Moalboal, Cebu: Practical Information Guide

Last updated on January 24, 2024

Cebu, situated in the Visayas region of the Philippines, is a prominent island with Negros Island lying just across the Tanon Strait to the west. The largest city in Cebu is Cebu City, often referred to as the Queen City of the South holds a rich history and cultural heritage.


Cebu is renowned as the site of the oldest Spanish settlement in the Philippines. In 1565, the Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, alongside his men, established the Santissimo Nombre de Jesus and laid the foundations for what is now Colon Street in Cebu City. This marked the beginning of Spanish influence in the archipelago.


Earlier in 1521, Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer in the service of the Spanish Crown and leader of the inaugural expedition to circumnavigate the globe, arrived in Cebu. However, his journey was cut short when he encountered resistance from the local chieftain Lapu-Lapu in nearby Mactan Island, where Magellan met his unfortunate demise. It took over two decades for the Spanish conquistadores to return and officially claim the islands for the Spanish throne.


Cebu City has transformed into a modern metropolis and stands as the Philippines' second-largest city, boasting the largest seaport and the second-largest air hub in the country. It holds the distinction of being the fastest-growing large city in the nation, experiencing an annual growth rate of over 8%. The city combines the conveniences of a contemporary urban center with abundant natural resources, including numerous white sand beaches—both commercial and untouched—and historical sites that reflect its cosmopolitan past, from the advent of Christianity in Asia to early commercial trade with Mexico and China, and remnants of American colonization.

Magellan's voyage to the Philippines and its impact

With dreams of spice riches and a westward route, Ferdinand Magellan embarked on his ambitious circumnavigation in 1519, leading 270 men aboard five ships: Trinidad, San Antonio, Concepción, Victoria, and Santiago. Their arduous journey, however, was fraught with hardship. Battles, starvation, and the ever-present threat of scurvy whittled down their numbers. By the time they reached the verdant shores of the Philippines in 1521, their initial dreams had morphed into a desperate struggle for survival.


Their encounter with the archipelago unfolded like a dramatic saga. First making contact with the people of Guam to replenish their supplies, they then sailed to Cebu Island, where Magellan's diplomatic prowess secured an alliance with the local ruler, Rajah Humabon. Impressed by the display of Spanish weaponry and convinced of their superiority, Humabon converted to Christianity, along with many of his subjects. A baptism officiated by Magellan himself marked this momentous occasion.


However, ambition often breeds its own demons. Emboldened by Humabon's alliance, Magellan sought to conquer the neighboring island of Mactan, ruled by the defiant Lapu-Lapu. Underestimating Lapu-Lapu's forces and the ferocity of their resistance, Magellan met his end in the ensuing Battle of Mactan. Though his death marked the tragic culmination of his personal journey, his crew persevered. Leaving two ships behind, they pressed on, their spirits buoyed by the hope of reaching the Spice Islands.


Their tenacity paid off. They eventually reached their goal, laden with precious cloves before embarking on the final leg of their voyage. Only 18 men and a single ship, the Victoria, managed to complete the first circumnavigation of the world, forever etching their names in history. Though Magellan never saw Spain again, his daring voyage, born in Portugal, forever linked its destiny with the Philippines. It paved the way for centuries of Spanish colonial influence and cultural exchange, leaving an indelible mark on the archipelago's history and shaping its cultural tapestry to this day.

About Moalboal

Nestled within the province of Cebu, Moalboal stands as a 4th class municipality, a captivating blend of natural wonders and cultural heritage. With a population of 36,960 according to the 2020 census, this enchanting town extends like a peninsula on the southwestern edge of Cebu, bordered by the picturesque Tañon Strait and offering glimpses of Negros Island from its western shoreline. Located 89 kilometers (55 miles) away from bustling Cebu City, Moalboal is easily accessible, requiring approximately 3,5 hours by public bus.



UNVEILING THE ORIGINS:

Moalboal's name carries a historical resonance, its etymology rooted in two fascinating versions. One suggests a connection to the bubbling sounds, known as "bocalbocal" or "bukalbukal" in Cebuano, emanating from a local spring. The other links the name to the town's early settlers, believed to be Boholanos or Bol-anons, with time transforming these influences into the unique identity of "Moalboal."


Historical nuances are discovered in old spellings such as "Moalbual" and "Mualbual," offering intriguing glimpses into the town's linguistic evolution.



DYNAMIC DEMOGRAPHICS:

While Cebuanos form the majority of Moalboal's population, the town has become a melting pot, welcoming members of cultural minorities. Notably, the Bajaus, reminiscent of Muslim nomads, occasionally grace the streets during holiday seasons, contributing to the town's cultural diversity.



ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE:

Industry and Trade: Moalboal's unique geography, surrounded by water as a peninsula, guides its economic pursuits. Flatland residents primarily engage in fishing, while those in mountainous regions, such as Agbalanga and Bala, find their livelihoods through agriculture.



TOURISM THRIVES:

Panagsama Beach, integral to Moalboal's tourism since the 1970s, beckons with untouched coastal allure, focusing on recreational diving. A hub for adventure enthusiasts, this locale features resorts and dining options. The captivating sardine run at Panagsama Beach offers snorkelers a mesmerizing experience, where the possibility of encountering sea turtles adds an extra thrill to the exploration.


White Beach (Basdako): Further north lies the captivating White Beach in Saavedra, spanning two kilometers and now attracting international tourists, though initially cherished by locals.


Beyond the shores, Moalboal serves as a gateway for exhilarating adventures in southern Cebu. Dive into canyoneering in Badian and Alegria, experiencing the famous Kawasan Falls excursion. Discover numerous waterfalls and soak in scenic views through mountain rides. Scale peaks like Osmena for panoramic vistas of Badian Island and Moalboal, enhancing the charm of this adventure-filled destination.

Banks, Atm's and Money Exchange


Most local banks, including those within Moalboal, tack on a 250 pesos surcharge for ATM withdrawals using overseas bank cards, setting a transaction cap at 10,000 pesos. However, a potential money-saving alternative exists in Cebu City at the HSBC ATM, which welcomes most foreign cards and allows transactions up to 40,000 pesos. Withdrawing funds here before your Moalboal adventure could be a prudent move.


If you find yourself at Panagsama Beach, an accessible PNB Visa card ATM awaits you at the entrance of Eve's Kiosk. Meanwhile, in Moalboal town, around 3.5 km from the beach and reachable by tricycle, the 360 Pharmacy hosts a Metro Bank ATM, catering to Mastercard. Further options include a PNB Bank with an ATM at Gaisano Town Center Mall and a Metro Bank ATM at Gaisano Grand (accepting both Visa and Mastercard). Another ATM is conveniently located outside of the 7-Eleven store and the Municipal Hall. ATMs may experience limitations on Sundays, often running low on cash.


When withdrawing cash abroad from foreign ATMs, you may encounter the option to 'Accept Conversion' or 'Decline Conversion.' Here's what it means:

Accept Conversion: Opting for this means you agree to withdraw money at the exchange rate set by the ATM. However, be aware that these rates often include 'hidden' fees, making them considerably higher (usually 5%-15%).


Decline Conversion: Choosing this option indicates that you prefer to withdraw money at the exchange rate set by your card issuer, whether it's Visa, Mastercard, Amex, or another logo on your card. This can help you save on fees.


Remember, similar prompts on ATMs might use phrases like 'With Conversion' or 'Without Conversion.' Therefore, selecting 'Decline' ensures a more favorable exchange rate and cost-effective transaction."


Encountering an option to be charged in your home currency, known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC), may arise during withdrawals. It's advisable to steer clear of this option for optimal savings. To secure the best exchange rate, consistently opt to be charged in the local currency when withdrawing money.


ATMs in the Philippines:

ATMs are readily accessible in urban centers, particularly within banks and shopping malls. However, locating one outside of these metropolitan areas can be challenging. Utilize the following tools to identify the nearest ATM:


Visa ATM Locator

MasterCard ATM Locator

Amex ATM Locator


When taking the bus from Cebu City's South Bus Terminal, consider visiting Alchor Forex Money Changer on the second floor of City Mall next door to the terminal or the third floor of Elizabeth Mall for competitive currency exchange rates. For the most favorable rates on Euros, it is recommended to visit Core Pacific Money Exchange on the third floor of Elizabeth Mall.


In Moalboal, you can only exchange money at the Gaisano Grand Mall and Palawan Pawnshop. Ensure you have your passport with you, and your currency notes are in pristine condition.

Supermarkets And Wet Market


Moalboal offers two Gaisano malls, Operating from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM


Gaisano Town Center Mall is around 1 kilometer away It has a quieter supermarket and a special section with imported goods and hardware section. Upstairs, you'll find a store with sports, beach stuff, household goods, souvenirs, and a clothes department. Outside, there's an ATM a pizza shop, and a BVL beauty salon. There is ample parking available in front of the mall.


Gaisano Grand Mall, situated along Barili-Toledo Road. Upstairs of Gaisano town center mall is the department store for clothes, home goods, and kids' toys. Outside the mall, there's a McDonald's, a PNB bank with an ATM, a computer, and a phone shop. During inclement weather, you have the option to park your vehicle either inside the garage area or in front of the mall.


