The Sardine Run is one of the most popular activities in Moalboal. Swimming alongside the edge of a coral with almost one million sardines is really an incredible experience.
You can either snorkel or dive to see the sardine run, it really doesn’t matter.
An with a whole host of tourists visiting this area to experience the sardine run and incredible other activities you can be sure there’s plenty of places to buy or rent equipment – You can even learn to scuba dive for the first time here!
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How To Get To The Sardine Run Moalboal
The sardine run is located just 30m from Panagsama Beach which is situated in Moalboal. If you’re located at White Beach this guide will help you travel there – it takes just 15 minutes in a habal-habal.
If you’re already staying in Panagsama Beach at one of the many hostels located in the area, it’s an easy walk of around 200m. Simply head towards the sea and follow the road round to the left when you get to the bottom.
You’ll pass a number of diving shops, perfect for renting any equipment you might need.
Just on the corner, you’ll find Cebu Scuba Academy.
If you look to the right you’ll notice a small pathway. This will lead you straight out onto the beach.
At the end of the pathway, you’ll find a small sand area to your right here you can sunbath or leave your belongings before heading out snorkelling or diving.
It costs nothing to visit the sardine run in Moalboal.
The sardines are located just 30m off the small beach, so you don’t need a boat to take you out, it’s a one minute swim.
Making the sardine run the best free thing to do in Moalboal.
Guide To The Sardine Run Moalboal
We headed to see the sardine run on the first day we were in Moalboal. We’d planned to do it the same day we arrived, but due to our troubles getting to Moalboal from Cebu it was too late.
Firstly, we had to rent a snorkel. We went to the most popular location just on the front strip as you head to the beach Sea Quest Dive Centre.
Sadly, however, they’d sold out for the day.
Instead, we went to Ocean Blue, which is located slightly further on the strip towards the beach.
They had a number of different snorkel renting packages available including a basic package for simply a mask and snorkel, or other options with the addition of flippers, life vests etc.
Pro Tip: Along with rental packages Ocean Blue also offered the use of hot and cold showers, the use of a towel and a locker for 100 pesos per person.
Renting a mask and snorkel cost us 150 pesos for the day (until 5pm) however, we also had to pay an additional 1,000 pesos deposit per snorkel set.
Pro Tip: This place only accepts cash so we had to go back to the ATM. The nearest one is located at Chief Mau which is round the corner as though you’re going to head back up Pansanga Road.
While the beach itself was quiet upon our arrival at around 10 am the water was not.
While the vast number of people observing the sardine run Moalboal didn’t both us, however, the boats so nearby did.
These boats are anchored in locations where you can easily stand up. The water is very shallow up until the edge of the coral where the sardines are located.
As the boats leave, you’ll be asked to move, from the guides on the boat shouting or blowing a whistle. We spent around 15 minutes swimming back and forth in the shallow waters to allow the boats enough room to get out.
Pro Tip: The first 10 metres of the water can be incredibly rocky, making it hard to balance and very painful on the soles of your feet.
It’s certainly the worst we’ve ever experienced so water shoes are certainly a good idea if you find your feet are sensative to those kinds of conditions.
Of course, they create a significant number of waves which can make swimming more difficult than it usually is in these otherwise calm waters.
However, even in these conditions, we managed to see a sea turtle for the very first time.
In order to minimise the number of boats and other visitors swimming alongside you, I’d recommend either heading out early in the morning around 8 am or in the afternoon at around 4 pm.
An even if you can’t make those hours – just as we didn’t it’s an incredible experienced not to be missed when visiting Moalboal. Just be sure to take note of the boats, and other things mentioned above that we experienced.
Where To Eat Nearby
There’s plenty of places to eat just off Panagsama Beach where the sardines are located. Our favourite places include;
Café Cebuano – This restaurant is an affordable place to grab a bite to eat and a drink. It’s situated over the water of Pansang Beach.
We came here for dinner one night and watched the sunset, we enjoyed it so much we went back the following night with friends for Helen’s birthday.
Chief Mau – This hostel is a great place to grab food and drink. It’s got free wi-fi and a comprehensive drinks menu with a range of food including; fries, burgers, pasta etc.
The place is family-run, so you’ll also find the little girl helping out, as well as the sausage dog and super cute cat to keep you company.