Moalboal Sardine Run

Moalboal Sardine Run in Cebu 2024: A Complete Guide for Tourists

Want to experience diving with millions of sardines in Moalboal, Cebu? Our guide details everything you need to know about this world-famous activity.
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Been wanting to experience diving with millions of sardines in Moalboal, Cebu? This guide details everything you need to know about this world-famous activity in Cebu.

The sardine run refers to a fascinating phenomenon called a sardine bait ball. A bait ball is a gathering of small fish that come together in a specific area to protect themselves from predators.

One of the most renowned sardine runs in the world can be found at Panagsama Beach in Moalboal, Cebu in the Philippines. The location is conveniently situated right in front of the rocky beach.

Moalboal Sardine Run
Swimming into bait ball of sardines in Moalboal, Cebu

Swimming to where they are doesn’t require much. All you need is your snorkeling or diving gear and your swimming ability. If you are not a confident swimmer, there are organized guides around the area to help you navigate this truly wonderful phenomenon.

In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about the activity, including ways to get there, fees and hours, and the super cool experience of swimming with millions of sardines (and meeting graceful green sea turtles).

If you want an epic underwater adventure in the Philippines, then you’ve come to the right place! Now, get ready to experience the mind-blowing sardine run in Moalboal.

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How to Get to Moalboal

➡️From Cebu City

If you happen to be commuting, you may consider heading to the Cebu South Bus Terminal (see map). From there, you can easily catch a bus that is bound for Bato via Barili which costs you 150-200 PHP (~3-4 USD). You can expect to arrive in Moalboal in approximately 3 to 4 hours, taking into account any potential traffic conditions along the way.

To reach Panagsama Beach from the Moalboal town center, you will need to take a habal-habal (motorcycle taxi) or tricycle. Fares begin at 150 PHP (~3 USD). If you’re planning to use a private car, you can set your destination to Panagsama Beach in Moalboal, Cebu.

Alternatively, you can charter a private vehicle to pick you up anywhere in Cebu City, Mandaue City, or even at Mactan Airport to get you directly to Panagsama Beach or your hotel in Moalboal. Check out this private intercity transfer!

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➡️From Oslob

To get to Moalboal from Oslob, you need to take the southbound bus to get to Bato Bus Stop for 50 PHP (~1 USD). Get off at Bato Bus Stop and transfer to the Cebu City-bound bus via Barili. Tell the driver or conductor to drop you off at Moalboal Bus Stop. The fare is 150 PHP (~3 USD). The travel time would be around 2 hours.

To reach Panagsama Beach, you will need to take a habal-habal or tricycle. This costs 150-200 PHP (~3-4 USD).

➡️From Dumaguete

Take a tricycle to Sibulan Port from any point in Dumaguete. Fares may range from 100 PHP (~2 USD) to 150 PHP (~3 USD).

If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative, you might consider taking a jeepney, which is available for just 12 PHP (~0.20 USD). However, please note that the vehicle is accessible only from the main road.

Then, to reach Liloan Port in Santander on Cebu’s southern tip, you can conveniently take a ferry from Sibulan Port. The estimated travel time is approximately 20 minutes. The cost of a ticket is 70 PHP (~1.5 USD). Check out the latest Sibulan Port to Liloan Port Ferry Schedule and Fare Guide!

To get to Bato Terminal from Liloan Port, you can take a tricycle. The tricycle ride typically takes around 20 minutes and the fare ranges from 30-150 PHP (~0.50-3 USD).

And then get on a Ceres bus. This bus will be heading towards Moalboal. The cost of a ticket for a non-aircon bus is 85 PHP (~1.50 USD). The estimated duration for the bus journey from Bato to Moalboal is approximately 1.5 hours. From Moalboal Bus Stop, take a habal-habal or tricycle to Panagsama Beach. Fares begin at 100 PHP (~2 USD).

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Sardine Run Moalboal Fees

Swimming with sardines in Moalboal is completely free of charge. However, to enter Panagsama Beach, you need to pay the 100 PHP (~2 USD) environmental fee.

