Have you ever found a place that you just knew you’d come back to? After snorkeling in Moalboal for the first time back in 2017, I knew I’d found a gem.

About Moalboal

In my opinion, Moalboal is one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. It is located on the West Coast of Cebu and has the furthest West-poking bit of coast on the island.

For this reason, it has some amazing reef and marine life. Most people visit to have a chance to snorkel with turtles and to see the famous sardine run.

Due to this, it has become a booming tourist hotspot, with many choosing to base themselves in Moalboal during their visit to Southern Cebu.

panagsama beach boats moalboal

Tip: Looking for cheap private transport to Moalboal or back to Cebu City? Book this this driver.

How to Get to Moalboal

Getting to Moalboal is usually pretty easy and cost-effective. That being said, it can still be a bit of a mission trying to determine the best transport options for a budget traveller.

This is because landing at Cebu airport can be a little chaotic, with little to no local information available for tourists looking to reach the southern ends of the island without paying through the roof.

Cheap local option – public bus

There is a public bus that runs often from Cebu all the way to Moalboal and even down South to Oslob. It will take roughly three hours to get to Moalboal from the South Bus Terminal.

The cost is 90 peso for non-aircon and 110 peso for an aircon bus.

The companies operating are Lebrando and Ceres Buses.

My advice is to simply head to the South Bus terminal and ask somebody working which buses go to Moalboal. Just remember to not pay more than what I suggested above.



Moalboal Snorkeling and Free Diving

No doubt by now you’ve probably heard about the epic snorkeling in Moabloal and you’re itching to get your fins on.

Due to the tourism boom, the stretch of water offering access to the pristine Moalboal reef is now lined with restaurants, bars, pubs, and dive shops.

sardine rune in moalboal

Where to go snorkeling in Moalboal

The best place for snorkeling in Moalbaol is at what the locals call the “house reef”. This is a term dive shops coin their local dive spots.

To get access to the reef, try to find one of the seemingly ever-closing gaps along the main stretch of Moalboal known as Panagsama Beach.

If you’re struggling, I’ve pinned a good spot on the map below, which even includes a small stretch of coral beach to leave your towel while you’re in the water.

Looking to rent snorkeling gear?

You can rent snorkeling gear pretty much anywhere on the main drag in Moalboal for around 150-200 pesos, depending on your haggling ability.

For those in a small group, it might be worthwhile to just book a snorkeling tour from Moalboal. This particular tour includes all gear and will take you to see the sardine run, turtles and the incredible Pescador Island (a must visit).

Best place to see turtles when snorkeling in Moalboal

If you’re reading this to try to find where the best place to see turtles in Moalbaol is, then you haven’t been in the water yet.

Moalboal is famous for its large turtles that frequent the waters. In fact, there are so many that you will struggle to NOT find a turtle while snorkeling in Moalboal.

If for some reason you haven’t, try to stick to the shallower waters closer to shore, just before the drop-off wall of reef. After a short while you will no doubt spot one of the chill dudes chowing down on some fresh sea grass.

snorkeling in Moalboal giant turtles

Just remember to respect them, don’t touch and keep your distance.

turtles in moalboal

Essential Tips For Your Trip To The Philippines

Where to Find Cheap Flights
Still in the planning stage of your trip? Currently, the best and easiest way to find cheap flights is to use Skyscanner. This works by comparing all of the available fares across every airline to help you compare flights in one place.

Book Your Accommodation
Whether you’re looking for hostels, hotels, guest houses, or resorts between Booking.com and Agoda, you’ll always get the best deals. I always search using the map feature to find accommodation in the best locations. Sometimes, if I want to stay in a place a little longer, I’ll use Airbnb.

Book Tours and Transport
You already know that I prefer independent travel. In saying that, sometimes the best and cheapest way to get things done is to just book a tour or package. For the Philippines, I always use Klook, Viator and Get Your Guide.

Don’t Forget Adventure Travel Insurance
If you’re reading this blog then you’re more likely to be seeking adventures over poolside sips. After having my entire bag stolen in Barcelona (including camera gear) I’ve sworn to always have travel insurance. By far, my favorite company for the most comprehensive adventure travel insurance is World Nomads. If you’re on the fence, you can read my article to see if it’s right for you.

What about the sardine run?

A trip snorkeling in Moalboal isn’t complete without seeing the famous sardine run. When I first heard about it, I immediately assumed it required a boat trip to one of the outer islands or reefs.

However, there are huge schools of sardines just outside the main beach on Moalboal. If you follow the instructions above to reach the water access point, simply swim out to the deep reef wall, and you will quickly spot the huge patterns of schooling sardines.

You can read the full blog post about the sardine run here.

freediving with sardines in moalboal

If for some reason you can’t find them, either look to see if there are any other snorkelers in the water who may have found the schools. Otherwise, a safe bet is to swim near the Cabana Beach Club Resort.

This resort has a long yellow jetty that you won’t miss. The sardines usually like to hang out here.

Is Moalboal the Best Place to Base Yourself in Cebu?

Dive towns – they always start as a well-kept secret dive destination, and often turn into a booming hotspot complete with cafes and night clubs. Moalboal is no different.

If you’re looking for a place to base yourself in Cebu for snorkeling, diving or adventure trips around the island, then Moalboal is one of the best options.

The location makes it an excellent spot for visiting one of Cebus hundreds of famous jungle waterfalls. The fringing reef is also one of the best and most diverse in all of Cebu. If you’re into scuba diving, then I would highly recommend trying to get out to Pescador island, a truly magical reef that will not dissapoint.

There are also several hostels, cafes, nightclubs, bars and restaurants to keep you entertained after a day of adventuring around Cebu or diving on the reef.

It takes approximately 30 minutes to ride to famous Kawasan falls, or an early two hour bus ride for a day trip to Oslob and the South.

In my opinion, as long as you rent a motorbike, Moalboal is an excellent choice as a base for your Cebu adventures.


For a list of all my recommended photography gear (including what I use and why) check out my guide to camera gear for travel.

If you’d like to use any of the photographs on this website, please visit my licensing page to find out how. For high-resolution & commercial use, please contact me directly.


snorkeling in moalboal pinterest turtle

1 thought on “Snorkeling in Moalboal – Where to Swim With Giant Turtles, Cebu”

  1. The Philippines should be labeled the summer capital of the world! There’s just soo many beautiful placed to go and visit during the summer.

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