Moalboal is a small and lively coastal village on the southwest corner on the island of Cebu. Over the years Moalboal has made quite a name for itself within the snorkeling community as it is logistically quite easy to arrive to, but more importantly because it has some world class reefs and marine life. The reefs around Moalboal are easily accessible from the beaches, so you could in theory just walk into the water at any point and find great snorkeling. However, since we will be doing our snorkeling with a resort, they will be escorting us comfortably by one of their boats known as a banca. All we need to do is take in the lovely coast line and plop into the water when we arrive. The only time we will be needing to do a beach entry is from the resort to access their house reef. For this reason we highly recommend bringing open heel fins with booties as this short walk out can be a bit slippery. 

Aerial panorama of Magic Island Resort

For the most part the orientation and topography of the local reefs are characterized by a very gently sloping plateau that starts from the beach and extends to about a hundred meters or so from the coast line. Average depths start from the very very shallows and as you swim further from the island it gradually drops to about five meters or fifteen feet where the reef turns in to a vertical wall that drops off into the beautiful blue abyss. While most of the snorkeling is done just off the main coast line, there is a small limestone island called Pescadore with a really beautiful fringing reef. It takes about 15-30 minutes to arrive to and it is well worth a visit. 

Giant orange frog fish with sun behind

In the shallows of just about all the different reefs we snorkel, you’ll find a very interesting mix of sea grass, sargassum seaweed, and small hard coral formations. This is a unique and highly interesting environment as it houses some really cool critters like pipe fish, small octopus, file fish, and if we are lucky sargassum frogfish which all make their homes in this aquatic vegetation. As you swim further towards the drop off the sub-straight turns into one made up entirely of hard coral and sponges. It is here we find the more ‘typical’ reefscape we are all familiar with.

Where marine life is concerned, you can expect to find all your usual tropical reef subjects like parrot fish, puffer fish, anemone fish, and a cornucopia of colorful reef fish.  Large green sea turtles are prevalent and in certain places they come together in larger numbers for their napping sessions in the shallow reefs. One site in particular is very cool as it hosts one of the only residential shoals of sardines in the world. This school of fish is massive and you can swim for nearly a hundred meters in either direction and still be floating over this unbelievably dense cloud of fish. They are just beneath the surface and if you are able to duck dive you can swim right through the shoal which is a truly awesome feeling. 

You can’t really go wrong with Moalboal as a snorkel destination. The reefs are in excellent shape, the currents are mild to non-existent, and with the help of our resort comfortably transporting us from one exhilarating snorkel site to the next the only thing we really need to worry about is whether to take a nap after lunch or enjoy the serene views from the resort.