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Moalboal Sardine Run: Top Diving Attraction in the South

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Moalboal has always been a top diving destination in Cebu.

It’s been mentioned time and again that Cebu is one of the world’s best diving destinations. This is thanks to the many picturesque and awe-inspiring beaches that can be found all around the island.

Many have traveled to Cebu to take a plunge down the relaxing waters and witness the beauty of the colorful marine life. This remains a staple in many travel itineraries as one of the many fun things to do in Cebu. 

If there is one spot that is highly recommended, it is undoubtedly Moalboal. Aside from the beaches, it is also home to the world’s second biggest sardine run.

The sardine run is a natural phenomenon where thousands of sardines gather in a large group, swimming harmoniously in breathtaking formations. Many have shared how magical of a sight it is underwater.

It is also considered the largest biomass migration on the planet, believed to rival even the African wildebeest stampedes. The biggest sardine run in the world is located in South Africa. 

What the Moalboal sardine run lacks in terms of size, it makes up for in accessibility and difficulty. This means that you won’t have to dive too deep to witness the school of fish. You might even get to see it from above water. 

More importantly, Panagsama Beach is not that far. You can visit a diving center like Savedra Diving Center to hire a guide or rent diving gear for this exciting activity. 

Now what exactly makes it so special?

WHAT IS THE SARDINE RUN?

There are several reasons why this phenomenon happens. In Moalboal, the sardine run is referred to as a “bait ball,” as the schools of fish gather around to avoid being eaten by predators. 

This wall-like structure keeps them safe from much bigger predators like whales, sharks, and the like. The formation is massive, with millions (sometimes billions) of fish swimming in harmony. 

The run also gathers to feed on planktons found near the surface. This allows non-divers to see the formations without having to dive deeper.  

However, you should definitely swim 20 to 30 meters deep, because what you will see, you will never forget. The event is a marvelous spectacle that you won’t find in other locations.

The fish are in their natural habitat, where they aren’t being fed for divers to witness. The area is also marine protected, meaning it is well-maintained. Fishing them out of the water is prohibited as well.

The sardines are harmless, so you can freely go in and out of the formation. The fish will temporarily break so you can pass, but they gather again to complete the formation. 

The crystal clear waters of Moalboal offer a breathtaking backdrop, and you may find other undersea friends nearby, like sea turtles and jellyfish, especially if you’re diving around Pescador Island.

HOW TO GO TO MOALBOAL

The municipality of Moalboal is around 86 kilometers away from Cebu City. If you want to commute, you can take a bus at the Cebu South Bus Terminal.

To get around town, you can rent a scooter for Php 400 per day. However, know that the town is pretty small, so many of the places you want to see are most likely within walking distance. 

With the popularity of Panagsama Beach and other notable locations around, you can bet that there are more than a few accommodations that can offer you a great stay. Pro tip: go for one that offers tours of the sardine run so that it’s more convenient. 

Here is a short list of the top recommended accommodations in Moalboal, according to a local travel blog called backpackingwithabook

  • Tongo Hill Cottages 
  • Club Serena Resort  
  • Quo Vadis Dive Resort
  • Kasai Village Dive Resort 

Since diving is one of the top recreational activities on the island, it’s a must to witness the sardine run in Moalboal.

It’s said that the sardine run is best experienced during the dry season, which is from November until May. The fish are usually attracted to the hot weather, so this is the best way to witness them up close. 

Next time you find yourself in Cebu, particularly in the south, don’t miss this one-of-a-kind spectacle. Moalboal has never been known to disappoint!

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