I’ve said it many times, Moalboal is the ultimate base for exploring the best of Cebu. In this blog post, I’ll detail all of the reasons why it’s my favorite spot to stay while visiting all of the amazing things to do in south cebu (I lived there). If you are a traveler, you don’t want to be in Cebu City…trust me (I lived there too!).
WHERE TO STAY MOALBOAL: COMPLETE GUIDE
I’ve created this guide to convince you why Moalboal is the best place to stay and also to give you some insight for where to stay in Moalboal once you decide to base yourself there. In this guide, you will find a list of the best hotels and resorts in Moalboal with detailed reviews.
QUICK PICKS: 3 BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MOALBOAL
Don’t have time to read my detailed breakdown of all the best places to stay in Moalboal? No worries! These are my three top picks for where to stay in Moalboal. If you book one of these three, you are guaranteed to have a great stay in a great location!
WHY MOALBOAL IS THE BEST PLACE TO STAY IN CEBU
Cebu City might be where you land at the airport but if you are looking for adventure, you will need to head south as soon as possible. Most of the best waterfalls, hikes, snorkeling with sardines and turtles are all down south. So where do you stay to do all of these adventures? Moalboal
Moalboal is a chill town, which is the free-diving and scuba capital of Cebu and even the Philippines. Here there are tons of hostels, resorts, hotels, and homestays. There are plenty of restaurants and even a small mall. This is really the last area of ‘civilization‘ you travel down south.
After Moalboal the phone signal, wifi, western restaurants, and accommodation options begin to diminish. Once you head further south to Alegria and Ginatilan those towns just aren’t set up for tourists really.
The other key factor that makes Moalboal such a good spot to stay is that you have a couple of nice beaches, which are surprisingly rare in Cebu. Among all of the epic things to do in Moalboal, there is also somewhat of a nightlife scene with a decent amount of restaurants and food options, which is not seen elsewhere in the south of Cebu.
BEST PLACES TO STAY IN MOALBOAL COMPARISON TABLE
|Titanic’s Nipa Hut||$9|
|Oceanfront Paradise Resort||$50|
|Parrot Resort Moalboal||$70|
|Pescadores Seaview Suites||$49|
|The Blue Orchid Resort||$80|
|Dolphin House Resort Moalboal||$127|
|Quo Vadis Dive Resort||$165|
|Tongo Hill Cottages||$48|
WHICH REGION TO STAY IN MOALBOAL
Panagsama Beach in Basdiot is where tourists usually stay in Moalboal. It is home to a variety of hotels, restaurants, dive shops, and the famous sardine run and sea turtles. If you stay further away from Panagsama Beach your access to cafes, food, ATM’s, rentals and dive shops will be limited. There are tons of accommodations in Moalboal and to help you I’ve picked my recommendations in terms of budget, value for money, and luxury.
BEST HOTELS & BEACH RESORTS IN MOALBOAL
I’m going to recommend the best places to stay in Moalboal based on location, reviews, what I have personally experienced and seen, and of course the price. I’ll also share a few details about gyms, where to eat, transport, and wifi at the bottom of the post.
THREE BEST LUXURY RESORTS IN MOALBOAL
DOLPHIN HOUSE RESORT MOALBOAL
Dolphin House Resort Moalboal (Luxury/Privacy): If you’re looking for a quiet place with a private beach in Moalboal, this is it! Not cheap, but this boutique resort has a lot to offer. From fantastic and luxurious bungalows to a bar which gives breathtaking panoramic sunset views, a restaurant that serves delicious Asian cuisine, and even a dive shop where you can study scuba diving.
The property is very close to White Beach and only 15 minutes moped drive from the shopping center and Panagsama Beach where all the actions take place. Dolphin House Resort is located a mere steps away from the turquoise waters with sweeping ocean vistas. It has an outdoor pool with sun loungers and rooms have balconies overlooking the pool and the sea. Also imagine yourself enjoying a good massage, without any doubt, this is the best luxury resort in Moalboal!
QUO VADIS DIVE RESORT
Quo Vadis Dive Resort (Luxury/Location): Perched just right on Panagsama Beach, Quo Vadis Dive Resort is an oceanfront resort that offers a good range of rooms from economy to suite rooms with balconies overlooking the sunset. When it comes to diving, it is definitely a great place to do your dives whether you’re a pro or just a beginner.
The resort is a PADI-certified diving training center and its equipment is new because it is regularly examined and replaced, and the level of training and diving is good and consistent. The location is very convenient as it’s close to restaurants, cafes, and bars.
What I love about Filipinos is their hospitality and Quo Vadis does a pretty good job with that. The pool is pretty nice, not big enough for a swim yet it’s perfect for relaxation and sunset views. This resort is certainly one of the recommended accommodations in Moalboal.
