Aug 13, 2017
Freediving Pescador Island with Seaquest Dive Center
Dive Location: Pescador Island, Moalboal (municipality), Cebu (province), Philippines
Google Map: 9°55'23.6"N 123°20'36.5"E
Dive Shop: SeaQuest Dive Center
Phone: (032) 474.0004
Mobile: (63) (0)999.380.2420 (Smart) / (63) (0)927.309.6383 (Globe)
Shop Location: Panagsama Beach, Basdiot, Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
Google Map: 9°57'01.0"N 123°21'56.7"E
Laura, a London-based American vacationer, and I were snorkeling the sardine bowl in front of Seaquest Dive Center but had to bail due to stinging jellyfish infestation. Rudy, Seaquest's longtime dive master was preparing for a scuba dive at Pescador Island for a guest when he invited us to come along as well. Why not?
Pescador Island is practically a pencil-shaped island sticking out of the ocean floor going down beyond 40m. It has a vivid coral reef in the shallows for snorkelers, a vertical plunge into the deep blue for freedivers and its walls offer a visual parade of sea creatures to scuba divers. You can't get enough of Pescador Island, just a stone's throw from the main Moalboal peninsula.
We boarded a speed boat (instead of a noisy and sluggish pumpboat) to Pescador Island. We were there in a jiffy! I asked Rudy if it was safe for me and Laura to snorkel/freedive around the island - that there is no section where an ambush current will sweep us out into the sea. He assured us it was safe. And off we went into the water. Laura and I were comfortable just being by ourselves - no guides needed.
The coral reef in the island is still pristine, notwithstanding the amount of human and boat traffic. Where the island shines is the sheer vertical drop-off just meters away from the shallows - there were no gradations. Sometimes, it's an overhang, you have to swim beyond the edge and into the deep blue area to see what lies on the wall. Visibility was clear you could see the scuba divers down below. I made a few attempts to go down their depth (15m?) and savour a concealed glee seeing the panicked-look on their faces as they see me and think they've gone up too fast into the shallows!
Rush Hour Traffic
It was a weekend so I anticipated a crowd. But nothing prepared me for the pandemonium! Between all the boats anchored around the island like ants around a drop of honey, all the snorkelers clustered around their boats and all the scuba divers ascending/descending from their boats, it was rush hour traffic where we had to snake our way between boat hulls, snorkelers and divers. I've never experienced anything like that before.
Standing on the Corals
While moving underwater, I could see many of the snorkelers standing firmly on the corals like these corals were step-stools! The snorkeling guides turn a blind eye and allow such things to go unabated. Given such heavy human traffic and a lot of these people trampling on the fragile corals, it won't be long before the shallows of Pescador Island are reduced to rubble.
Laura and I were close to circumnavigating the island until we came upon a section with strong current. It was still manageable, but it would wipe us out to swim against it, and we still had no idea how far the boat was. It felt prudent to turn around. We had to go through the gauntlet of snorkelers, boats and divers again! By the time we reached the boat, Rudy and his guest were also just about done, so the timing was great.
There were so many highlights about this snorkeling/freedive. The vertical plunge into the deep blue conjured equal excitement and awe. The rush hour traffic between divers, snorkelers and boats was an interesting experience although I wouldn't want to go through it again. The circumference of the island being small enough to dive around was also an added challenge. I would say a dive into Moalboal isn't complete without a visit to Pescador Island.
The only lowlight I observed was snorkelers using corals as step stools. These people don't know any better. The guides and the resorts ushering these guests should conduct an orientation first to educate their guests how to be responsible about the fragile eco-system. These stakeholders are killing their own industry by chasing the money without regard to the environment.
Thank you Rudy and thank you Seaquest Dive Center!
Moalboal, Cebu, Philippines
Travel Tips about Moalboal
- money changer - there are 2 money changes here in Panagsama Beach - Saavedra Cottages and the small store in front of Cora's Cottages. They both offer dismal rates. Best exchange rate is at Gaisano Moalboal town center (bring an ID!!!) followed by M. Lhuillier, then Palawan
- weather - even though it might be raining cats-and-dogs in Cebu City or in Negros Oriental, the sun is likely to be out in Moalboal. It only rains there if there is an actual monsoon. So don't let that rain scare you off from your dive trip.
- tricycle - rides could end up pricey if you don't plan for it. Best to get a price established with a tricycle or motorcycle driver as you arrive (usually P50/pax for single motorcycle ride and P100/trip for a tricycle) to White Beach. Then arrange for a date/time pick-up from your resort at that same price rate (otherwise you will end up paying for a round trip)
- folding bike - if you really want to save up on tricycle fare (which could seriously add up if you keep going back and forth from Panagsama - White Beach), bring a folding bike with you. A folding bike fits in the under-belly of a Ceres bus
- Town Center to Panagsama Beach - if you want to pay the local rate (not tourist rate) of P10/pax from Town Center to Panagsama Beach, take the tricycle behind Three Sixty Pharmacy. The tricycle will wait until its full before taking off. Tell the driver you're going to "Baybay". On the way back, from Panagsama Beach to Town Center, walk a bit here and board the local tricycle. It will wait again to fill up before taking off. Best to pay the tricycle driver while awaiting for other passengers. That way, he can't charge you tourist fare when you alight.
- Town Center to White Beach - local tricycle rate is P25/pax beside Three Sixty Pharmacy. You should see tricycles with painted signboard, "White Beach". Tell the driver you're going to "Basdaku"
How to get to Moalboal from Dumaguete:
- From Dumaguete, take a bus or jeep going north and ask to be dropped-off at the Sibulan Town Proper (~P10, 10 mins). Take the short walk to the pier.
- Take either the pumpboat or fastcraft to Liloan, Cebu (~P50, 30 mins)
- From the Liloan port, take a tricycle to the Bato Bus Terminal (~P20 if shared, 10 mins)
- From the terminal, take the Cebu City bus via Barili and ask to dropped-off to Moalboal Town Proper (P70, ~2 hours)
How to get to Moalboal from Cebu City:
- take a Ceres Bus at the South Bus Terminal going to Bato (make sure its via Barili) and get off at the Moalboal Town Center - 3 hours, P130 (aircon)
- From Town Center, take a tricycle to your resort. Town Center to Panagsama Beach (~P50 if no other passenger, 10 mins).
Moalboal Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Goodbye Moalboal Sep 2, 2017
- Fitness on the Jetty Aug 18, 2017
- Freediving Pescador Island with Seaquest Dive Center Aug 13, 2017
- Life in Moalboal Aug 7, 2017
- Pranayama in Moalboal Aug 3, 2017
- Settling-in at Moalboal Poblacion July 23, 2017
- Freediving with Jean Pol Francois of Freediving-Planet July 22, 2017
- Freediving Moalboal July 10-18, 2017
- Scuba Diving through the Sardine Bowl July 17, 2017
- Bitcoin Transaction at 7 Sins Bar, Moalboal July 12, 2017
- Scuba Diving Tongo Point with SeaQuest Dive Center July 10, 2017
- Revisiting Moalboal July 10-16, 2017
- Freediving in Moalboal at Asian Belgian Resort Sep 6-7, 2015
- Beach Life and Free-Diving in Moalboal, Cebu Sep 13-23, 2012
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