one sunny day – especially if you’re staying for a few days.
Things to do in Moalboal, Cebu
Sardine run – Snorkelling the sardine run at Panagsama beach should be top of your list of things to do in Moalboal, Cebu. Millions of sardines gather just off the shore all year round, making Moalboal the perfect place for snorkelling this incredible spectacle.
Until you find yourself in the water with the sardines, it’s hard to truly appreciate just how impressive it is. The sheer number of them and the way they race about when startled is an amazing sight. You may think that a big group of sardines can’t be that impressive, but prepare to be blown away!
Snorkelling the sardine run in Moalboal is possible at any time of day and is completely free – so you can’t go wrong at that price! Although you can take a snorkelling tour to see the sardines in Moalboal, there is little point as they can be easily reached from Panagsama beach without a boat. It’s easy to find them as there will be a number of others snorkelling nearby, and it’s pretty hard to miss millions and millions of sardines!
The sardines in the area are protected as net fishing is not allowed. It’s not completely clear why the sardines have chosen this area as their home, but currently they are found in Moalboal all year round.
This incredible snorkelling spot at Panagsama beach is more than enough reason to visit Moalboal.
White beach – If you’re looking to spend time at the beach, then head to white beach. Located around 7 kilometres further north from Moalboal, white beach is a better beach for relaxing than Panagsama beach.
Despite being called white beach, it doesn’t actually have white sand – so don’t get your hopes up! That being said, it’s still a decent stretch of beach to enjoy and the area is good for snorkelling. As it’s the best beach in the immediate area it can be quite busy – so don’t expect to have it to yourself!
To get to white beach from Panagsama beach it should cost around 100-150 pesos for a one-way tricycle trip. There is also a small entrance fee of 10 pesos to access the beach.
Kawasan falls – Kawasan falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines and one of the busiest tourist spots on Cebu Island. Surrounded by the peaceful nature of the jungle, the three-tiered falls have become a popular swimming spot thanks to the stunning blue pools at the bases of the falls.
As Kawasan falls is just a 30-40 minute drive from Moalboal, it’s the perfect place to take a day trip to. You can easily spend anything from a few hours to the whole day enjoying cooling off in the turquoise waters of the falls!
To get to Kawasan falls from Moalboal you can take the bus, which costs 20 pesos one-way, or take a tricycle, which costs around 600 pesos for a return trip. Alternatively you can rent a scooter/bike for around 200-300 pesos and drive yourself there.
Whichever option you choose, you will have to walk for around 10-15 minutes to reach the first waterfall. If someone offers to guide you then politely decline as the path is easy to follow and leads directly to the falls.
The entrance fee to Kawasan falls is 40 pesos, but there are no set opening hours as the falls aren’t gated off. This means you can arrive as early as you want – which is a good idea if you want to see the falls before they get packed with people! If you’d like a bit more adventure, you can go canyoning/canyoneering at Kawasan falls. These tours of Kawasan falls cost around 1,000 pesos per person.
More waterfalls! – If you want to see some more incredible waterfalls then head to south Cebu and visit Aguinid falls and Tumalog falls. Aguinid falls has 8 different levels, which are only accessible if you climb up the waterfalls themselves! Tumalog falls is a beautiful towering waterfall near Oslob, which was only discovered in 2012.
Diving – Moalboal, Cebu, is one of the top diving destinations in the Philippines. There are a number of brilliant dive sites nearby. Three of the best dive sites in Moalboal are Pescador Island, Airplane wreck and the sardine run. You can easily arrange a trip to these sites with a dive resort or one of the dive shops in Moalboal.
Pescador Island is home to some incredible marine life, with turtles, sea snakes, great barracudas, lionfish and more found in the area. If you’re extremely lucky you may even see hammerhead sharks in the depths. For those interested in diving in Moalboal, a dive at Pescador Island is a must!
An airplane wreck was placed on the seafloor in Moalboal, which has created an artificial reef. The small two-seater plane is now part of an underwater world visited by turtles and more – making it a great place to dive! For more wreck diving in the Philippines, click here to read our Coron travel guide.
