Cebu, Philippines – Swimming with a million sardines


The clock was ticking, it was 7.30pm and this person was still not in sight. Last check-in is in 45 minutes time and he had just left the office five minutes ago. “This may turn out to be a solo trip,” I thought. We arranged to meet at the boarding gate anyway, as he didn’t have data on his phone and that was the easiest solution.


As I made my way to the boarding gate, I still had no idea if he managed to reach on time. But there he was, strolling behind me on the travelator with a huge-ass pillow in his arm. “Hey,” he said coolly.

At 1am, we touched down at Mactan-Cebu international airport. Clearance was extremely efficient, it’s a no-wonder Cebu is the second busiest airport in Philippines.

Bad luck, it was raining heavily

We had a pretty packed trip as we only had four full days to spare. Here’s a breakdown of our itinerary for our 5-day trip.

Day one: Moalboal, Cebu – Snorkelling with a million sardines

Day two: Moalboal, Cebu – Kawasan Falls

Day three: Oslob, Cebu – Sumilon Island

Day four: Oslob, Cebu – Swimming with whale sharks

Day five: Panglao Island, Bohol

Check out our video here:

To get to Moalboal, this is what you have to do

  1. Make your way out of the airport, turn right, pass by a bunch of touters and walk towards the white taxi stand. (It is right next to the yellow taxi queue, white taxis are said to be slightly cheaper)
  2. Take a 25-minutes ride on the taxi to South Cebu bus terminal – Approx: 220 peso
  3. Board the Ceres liner bus towards Bato via Barili, inform the bus conductor to drop you at Moalboal (You’ll be dropped at Moalboal town) – 107 peso for air-conditioned bus, duration: 2.5-3 hours, earliest air-conditioned bus starts at 3am, Bus schedule here
  4. Take a tricycle to Panangsama beach, duration: 15-20 minutes, approx 80-100 peso
Heartwarming Lugaw (rice porridge) on a rainy day


Time check: 5am

The hostel was only opened at 7 and there were no other accommodation available. We went around exploring the vicinity and eventually settled breakfast at this cafeteria.


Time check: 7am

Hostel officially opened its doors, but we are unable to check-in until 2 pm. After a short nap, we got out to check out other accommodation as we had only booked a night at the hostel. 5 minutes away, we spotted this resort and the owner offered us 1200 peso for a private room with hot shower and aircon. It was also facing the sea so we got it immediately.

Right next door, there was a dive shop and we rented two sets of snorkelling gear and returned to Panagsama beach for the Sardine run experience.


The typhoon was passing by and water was cloudy and choppy. It didn’t dampen our spirits though and we managed to see so many sardines swimming all around us!


At one point, Paul even saw a huge turtle! All around, it’s sardinesssssss.




It was such a miraculous and breaktaking moment! I honestly wasn’t expecting to see this at all because of the weather but you’ll spot them no matter where you swim in the water, I reckon it will be much better if the water’s clear. Initially, I wasn’t sure if we could really see them as information for the Sardine Run mostly centered around diving. Turns out, there’s really nothing to worry about.

Panagsama beach is not exactly the beach suitable for lazing around. So after our swim with the sardines, we rode to White Beach and grabbed a quick lunch.


Unfortunately, I forgot all about taking pictures. I’m unsure if it’s the weather, but I didn’t find White Beach all too amazing.

After two hours at White Beach, we took a well-deserved nap before grabbing dinner and drinks for the night.


More thoughts to follow!


Olivia L.

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