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Diving Moaboal and Pescador Island, Cebu | the Philippines

There is a superb scuba diving region near Moaboal town on the western side of Cebu island. Moalboal lies inland a few kilometres but driving from there to the coast takes you on to a peninsula fringed by delightful white sand beaches and some pristine coral reefs.

A little away from the better known parts of the central Visayas region, diving around Moalboal has always been well regarded due to the dramatic wall dives that parallel the beach. Coated in hard and soft corals, the walls are populated by lots of small schooling fish, including a surprising number of razorfish that live in clusters of several hundred. However, the real star of this region is Pescador island.

The story goes that a few years back a massive school of sardines appeared from nowhere but dispersed shortly after. They reappeared the following year and have been there ever since. Like the more famous South African sardine run, they attract substantial predators, including schools of jacks, tuna, mackerel and (occasionally) thresher sharks. This is an exceptional marine phenomenon with so many sardines that at times the sun is completely obscured.

False clownfish
Moalboal and Pescador dive photo gallery Scuba diving features
Marine Life Sardines
Top dive site Pescador Island
Seasons All year round but sardine season seems to be July - Oct
Visibility 15 – 30 metres
Water temperature 28 – 30º C
Deco chambers Manila and Cebu City
Flights Flight to Cebu City then 2-3 hours by road
Dive operators and accommodation We travelled on Philippine Siren but visited Serena Resort, which looked like a great option.

The Philippines are a long way from Europe or the USA but everything is good value once you arrive. Resorts tend towards the mid-range with many dive centres run by Europeans. As an option, travel by liveaboard and see a wider selection of dive sites in the Visayas.

Being located in the Tañon Strait, the dives around Moalboal tend to be along steep, nearly vertical walls. The strait drops to around 600 metres deep yet currents were non-existent while we were there. Visibility was not crystal clear (hence all the massive schools of feeding pelagic fish) but that is likely to be seasonal. Sea conditions were flat calm and the water was always over 28º C.

We've been to quite a few of the great diving destinations in the Philippines but this area was new to us. We expected it to be similar to other parts of the Visayas and were surprised that it had it's own distinctive style. Even if we hadn't enjoyed the colourful walls, the sardine run dives on Pescador will always rank as a top 10 experience and for that alone, the destination is worth going to.

This was also our first liveaboard in the Philippines. We sailed on Philippine Siren and we loved it as we saw a great variety of dive sites across the region in complete comfort.
Diving video
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This video is 3 minutes long. For the full length video, including extended footage of the Sardine Run, click here.
More Philippines diving destinations
LUZON Anilao
Puerto Galera
VISAYAS Bohol/Balicasag
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Complete reports on this area are in
Diving Southeast Asia.

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