It’s also possible to dive the sardine run in Moalboal. Diving offers a unique perspective of the sardines from below that it’s just not possible to get while snorkelling.
If you’re wondering what to do in Moalboal at night, you can also do a night dive. It’s a completely different way to check out the nightlife in Moalboal!
Click here for more information on diving in Moalboal.
Snorkelling – If you’re not a qualified diver but still want to explore more of Moalboal’s underwater world then take a snorkelling trip to Pescador Island. What you see will depend on luck of course, but the area is home to sea snakes, parrotfish and more! Rates for snorkelling tour packages to Pescador Island from Moalboal start at as little as 200 pesos, and if you’re lucky you may even see some dolphins during your boat ride!
There’s also more to see than the sardines when snorkelling at Panagsama beach. Turtles are common visitors to the area, so keep your eyes peeled, as you never know what you might see!
Where to stay in Moalboal, Cebu
Mayas Native Garden Resort
If you’re looking for budget accommodation in Moalboal, Mayas Native Garden Resort is a great option. We’d recommend booking one of the rooms with air con, but if you’re on a really tight budget then cheaper fan rooms are available. The property is in a good location close to Panagsama beach and plenty of restaurants – making it one of the best budget hotels in Moalboal, Cebu. Rates start from $13 USD (700 pesos) per night.
Savedra Beach Bungalows
The Savedra Beach Bungalows are ideally located in the heart of the Panagsama beach area. As the property is right next to the beach it means you’re in a great spot to see the sardine run. Not only that but the majority of the restaurants and bars in Moalboal are very close by. The Savedra Beach Bungalows are one of the best places to stay in Moalboal on a budget as all rooms have air con, free wifi and the location couldn’t be better! Prices start from $25 USD (1,350 pesos) per night.
Pescadores Seaview Suites Moalboal
For reasonably priced accommodation with a swimming pool, check out the Pescadores Seaview Suites Moalboal. The rooms are fitted with air con to keep you cool even when you’re not in the pool! Staying at Pescadores Seaview Suites you’re just a short walk from Panagsama beach as well as a number of bars and restaurants. Prices start at $28 USD (1,500 pesos) per night.
Marcosas Cottages Resort
Another good option with a pool is the Marcosas Cottages Resort. The property is just a short walk from restaurants, bars and Panagsama beach, meaning everything you need is nearby! Rates start at $40 USD (2,150 pesos) per night.
The Blue Orchid Resort
Treat yourself to a relaxing stay at the Blue Orchid Resort. If you’re wondering where to stay in Moalboal close to white beach then this resort is perfect, but staying here means you’ll need transport to get to Panagsama beach for the sardine run. That being said, this little slice of paradise is well worth it as it’s one of the nicest resorts in the Moalboal area of Cebu Island. As you’d expect, there’s a pool on site and all the rooms are fitted with air con – so you don’t need to worry about warm nights! Prices start at $73 USD (4,000 pesos) per night.
Where to eat in Moalboal, Cebu
Cockonuts – If you’re looking for cheap eats in Moalboal, save yourself the hassle and head straight to Cockonuts. It’s undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in Moalboal and was our favourite place to eat there.
There’s a good variety of reasonably priced food on the menu. In particular the thai green curry is delicious, as is the grilled chicken. We’d go as far as to say that Cockonuts was our favourite restaurant in the whole of the Philippines, thanks to the great food and friendly staff!
Little Corner restaurant – Another option near Panagsama beach is the Little Corner restaurant. The food is relatively cheap and of a reasonable quality – although if you’re in the area we’d recommend just going to Cockonuts instead!
Three Bears – If you’re wondering where to go in Moalboal for decent Western food then Three Bears is the place for you. It’s rated as one of the best places to eat in Moalboal on Tripadvisor and serves up a range of Western dishes at very reasonable prices, just a 5-10 minute walk from Panagsama beach.
Chili Bar – Although the food at Chili Bar in Moalboal can be hit or miss, it’s still a nice place to meet people and have a drink!