THE BLUE ORCHID RESORT
The Blue Orchid Resort (Luxury/Tranquility): The Blue Orchid Resort is a great place to base yourself if you want to dive in Cebu. The place is beautiful and a bit off the beaten track, but the peace and tranquility are worth every penny. Personally, the location couldn’t get any better for diving as one of the best reefs in the area is directly in front of your ocean-view room and the food is really good here.
The Blue Orchid Resort has its own diving boat for trips to various islands, dive sites, and places nearby Moalboal. Some of the services for interesting activities include kayaking, free diving lessons, eye-boggling snorkeling trips, island hopping, and dolphin watching if it is the season. Each room has huge glass sliding doors to provide guests with amazing ocean views. There is no better way to unwind than having a relaxing massage in a seaside cabana for a very affordable price.
THE TOP 3 BUDGET PLACES TO STAY IN MOALBOAL
Teobas Homestay (Budget/Tranquility): Teobas Homestay is my pick. It’s not often you get to stay next to the water in a place as epic as Moalboal… for this cheap. This guest house is facing the sea and is surrounded by lush gardens, giving guests a peaceful and serene stay. Rooms are available for two to six people.
You can stay in a native-style bungalow facing the ocean giving you incredible views and there is a common area where dinner is served. There is a dive shop on-site and they have motorbikes for rent if you want to go to Panagsama and White beach and chase waterfalls.
What I love about this place is you can snorkel just at the dock and I’ve literally seen turtles right here. Don’t worry if you don’t have snorkel equipment, you can rent one on-site. For the price, I couldn’t recommend Teobas Homestay enough as one of the best places to stay in Moalboal.
Roos Guesthouse (Budget/Value): Want to stay in a place with so much to offer yet at a budget rate? This B&B in Moalboal is set at Panagsama Beach with varieties of accommodation to offer from standard fan-room to airconditioned Deluxe Bungalows.
Roos Guesthouse is a laid-back accommodation that is not only cheap but does also has cool amenities and a great location. The small swimming pool, hammock, and bamboo furniture outside do give a great advantage to its island guests as it’s somewhere to chill other than just in your room. It’s not fancy but pretty fun to hang out there with other guests. Perfect for solo travelers, couples, and groups, I can’t highly recommend this property enough!
TITANIC’S NIPA HUT
Titanic’s Nipa Hut (Budget/Location): Titanic’s Nipa Hut is a popular option for budget-minded travelers. For $9, you can get a bunk bed here. Yes, the cheapest you can get is in Moalboal considering the location. It’s not too far from where all the action happens in Moalboal and very close to the ocean where you can snorkel with the sea turtles.
The hut is authentic Filipino-style accommodation that is simple yet comfortable. Here you’ll experience the Filipino style of living. There is a seating area outside the room for guests to use to chill after a long day. It’s basic but still ticks the boxes for a comfortable stay.
They serve a good breakfast and the local hosts are amazing in doing their job! This is highly recommended if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in Moalboal!
THE THREE BEST RESORTS IN MOALBOAL
OCEANFRONT PARADISE RESORT
Oceanfront Paradise Resort (Location/Pool): Just right on Panagsama Beach, Oceanfront Paradise Resort is another lovely accommodation in Moalboal. Location is one of the primary reasons why this place is unique as opposed to other resorts. The beautiful ocean view alone is enough to give visitors an idea of how gorgeous the location is and why it’s regarded by many tourists a home away from home.
They offer air-conditioned rooms, hot showers, a safety box to keep your stuff safe, and most of all free coffee and tea. The highlight is the infinity pool overlooking the ocean which makes it perfect for enjoying the beautiful sunset view while sipping your cocktails. Undoubtedly the best resort in Moalboal!
PESCADORES SEAVIEW SUITES
Pescadores Seaview Suites (Value): The first thing you think about when you see this property is Santorini. Yes! The Santorini-inspired beachfront resort is right here in Moalboal. The rooms are spacious and clean. And I personally love the location (it’s right on the beachfront) because of its close proximity to several diving centers, restaurants, and not only that but to the snorkeling spots where you can see the famous sardine run and sea turtles.
However, it is a short walk from Panagsama’s main strip so it’s very quiet. Basically, you are close enough for convenience but far enough away so you have some peace and quiet. Snorkeling lovers will be glad to know that the property provides snorkeling equipment for free. It’s a good save for your money!
Aside from snorkeling and diving, you can also participate in canyoneering adventures, watch the beautiful sunset from the infinity pool, rent glass-bottom kayaks, and more. Location-wise, you can’t look past Pescadores Seaview Suites as one of the best places to stay in Moalboal.
