If you are open to exploring and especially if you have your own means of transportation, there are lots to do in the area around Moalboal. From waterfalls to sardines, turtles, beaches, and even skydiving, the options are plentiful. Below are our top 5 picks that will guarantee you have an amazing time in Moalboal without needing to spend too long in the city. In order to do them all, we would suggest at least 3 days, but you could squeeze it into 2 if you have your own transportation or hire a guide.
What to do
Many people underestimate Moalboal. They have seen Kawasan Falls online and really want to visit but have no expectations for the city. This is such a mistake as it still retains much of the laid back vibe that got El Nido so famous but has now lost due to over-tourism. From top-notch diving, millions of fish, and amazing sea turtles, you're missing out if you just pass through Moalboal!
This has to be the most famous thing to do in Moalboal and what gave the city its true start in the tourism industry. Millions of sardines call the shoreline home year-round. Not only is it just generally badass to see millions of fish at one time, they have migrated very close to shore over the past decade and now sit just a stones through from shore. The steep drop off that they love also allows awesome viewings for snorkelers. No need for boats, guides, or scuba gear. Just jump in the water and find the school to be blown away! The local free divers will dive through the schools sending them running and creating an almost mirror like effect of their scales!
Swim with turtles
Just two minutes south, the shallow waters are a bit calmer allowing for a perfect home for dozens of sea turtles. These massive creatures slowly putt along the seafloor eating the abundant coral and algae, popping up for a quick breath of air every once in a while. If you are having troubles finding the turtles, many of the locals
can likely point you in the right direction. We found that they liked to hang around just off shore from the Savedra Beach Resort. If you do not have snorkeling gear, there are many shops that will rent them out to you for about 100-120PHP/person/day.
Kawasan Falls Canyoneering
Moalboal is also famous for the numerous waterfalls in the area. Some have massive drops, numerous cascades, jumping rocks, and even rafts for the perfect photo op. Figuring out which ones to go to is tough as each has its advantages. Kawasan Falls is by far the most popular and one of the most visited in the entire country. This is because it is so much more than just a single waterfall. The half-day adventure takes you several KMs through a canyon with dozens of spots to jump from, rapids to navigate, and even a natural slide. It is also only about 30 minutes from Moalboal allowing easy access with guided trips. Trips depart from Moalboal throughout the day and with several different companies so talk with your hotel/hostel and see what they recommend. Remember as there are lots of options, the prices will fluctuate as will what you recieve. We booked through J & C Guesthouse and couldn't have been happier.
Binalayan Hidden Waterfalls
If busy waterfalls are not your thing, then try a few of the more secluded falls in the south of Cebu Island. Though Binalayan Hidden Falls or Aguinid Falls are over an hour and a half south, they are well worth the trip. Binalayan Hidden falls is named after the deep slot canyon it has formed through erosion. These steep walls are the perfect spots to jump from allowing for jumps up to 45 feet! Read more about how to access these falls here!
Covid Conscious Activities
With Covid-19 being such a huge factor in daily life, it is important to take steps towards a safer holiday like trying to limit your daily contact with others. Keep up to date with the latest local advisories and information.
Moalboal is a great spot to visit if you are hoping to stay socially distant and Covid Conscious. While Kawasan Falls Canyoneering is very busy, there are many other local waterfalls that you can jump off of and have some fun. Our favourite is Bayanalan hidden Waterfalls about an hour or so south. The quiet falls have an amazing 1 KM walk through the jungle leading you up to the canyon that a 65-foot waterfall has cut. Jump off from anywhere along the edge and enjoy! With few people at this falls, you have plenty of space to stay distant from others.
Where to Stay
There seem to be hundreds of places to stay in Moalboal. Depending on what you are looking for you are almost guaranteed to find it! There are luxurious oceanfront hotels like Kasai Village Dive Resort or small jungle huts such as Nirvana Bamboo Resort. The peninsula has numerous beaches such as White Beach (for those that like seclusion and fewer restaurants, and Panagsama Beach (the party and dive shop area). Either spot is good but if you want a bigger selection of restaurants or bars staying near Panagsama Beach is probably best. We stayed at J&C Guesthouse and enjoyed our time.
How to get there and around
There are three main ways you can get into the city. The most popular is from the South Terminal in Cebu City using Ceres or Librando Bus lines. This route should take about 3 hours (with a quick stop at Barili Town) and costing 156 Peso as of December 2019 for the air-conditioned bus. If it is the holiday season, expect a longer journey as traffic in the entire country is quite bad! Our journey just before Christmas took over 4 hours! There are two main stops in Moalboal to hop off the bus. The first is in the more residential area across from a McDonalds, while the second is outside the town hall and tourism office. If your hotel is along the coast, there are many private tricycles that will take you there for about 150-200 peso (depending on how hard you bargain). You can also try to hop on a shared one which as per the tourism office should only cost 30 Peso/person. If you have no bags with you, you may be able to get it for this price, but most drivers said our bags take up another person's space and would not do it for that price.
Buses pass Moalboal every 30 or 40 minutes though AC buses are not as regular. You can pick up the bus by flagging it down pretty much anywhere along the road but best to jump on at the scheduled spot at Panagsama Road and the highway. Alternatively, you can come from the south from Dumaguete or Oslob. From Oslob, it is very simple as you just hop onto any southbound Ceres bus which will take you to Bato. From here just jump onto any northbound bus as they all will take you to the same two bus stops in Moalboal. This journey should take about 3 hours costing only 130 Peso and will pass some beautiful waterfalls, coastline, and quaint towns.
As Dumaguete is on a separate island, it requires a few transfers but is still simple enough. Start off by taking the jeepney or tricycle from just north of the public market to Sibulan Ferry Terminal. If you take the jeepney it will drop you off just outside the public market so just head on through to the ticket booth. It should take you max 20 minutes and cost 10 Peso/person for the Jeepney or about 120-150 for the tricycle. You can get them down (we got it for 100) depending on how hard you want to push!
From the ferry terminal take the fast craft across the strait to Liloan port. The journey is short (~20 minutes) but costs about 75 Peso/person. There will likely be a bus waiting but it will probably go towards Oslob so avoid it and walk up to the highway to catch any bus that says Bato. From there, once again catch the 2-hour long bus ride from Bato to Moalboal (90PHP/person).
Where to next
As the largest city in Cebu Island, Cebu City is a reasonalbe place to go after Moalboal. Its easy to get to (just a single bus that takes about 3.5 hours), has some great history (the oldest church in the country), and has more Lechon restaurants then you can imagine! It is also a great spot to access Siquijor or Bohol from.
Many people stop in Oslob solely to swim with the whale sharks. Though we disagree with the way this is done, the city has lots more to offer. An old coral church and ruins, dozens of waterfalls, and a very chill vibe make the town perfect for a stopover.
Though it is a bit of a trek to do, you can take a series of busses and ferries across to the city of Bacolod. Not one of the most popular cities, it has lots to offer especially food! Fresh seafood is everywhere, and the city actually invented Chicken Inasal so it is not one to miss if you enjoy food!