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Panagsama Beach, Moalboal, January 2017

Submitted by admin on Tue, 02/07/2017 - 14:45
Moalboal is in the southern part of Cebu island and I got private transfers both from Malapascua and back to Cebu airport at the end. I was staying at Cebu Dive Centre in Panagsama beach, which is the tourist part of Moalboal. The actual main town is about 4 kms inland. CBC have a couple of private rooms and a dorm. Moalboal is popular with backpackers.
Anemone fish

The centre is on the water. Just 20m out, there's a wall that drops down to over 40m. All the dive sites are either on this wall or at nearby Pescador island, which are also wall dives. The boat went out twice a day, and sometimes three times, though the 2pm dive was often a shore dive on the house reef. There's a bar overlooking the water for a post dive drink and the remote chance of seeing a thresher shark jump out of the water.

The house reef is notable for the shoals of sardines. The shoal is huge. At times, as you swim under it, it's quite dark because the sheer number of fish above you is blocking out the light. As well as the sardines themselves, there are also predators, including barracuda and some huge jack fish darting in to prey on the sardines.

The other part of the wall they visit the most is called Tongo and is the only section of the reef where fishing in banned. The fishermen in their canoes tend to hang out just outside of the white buoys marking the area. Of course this doesn't stop the government levying a ₱100 'marine conservation fee' on all dives despite the lack of any obvious conservation actually going on. There was also talk in the future of this fee rising substantially.


At Tongo, you can see the usual reef fish and the hard coral life is good. There are also electric clams in some of the overhangs. These fluoresce under torch light, looking like electricity. There were also lots of turtles, as many as 6 on a single dive, and ornate ghost pipefish, which are always one of my favourites. Pescador island is similar though a bit better in terms of fish life. There are also several giant frog fish there.

Diving with Cebu Dive Centre was cheap. They're one of the cheaper operators, but they're also a smaller, more personal operation. Boat dives involved groups of at most 4 divers with the guide and the day I did the house reef, it was just the guide and me. It was also easy, as the boat was moored just in front on the centre. All you had to do was wade in to your knees carrying your fins, mask and weight belt . The staff carried the rest of your stuff on board. They get a lot of backpackers, and they were running a lot of courses keeping their 5 instructors busy. Their boat was also busy and they were sometimes turning people away, so I'd recommend booking in advance.

Giant frog fish
Panagsama is a fairly scruffy place. There are a number of bars and restaurants. The Pleasure Principle was a good place to eat, if you don't mind the somewhat risque artwork. One Eyed Jack's and the Chili Bar were pubs. There is one ATM in Panagsama but it doesn't accept MasterCard. That said, it also didn't work with my Visa card on the several times I tried, so I had to get a tricycle into Moalboal proper, where I had more luck at the Landbank ATM. CDC didn't take credit cards as payment at the time.