Moalboal is a little seaside town a three-hour bus ride away from Cebu city. It’s well known for the sardine run—which simply means thousands of them dashing around in unison, which people have gushed about as “otherworldly” or “amazing,” or just about any extreme adjective you could think of. I just wanted to live my dream of screaming “Have you seen my son?” at a large school of fish.

My buddies and I took late flights just to be able to swim with the fish as early as humanly possible. We took a 2AM bus to our hostel to get there—and it was still closed. Luckily it was a bohemian-style hostel catering to backpackers so there were hammocks and beanbags we could crash on until reception opened in the morning.

Day 1

We stayed at Chief Mau Hostel on Panagsama beach, a couple of minutes away from the beachfront. It’s also a quick walk away from restaurants, bars, and scuba shops in the area, though it has a restaurant of its own. Here are some photos from our hostel:

Hostel reception area in daylight. | Photo courtesy of Chief Mau Station

Fell asleep on the beanbags and woke up to this sausage. Also, his name is Bacon.

Breakfast all-day every day. | Photo courtesy of Emmi Kuronen

Sardine Run

Good morning from Panagsama Beach.

As soon as we were checked-in we ran straight to the beach like children. It was early in the morning so the sun was out to play but it wasn’t so hot yet, and the water was just begging to be swam in.

Photo courtesy of Alice Cattaneo

Duuuuuude! | Photo courtesy of Kimkai Villadums

We rented snorkeling equipment at one of the dive shop nearby for PHP 100 a day, and just swam until we were hungry, basically. The shallow part is a little rocky, so swimming shoes would have been helpful, but once it starts getting deep you could see hundreds of colorful fish going about their day among the corals. At this point we were just floating and didn’t want to step on anything. You wouldn’t want to step on a poor fish’s home, would you? And there were sea urchins down there so walking wasn’t such a great idea. But we swam a bit further towards the drop-off and there were the sardines! The shelf was also home to more fish, and was also a grazing ground for sea turtles.

White Beach

Photo courtesy of Andreea Andreş

After a quick lunch in one of the eateries near our hostel, we took a nap before hopping on a tricycle to go to White Beach. There’s nothing much to it—it is what it is, which is a nice beach with white sand. It was really rocky though, and you definitely need swimming shoes to go in the water, but it was picturesque and great for lazing around.

Beer Pong Night at Chief Mau

Man, these took forever to grill.

Basil chicken rice saves the night.

We had dinner again at one of the outdoor eateries, and there were some large squid laid out, so we ordered some of that, and some basil chicken rice for dinner.

Re-live your wildest college nights here. | Photo courtesy of Chief Mau Station

Back at the hostel, it was beer pong night so guests were up and about playing beer pong! We played a few rounds before passing out in our rooms.

Day 2

We had breakfast at the hostel, and arranged for a trip to Kawasan Falls. Many hostels offer package tours like canyoneering, diving, and island hopping, so we decided to take Chief Mau up on their canyoneering offer.

Kawasan Falls

Would we be traitors if we yelled Geronimo, not Chief Mau? | Photo courtesy of Chief Mau Station

The waterfalls aren’t that big and the water is very clear. It’s a great place to take photos for the ‘gram, or of bae.

Just Keep Swimming

Photo courtesy of Nicco’s Place

We spent the rest of our second day just swimming with the sardines and turtles until it was time to check out.

I can’t tell you enough how bummed we were to leave Moalboal. It’s the perfect weekend getaway: it’s great for diving newbies, as you could just put on a lifevest and snorkel and just float and watch fish. It’s also great for scuba divers of all levels, and free divers could live their mermaid dreams among the sardines. Adventure buffs can get a kick out of canyoneering, and there is quite an active nightlife scene for the party-going types. I also didn’t get to ask those fish where Nemo was—I was too overcome with awe to remember!

Header image courtesy of Arielle Serrano

Article cover courtesy of Sole Searchin Travel

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