Great Wall of Moalboal...

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Asia » Philippines » Cebu » Moalboal
February 9th 2013
Published: February 19th 2013
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Our trip over to Cebu and up to Moalboal was an eye opening and beautiful one which took us along the East cost of Cebu. It was only a short 20 minute hop over to Cebu from Sibulan to Lilo-an (P65 for the ferry or P45 for a banka), then a tricycle up to Bato and finally a bus to Moalboal. The coastline that we saw on this 1¼ hour journey was stunning, we were met with crystal clear waters when we got off the ferry and this continued on uninterrupted all the way to Moalboal and probably beyond. Admittedly at times it was quite hard to see what we were passing as our bus driver seemed intent on breaking some sort of speed record to get us there and we were literally on a white knuckle ride we were holding onto the seats in front so hard but it was nice all the same!

We weren’t actually staying in Moalboal which the town on the highway, most people stay at Panagsama Beach which is a small peninsula village right next to the water and this is where we headed to. The village itself isn’t that much to write home about, a good variety of resorts and guests houses with an equally good variety of restaurants and bars (mostly of the girlie type) all arranged in a real hodge botch fashion. It’s been on the map for divers for many years now and this is due to the wall which lies just 30m off shore here and the surrounding area, this is not only great for divers but also for snorkelers too which is exactly why we’d planned to go there.

We stayed at Sunshine Pension House (P700) and it made a nice change to stay somewhere which had a pool. This can be especially important here in Moalboal if you are staying at Panagsama Beach because the name is quite deceiving, there really isn’t much beach to speak of so if you want to relax in the sun you either have to go to White Beach 8km away or take advantage of your pool. We hadn’t really planned to spend many nights here, it was going to be more a stopover on the way up to Bantayan Island but things changed and we ended up spending 6 days here we liked it so much.

Each day was different and we tried to do as many activities as we could in the time we were there, this is half the reason we ended up staying longer as there is quite a lot to do. Dale had decided he didn’t want to dive here so we took full advantage of snorkelling together and it really was excellent. If you do plan to do a lot of snorkelling here we would recommend bringing your own gear as costs can be quite high for hiring gear. Thankfully we only needed one snorkel but looking at the price to hire the whole kit we were glad this is all we needed and have since purchased another.. the cost of 2 days hire is around the same as buying your own from any major city.

Our first experience was the wall right out the front of the village itself. We went down to the tiny bit of beach and swam out from there. High tide didn’t come until quite late so it takes a bit of effort to get out there if you don’t have booties on but we managed it swimming stomach to sea floor and flirting with urchins for most of the 30m! Visibility is really good so you can see the wall approaching as you swim up to it and for Sophie this is quite daunting, she is always careful to keep her body in the shallower water for constant fear of anything that may come up from the depths! It’s quite easy to swim along the wall, you can either go along and back again to your starting point or along and walk back through the village. There are lots of fish and some really pretty corals, some of the smaller fish are in reasonably large shoals here which we both like to swim in and out of and we really enjoyed it, sadly we didn’t see any of the turtles that everyone speaks of though.

Dale was quite ill from food poisoning on one of the days so we had to take a rest stop for him to recover, not so bad if you have a pool to laze around by so Sophie was entertained while he recovered in bed. Thankfully after a good days rest and plenty of fluids he was up and fighting fit for our next experience which was White Beach. This is a ‘proper’ beach which is about 8km from Panagsama. You can go by tricycle but after hearing the crazy prices they were charging we opted to rent our own wheels (P300) and get there under our own steam.

The beach really is quite stunning; it has lovely white sand which is only spoilt by the litter that is on it. We can’t understand why so many locals sit around all day doing nothing trying to sell their wares and leave glass, plastic and general mess in front of them. If it was our business we’d want the area around it to look as pristine as possible so people come back but there we go.. that’s us and they clearly have other things to be doing, exactly what we’re not sure as they weren’t swamped with customers but each to their own!

