Monday, 25 January 2016

Sights: MOALBOAL,CEBU: More Than Just for Diving

Known for its lively and colorful marine life, Moalboal is flocked by divers all year round. Little did I know, Moalboal had more to offer.  Going to Moalboal was easy. From the airport, we took a cab and headed for the South Bus Terminal and boarded a bus headed for Moalboal, the ride took around 3 hours. From the town proper of Moalboal, we rode a tricycle and headed for our first stop, Panagsama.


Panagsama Beach

Panagsama is one of the two major beaches in Moalboal. You won't find any sandy shore line here,  In here you will find different dive shops, bars and restaurants. You'll also find really nice and affordable accommodations here.

The shoreline in Panagsama

I was really surprised with food scene here, most restos here serve American and European dishes. There are even some restos that are owned and run by expats. We got to dine in a few and the food was really good. Below are must visit and must try dishes...


Czech Inn's Grilled Entrees and Chili Bar's Pizza

Cafe Francais' Lemon Pie


The most important thing about Panagsama is the Sardine Run, this is what Moalboal is known for. I've never seen so much fish in one spot before and what makes it more amazing is how they swim in synchronization. After an earthquake hit the Visayas area a couple of years back, it was said that the sardines moved to a different location. But luckily they are back in Moalboal, you can either see them in Panagsama or in Pescador Island. Its a must see spectacle that I would suggest people to see at least once in their life.








Here's a short clip of the sardine run. I would have wanted to go deeper and view the sardine run from below but I couldn't as I had no fins on.

video


In order to visit Pescador Island, you have to rent a motorized boat to go there. Resorts has packages and tricycle drivers will offer their services. Fortunately for us we met kuya Gaspar, he is more commonly known as kuya Totoy. He arranged our boat ride to Pescador Island and the nearby snorkeling sites. He personally drove us to and back Badian for our canyoning adventure. He even become our personal guide and driver around Moalboal. If you're looking for a guide in Moaboal, you can contact kuya Totoy, he can look a little shady at first but he was very kind and we felt that we were taken good care of.

Kuya Totoy

You can contact him on his celpphone, 0939-2450575 or on any numbers found on his calling card.



Pescador Island was nearby, it took around 20 to 30 minutes to reach the small island. It was evident that the place was teeming with so much marine life. In whichever direction you'll face, you'll be greeted by schools of small fish and colorful corals. Using only my mask and snorkel, it was difficult for me to go close to the fish and corals as the waters are really deep. But even from afar, you'll still be amazed how beautiful everything is.

Pescador Island
What lies beneath....







One of my favorite marine life that I saw was this solitary turtle swimming in the deep blue colored sea.

Just Follow the Light...


Travel Tip. Wear a rash guard, leggings or anything that can cover your body if you decide to go snorkeling. There are a lot of this type of jellyfish around. I got stung a number of times, it gets really itchy and worst it'll stay there for a couple of days.




Days before leaving for Cebu, I came across a video featuring canyoning in Moalboal. Right then and there, I knew it was something I had to do and experience. It was pretty long trip going to Badian, it took around an hour or more from the town proper to reach the starting point of our canyoning adventure.





From what I saw in the video, it seems that the highlight of the whole canyoning adventure was jumping off different cliffs.And what a great to start if off by jumping off a 10 foot cliff.




The two and half hour canyoning consists of jumping off cliffs, floating, swimming rappelling and trekking. It can be exhausting but generally it was a pretty easy hike.


Jumping into the Water


Rappelling

Taking a short break


Floating down the stream


To me the thrilling cliff jumps,  the long trek and swimming on the cool pristine river were just a part of what made this experience so memorable, it was more of the breathtaking beauty of what was around.














The 2013 earthquake has caused large boulders to fall and block the stream, good thing the water still flows through it.



The trek lead us to Kawasan Falls. Seeing so much people around, we decided to view the falls from a far and not to swim aymore.



After our 2.5 hour canyoning adventure, we headed for the second major beach in Moalboal, Basdaku. A long stretch of fine white sand greeted our sights and grazed our feet.


Basdaku

Based on what we experienced and where we stayed, I would divide Basdaku in two areas. In general, accommodations in Basdaku is more expensive compared to Panagsama. On our first night, we opted to go simple and stayed in the 'affordable' resorts area. I'm not picky about accommodations but the loud music that was being played in the area was irritating. It went on til around 12am and by 8am it was already blaring again.



The upside of staying in this area is the long shore with fine white sand and this is where you'll be able to interact with the locals.



After spending a night in the noisy 'affordable' area, we wanted to stay somewhere that's more quiet. A few meters away are the 'upscale' resorts area. Shore line was pretty short but I didn't mind as I enjoyed how quiet and peaceful this area was.




The best thing about staying in this area is as soon you step on the water, you can already start snorkeling. You will spot built concrete pathways from the shore to the sea, walk on it and when you reach the end, a sea wall awaits. I'm assuming that the pathway was built so that people won't step on the live corals, a  sign that the area is really taken well care of.




Just like in every area we visited, the marine life under water was filled with so much life and beauty.








I've read about the gorgeous sunset in Basdaku and before heading here the locals we met were all saying that we should go to Basdaku to see the sunset. Being a big fan of sunsets, we made sure we would catch it. When the sun started to set,  I wasn't really impressed on how it looked. Luckily we lingered around and waited patiently.





After a couple of minutes more, the colors on the horizon started to change. Lo and behold one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen and captured.




Being not a diver yet, I didn't expect to have a fun and memorable time in Moalboal. I would remember Moalboal for two things, the rich lively marine life and for a one of a kind canyoning experience. So for non-divers like me who are having second thoughts of visiting the place, think no more and go, there is more to Moalboal than just diving.


End Note: We were offered to go to Oslob to do some Butanding watching but after hearing and reading the sad news about how the whales are getting hurt because of the on going human feeding, we declined to go. I instantly fell in love with the gentle whale sharks after swimming with them in Donsol, Sorsogon and I don't want to see them getting hurt. So if ever someone invites you to go Butanding watching/swimming in Oslob, please say NO!