Moalboal, Philippines in S$500 (19,000 PHP)

Moalboal — one of the most popular dive towns in Cebu. This tiny town boasts world-class diving sites, and being able to observe the underwater life is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Philippines is one of the few places where you can dive at an amazing price, and don’t worry — quality is definitely not compromised. If you are interested in knowing how you can only spend S$500 in Moalboal, Philippines (per person for a trip for 2) while living *quite* luxuriously, read on.

For all of us English speakers, just note that Moalboal is pronounced as “Mo-ah-l bo-ah-l” and not “Mo-al bo-al”. We have been pronouncing it wrong the whole time and we were corrected by one of the friendly taxi drivers, who told us “Mo-al bo-al” actually means pubic hair in filipino language. 😉

You can definitely spend less here in Moalboal if you control your spending and travel with more friends, but we wanted to spend more lavishly here since it was a vacation. If you wanna take it up a notch even further, go for it 😉

Note: This is for a 4D3N trip, perfect for a short getaway

Note note: Flights are not included in this budget!

Quick Guide to Moalboal

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White Beach, on a cloudy day
  1. There are 2 main beaches of Moalboal: White Beach, and Panagsama beach. Panagsama beach is the more popular beach, where most dive shops, restaurants, and hostels are located. White beach, on the other hand, had a wider and quieter beach, but definitely worth a visit if you want a quiet and beautiful beach.
  2. The 2 beaches are not close to each other. AT ALL. You have to take a tricycle if you are coming from either beaches.
  3. There are bars in Panagsama area, where expats and travelers hang. You definitely won’t miss them as there are mostly along 1 stretch of road. (it’s walkable!)
  4. There’s a mall in the town area called Gaisano Grand Mall, which is more inland, right along the highway. There’s a Macdonalds and a supermarket where you can get your necessities. (if you even need any 😉 )
  5. Most dive shops there are PADI dive centres. There are a few SSI dive centres, but you have to search for them.
  6. Highly recommended for people looking to dive and chill. (not much of a nightlife there)

Accommodation

There are many different types of accommodation in Moalboal, but most of them are dive resorts and hostels. If you like to be near most of the action, Panagsama is definitely an area for you to look at. If you like a nice, quiet area, do consider staying nearer to White Beach for a relaxing trip.

We would definitely recommend staying in Asian Belgian Resort close to White Beach. (click the link to read our review!) We did an extensive research regarding the different dive centres found in Moalboal, and this resort caught our attention. You can rent a kayak from them for free; it’s only a 3-5min paddle over to White Beach. Or when it is low tide, you can just walk over to White Beach along the coast but be sure to borrow some water shoes (for FREE!) from the dive shop as it can be pokey.

The rooms cost between 2,370 php (~S$62.10) for the Native Cottages to 4,565 php (~S$120) for the Dolphin Watch Rooms. Honestly, we feel that the Native Cottages are cozy enough, and the air-con is great! If you book directly with them, you will get an additional 7% discount on top of the 7% cash discount. 😉

If you want to stay close to Panagsama, Quo Vadis Dive Resort Moalboal has quite good reviews online. They offer diving and courses, and it also even has a pool in their premises. Opting for a more luxurious stay? Tutle Bay Dive Resort is nestled abit further from Panagsama beach and away from the crowded shores. You can even snorkel right in front of the resort during your free time!

Total cost: 4D3N – 6,150 php (~S$161.09) (includes 7% direct booking and 7% cash discount) for 2 in a Native Cottage at Asian Belgian Resort

~ S$80.50/person

Diving

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Met a sea turtle during our dive!

We did a little research regarding the different dive centres and found out that for many centres, dive equipment rental is charged per dive! If you are considering other dive centres, remember to take note of the price of the rental equipment, unless you are bringing your own 🙂

Asian Belgian Resort has one of the most affordable dive prices in Moalboal, around 1,400 php (S$36.70) perboat dive, and rental of equipment and marine park fee is also included in the price. Best part is, if you pay by cash, you get an additional 7% discount on top of the total amount. (same as accommodation!)

Asian Belgian Resort also does around 3 day dives a day (excluding night dive) — 2 before lunch and 1 after lunch. So for a 4D3N trip, you’ll be able to dive minimally 6 dives. They also have a package of 10 dives for 11,000 php, so if time permits, you can stay a little longer to go for 10 dives!