Many dive shops nearby rent our snorkeling gear for 200 PHP (~4 USD) or 100 PHP (~2 USD) for the goggles and 100 PHP (~2 USD) for the fins.

The best part? No need to worry about booking a boat or private tour – you can enjoy this fantastic activity right from the beach.

The sardines tend to gather around 30 meters from the shore, so all you need to do is take a leisurely swim out from the beach to witness this incredible natural spectacle up close.

If you are not the best swimmer, getting a guided tour is the best way to go swimming with whale sharks. They can provide you with the gear you need as well as a bamboo rack you can hold onto while snorkeling.

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An aerial shot of Panagsama Beach in Moalboal, Cebu

Sardine Run Operating Hours

The Moalboal Sardines Run is operating daily from 6:00 AM to 3:00 PM. However, it’s best to go snorkeling or diving in the morning when the current is not too strong and the water tends to be clearer as well.

What to Bring to Sardine Run in Moalboal

When heading to Moalboal for the sardine run, make sure to have the following items with you:

  • Dry bag
  • Water shoes or sandals
  • Water bottle
  • Waterproof phone case
  • Microfiber towel

Swimming With Millions of Sardines and Green Sea Turtles

I’ve got a mind-blowing experience to spill about Moalboal that goes way beyond the typical beach scene.

Rolling out of bed early, beating the crowds, and heading straight for an aquatic spectacle that’ll have your jaw on the floor

No lines, no wait – just you, the beach, and a whole lot of underwater magic. So, what’s the big deal? The Sardine Run is like front-row seats to Mother Nature’s wildest show. You grab your snorkel gear and trust me, you’ll want to bring a camera – this is the stuff social media dreams are made of.

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Taking a selfie with millions of sardines in Moalboal, Cebu
Moalboal Sardine Run
Chasing millions of sardines in Moalboal, Cebu
Sardine Run in Cebu
Millions of sardines swim in synchrony in Moalboal, Cebu
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A closer look at the sardines in Moalboal, Cebu swimming in synchrony

Now, here’s the kicker—forget about lazy swimming. We’re talking snorkeling, my friend. The massive green sea turtles are practically waving hello at me. They’re the VIPs of this aquatic party. 

Note: The turtles are known for their relaxed nature and prefer to take their time. It’s important to kindly refrain from touching or disturbing them and other marine animals.

And here’s the cool part: you don’t need a guide if you’re a water baby. We just rented the gear, hit the waves, and let our inner explorers loose.

Timing is key, though. Catch that high tide, and you’re all set. You won’t have to swim all the way to Narnia to see the action—it’s right there 20-30 meters from the shore.

Here’s the best bit—you also don’t need a fancy booking website to score a front-row seat to this underwater extravaganza. Just rock up in the morning, and you’re in for the adventure of a lifetime.

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Chasing a hawksbill turtle in Moalboal, Cebu
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A closer look at a giant hawksbill turtle in Moalboal, Cebu

Best Time to Do Sardine Run in Moalboal

To ensure optimal visibility underwater and favorable weather conditions, it is recommended to observe Sardine Run in Moalboal during the dry season, which spans from November to May. 

You may still enjoy the sardine run in Moalboal outside those months. But expect constant rains and stronger currents.

For guided tours, check out the Moalboal island hopping and Badian canyoneering experience or Pescador Island hopping tour that includes the famed sardine run.

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An aerial shot of Panagsama Beach in Moalboal, Cebu

Where to Stay in Moalboal

Your Ultimate Moalboal Travel Guide

Moalboal is not just about sandy selfies—it’s a ticket to a mind-blowing Sardine Run experience that’s got “epic” written all over it. Grab your gear, dive in, and let Moalboal’s underwater wonderland sweep you off your feet. It’s a wild ride you won’t want to miss!

If you are still planning for your trip to Moalboal, our series of Moalboal travel guides will surely help:

Got more questions about the sardine run in Moalboal? Drop them in the comments! We will get back to you ASAP!

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Cebu Insider Team
Cebu Insider Team

Cebu Insider aims to deliver accurate and up-to-date Philippine travel guides to digital nomads, expats, full-time travelers, and remote workers.

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