Fri

27

Mar

2015

PHOTOS: Underwater Kingdom - The Philippines is a Gift From The Gods

An awe-inspired diver exploring the reef - © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis - Moalboal, Cebu - Philippines

An Incredible Glimpse Below The Surface in Cebu, Philippines

Welcome To Moalboal

When traveling all over the Philippines in 2013, I stayed on the island of Cebu for 2 months...but had NO idea such an incredible place was just a short bus ride away.
 
Over the course of that year, I heard a few travelers rave about the town of Moalboal...but words alone could never do this place justice!  Once I saw it with my own eyes, I finally understood.   It's magical - This photo was actually taken snorkeling just meters from the beach!


The "sardine run" - © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis - Moalboal, Cebu - Philippines
Tropical fish swimming over the reef as a massive school of sardines forms an arch above them


No matter what your skill level is as a diver or snorkeler, Moalboal makes stunning undersea life accessible to all. I used my Olympus TG-3 point-and-shoot camera to capture the following images in January, 2015. Enjoy!

(Click To Enlarge Photos)

Swimming With the Famous"Sardine Run"

Incredible Sardine Run - Moalboal, Cebu - Philippines - © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
One of the most incredible experiences of my life - swimming with a school of over a MILLION sardines

 

Again, words could not prepare me for the experience of being in the water with a school of over a MILLION fish...dancing and darting together  in what appears to be shimmering choreography (VIDEO).
 
It's fascinating how similar their movements are to massive flocks of birds, such as starlings.

 

Incredible Sardine Run - Moalboal, Cebu - Philippines - © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
Seeing this below you as you swim really is unbelievable!

 

The sardines used to be found off the coast of nearby Pescadero Island, but at the time of writing, they can be seen just meters from the shore  - right in "downtown" Moalboal!
 
Some people find it intimidating to be in the water with so many fish...not me.  I was completely in awe.  This ranks as one of my TOP 5 mind-blowing experiences ever!

They are completely harmless, just enjoy - you'll never forget it!

 

Boat Trip to Dive and Snorkel at Pescador Island

Just a quick boat trip from the shore is Pescador island, and here you will find incredible corals and plenty of small, colorful fish. 

 

Both of these locations are unique to me, because you can snorkel over plenty of sea life in the shallow water, but at a certain point there is a steep drop-off into the deep blue abyss.  Only divers can appreciate the beautiful reef wall at that point.  The snorkeling here was just fantastic, so I can only imagine how great the diving must be. 

 

(Click To Enlarge Photos)

 

Even though I was just snorkeling, as you can see, I saw a wide variety of sea life...including turtles, sea snakes, starfish and eels. 

 

Below is the reef wall I was talking about.  Even from the surface, it's clear how much there is to see if you're able to dive further down.  There are no sharks or real dangers in the water, but one thing to watch out for are the tiny jellyfish that float near the surface. 

 

Their stings are only mildly irritating, but still worth avoiding if possible.  Jellyfish are mostly transparent, so it's not always so easy to see them!

 

A splash of tropical color along the reef wall at Pescadero Island - Moalboal, Cebu - Philippines - © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
A splash of tropical color along the reef wall at Pescadero Island


Preserving Species - But Also a Way of Life

 

Really, I was quite impressed with Moalboal.  All I could think the whole time I was there was "we have to protect this".  You see, I have explored corals and reefs in other parts of the Philippines, and the damage from overfishing and (even more tragically) dynamite fishing was heartbreaking.


This method of fishing destroys everything in its path, and prevents fishermen from being able to feed their families and the communities into the future.

 

A great solution is to try and help these fishermen make the transition to environmentally responsible tourism, so that the marine life can be preserved and appreciated for generations to come. 


On top of that, the fish populations will return over time, and as long as these waters are harvested responsibly, local communities will be able to sustain themselves well into the future.  I hope some Filipinos reading this might be inspired to help bring these changes about!

 

 Starfish at sunset - Moalboal, Cebu - Philippines
A colorful starfish clinging on to the coral while the sun sets above the water...

 

Myself, I was inspired by Sam (pictured snorkeling in the album above), a very passionate and concerned British dive instructor at Quo Vadis Resort.  He helped educate me about some of these illegal fishing practices, as well as gave me hope when he explained how the reefs can be rehabilitated if given the chance. 

 

TIP: Anywhere you swim, snorkel, or dive, please be careful to not touch or step on any corals (aqua shoes are recommended, because there are sea urchins as well).  If you keep your fins up as you swim, you'll also avoid doing any accidental damage.

 

 

Quo Vadis Dive Resort - My Home Above The Water

 

I want to thank the good people at Quo Vadis Dive Resort, not only for a great stay while I was there in Moalboal, but also for helping to care for these reefs - they truly are one of the world's treasures. 

Quo Vadis (located on Panagsama Beach), is run by a Swedish man, his Filipina wife (she owned the place when they married), and their extended family.  They are very warm and gracious people, and do a great job taking care of their guests. 

 

 

Diver in Moalboal, Cebu - Philippines - © Nathan Allen via @idreamedofthis
"Hey, take a picture of me!!" Done, random diver man.

 

The resort is quite reasonably priced, and is tucked away from the noise and activity of the bars and restaurants further down the beach.  They will happily meet all of your diving, snorkeling, and swimming needs.  By the way, you can snorkel directly in front of the place! 

 

I'm a big Beatles fan, and they got me right in the heart when I heard one of my favorite songs playing in the restaurant.  It turns out that Sam is a big fan as well!  Here are some pictures below...

 

 (Click To Enlarge Photos)

 

 

You can review your options or book a room HERE

 

Tell them I said hi!

 

 

How To Get To Moalboal

 

It's simple, really.  Just take a 2 hour bus to Moalboal from Cebu City, Cebu.  The locals will be very helpful - everybody speaks English!  Enjoy your stay in this unforgettable place. 

 

I said it before and I'll say it again...you don't just go to the Philippines for a holiday, you go for the ADVENTURE of a lifetime!

 

- Nathan Allen

Photo by Bicolano Man

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Nathan Allen has spent 3 years taking photos and documenting the Philippines.  A long-term traveler, he lives by the motto "spend less, see more".  Follow him HERE.

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