Underwater photography - How to capture the essence of an underwater moment
September 10, 2014
Finally a blog!
June 8, 2014
Sardines Moalboal article published in DIVE.in magazine
September 17, 2014
Dive report: Scuba diving in Moalboal, Philippines
September 1, 2014
If you are a fan of wall dives, then visit the spectacular dive sites of Moalboal, in the south of Cebu in the Philippines. Moalboal is well-known for its SARDINES shoal, where it is like being on the BBC Planet, except that this time you are right in the middle of the sardines action.
Besides the sardines, diving in Moalboal means you can see all things big and small, wierd and wonderful, colourful coral shallow and deep. What I really enjoy is swimming in the shallow during high tide, and then reaching the drop-off just meters from shore, following the clear blue waters and watching the reef wall fall spectacularly down to a dark blue abyss below.
(Above: Clear blue waters and great visibility approaching the drop-off.)
Water temperature: 29-30 deg Celsius
Visibility: Great vis, usually more than 20m - 30m visibility
Dive sites: 12-15
Current: Usually mild, might be strong depending on tides and moon phase.
Topography: Wall dives
Marine life: Pelagic (shoals of sardines), sometimes Thresher sharks, lots of turtles, moray eels, nudibranches, frogfish, leaf scorpoionfish, mandarin fish during sunset dives, pygmy seahorse.
Dive season: Year round. Rainy season is from June to October but even then you get only some occasional showers. Peak season is December til April.
Tip: Visit Moalboal in August to October. You can still enjoy great dives with ideal diving conditions without the crowd.
(Above: Turtle gracefully swimming along the reef wall.)
(Above: Be intrigued by what you can find - the electric clam.)
Type of dives
Shore dives: Due to the proximity to the drop-off just meters from shore, shore diving can be arranged easily with the dive centers. Just grab a tank, gear up and walk in! Some dive centers also cater for unlimited housereef dives.
Boat dives: Use of the traditional bancas, some of which are huge and can cater to 30 divers, boat dives take you from Panagsama beach to the dive sites further up north in White Beach such as the marine sanctuary and airplane wreck, as well as to the south in Tongo Bay and Sampaguita.
(Above: A green frogfish hiding amongst the coral at the Blue Abyss housereef.)
A must visit for all divers is the famous Pescador Island. Just 15mins boat ride away, is Pescador Island. Incredible walls and drop off here and a dive site called The Cathedral which is has underwater cave/swim-through in the deep.
The other dive sites are wall dives, dotting the reef wall from the south in Tongo bay, which has a marine sanctuary, all the way along the beach of Panagsama and White Beach and further up northern tip. There is also an airplane wreck at around 22m deep in the northeast.
As with most of the affordable accommodation (1,500 pesos can get you a standard room with aircon, hot water and wifi), most dive centers are found on Panagsama beach. Here's a quick list, but my advice is to take a walk, drop into the various dive shops and see for yourself if you like the vibe of the dive center before deciding if you like to dive with them.
- Blue Abyss Dive Center: Blue Abyss has a spacious and clean dive facility with a roof terrace, friendly staff and guides, and owner Klemens is passionate about underwater videography. Diving the housereef here you can find the mandarinfish during sunset dives, and the resident frogfish. They also have accommodations with the resort and restaurant with pool table just opposite the diveshop. Pickup and transfers can be arranged here.
(Above: Golden field of seaweeds in the shallow waters in front of Blue Abyss dive center.)
- Savedra Dive Center: One of the busier dive centers in Panagsama. Looks like they are efficiently run but lacking a friendly atmosphere. Range of PADI courses available. Located in the busier stretch of Panagsama near Chilli Bar, a favourite drinking spot with pool tables and excellent pizza.
- Cebu Dive Center: Just further down the main stretch after Savedra, keep on walking and you will find Cebu Dive Center, a small but friendly and efficient dive outfit with a bar, which seems unassuming but remains very popular with walk-ins. Shore dive from here to have easy access to the school of sardines. Dive courses available here too.
- Seaquest Dive Center: Part of the SeaQuest chain of dive centers (they have other centers in Bohol and Malapascua), beachfront location and local instructors.
- Neptune Diving: Neptune Diving is a small Swedish-owned dive center located right opposite Chilli Bar and with a restaurant upstairs called Lantaw serving Filipino, Indonesian and Thai food. Ask for fresh sashimi and the local kinilaw with fresh tuna.
- Quo Vadis is a upscale dive resort, beachfront accommodation and swimming pool, restaurant and gift shop. For divers wanting a more quiet and private atmosphere.
- Nelson's Dive shop: This is located near the 'parking lot' and basketball court, next to Eve's Resort, a locally owned and managed dive center.
- Moalboal Ocean Blue Dive resort, with a big yellow building and swimming pool, caters to Korean groups while Ocean Blue located next to Pacita's Cottages is a Japanese diveshop right on the beach.
- On White Beach, the higher end resorts have their in-house dive operations. Full room and board plus dive packages usually available.
(Above: Wall diving in Moalboal with colourful reefs and incredible marine life.)
A fantastic destination for underwater photographers, beginner and advanced divers, Moalboal is a underwater haven just waiting to be explored. More about Moalboal and how to get there, where to stay and what to do, read my article published on Southeast Asia Backpacker Magazine or contact me for more info!