THE DIGITAL NOMAD GUIDE TO MOALBOAL, CEBU IN THE PHILIPPINES
Bali, Chaing Mai, and Medellin might come up in conversations about where is the best spot in the world for a digital nomad base. However, I decided to base myself in the Philippines for at least a year as a digital nomad. In this article, I am going to explain why Moalboal is possibly the best spot in the Philippines for a digital nomad who loves adventure and travel but still wants to get work done!
In this article, I will discuss WiFi, Accommodation, transport, cafe’s, daily costs and nightlife in Moalboal for a digital nomad.
For a digital nomad there usually is nothing more important than a strong WiFi connection. We can deal with most other factors but we need that internet speed to get work done. The Philippines is notorious for having bad internet connection throughout its 7,500 islands. It’s true, some places here in the Philippines are terrible for internet connection.
When I decided I wanted to base in the Philippines, I knew it would be best to be near an international airport so I decided on either being based in Manila or Cebu. I don’t enjoy being a city so I opted for Cebu. From that decision, I figured out how far away I could get from the city towards that relaxed island vibe while still having a good internet connection for work.
Moalboal is that spot. It is kind of like the final frontier for Cebu right now. If you drive any further south of Moalboal, you can get patches of LTE but it isn’t reliable. Moalboal LTE on Globe is great. I obviously do a lot on Instagram, uploading bulk photos to WordPress and sending off heavy photo packages to brands.
WiFi is any many cafes, hotels and can be installed in your apartment or accommodation. The best and most reliable WiFi at a cafe is at The French Cafe, which is next to the beach on Panagsama Road. Shaka Cafe also has good WiFi.
Hostels in Moalboal are $5 and upwards for dorm rooms. Private rooms can be found for around $10 and upwards. There are many places that will do a deal with you for a longer term stay. Obviously, amenities such as A/C, wifi, hot shower and size of the apartment will affect the price.
You can find a modern 1-bedroom apartment with a living room, kitchenette, bathroom, A/C, hot water and fully furnished for $350-400 per month. Oh, yea and that deal are in a private resort style complex with a pool. Generally, $200-$500 a month for accommodation will see you a through a variety of options and locations here in Moalboal.
ACCESSIBILITY TO AIRPORTS
Cebu International airport is a great hub. Moalboal is a bit of a journey away from the airport and the city. By bike, it takes about 3 hours and the bus is similar unless the traffic is very bad. I prefer to do that trip and live far from the city. At least you have an international airport on the island so you can jump to most places in Asia within a day.
There’s only one gym in Moalboal and it’s called LGC gym. It is run by a lovely old lady who charges everyone 20 pesos or 5o cents entry. It has free-weights and all the equipment you need. There is no a/c and I often leave puddles on the floor because I’m sweating so hard. It is honestly perfect for me. It’s super cheap, a chill environment and only a couple minutes from my apartment.
Moalboal is the land of motorbikes and mopeds. It is all about far for a bicycle. Panagsama Road has to be at leat 4km long so if you leave near the beach you will be doing minimum 10km round trips out to the grocery stores or vice versa if you need to make that journey into the cafes each day. A moped or motorbike means everything is just 5-10 minutes away.
The beauty of a motorbike means you can explore the south where you find so many waterfalls and adventures it is ridiculous. A car isn’t the best here as the roads are tight, there are a number of small lanes and often you will be on gravel. The majority of people rent or buy a bike.
Without doing any major haggling or bargaining you can get a moped for $5 USD a day. I bought a motorbike for $1000 brand new from the local Yamaha dealer. Mopeds are about $1100 to $2000 depending on the brand and model. Gas is just a few dollars for the moped to fill the tank and the motorbike costs me $8 but obviously lasts a while.
Moalboal is pretty quiet. There are a few bars such as Chili Bar near Panagsama Road. This is where all the action happens and the drinking and such goes on there every night. I personally don’t party much so it isn’t a problem for me. If you need that social party aspect that you might find in Bali then Moalboal may seem a little boring and quiet for you.
For better or worse Moalboal now has two big malls with grocery stores, furniture stores, and hardware stores. While it clogs up the roads and ruins the small-town vibe it is, of course, convenient for the residents. I purchased all of my extra furniture, water coolers etc. at the mall for cheap prices. They have clothes, sports gear and pretty much everything you could imagine at the malls.
The grocery store is pretty good too for all of your needs. There is obviously a lot of products the locals like but a fair selection of western products as well.
WHERE TO EAT
Moalboal is not only the last frontier for good WiFi but also for cafes and restaurants. It is the last heavily populated place so a good restaurant just doesn’t get the traffic further south. I have a few local favorites that I frequent but there are lots of good spots on offer.
Venz: Venz cafe can best be described as modern Filipino cuisine. You can get all the classics like Sisig and Adobo but it isn’t your classic local eatery. They really step it up here by offering the local dishes with vegetarian and vegan options. For example, they have an eggplant Sisig. The vegetable curry, eggplant Sisig are my favorite vegetarian dishes from Venz.
Dishes go from $3-6
The French Cafe: Not only is the WiFi great here but the food is spot on too. Breakfast is very popular here and they just seem to source the best bread. Smoothies, fruit plates and sandwiches give you a good break from local dishes if you are craving a classic sandwich or western-style breakfast.
Dishes go from $3-6
Shaka Cafe: It only opened when I first moved to Moalboal but it is definitely my favorite cafe in Moalboal. Smoothie bowls, fresh juices, and smoothies are an awesome healthy alternative to start the day. It is a bit more expensive but the ingredients are also a touch more exotic such as chia seeds, healthy greens, maca powder and all of the good stuff. You get what you pay for and it’s a good vibe in here.
Smoothie bowls go for $5 or $6 with a machine coffee (Hard to find in Moalboal. It might be the best coffee in Moalboal too!)
Waterfalls: If you rent or buy the motorbike as I suggested above, Cebu is waiting to be explored. Within a one-hour drive, you have lots of waterfalls such as Montpellier, Cambais, Binalayan, Aguinid, Dao and lots more!
Sardines: A lot of tourists come specifically to snorkel and dive with the sardine balls. Luckily for you, it is possible to do it for free every day. The sardines are only 30-meters off the shore so you can literally float out and dive with them. A global attraction right on your doorstep.
Snorkeling: The snorkeling in Moalboal is world class. A drop-off lines the coast, which means you can snorkel over beautiful coral pretty much no matter where you swim. Every time I get in the water and snorkel for more than ten minutes near the drop-off I see a turtle!
Scuba and Freediving: Moalboal is a hotspot for Scuba and free-diving. The entire strip on the beach is lined by dive shops. It is very popular to learn to freedive in Moalboal because of the drop-off and has become a bit of a hub for free-divers. The prices for courses and dives here is pretty cheap in relation to Asia and very cheap compared to western countries.
WHY MOALBOAL FOR A DIGITAL NOMAD BASE?
Those are my tips for digital nomads thinking about Moalboal for setting up a base. I prefer to be away from the digital nomad hype in Bali but understand some love it. Moalboal could be a great choice if you prefer a quieter approach to the digital nomad life and want those relaxed, small-town island vibes but still need to be connected and near international airports.