“The Jewel of The South”
Note: This entry has lots… LOTS of boat pictures.
As any Cebuano would proudly say: Moalboal is the boss! This humble yet outright beautiful municipality is well-known for it’s fine white sand beaches and incredible world-class diving spots not to mention it’s reputation as being a mini-Boracay getaway within the Cebu province.
Quickie facts: (haha)
- Moalboal locals are called Moalboalanons and say they are descended from the people of Bohol, a province on the eastern side of Cebu. Cultural minorities settling there include the Badjao, a tribe of water nomads.
- It is on the Southwestern tip of Cebu, facing the Tañon Strait which has already been declared a marine wildlife reserve… hence, a great place for whale and dolphin watching. Right across is Negros Oriental. Dumaguete anyone?
- It had already established its tourism industry since the 1970s.
- It has some of the best and least expensive diving spots in the region. Marine life is so vast, rich and unexploited you’d wish you grew gills and lived down in that seabed instead.
- Fishing and farming (up on the mountainous areas) are the means of livelihood.
- Food, accommodation, and transportation are no problem at all. There are numerous choices, especially on off-peak season where one can get absolutely eye-popping discounts.
- Would you like to simply bask in the sun and enjoy a fun day at the beach? Stay on White Beach (Basdako: Big Sand) just 20 mins. from the town center. Hello, crystal clear waters and fine white sand!
- How about some scuba diving, snorkeling and other water activities? Panagsama Beach (Basdiot: Little Sand) is the place to be! It is merely 10 mins. away from the town center. I wanna be a mermaid.
Okay, ’nuff said… let’s get to the good stuff! To be honest, I wouldn’t really know where to start… so I’m assuming you’ve read our last entry about how we got unbelievably lost just trying to get to the beach.
Belle: For the love of Jeebuz! I’ve been to Moalboal over and over again but this is the first time this has ever happened to me. You! You… Did you wear lucky underwear? We should wave it outside the car.
Jake: I think you got distracted by the chicharon back in Car-car.
Fortunately, it turned out we didn’t get cursed by a couple of mountain dwarves we most probably ran over since we finally got to the main highway. It was a smooth drive all the way to Moalboal.
We figured we’d stay in Panagsama beach because first off there were more inexpensive choices there. And even though there wasn’t much powdery white sand to roll around in, as long as we had the sea right beside us and the sun shining down on our faces, we’d be perfectly happy.
On our short quest for the perfect accommodations, we ended up in a beachfront “Resort” (actually it was a 2 story house with a lawn facing the sea). It was off-peak season so they gave us a huge discount… it’s 4 figure price slashed off to 3! Master haggler Jake did it again!
This was perfect especially since we haven’t even though of our budget… at all. Budget = whatever’s cheap.
Knowing how short our stay was out there, we crammed everything we thought of imaginable in that span of time. This totally added “EPIC FAIL” moments up on our list and made the trip an amusing rollercoaster ride of sorts.
1. As soon as we got settled, we dived into the warm water and swam all the way to a pump boat anchored a good distance from shore.
From there we watched a spectacular sunset in unraveling hues of yellow, orange, red and purples fading away slowly out on the horizon.
Traveler’s Tip #1: The Panagsama Beach front is mostly rocky but a short walk will take you to a real sandy area where you can lounge around and bask in the sun. There may not be actual accommodations there but they have open-air cottages for rent at your disposal.
FAIL: Without a moment’s notice, we were stuck floating around in complete darkness… a chance for our hyperactive imaginations to start acting up. On cue, we freaked out when cold, scaly and slimy things brushed our legs. We scampered to get up on that boat and stay there for God knows how long. It didn’t help one bit when dimly lit greenish pinpoint things also began surrounding us.
Jake: Is it just me or are there creatures glowing down there? *shiver*
Belle: Who’s gonna jump in first and swim to shore?*nudge, nudge, nudge*
Oh come on, how were we supposed to know (at that time) plankton would be luminous?
2. All the excitement made us want to hunt down a pig and eat it for dinner. So we walked along the one-kilometer Panagsama Beach trail packed with bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, resorts, diving shops and game halls to look for food.
We found a cozy little spot at the Seaside Restaurant and Cocktail Bar.
Traveler’s Tip #2: If a waitress tells you the food is only good for one, she’s probably referring to a plate for a foreigner with a huge appetite, or else somebody with a parasitic worm problem… because those servings are huge!
We were stuffed and sleepy by the end of the meal. BURP. YAWN.
Traveler’s Tip #3: Want to… ehem… partayyy? There are a good number of bars/pubs just within your reach so no worries there. The Chili Bar for example is a great place to meet new friends, hang out, play a round of billiards or just chill to the music.
Surprisingly, their sound systems don’t air out songs that make you feel like you slipped into some sort of space-time loophole. We were expecting otherwise, what with our past experiences with small towns and all. If you want to go all out hardcore discoral mode (cramped outdoor disco), you can head over to Pacitas and dance your heart out ‘til your eyelashes fall off in the morning.
3. We were feeling the effects of body drain and mind suck so we opted to purchase our own drinks and go nuts out on the lawn/patio by our resort… which turned out to be an understatement.
Lazing around on a beach chair under a clear starlit sky immersed in inebriated conversation while listening to portable hamburger speakers did NOT seem enough.
FAIL: Jake and I lit up huge colorful flying lanterns early in the evening. You know, those things where you make a wish and throw it out into the wind then they go up, up, and away. Too bad one of them almost caught a neighboring resort’s tree on fire.
Belle: I guess my wish won’t come true then?
Jake: That Jap dude almost kicked me in the bojangles and you’re still thinking of your wish?
Traveler’s Tip #4: Always have life insurance.
4. Morning came real fast and we were back on track blissfully enjoying the downpour of sunshine on the beautiful coast with low regard for any trace of an alcohol induced migraine.
Belle: Massage? Dolphin watching? Snorkeling? Island hopping? Whatchasay?
Jake: *looks at wallet* Trigger happy photoshoot?
There ya go.
Traveler’s Tip #5: Being low on budget has its perks. You get to discover different ways on exploiting your camera settings. It’s bad for actuation though.
On sundown, we decided to head back to the big city with the lightest pockets known to man but the biggest grins on our faces.
Re-packing your things after one of the most interesting vacations of your life (so far) doesn’t need to be so depressing right? That extremely short beach trip turned out tremendously transformative in the end.
One of these days, we might head back… but through the shorter way which didn’t give leave an inch thick wrap of dust on a poor VW Beetle. And I’m driving.
So… beach, anyone? (And did you get to count how many boats there were in this entry? ROFL.)