Find out the best snorkeling spots in Moalboal, Cebu. Swim with the sardines and find out where the giant Moalboal turtles like to hang out.
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! Since then, this epic little tourist hub has grown quite significantly.
If you’re in the area and looking to do some snorkeling, I’ve got you covered with this quick guide. I’ll outline the best spots and give you some updated Moalboal travel information to plan your trip!
Featured in: Cebu Island Travel Guide – 15 Epic Things to Do
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. Below are the best spots to snorkel and free dive.
By far, the best marine life can be found on Pescador Island, just off the coast of Moalboal.
This is my favorite place to go diving in the Philippines. This is the place that I completed my Advanced PADI certification all those years back. I’ve since gone on to do my Dive Master and work in the industry in a few different locations in the world. After all this time, I still consider Pescador Island on Cebu Island as one of the best places for diving!
Luckily, Pescador is also the best place for snorkeling in Moalboal as well! However, you’ll need to book a boat trip out there. Below I’ve linked to the best-rated trip which also includes snorkeling at the Sardine Run and a Kawasan Falls canyoneering trip.
The House Reef
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. Here, you’ll find an epic, steep wall and a bunch of Moalboal turtles hanging around.
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.
Turtle Grazing Area on Panagsama Beach
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.
Just remember to respect them, don’t touch and keep your distance.
The Moalboal 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Tip: Looking for cheap private transport to Moalboal or back to Cebu City? Book this this driver.
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.
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.
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.
Where to Stay on Cebu
You’ll have plenty of options to choose from when planning where to stay on Cebu Island.
Read: Cebu Accommodation Guide
In my opinion, the best place to base yourself is in Moalboal as it’s close to all of the best things to do and all the epic attractions you’ll want to add to your Cebu itinerary. However, if you’re planning to travel around the island, then I’d also recommend staying at:
- Cebu City/Mactan
- Sumilon Island
Best Luxury Resort in South Cebu: Ancelle Cristo Re
- Amazing free breakfast
- Private beach with great snorkeling (sea turtles)
- Proceeds go to supporting local orphanage
- Ran by three amazing sisters
- 10 minutes walk from Panagsama Beach
- Spacious villas
Best Resort in Mactan/Cebu City: Bai Hotel
- Large rooms
- Daily buffet breakfast
- Close to the international airport
- On-site car rental
- Luxury vibe with rooftop pool
Backpacker Hostel With a Vibe in Moalboal: Chief Mau
- Great backpacker vibe
- Friendly staff
- On-site bar
- Clean, spacious rooms
- Large rooms with shower in each
Sustainable lodging in Malapascua: Villa Sandra
- Built using sustainable and recycled materials including plastic bottles
- Tree house vibe
- Great restaruant with amazing meals
- Awesome atmosphere
- Diving with thresher sharks and onsite island hopping activities
- Stay on the private island of Sumilon
- Amazing snorkeling and swimming in crystal clear water
- Tiny secluded island
- Rent water equipment
- Free boat transfers
MY CAMERA AND PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT
- Mirrorless Camera: Canon R5
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- 360 Action Camera: Insta360 One X2
- Landscape Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8L
- All-Round Lens: Canon RF 24-105mm f/4L
- Telephoto Lens: Canon RF 100-500mm f/f/4.5-7.1 L
- Long Action Pole: Insta360 Invisible Pole (BulletTime)
- Landscape Lens Filter: Hoya Circular Polarizer
- Camera Backpack: F-Stop Tilopa
- Favorite Photography Accessory: Peak Design Capture Clip
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. I also sell professional fine-art prints, visit my Print Store or contact me directly for customs prints of any images on We Seek Travel.
More Things to do in Cebu
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick guide to snorkeling in Moalboal, Cebu. If it’s helped you find the sardines or the famous Moalboal turtles, then I’ve done my part! While you’re here on this blog, make sure to check out some of my other inspiring travel guides to the island below.