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Imagine a snorkeling spot where you could discover, just a few meters from the beach, a coral reef teeming with life, turtles grazing on seagrass meadows covered with starfish, but also swim in the middle of schools of millions of sardines: In Moalboal, on the island of Cebu, all these fantastic underwater experiences are within reach of swim fins. Ready?!

Clark's anemonefish in Moalboal
Clark’s anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) is the most common clownfish species in Moalboal.

How to get to Moalboal snorkeling spot?

Moalboal is a locality situated on the west coast of Cebu Island. It is reached in about 3 hours by bus from Cebu (the main city of the island of the same name). Once in Moalboal, take a moto taxi to reach Panagsama Beach.

Panagsama Beach Moalboal snorkeling map

Entering the water in Moalboal

You can choose between two water entrances. The first one is the main beach of Panagsama, which stretches between Chili Bar and Pacita’s Beach Resort, about 200m south of the main pontoon. The second access point is all around the pontoon, where you’ll find several tiny sand beaches and concrete steps to enter the water.

Moalboal snorkeling tips

From the shore, you will first swim above a shallow reef flat (↕0.5-2m), made of sandy beds, seagrass meadows and some coral bommies. Many starfish of different species live on the seabed, including blue starfish and horned sea stars.

You may also surprise on the seabed some nudibranchs and pipefish. In the seagrass areas, it is not uncommon to spot green sea turtles, who come to feed and rest near the coast.

Snorkeler with a sea turtle at Moalboal
Sea turtles sightings (here, a green sea turtle) are common along Moalboal’s reef drop off.

At about forty meters from the shore, the reef flat ends in a reef drop off (↕4-6m on the reef edge). The reef is covered with corals, sea anemones and sponges.

A wide variety of reef fish live around corals, including colonies of hundreds of damselfish, clownfish, butterflyfish and batfish, among hundreds of other species. You may also be lucky enough to spot a yellow-lipped sea krait meandering over the seabed in search of its next prey.

But if you come to Panagsama Beach, it is above all for its “sardine run”, the unique sighting of shoals of millions of sardines present year-round along the coast. They are usually found at the drop-off. The underwater ballet created by these moving shoals will undoubtedly leave you with unforgettable underwater memories.

Moalboal Sardine Run
Swimming among thousands of sardines is a fantastic experience.

Many boats are present in Panagsama Beach area. Be careful.

Moalboal region is a perfect destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. In addition to the shallow reef that extends for several kilometers along the coast, it is also possible to swim around Pescador Island (a 20 minutes boat trip from Moalboal) or to encounter Risso’s dolphin and melon-headed whale in the Tanon Strait.

Restaurants and accommodation nearby

A wide range of accommodations, restaurants and bars for all budgets is available all along Panagsama Beach.


  • Level required Beginner
  • Maximum depth6ft/2m on the reef flat, 18ft/6m on the drop off
  • Water entranceFrom sandy beaches or concrete steps
  • Potential DangersPresence of sea snakes
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersHigh
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyYes, all along the beach

MAP Spot

These snorkeling spots are accessible to beginners and kids. You will enter the water gradually from a beach, or in a less than 3ft. deep area. The sea is generally calm, shallow, with almost no waves or currents. These spots are usually located in marked and/or monitored swimming areas. It is not necessary to swim long distances to discover the sea life.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell. You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.