It’s not really an island hopping experience. It’s something much better. Moalboal island hopping should be changed Moalboal snorkeling. After all, you’re not visiting islands but rather snorkeling spots.
Famous for having the best diving and snorkeling spots in the Philippines, Moalboal has a rich marine life. You can see here corals in all forms and colors, dolphins, sea turtles, sardine runs, and all kinds of fishes! You bet we saw all of these during our trip.
If you’re planning a trip to Moalboal soon, the island hopping/snorkeling should be on your list!
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What You Should Know Before Your Trip
Moalboal Island Hopping Fees
- Environmental Fee: P100 (2 USD) per person
- Private Boat Rental: for the 2 of us, we paid P2,500 (50 USD) for the whole boat and island hopping
- If you’re on a tight budget, you can opt to join other tourists in the same boat for around P300 to P500 (6 USD to 10 USD).
- Or if you don’t want to go to Pescador island and just want to see the sardine run and turtles, you can simply put on your snorkeling masks and swim in front of Panagsama beach. The turtles are a bit shy so in order to see one, be prepared to swim hundreds of meters to spot one.
Starting the Island Hopping Experience
- Go to the municipal hall and pay the fees.
- Attend the brief orientation.
- Rent snorkeling gears, GoPros, or fins. Up to you. Life vests are provided in the boat.
- Ride the boat. Unlike before, boats now are in a queue. So you can’t choose your boat. Your boat will depend on who’s next.
- Enjoy and keep a lookout for dolphins!
Snorkeling Sites To Visit
Just a few minutes boat ride away from Moalboal, Pescador island boasts of a beautiful snorkeling site. You can find all sorts of colorful fishes and corals.
Our boat guides were very eager to help bring us to the best spot and with a buoy, dragged us all around the place. They even took turns diving with our GoPro so we’d have footage to watch after our trip.
It’s honestly one of the best snorkeling experiences we’ve had.
After snorkeling, we had to move to where the Sardines Run was. Lo and behold, on our way to the next snorkeling spot, we saw dolphins!
Like omgwhgduwyxujwgd! It was my first time seeing these beautiful creatures swimming on sea waters and it’s definitely the highlight of our snorkeling trip!
We weren’t really expecting to see any dolphins. Ryk saw them first and pointed them out to me. Our guides then turned the boat around so we could have a much closer look. They really didn’t have to. It wasn’t on our itinerary but they still did it.
One of the boat guides even borrowed our GoPro and tried taking videos while holding onto the boat. Note, the waves were a bit strong so our boat was rocking back and forth. He didn’t care! Even went as far as dunking the GoPro under the water whenever he could. And we got this footage!
Note: Dolphins are seasonal but if you go on that island hopping trip, you might just see the dolphins!
Our next stop was the Sardines Run. Apparently the sardines used to be around Pescador Island. However, after an earthquake, they moved to the waters around Moalboal near Panagsama beach (which isn’t much of a beach considering the number of establishments around the area).
Anyways, we stopped by a spot where a lot of other people were snorkeling. When you look at the water, you can’t really see anything. So I wasn’t expecting much.
But when I put on my snorkeling mask and dove into the water, what I saw was breathtaking!
Under the water were thousands of sardines! Our guide even joked that you won’t be able to fit them all in one boat. And he was right.
With all the sardines under us, we couldn’t even see the bottom of the sea. We even thought we were swimming in shallow waters until the fishes moved to one side and apparently it was pretty deep!
The sight before me was enough to make me go gaga. It was both amazing and creepy. You wouldn’t even see any other fish apart from the sardines.
And every time a sardine turns on its side, you’ll see flashes of silver. Truly spectacular!
And finally, we moved to another spot that’s a few meters away from the sardines run to look for turtles. Our guide then told us that we’ll be swimming around 500m so we can cover a lot of areas and see the turtles.
Just a few seconds into our snorkeling journey, we saw our very first turtle and it was huuuuge!