Again the water here is crystal clear, a beautiful turquoise and the wall is even closer at only about 15m from the beach. So easy to swim out to if you are starting to snorkel and don’t want to travel too far out to see some really good underwater life. We spent this day alternating between snorkelling & sunning ourselves as for once it was a lovely clear sunny day which was prefect for the beach! We did treat ourselves to lunch in a really nice resort, mainly because there isn’t really any cheap eating options here so you can either have that or local food which in this case looked like it had been sat in the sun all day (or be more organised and bring your own!).. after Dale’s experiences the previous day we opted for the safer option!

If you walk to the end of White Beach there are some lovely little coves so if you wanted some privacy to sunbath alone then there are plenty of opportunities. Chances are you’ll pick up a little friend along the way though, there are an awful lot of stray dogs on this beach, it didn’t bother us of course as we love the company but it could put some people off. We have found the dogs here to be quite unfriendly though.. not that they bark or bite but every time we whistle or click our fingers for them to come over and make friends they are just not interested, Sophie even gave one a biscuit and it didn’t say thanks by letting her give it a little pat afterwards.. How rude!

We kept our wheels for the following day and took a day trip south to Kawasan Falls about a 20km drive out of Moalboal.. very easy to spot when the guides jump out into the road as you drive past and tell you to turn left! If you do go here you will be swamped as soon as you arrive with offers of a guide, you don’t need one so politely tell them where to go. It’s a nice easy 30ish minute walk up to the main falls and you will follow the crystal clear water as you go. The first falls are a drop of about 20m to a big pool at the bottom which is great for swimming and cooling off after the walk.

It is only P10 to get into the falls and P50 to park which is a steal but when you arrive at each set of falls you are approached by men asking if you “want table” or “want raft”.. at P300 we didn’t want either but it led to another observation… we get a little tired of things here in the Philippines being a seemingly set price only to turn a corner and be told that it will cost PX more to do this or that. We just cannot understand why people at these places don’t club together and charge one set fee to get in then everyone can use the facilities inside with no further charge. We would be more than happy to pay more money to get in somewhere lovely like these falls then be able to sit at a table or jump on the raft, everyone would be happy as they all get a split of the money. As it is people like us pay the minimum amount then refuse to pay the overinflated charges for the “extras” so everyone loses.. go figure! It also doesn’t help that the people who run these “extras” are mostly men who laze around until someone approaches then bark out what they offer.. the charm is well and truly turned off and it just makes you more reluctant to part with any extra money as it doesn’t add to the experience at all. Sometimes a little course in customer relations wouldn’t go amiss and they would probably see a big upturn in their profits. We aren’t turning this into a knocking session as we love this country but sometimes we just want to tell them what people are after in a place like this and watching them stroking their cocks while smoking cigarettes really isn’t it!

Anyway back to the falls.. there are actually 3 main waterfalls with numerous pools to swim in as you trek further and further up the trail. We swam in the next pool which has some smaller drops off there and another lovely large pool, the falls here are a bit more gentle than the main one so you can enjoy a bit of a less robust massage as you swim underneath them! On we went passing various smaller falls until we got to the top pool which was lovely and clear and even better there wasn’t a soul in sight! We hung around here for a bit until some other people turned up then made our way back down to the main pool passing a natural Jacuzzi on the way! We perched ourselves on the steps of the main falls where we enjoyed our lunch and a beer.. today was our 7 year anniversary so we splashed out on 2 cold San Miguel’s to make our celebrations in such a beautiful place.

We’d left relatively early that morning in our eagerness to get there so had the afternoon to fill, we took a drive further south in the hope that we’d find some hidden gem resort we could spend a few days later in the week at but it wasn’t to be so we headed back to the hotel to relax by the pool for the remainder of the sunny afternoon. Sophie wanted to enjoy the evening a little so dragged Dale along to the 7 Sins Bar.. primarily a girlie bar but we seemed to have chosen the right night to visit as there was a couple of families in there which took the seediness away and we even stayed out a little later than usual rolling in at 11pm!

We were coming to our last planned day here in Moalboal, there isn’t an ATM here and as we hadn’t planned to spend so long here we were running out of money. Added to this Dale had received encouraging news that the camera could be ready early the following week so we’d decided to ditch our journey to Bantayan and head back to Dumaguete the following day in the hope we could fully get back on the road with the camera in tow! Experience of the Philippines should have told us otherwise but we try to live as optimists!

