Moalboal

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A few hours after my encounter with the whale sharks I took the bus to Moalboal and reached the place about 2 hours later. My first stop after checking in at the Le Village Hostel, was Panagsama Beach. The beach is especially famous for its coral reef and lost much of its original size during a taifun in the year 1984. Nonetheless, you can enjoy the sun there and swim in the crystal clear water. The quality of the beach is good, but there are definitely beaches with finer sand in the Philippines. However, the beach is a popular Snorkeling spot.

Moalboal is first and foremost a diving spot, hence the many diving centres at the beach. There you can also find a wide variety of restaurants. However, they are comparably expensive. If you want to enjoy cheap, authentic food, you should leave the beach behind and go to Malboal proper, roughly 3 km away.

There you should step into an Eatery at the pier, where they do not even have a menu, but just some pots with today´s meals. I found the food there not only cheaper, but also better – the Chicken Curry and the bamboo sprouts were particularly tasty. A full meal should not cost you more than 100 Pesos (2 USD), 1/3 of what you would pay in a restaurant. Like always in South East Asia, it pays to look for a meal off the beaten path.

The next morning I visited one of Moalboal´s main attractions – the Kawasan Falls. Coming from a hostel in Panagsama Beach road, they can easily be reached, first via motorbike taxi to Moalbial Proper, and then via Bus to Santander. The ride takes about 45 minutes and costs 30 Pesos (60 Cents). Your stop is the modern Catholic church, where you go left and walk to the waterfalls. The entrance fee is 45 Pesos (90 Cents).

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Even the path to the Kawasan Falls is idyllic. Under lush palm strees you followe a clear, blue river, used by the locals to wash their laundry. At the falls many people take the Canyoneering tour, which costs 1000-2000 Pesos (20-40 USD) depending on the organizer. However, you can also swim in the waterfalls and jump from platforms without paying for the tour. Because of severe sunburn, I refrained from getting in the water. Instead, I wandered through the area and enjoyed the idyllic nature. After the last waterfall, one can take a narrow djungle path that leads up a hill. From there, away from the tourists, you can enjoy a scenic view of the valley below.

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Das Wasser beeindruckt durch seine türkisblaue Farbe. Man muss jedoch mit vielen Touristen rechnen.

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The locals make small campfires to keep the mosquitos at bay.

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The next morning, I finally wanted to go Snorkeling at the coral reef. The convenient thing is that Panagsama beach was, for the most part, eroded by the last taifun. Therefore, you don´t have to walk very far to be able to dive down. At the beach you can rent Snorkeling gear for 250 Pesos (5 USD) plus underwater cameras for 500 Pesos (10 USD).

The reef topped all my expectations. The water is clear, especially in the morning the waves are not very strong, and the sight was excellent. You can see a wide variety of fish there, from small clown fish, over neon fish, to baby barracudas jumping out of the water. I even saw a sea snake surfacing a few metres next to me. Moalboal is also known for its sea turtles that can be seen in abundance there. I saw 4 turtles that were not startled by my presence at all. Apparently, the left side of the beach is very good for spotting turtles, but I was able to spot them everyhwere really. If you swim out a bit farther, the reef takes a deep plunge, and swarms of sardines can be seen.

You can go Snorkeling at the reef the whole day, but I would avice to go in the morning. Not only will the visibility be lowered by stronger tides. The reef also turns into a busy spot for boats come mid-day, and many boat captains can get quite irritated by non-paying German tourists swimming in the way. At 2 PM Snorkeling was not really enjoyable anymore.

The pictures below do not really do justice to the abundance of marine life that I saw at the reef, but they can provide an idea of what to expect there.

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The sea turtles are not shy at all.

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At last, a word of warning!

Even if you are already tanned – if you are travelling to the Philippines, bring sufficiently strong sun block. The sun is deadly with a UV index of 11 (extreme!) being no exception. Even if it is cloudy, the UV rays can severely burn you – expecially in the water. I learned the hard way and was probably still lucky. This picture shows my back after 6 hours of Snorkeling (while it was mostly cloudy, even raining!).

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