Next up was Moalboal: surprisingly one of my favourite places!
Moalboal is a cute little town on the east side of the Island of Cebu. Other than being close to the Kawasan Falls, it is known for their sardines that swim along the coral wall just 30 meters off te shore of Panagsama Beach. It was easy to get to Moalboal from Oslob: we took a bus to Bato then changed to a different bus that took us to Moalboal. Once you get off at Moalboal, there are loads of tricycles that can take you to your hotel.
We were staying at the Blue Orchid resort which is just a little north of White Beach. When our tricycle stopped, we were directly greeted by Michèle, a sweet Belgian girl that worked at the resort. She offered us a welcome drink (Calamansi juice, my favourite!) and showed us to our room. Turns out she and her Dutch boyfriend Steven have traveled to The Philippines to work here. They were both lovely people and I really enjoyed our talks with them.
Our room had the best view we’ve had untill now with a perfect view of the crystal clear waters around Cebu. I think this is the clearest we’ve seen so far. Our room was spacious and we had our own little patio with a table and two chairs overlooking the ocean. It was a great place to write my blogs. We had lunch (the food at Blue Orchid is really good!) first before planning anything else. The original plan was to go to town and snorkel with the sardines, but we chose to stay at the resort and snorkel there instead.
The resort has built a path in the water where you can either step on or swim along. This was perfect for snorkeling and finding your way back to the hotel. I advise you to rent booties as there are lots of sea-urchins around the path. Also, the current is quite strong so if you’re not a great swimmer fins are definately recommended. We didn’t use fins and were very tired after swimming back to the hotel.
The hotel doesn’t have a beach, so you’ll be going down the steps and jumping right into the water. We saw loads of fish including the poisonous lionfish and fish that I call zebrafish because of their white colour and black striped. Mark even saw a seaturtle but was too slow to follow it and take a photo.
When we came back for dinner, I noticed a birdcage next to the kitchen with a note on it. The owners of the Blue Orchid Resort had rescues a Filipino Hornbill. Her name was Esmeralda and we were instantly best friend 😉 she loves to be stroked in her neck and really enjoys all the attention. The resort usually lets her out, but not if there are kids nearby since Esmeralda doesn’t like kids too much. The funny thing about her is that if she does fly around, she either flies back herself or staff from other resorts will just bring her back.
For the next day, I thought of going canyoneering but Bill, one of the managers at the Blue Orchid Resort, advised us to see the sardines at Moalboal instead. It would take 45 minutes to get to the falls and then canyoneering there would also take 3 hours and since we were heading back to Cebu that evening to catch a ferry to Tagbilaran, it would be too much of a rush. It would really be better to slow things down and take the time to enjoy the sardines. So, we took his advice, rented a tricycle for the day for 700 pesos and went to the Chili Bar at Panagsama Beach. Steven told us that the sardines would be in between the Chili Bar and the yellow pier.
We walked down to the beach, swam out and admired the coral. Suddenly, the wall of coral stops and there they were: millions of sardines forming all different kinds of geometrical shapes. We weren’t the only ones watching them. There were lots of divers swimming under the sardines and with every movement they made the sardines would ‘run’ away all together to form another shape. It was such a spectacular sight! There were só many of them and we even saw another fish catching one of the sardines for dinner. I watched the sardines for about an hour but could easily stay there for another hour. Since the sardines don’t swim that deep, I would actually recommend snorkeling there instead of diving.
Nobody really knows why the sardines stay here. The sardines used to stay at nearby Pescador Island, an Island known for their marine life. After an earthquake on 2013, the sardines relocated to Panagsama Beach. The sardines stay here all year long!
Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the resort to take the bus back to Cebu. We needed to catch a ferry to our next and last destination: Bohol. I was so sad to leave Moalboal and if I hadn’t already booked the accomodation in Panglao, I would have definately stayed a day longer in Moalboal.