Liveaboard Diving in Moalboal
Liveaboard diving in Moalboal
Moalboal, pronounced mo-all bo-all, is an absolute must for most Visayas liveaboards. This small coastal town on the Tanon Strait in southwest Cebu is sardine city- home of the Philippinesí premier sardine run. Here, a huge fish ball moves at lightening pace to form and reform different shapes, and sometimes lucky divers even witness pelagic predators drawn to the feast! However, sardines are not the only amazing sight at Moalboal. Around Pescador island and along the local coastline are about fifteen different dives sites that offer walls, caves, corals, and creatures large and small. The luxurious S/Y Philippines Siren visits Moalboal for at least one day on its Visayas itineraries.
Moalboal dive sites
Pescador Island is a top Moalboal dive site. The underwater walls of this island drop deep down into the ocean, and they offer incredible diving all around. Pescador Cathedral is one notable dive site where an underwater cavern opens at the top to allow sunrays to penetrate the depths, and itís meant to be a virtually heavenly experience. The walls are covered in soft corals of various colors, and great macro life can be found within the substrate. Sharks may also be present if youíre lucky. The Pescador Island night dive is also well-known; here, expect active nightlife like scurrying crabs, tons of nudibranchs, cuttlefish, and eels. At any point while diving Pescador, you may also see groupers, snappers, tuna, and barracuda.
Tongo Point is another premier Moalboal dive site. From the reef crest, crowned with impressive thickets of acropora staghorn coral, to the dramatic vertical walls dropping into the ocean depths, Tongo Point offers great underwater sights. Turtles are common here, sometimes sleeping in the many small caves that pocket the face of the wall. Within and around these caves, iconic creatures can be seen and photographed, such as harlequin ghost pipefish, mandarin fish, leaf fish, and razor fish. In the blue water, look for barracuda, fusilier, and jacks.
Dolphin House Reef is a gentle slope adorned with pink soft corals and colorful clouds of anthias. There are caves in the deeper area which also house sleeping turtles, and some big sea fans where you should look for pygmy seahorses. For more and bigger sea fans, the dive site Sanctuary is the prime location; here, huge fans come in fields and fields, which is a very unusual sight. Big parrotfish and vertical wall canyons can be found at Tuble Reef, while Copton Point offers a small airplane as an artificial reef in its deep area and great coral and fish life all around. Another great site, strangely named Fish Feeding though it ís not practiced (anymore), offers a slope of wonderful live corals and an array of reef fish and turtles. Ghost pipefish are common here.
Of course, Panagsama Beach will not be missed by any Moalboal liveaboard. The sardines moved to this location (which is just off the shoreline) a couple years ago, making them accessible even for snorkelers! There is a steep slope at this site, but you donít need to go deep to see the huge schools of sardines being corralled into balls and swirls by hunting tuna. If youíre lucky, a thresher shark may also come to grab a bite. Whale sharks sometimes pass here as well. The shallow area of Panagsama Beach is an easy dive site with nice fish life and a low-stress entry, making it prime night-diving territory.
The liveaboard S/Y Philippines Siren visits Moalboal for one day on Visayas itineraries of 6 or 10 nights, during the months of June through February. The budget is 375 euros per night for the short trip and 315 euros per night for the long trip. The short itinerary combines Moalboal with other dive locations in Negros (Apo Island, Dauin) and Bohol (Balicasag Island). The long itinerary combines Moalboal with Malapascua, Sumilon, Mactan, and Olango islands in Cebu, Apo Island and Dauin in Negros, and Balicasag Island in Bohol. The 40 meter S/Y Philippines Siren is a beautiful luxury sailing yacht with great diving amenities. It houses up to 16 guests in 8 large cabins, attended to by 12 staff members.
The experience level required for the Sirenís Moalboal itineraries is Open Water, with either ten or twenty dives (twenty for the short itinerary). Select dive sites in Moalboal definitely experience current, but it probably wonít be as dramatic as some locations in the Maldives or Indonesia. Youíll depend on your dive guide to advise you of any particular challenges or experience requirements at a given site.
Cebu City, Malapascua, and Moalboal are all liveaboard departure or arrival locations for boats heading to Moalboal. Getting to Cebu City is easy with a 1.5 hour flight from Manila or direct flights from select Southeast Asian countries nearby. International flights can get to Cebu City via a transfer in Asia. Malapascua, on the other hand, has no airport, but it can be reached by taxi, van, or bus (and small boat). From Cebu City, getting to Malapascua requires a five hour bus journey; taxis take about half that time. Getting to Moalboal from Cebu City requires a shorter bus journey, first over the mountains to the west side of the island, and then south a bit.
Divers who want to relax on land for a few days and continue diving, or desire a waterfall trek or two, can make Moalboal a great base for their excursions. Land travel to Dumaguete from Moalboal is also easy for those who want a urban town vibe with good food and nice natural surroundings.
Best time to travel
Moalboal can be dived all year round. The regional rainy season of July through December does affect dive sites, but the amount of rainfall varies widely depending on the exact location. Waves and wind correspond with either the northeast or southwest monsoons, but there is always somewhere sheltered to dive. The water temperature usually ranges from 27-30 C, like in many other areas of Cebu.