After a few minutes, we saw two more!
And just like the turtles, we saw during our snorkeling trip in Masasa, the turtles in Moalboal were very shy. They didn’t like getting filmed and would constantly swim away.
Aside from these snorkeling spots, our boat guides offered to take us near White Beach for another snorkeling adventure for just an additional P1,000 but we declined since we already saw so many things in just those three places! If you do have the budget, you can ask your guides if they can bring you there!
Nevertheless, the snorkeling experience in Moalboal was like no other! In one day, we saw tons of beautiful fishes, turtles, a lot of sardines and dolphins!
Moalboal is definitely on our list of the best snorkeling sites in the Philippines!
How to Get to Moalboal
From Cebu City
Ride a Ceres bus heading to Moalboal from Cebu South Bus Terminal. Travel time is around 3 hours and the fare is at P127 for the bus with aircon and P116 for the bus without aircon.
Aside from the bus, you can also ride a van at Cebu South V-hire Terminal.
Where to Stay in Moalboal
We stayed in Sambag Hideaway and booked one of their rooms. I highly recommend this place if you want quiet and peaceful accommodation that’s a few steps away from the sea.
You can book here:
Here are also a few other accommodations we’d recommend.
- Beyond Island – Check Price and Availability
- Savedra Beach Bungalows – Check Price and Availability
- ADIVAYAN 315 – Check Price and Availability
- Soul Travellers – Check Price and Availability
- ZEN Rooms Basic Gerty’s Place Moalboal – Check Price and Availability
- Ocean Safari Suites – Check Price and Availability
- PIG Dive Hostel Moalboal – Check Price and Availability
- Parrot Resort Moalboal – Check Price and Availability
- Adam’s View Hotel – Check Price and Availability
- Pescadores Seaview Suites Moalboal – Check Price and Availability
- Teobas Homestay – Check Price and Availability
- Tongo Hill Cottages – Check Price and Availability
- Ravenala Beach Bungalows – Check Price and Availability
- Oceanfront Paradise Resort – Check Price and Availability
- The Blue Orchid Resort – Check Price and Availability
- Quo Vadis Dive Resort – Check Price and Availability
Aside from hotels and resorts, you can also opt to stay at an Airbnb.
Responsible Travel Tips
When traveling to one place, make sure you practice responsible tourism. Here are some tips to do so.
1. Respect the environment
Don’t litter. Please hold onto your trash until you find a garbage can.
2. Avoid single-use plastic
Bring your eco bag and refuse single-use plastic.
3. Shop local
Keep the traditional crafts alive and support local artisans. Buy from them. And try not to haggle, P20 may seem small to you but it can mean a lot to them.
4. Always ask permission
Be sure to ask for permission first when taking photos or videos especially when it comes to children
What to Pack
Here’s stuff I’d recommend you to pack when going to Moalboal:
- reef-safe sunscreen
- snorkeling gears
- diarrhea tablets
- eco-friendly reusable water bottle
- reusable bag and straw
- loose and lightweight clothing
- power bank
- waterproof dry bags
- aqua shoes
Our Camera Gear
- Mirrorless Camera: Fujifilm XT3
- Lenses: Fujifilm Fujinon kit lens (18-55mm) | Fujinon 35mm f2 | Fujinon 50mm f2
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- GoPro: GoPro Hero Black 7
- Power Bank: Romoss Powerbank
- Camera Backpack: Case Logic Camera and Laptop Backpack
- Monopod: Ifootage Cobra 2 a180
- Mic: Rode VideoMicro
- Gimbal: Zhiyun Weebill-S
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- Osmena Peak Sunrise Hike: 2019 Travel Guide
- Bantayan Island 2019 Travel Guide: All You Need To Know
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Johanes is a digital nomad and a web content writer who loves to go on spontaneous travels. She also likes to go camp under the stars and play with her dog and cats.