The final day was one to remember and something we’d read about on a forum as a tip for something to do here.. we’d seen the sign for the Fish Sanctuary one day when we’d gone out on the bike so walked up here as the sign saying “500m to the Fish Sanctuary” was only about 1km out of the village. Of course this was the one and only sign we saw and we struggled a bit to find the right direction as we walked around the tiny local village, but the locals were their usual cheery helpful selves and we made it there eventually… if you do go follow the road through the village as far as you can then turn left along the side of the big white housel to take you there.

The Sanctuary is another drop off wall but it a bit further out at about 70m so it’s a bit more difficult to actually get there, especially in low tide which is when we hit it! We swam/walked out there and when we reached the wall we were so glad we’d made the effort as this was the best snorkelling we’d done in our time here.. and quite possibly some of the best snorkelling we’d done ever! They are not kidding when they say this is a sanctuary for fish as there were thousands of them.. huge shoals of all kinds of fish both big and small all along the huge wall drop off. The coral isn’t the best but saying that there were some huge fans which you don’t see too often snorkelling so it is also something quite spectacular. The drop off is also pretty sheer, just going into the black depths below which makes you gulp a bit if you swim too far over it! The trip was also rounded off with Sophie being able to spot a turtle gliding past just below us so Dale had spotted his first one of this trip which was great.

We stayed out there for about an hour taking it all in, it really was breathtaking and it’s always moments like this we are so sad we don’t have an underwater camera to remind us of how amazing it really was. If you want to experience being in a real life fishtank you couldn’t get much more authentic than this. Just wow! After an hour we’d swum quite a long way along the wall and still had to get back to shore so headed back. We’re glad we read about this as we’d have been so sad to miss it.

We couldn’t really top that so decided to make the most of the pool for our last afternoon and ate at our favourite Thai restaurant for our final evening. We were glad we’d stayed longer than we’d planned in this place and it was a shame we didn’t have enough cash to last us another few days as we would have stayed here taking in a bit more of what it had to offer. Moalboal is the kind of place that’s had it’s day many moons ago but in a strange kind of way its been left with its charm intact and was somewhere we connected with. We had a camera to collect though so caught a bus out of there the following morning returning the route we’d came back to Dumaguete for the final time… or so we thought…

Dumaguete.. again!

As we said we really should have known better than assume that the Sony Centre’s optimism of getting the camera back early on in the week would be the reality. We got off to a bad start in Dumaguete when Harold’s had no record of our booking.. the receptionists in that place really are next to useless and in our opinion let the great place down but no matter as we found somewhere just down the road for cheaper (P650). We had some time to kill in Dumaguete until the day the camera was supposed to be back so mooched around, got some massages and hired a bike for the final day to take us down to Tambobo Bay on the south coast of Negros. We’d actually tried to stay here for the 2 days we had to kill but places were booked up due to Chinese New Year so we had to make do with a day trip.

It’s about a 30km ride down there which played havoc with our bums especially when it was then another 11km to the bay itself along a very bumpy road but we made it. It was a very pretty area with quaint little bays here and there but wasn’t quite as beautiful as we’d hoped so we played around on a deserted beach walking out in the knee deep water, found another secluded cove and enjoying a lunch at the resort a bit further along. It was a scorching hot day and we would have liked a swim but the water was so shallow and rocky we couldn’t be bothered to try to walk the 40m out so decided to head back to the city and would stop at one of the marine reserves along the way.

We stopped at Dauin reserve and relaxed on the beach for an hour or so before heading back to Dumaguete, making that all important stop to the Sony Centre on the way. Frustration mounted as Dale was informed that the guy who was supposed to fix the camera in Manila was on holiday until tomorrow and we should call back then. Hadn’t they known he would be on holiday when we spoke to them last week?! Not only was the camera not back in Dumaguete it wasn’t even fixed yet and again we had no idea on when that might be. There was no point getting angry though as it wouldn’t speed things up and this is the way things are here, nothing we say or do would change it so we just have to get on with things and rework the plans.. again… so we decided to ditch the camera for another week and move onto somewhere completely different..

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