One of my favorite places in the Philippines is Moalboal. Not necessarily because of the town, but because of all the wonderful things to do in the area. It’s the perfect base for a bunch of adventures. Diving, snorkeling, visiting waterfalls, hiking and canyoneering are all part of the options. The town is full of backpackers and it’s basically one street of café’s, restaurants and bars. I would advice spending at least 4 days in Moalboal.
Things to do
Swim with the Sardines & turtles
One of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in the Philippines was just walking down to the beach and seeing sardines and turtles straight after diving in the ocean. The best time to go is 6 am. The sardines will be in shallower water and the schools of fish are just insanely big. The massive schools of sardines swim in the shallow waters to feed on plankton. They call this a sardine run. Later in the day you can still see them, but you’ll be less likely to see turtles and the sardines are a bit more dispersed and deeper down. I went every single morning at 6 Am for 4 days and saw several turtles each morning and just incredible schools of sardines. I had so much fun practicing my free diving a bit and taking photos with friends. Usually there aren’t many people at 6, even though it is the best time to go. So it’s the best time and you’ll get the place all to yourself! I would say that actually snorkeling is better then diving in this case, because the bubbles from the divers caused the sardines to disperse.
I walked right past the Chili bar until I reached a little snorkling gear rental shop on the left. The shop has lockers for your stuff and it’s also the ideal spot to enter the water! Right in front is where I spotted several turtles.
Go Canyoneering at Kawasan falls
Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls seemed to be everyone’s favorite activity in Moalboal. I booked it through my hostel and we went with a big group, which was a lot of fun! I met so many people that I ended up spending more time with, so if you’re traveling solo that’s a really fun way to do it. However, if you already have some people to join you on this activity I highly recommend booking a private tour. This way you can leave earlier in the morning (around 6 would be good) and avoid the crowds. You’ll be able to have the beautiful Kawasan falls all to yourself! If I’d do it again, I would definitely go for this option.
Visit Montpellier Falls + Cambais Falls
For just 350 php you can rent a scooter and go exploring by yourself. It’s true that some waterfalls are a bit far out, but there are a few you could visit on your way to Casino peak or the more famous Osmena peak. I did some research and decided Montpellier falls would be a good stop on our little day trip. It’s one of the lesser known waterfalls in the surroundings, but it’s absolutely beautiful and we were the only tourists there! You may have to ask some locals for directions(like us), but it shouldn’t be too difficult to find. The water drops from super high up and I could barely get it all in one photo. There’s a little pool where you can swim.
If you’d like to fit one more spot in to make it a full day trip, Cambais falls is also on the way to Casino Peak. From the parking spot, its about a 20 minute walk to the waterfall. It’s not a difficult trail and can be done in flip-flops. Cambais falls has 2 levels and you can swim in both!
Hike up Casino Peak for sunset (alternative to Osmeña peak)
You’ll see lots of tour operators that go to Osmeña Peak and that’s generally the viewpoint you’ll read about. However, only a 5 min drive from Osmeña you can find the trail to Casino Peak (alternatively called Lugsangan). It has a better view and is less touristy. It’s an absolutely gorgeous spot to see the sunset. There were only a few other people there and once the sun actually set we were the only ones up there. Instead of booking a tour we just rented a scooter and drove ourselves. Make sure to ask the locals about which road to take, because the road we took on our way back I would not consider a road at all. I would barely even consider it a hiking trail and driving that ‘road’ back down in the dark was not the most fun. When we made it down the road there was a group of Philippino guys hanging out and they complimented me on my driving skills after making it down that road without a scratch. Google maps will give you a few different options and the it’s worth going back the long way round if you’d like to stay on a safer road.
Where to eat
I always do a lot of research on the best restaurants and these ended up being my favorite restaurants in Moalboal:
This was the best place that I’ve tried in Moalboal. They have exceptionally good cocktails. I’m yet to find another place in the Philippines with such a good Espresso Martini! Also their veggie burger and quinoa salad where bomb.
Hungry Monkeys Moalboal
Where to stay
Since I travel solo most of the time, I usually stay in hostels, since that makes it a lot easier to meet people.
I stayed in two different hostels during my stay in Moalboal. I would say my favorite one was Crazy Bears. It was super clean, nice facilities and friendly staff. There is a nice social area as well. Although there are other hostels that organize more social activities, it’s a good place to chill. I like to stay in hostels that are social, but not a ‘party’ hostel, so I can come back and actually get a good night sleep.
The other place I stayed at was Hangover Hostel. This is a hostel that organizes a bit more evening activities. They have a free family dinner every Sunday and have a bit more of a party vibe. Also a great option if you’re traveling alone and wanting to socialize.
If you’re looking for a nice private room instead of the hostel experience, have a look at Harman Suites. It has the perfect location with a beach view and located on the Main Street with all the restaurants and bars.