Diving at Moalboal

October 25-28, 2014: There are a surprising number of dive shops in the small seaside town of Moalboal, but we settled on Neptune Dive Centre close to our bungalow. With a dive scheduled for that afternoon, I signed up. Tara, still recovering from jet lag, opted for a relaxing massage instead.

That first dive is one of the big draws at Moalboal. Each day, right along the shore just off from the dive shop, a huge school of sardines congregates for protection from predators like barracuda. This massive ball of fish is reported to be the second largest grouping in the world, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2.5 million sardines.

With my guide, we made our descent along the wall that drops clear down in parts, sloping somewhat in others. As we made our way along the wall, we spotted a wide variety of fish, a sea snake, a moray eel, several small shrimps, assorted nudibranchs and a couple of turtles.

But the sardines are the big draw. They hang out in several clusters, some in the shallows above the reef, some in large balls just off the wall. It’s fun to swim into the ball and have them dart off in a different direction, almost in unison. I could have played with them for hours. Not too shabby for a shore dive.

The majority of the dive sites at Moalboal are wall dives, accessible by boat, and the variety of fish and other creatures was impressive. We saw pygmy seahorses, translucent shrimp and tiny crabs. Too many fish to mention, but of special note were ornate ghost pipefish, frog fish and a leaf scorpionfish.

One of the sites, named Dolphin House, would be more aptly named Turtle House, because I actually lost interest in turtles after we spotted a dozen or more. (Joke. I love turtles!) There were schools of small colourful tropical fish in the shallow reefs, schools of larger fish along the walls.

Sadly, in some areas the coral was damaged from previous typhoons, but the area is mostly off-limits to fishermen, so presumably the reef will make a comeback over time. I was pleased to see very little evidence of trash in the water or on the reef. The walls start around 2-5 metres below the surface and drop down to 30 or 40 metres or more.

We found the healthiest coral at Pescador Island, a ten-minute boat ride offshore. Tara even spotted a small group of cuttlefish while snorkeling in the shallows here.

Six dives provided a good overview of the area. The sardine dive and the dives off Pescador Island are the big draw here, but we encountered a wide variety of interesting critters on each dive, so there weren’t any disappointments. The guides and staff at Neptune Dive Centre were great, the boat was spacious and the groups were small, often just Tara and myself with a guide, sometimes with one or two other divers, or a couple of divemasters in training along for the experience.

Date Area Dive Shop Dive Site Highlights
October 25, 2014 Moalboal Neptune Diving House Reef Giant sardine ball
October 26, 2014 Moalboal Neptune Diving Pescador Island East 4 km offshore; beautiful shear wall; healthy corals
October 26, 2014 Moalboal Neptune Diving Pescador Island West A lot darker on this side; lots of small stuff
October 27, 2014 Moalboal Neptune Diving Dolphin House Should be renamed Turtle House
October 27, 2014 Moalboal Neptune Diving White Beach Big octopus
October 28, 2014 Moalboal Neptune Diving Talisay Point  Schools of fish


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