For those with no diving experience, most dive centres offer scuba diving for travelers with no diving certification, so you’ll still be able to experience the amazing underwater world! Or, if you are looking to get your Open Water Certificate, most centres should offer such packages!

Total cost: 6 dives – 7,812 php (~S$205) per person

Transport

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Getting to Moalboal from Mactan-Cebu International Airport

For us, we chose to book a private transfer from Asian Belgian Resort as our flight landed around 5pm. The total ride took us around 3h 30min, and we reached Asian Belgian Resort at around 8.30pm. You could take a bus to Moalboal, but once you reach Moalboal, you would still need to take another tricycle in. Isn’t it more convenient and comfortable to just book a direct transfer to the resort? 😉

(FYI, most resorts in Moalboal offers private transfer too! 🙂 )

If you want to spend a little less on transport, the public bus will be a good option. Take a taxi from Mactan-Cebu Airport to Cebu South Bus Terminal for around 250 php (~S$6.50). Hop on the next bus to Moalboal via Ceres bus (yellow bus) and the price should be only around 150 php (~S$4)/person! The ride also takes around 3h 30min depending on the traffic.

Transport within Moalboal

You can take the tricycle within Moalboal for CHEAP. It costs around 15-20php per person to take a tricycle. Just take note to bargain hard as the locals would definitely try to charge you more.

Total cost: 5,200 php (~S$136) for return private transfer from airport to Moalboal (good for 1-4pax) 

~S$85/person

Food

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Food costs the most in our opinion. Even though Moalboal isn’t as touristy as the major cities, the prices of the food are catered to tourists, so it’s ‘ok’ for us and ‘expensive’ for locals. Generally, food ranges from between 150 php to 400 php per dish, depending on where you eat and your food choice. For us, since we stayed in Asian Belgian Resort, getting a return tricycle trip was already going to cost us 300 php. Which is why we ended up eating in the resort instead. However, there’s also a Macdonalds in Gaisano Mall which sells amazing fast food. Philippines Macdonalds has stole my heart.

By the way, definitely try the Filipino mango shake. It’s amazing. No kidding.

Oh, and do try their local beer, San Miguel Pilsen. It’s so cheap and so good, you won’t have to break a bank just to get drunk 😉

Total cost: around 700 php (~S$18.40) per meal for 2 (including drinks) 

~S$120/person

Other Activities

Kawasan Falls

If you want to mix things up other than snorkeling and diving, do consider heading to Kawasan Falls in Badian. It’s a popular spot which has a beautiful blue waterfall. It’s around a 30min bus ride from Moalboal, and you’ll have to take the yellow bus that’s heading to Badian which usually stops outside ThreeSixty Pharmacy in Moalboal. It costs around 140php (~S$3.70)/person for one way.

The bus will stop in front of Matutinao Beach Resort in Badian, and you just have to follow the signs and walk to Kawasan Falls. There’s also an entrance fee to Kawasan Falls, which is around 40 php (~S$1.20) for foreigners!

OR, if you’re up to it, do consider canyoneering in Kawasan Falls. There are many tour operators in Moalboal that offers canyoneering and Planet Action Adventure is one of them! It costs around 2190 php (~S$57.40)/person and it includes a return transfer from Moalboal to the Falls.

Total cost: 320 php (~S$8.40)/person (if you go yourself) OR 2190 php (~S$57.40)/person for canyoneering

Oslob – Swimming with Whale Sharks

If you are looking for an exotic experience, swimming with whale sharks in Oslob is a popular activity that many travellers go for. However, we decided not to go for it as the whale sharks are known to be attracted to the area only because the locals feed them constantly. Essentially, it just doesn’t sound natural, and there might be negative effects to the whale sharks.

But if you are still interested in going for the activity, you can hire a private return transfer with Planet Action Adventure for 5,500 php (~S$144.10). The entrance fee is 1,100 php (~S$28.80)/person which includes snorkel equipment rental, boat rental and a tour guide. The whole tour would last around 45min.

Personally, we would definitely not recommend this activity due to its impact on these delicate creatures. 🙂

(Total cost: 1,100 php (~S$28.80)/person + 5,500 php (S$144.10)/return transfer)

Final total: S$488.90 (~18,401 PHP)/person 

Do you have any more tips to spend less in Moalboal? Or do you, like us, feel that we should just enjoy ourselves on holiday without being too caught up on budgeting? Leave your thoughts in the comments sections and tell us more! 🙂

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