Moalboal in the Philippines is where divers of all stripes gather to watch the sardine run and explore Pescador Island, as well as to try canyoneering at Kawasan Falls and lounge on White Beach. Base your adventure from one of these excellent hotels.
Panagsama, where most of the action happens, is a laid-back party strip where mixed groups of foreigners and Filipinos cruise the main street in colourful jeepneys looking for a great scuba-diving deal. Pescador Island is famed for its vertiginous coral wall and schools of tropical fish, but you only need your snorkel for the finest attraction in the area – swimming among millions of shimmering silver sardines.
Greek-themed D’ Gecko sits right at the heart of the action, surrounded by buzzing bars and dive shops that will whisk you straight to the sardine run, White Beach and more. Blue-and-white queen and king rooms have air conditioning, cable TV, a fridge and a kettle. There’s no breakfast on-site, but there are several restaurants just outside.
This leafy dive resort in Basdiot is the ideal base for rest and relaxation between underwater adventures. The twin and family rooms come with air conditioning, hot showers, a refrigerator and a balcony. Feast on sticky Filipino tocino (pork marinated in pineapple juice) for breakfast; dinners include imported foods such as Swiss fondue and barbecued meats from the grill. Aspiring divers can get certified by PADI or the Europe-based IDIC.
Take your pick of dive shops here – this all-doubles hostel in Basdiot is within steps of dozens of them, as well as tour operators who will whisk you off to land-based Moalboal attractions such as Kawasan Falls and White Beach. Grab drinks and snacks at the bar while planning your adventures using the free wifi, or retreat to your air-conditioned room. There’s no restaurant on-site, but you’ve got the best seafood restaurants in Moalboal right on your doorstep.
Come for the diving, stay for the atmosphere. That’s the idea at this dive resort in Basdiot, overlooking the Tañon Strait. Get certified in the infinity pool – which also happens to have fantastic ocean views – and then jump onto a boat with guides from Cebu Fun Divers, who will take you to the plunging coral walls for which Moalboal is famed. Back on land, grab a round of beers and Filipino pub food at the on-site restaurant.
Occupying prime real estate, a four-minute ride from White Beach, this secluded resort is a dolphin among sardines – a touch of luxury in an area better known for budget options. Lounge in your Filipino-themed room – think lacquered bamboo beds scattered with hibiscus blossoms. Munch on prawn spring rolls at the restaurant, or listen to a marine biology seminar while sipping a cocktail. For the ultimate indulgence, head to the spa for a tandem massage – two therapists working as one.
This convivial hostel in Basdiot is 800m (2,625ft) from Panagsama – close enough to the party but far enough for a good night’s sleep. Three private rooms and one dorm have air conditioning, private bathrooms with hot showers, and lockers. There’s a casual restaurant for breakfast, dinner and post-dive drinks. Owners Simon and Jerom are a font of knowledge on day tours and places to eat and party in town.