Moalboal is a must-visit when on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Home to some of the most incredible waterfalls and exotic ocean life, the scenery matches what we expected when coming to this beautiful country.
Located 85km South-West of Cebu city, getting here is affordable both on a public bus or by private taxi. The location is also a fantastic jumping-off point to other destinations like Dumaguete, Bohol, and Siquijor.
If you’re planning a trip to Moalboal any time soon, these are the things you don’t want to miss!
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1. Panagsama Beach
Panagsama Beach is the perfect location for a relaxing day. The beach area is small; however, it’s not a place many come to relax and sunbathe, so you shouldn’t struggle for space.
Panagsama Beach is the go-to spot for divers because of the coral drop-offs. You’ll enjoy a variety of marine life in crystal clear waters just meters away from the shoreline.
We spent 80% of our time in Moalboal watching the incredible Sardine Run and the Sea Turtles with snorkelling equipment we rented from one of the nearby stores.
The Sardine Run is home to hundreds of thousands of sardines that swirl around, creating an incredible performance just 30 meters from the beaches shoreline.
Exploring Panagsama beach is a great way to spend a day. The beach is located just 4km from the town centre of Moalboal, although it’s the area where most tourists choose to base themselves when exploring the area.
2. Osmena Peak Trekking
If you’re looking for a land-based adventure on the island, Osmena peak is the way to go.
At 1013 meters above sea level, Osmena peak offers spectacular views of jagged cliffs, the sea, and a series of sharp-peaked hills that are a wonder to behold.
Hiking to Osmena peak is a worthy excursion for family members of all ages as the 700-meter climb is easily achievable in 20 minutes or less. Plus, taking a 4×4 vehicle or motorbike is also an option if you want the views without the effort.
The hike itself is free if you choose to follow the path on your own (which is entirely doable), but many of the locals will offer to guide you for a small fee.
From Cebu City, you can take the three-hour bus for 170 pesos towards Oslob or Bato and ask to be let off at the Dalaguete junction.
Once there, you’ll have to take a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) to Mantalongon. Once at Mantalongon, you can choose to take a motorcycle to the peak for p200 and expect the journey to take 30 minutes; alternatively, you can skip the ride and add an extra 2 hours to the hike.
Alternatively, if you’re already situated in Moalboal / Pangsama Beach, consider hiring a scooter and driving the 1.5 hours to the foothills yourself.
If you’re uncomfortable with riding a scooter, you can arrange with one of the habal-habal drivers who hang around the area (outside Chief Mau hostel) for a private car or taxi to take you instead.
Make sure to dress in hike-appropriate clothing and footwear for maximum comfort. As with any hiking adventure, you should bring water, sunscreen, sunglasses, a camera, and some cash.
3. Pescador Island Hopping Tour
The Pescador Island Hopping Tour is another fantastic choice for families or groups in Moalboal.
Pescador Island is famous for its protected marine species and corals, making it a world-class dive site. During the tour, you’ll get to dive and swim with sea corals, frogfish, a school of jacks, and sea fans.
On this island sightseeing adventure, you’ll be able to snorkel, feed turtles and fish, go dolphin watching and visit small uninhabited islands. If all that wasn’t enough, you can even add on a trip to Kawasan Falls.
If you choose to add Kawasan Falls to this tour, make sure to bring your sense of adventure!
Kawasan is a beautiful spot for swimming, jumping, and canyoneering. Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls includes rock jumping, cliff jumping, water slides, and scrambling. If this isn’t your thing, simply swim around and under the falls!
Also included in this tour is a trip to the sardine run, which is one of the most popular attractions in Moalboal. At a conservative estimate, hundreds of thousands of Sardines swim and swirl around each other like a moving wall.
The island tour cost may fluctuate from p6800 per person to p2300 per person for a group of four. The price for the tour will fluctuate depending on the number of people joining the tour.
The cost of the tour includes the entrance fees, snorkels, masks, and a life vest, transportation to and from your hotel or resort, and a pump boat with the boat crew.
Optional addons are lunch at P300 per person and a GoPro camera rental (which you’ll want to include if you don’t have your own) for an extra P1000.
4. Visit Dau Falls
Dau Falls is another incredible waterfall destination located a little over an hour’s drive from Moalboal. Upon arriving at the car park, you’ll have a half an hour trek to get to this waterfall navigating rocks and boulders.
It is a moderately challenging walk, but most travellers can get to the falls with no problem, depending on your age and fitness level. Much like Osmena Peak, you can do this trek on your own or have a guide take you for a small fee.
You’ll traverse between canyon walls covered with moss, ferns, and palms, making you feel as though you’ve stepped into another world. Dau Falls is roughly 45 meters high and empties into a large, clear pool.
Being one of the lesser-known spots just outside of Moalboal, you may find your the only ones visiting (as we did on our visit). Leaving you free to swim and take picture-perfect photos, which will no doubt make those back home incredibly envious.
The entrance fee is just P30, and you can spend an entire afternoon swimming and enjoying the scenery if you want. Make sure to bring a GoPro camera, trek-friendly water shoes, a water-tight bag for your belongings.
5. Sumilon Island Sandbar and Whale Sharks Interaction in Oslob
If you take a one and a half bus journey from Moalboal to Oslob, you can take a trip to see whale sharks up close and personal. Sightings in Oslob are virtually guaranteed on any day due to the dumping of krill to attract the whale sharks.
You’ll take a hand-paddled boat out from the shore for a few hundred meters. You get a spectacular view of the whale sharks from the boats since the water is clear. However, if you’re going to do it, you should do it right, which means snorkelling!
Though there are strict rules about swimming closer than 4 meters from the whale sharks, you won’t be disappointed. Their size is truly unique, and they are gorgeous creatures.
Since they are gentle and docile animals, you may even get lucky enough to play with a younger whale shark or get the ride of a lifetime through the water with the help of an adult whale shark (though this is discouraged by conservationists).
The experience is limited to half an hour or 45 minutes on weekdays and is available to tourists from 6:00 am to 12:00 pm only.
Also, in Oslob, you can reach Sumilon island in 15 minutes via motorized Banca or outrigger boat. For a panoramic view of the sandbar, you can walk to the main island and climb a rock precipice that seems to be made for that very purpose.
To get the best view of the sandbar, you should head out to the island as early as you can before the tide reduces its appearance. Whether you want to sunbathe or go snorkelling, the sandbar is a great place to spend a couple of hours in a peaceful and serene environment.
You should bring water and sunblock with you on this trip as the island does not have any facilities, and there is no shade on the beach. A baseball cap or sunhat would also be a good idea to protect your face from the sun.
If you’d like to turn the trip to Oslob into a full-day experience, you can add Tumalog Falls, a Sumilon Island tour. The waterfall is the most popular option for these tourist sites as the tour is entirely hassle-free: you pay upfront for all locations and are picked up and dropped off at your hotel or resort.
The cost of this package is P6841 for two adults and includes breakfast upon arrival in Oslob and lunch after visiting Sumilon Island. A personal driver and local guide also accompany you, so all you have to do is enjoy! You should bring a camera, sunblock, sunglasses, good shoes, and water for this trip.