PARROT RESORT MOALBOAL
Parrot Resort Moalboal (Value): Quietly tucked 5 minutes away from Panagsama beach, Parrot Resort Moalboal offers modern clean rooms with great air conditioners. The property is small but gives everything you need from excellent food to its lovely swimming pool. It’s a good vibe here with table tennis, a pool table, and lots of hang-out areas.
Another thing to love about the resort is the little bar where you can chill and there are lots of activities such as table tennis and darts which keep you busy if you don’t want to chill by the pool. Quiet resort, excellent staff, and great service are among the reasons why Parrot Resort is regarded as one of the best-rated resorts in Moalboal.
MOST INSTAGRAMMABLE PLACE TO STAY IN MOALBOAL
TONGO HILL COTTAGES
Tongo Hill Cottages (Insta-worthy): If Bali has a lot of unique places to stay, the Philippines has Tongo Hill Cottages. Yes! This eco-friendly accommodation nestled in the lush tropical greenery will make your holiday the most unforgettable in your life. Perfect for retreats, each cottage is made of bamboo and has a cozy terrace and hammocks outside. The cottages are equipped with electric fans, comfy beds, and Insta-worthy outdoor showers.
It’s away from the traffic and noise, yet close enough to the beach- just a few minutes motorbike drive from Panagsama beach. The owners, Caroline and Charlie, do a really good job of giving their guests a comfortable stay. They serve a delicious breakfast on your terrace and you can enjoy watching movies at night with their big projector in the lounge area.
They can also arrange moped rentals, scuba diving lessons as they are scuba diver instructors, and other activities such as horseback riding, trekking, and chasing waterfalls. This is the best place if you’re looking for a serene and ‘Instagrammable’ place in Moalboal.
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.
GYM ACCESS IN MOALBOAL
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.
I think more recently, another gym or two may have opened up in Moalboal so that is worth looking into.
TRANSPORT OPTIONS IN MOALBOAL.
Moalboal is the land of motorbikes and mopeds. It is all about far for a bicycle. Panagsama Road has to be at least 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 NIGHTLIFE SCENE
Moalboal is mostly known not only for its beautiful beaches and water activities, but it does offer some nightlife options for after a long day of hanging out at the beach. Here are some popular Moalboal nightlife spots known for their lively atmosphere:
- Chili Bar: Located right on Panagsama Beach, Chili Bar is one of the most famous nightlife spots in Moalboal. It offers a great selection of drinks, tasty food, and has a pool table. The bar is well-known for its chill beach vibe during the day that transitions into a lively atmosphere at night.
- Pleasure Principle Resto-Bar: This venue doubles as a restaurant and bar, known for its friendly staff, extensive drink selection, and late-night party atmosphere. They often host live music and entertainment events.
- The Nomad’s: A favorite among locals and tourists alike, The Nomad’s is a bar that offers a great selection of drinks, lively music, and an overall fun environment.
- One Eyed Jacks Bar: This is a popular spot for both its food and nightlife. Known for its welcoming atmosphere, One Eyed Jacks offers a range of beverages and is a great place to unwind after a day of exploring.
- Pacitas Beach Resort Bar: Located within the Pacitas Beach Resort, this bar is a great place to relax with a drink while enjoying the stunning beach views. They offer a good selection of cocktails and other beverages.
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 even with a few options for bars and parties.
SHOPPING IN MOALBOAL
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 IN MOALBOAL
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Pleasure Principle Resto-Bar: A popular spot for food and nightlife, Pleasure Principle Resto-Bar serves a mix of Filipino and Western dishes. It’s known for its friendly staff, vibrant atmosphere, and its location near the beach.
- Lantaw Restaurant: Lantaw Restaurant offers a range of local and international dishes, with a great view of the sea. The restaurant’s open-air design enhances the dining experience.
ACTIVITIES IN MOALBOAL
I’ve written a massive guide about the TOP 20 THINGS TO DO IN MOALBOAL, so you should probably check that out. However, here is a brief overview of what you can get up to in Moalboal.
- 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!
- Sardine Snorkeling: 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.
MY 5 FAVORITE CEBU TOURS
- Oslob Whale Sharks & Moalboal Sardine Run Snorkeling – This combo tour is the BEST VALUE way to enjoy a guided and PRIVATE tour of the two most popular activities in Cebu.
- Moalboal Island Hopping & Pescador Island & Turtle Bay Snorkeling: Swim with turtles and the sardine balls on an island-hopping boat trip from Moalboal.
- Bluewater Sumilon Island Day Tour – Visit the crystal clear water of Sumilon Island on this day tour.
- Kawasan Falls Canyoneering Tour (BEST PRICE): The classic tour. Number one most booked activity in Cebu!
- Bohol Day tour from Cebu: Want to visit Bohol but are short of time? See the top sights on this one-day adventure including transport.
Click the orange button below to view all of the top-rated tours on Klook
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.