I was up early on Sunday morning, March 19th. Breakfast was included with my room. Simple, just an egg on toast with bacon and coffee. Then I settled up with the front desk and they got me a taxi.
One of the things I like about Kiwi Lodge is that it’s only a short taxi ride away no matter which bus terminal I’m going too. In roughly 10 minutes the taxi arrived at the south bus terminal. Less than 80 pesos in cab fare. Buses heading south are leaving throughout the day. Within a few minutes of arriving I was on a bus to Moalboal.
You can hire a taxi to take you to Moalboal for around 2000 pesos (about $40 bucks). It’s certainly faster and more comfortable, but a bus ticket is only a 107 pesos (just over $2 dollars)! A bus takes about 3 hours depending on traffic and number of stops it makes. Riding local transport is all part of the experience of traveling and seeing the world I think! The bus left around 9 AM and was in Moalboal a little after noon.
After getting off the bus, I hired a trike for 150 pesos the rest of the way to Panagsama Beach where the vast majority of the dive shops are. After checking in with Eve’s Kiosk I dropped my dive gear next door at Nelson’s Dive Shop before heading to my room.
I rented a fan room for my stay at 700 pesos a night (around $14 dollars). I don’t spend much time in the room anyway so why pay for air conditioning? The temperature at night is normally in the 70’s in March so a fan is plenty. It turned out to be the same room that I stayed in during my last trip to Moalboal in October 2015, so almost like coming home!
I set up my camera in the room, changed into a swim suit, and then headed back to the dive shop. I filled out the usual paperwork. Then got my equipment together and started getting ready to go out for the afternoon dive. Dives at Nelson’s are 900 pesos per dive if you have your own equipment. 1200 pesos per dive with rental equipment. Like everywhere else in the Philippines, tanks, weights, boat, and dive guide are included. Nelson’s website is: http://www.ibara.ne.jp/~bitoon/
I always seem to run into Japanese divers when I visit Nelson’s for some reason. He also gets the usual European crowd and the occasional American. As I dive different destinations around the Philippines, I still often find myself the only American in the group. We are definitely the minority! I’m hoping to change that with my blog and the book series I’m working on by helping introduce the Philippines to more Americans. I want to show that it can be quite cost effective to plan a dive trip to the Philippines.
Once the tanks were set up and ready they were taken to the boat. I pulled on my wetsuit, put on my booties, grabbed my mask, fins, and camera gear headed to the boat. You walk across the street and down a narrow alleyway to a small beach. The entire beach in this area is lined with resorts, but there is a convenient access to the water here. My first dive in Moalboal in 2007 was a night dive and we geared up and walked this same path to do a shore entry.
More often though, the majority of dives here are by boat. During high tide the water can get fairly deep pretty quickly, and I almost had to swim to get to the boat! After everyone was on the boat, we headed north to Tuble Point. I was starting my first dive of this visit to Moalboal at 3:10 PM.
I do enjoy wall dives, and Moalboal is wall diving. Tuble Point is a nice wall with depths down to a 100 feet possible. There are plenty of things to see in the cuts and crevices of the wall. Some of the highlights included nudibranchs, scorpionfish, nice schools of anthia’s and damselfish, anemonefish, a huge pufferfish, grouper, and one of the things Moalboal is known for, sea turtles. A really enjoyable dive! Total dive time was 52 minutes with a maximum depth of 68 feet. The water temperature was 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
It had been a long day and I opted to rest that evening. One of the nice things about Panagsama Beach is the many restaurants and eateries up and down the road along the beach. Plenty of places on the water with a nice view to have dinner. I made it an early night and went to bed early.
The next morning I was up early and ready for Pescador Island. Pescador Island is one of my favorite dives. It’s a drift dive and current can be quite strong. Normally you are dropped in on one end of the island and then the boat travels to the other and waits for you to drift down. We dropped in at 9:54 AM. It ended up being a 45 minute dive with a maximum depth of 88 feet. Water temperature was again 79 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s a great wall dive. Big schools of trevally, frogfish, snapper, grouper, anthia’s, lionfish… just a great dive! After the dive we headed back to the beach.
We asked if we could go ahead and do a second dive and were told “no problem”. One of the things that Moalboal is known for is the huge sardine schools. It’s a can’t miss when diving Moalboal. The sardine schools are normally seen around the House Reef, which is in the area where we get on and off the boat. We started our dive at 11:55 AM and had a 57 minute dive. Maximum depth was 60 feet and water temperature was still 79 degrees Fahrenheit, so pretty consistent water temperatures.
The sardine schools did not disappoint! Just huge clouds of fish, with trevally making run’s in and out at times. Very cool to see! I’d mentioned to the guide before the dive I really like photographing frogfish and he found one for me! The “usual suspects” were there as well…. angelfish, pufferfish, damselfish, anthia’s, triggerfish, threadfin hawkfish, a white-eyed moray eel with a cleaner wrasse, nudibranchs, and right at the end of the dive a sea turtle. A really great dive!
My plane ticket took me back to Clark on the 26th. I decided to hit Malapascua before returning so the next day I headed to Cebu City (if you’re going by bus from Moalboal to Maya where you catch the ferry to Malapascua Island, you probably want to break that up). A trike took me back to the main highway for 150 pesos (about $3 dollars). There I caught a Ceres Liner (115 pesos) to Cebu City. I called Kiwi Lodge en-route and reserved a room. The bus ride was just over 3 hours to the South Bus Terminal. From there I took a taxi (78 pesos) to Kiwi Lodge.
Next I’ll write about my time at Malapascua in March. Then my weekend at ADEX (Asia Dive Expo) in Singapore, then I’ll be almost to the present. As I publish this I’ve been back to Malapascua and I’m in Dumaguete now… still trying to catch up, but stay tuned!
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