Moalboal Fruit Stand:

This is an excellent place to buy tropical fruit, mostly fresh, and the prices are reasonable.



Moalboal Public Market:   Hours 5:00 AM - 7:00 PM

Numerous independent vendors offer a diverse range of products. This area used to be the primary source for locals to purchase food, clothing, and household items before the advent of malls.



Moalboal Fish & Meat Market

A diverse array of fish and seafood is available from numerous vendors, accompanied by options for chicken and pork. However, beef is scarce here; one must venture to either of the two modest malls to find it. The freshness of all the seafood and meat is quite apparent. It's essential to note that this is a "wet market," lacking cold cases and with minimal ice. 

For better selection and more competitive prices, consider making the 10-kilometer drive to Badian Public Market from Moalboal. There, you'll likely find a broader range of products to choose from.



Weekend Farmers Market: 

During the weekends, farmers from the mountains visit Moalboal to sell their fresh produce. This period is a treasure trove for budget-conscious shoppers, as these farmers typically offer their goods at affordable prices. For me, it's the prime time to shop for produce in Moalboal. They set up temporary tables in the alleys, covered with tarps for sun protection.


I have a preference for buying from elderly vendors, many of whom are hardworking farmers. They travel down from the mountains to share the fruits of their labor. Choosing to purchase from these vendors is my small way of extending help to these dedicated individuals, contributing to their livelihoods while enjoying the freshest and most authentic local produce. 

Ideal Time To Visit Moalboal Based On The Weather


Best Months:

January to April:


Wet Months:

Jun to November:

Note: While this overview provides general trends, always check real-time forecasts closer to your travel dates for the most accurate information.

Climate data for Moalboal, Cebu

Medical Facilities & Pharmacies


Established in 1909, Chong Hua Hospital stands as a beacon of cutting-edge healthcare, centrally positioned at Fuente Osmeña Circle in Cebu, with an additional branch in Mandaue. Among Cebu City's array of hospitals, Chung Hua, known for its prominence and established reputation, recommends its Manduay facility for most cases. Given the likelihood of medical bills accumulating swiftly, it is prudent to secure a suitable travel insurance policy for comprehensive coverage.


Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital stands as a unique blend of a medical tertiary education institution and a comprehensive healthcare provider. This establishment offers aspiring doctors and medical practitioners an immersive experience, enabling in-depth study and research in a real-world setting under the mentorship of seasoned professionals. Much like Chong Hua Hospital, it boasts top-notch facilities and a rich history while steadfastly pursuing its vision and mission of delivering high-quality healthcare.


In Moalboal, various doctors are available to address minor health concerns, ranging from colds to providing stitches and dressing small wounds. However, for more severe conditions, a visit to the city is usually warranted.

Mahinay Family Medical Clinic

Dr.Irish Sarmiento Clinic (pediatric)

Badian District Hospital

Cebu Provincial Hospital-Carcar City


Pharmacies

ThreeSixty Pharmacy

Rose Pharmacy Gaisano Grand Mall

Moalboal Pharmacy



Getting a SIM Card in Moalboal


Choose the Smart 5G SIM Card for cost-effective prepaid promotions, or opt for a Globe 5G SIM Card if extensive coverage in the Philippines is your priority. Procuring a prepaid load card is hassle-free, and available at the same kiosk or store where you obtain your SIM.


Ensuring the registration of your prepaid SIM card is vital upon insertion into your phone, as mandated in the Philippines since April 2023. Typically priced between 50 to 100 pesos, the SIM card can be conveniently reloaded at any convenience store or 7/11 through a CLiQQ kiosk. Simply choose your provider, enter your phone number, select your package, print a receipt with a barcode, and present it to a 7-Eleven cashier for seamless payment. After payment, your phone will be loaded with the selected package and activated automatically.


Smart Prepaid eSIM, offers convenient activation and hassle-free access to local mobile networks. With easy switching between networks, you can stay connected using multiple phone numbers simultaneously on supported devices. 

Laundry Services


In Moalboal, most accommodations offer full laundry services, covering wash, dry, and fold. If not available at your stay, here are reliable laundromats providing the same comprehensive services: Laundry Station (8:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily) and Anytime Laundry (8:00 AM to 6:00 PM on weekdays, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Sundays).

Moalboal Emergency Numbers


Disaster Risk Reduction and Management: (0908) 285 0313.

For police assistance: (0932) 955 1738 or (032) 474 8205.

Fire Station: (0917) 654 3646

Rural Health Unit: (032) 474 0014

Philippine Coast Guard: (0915) 490 9152

Municipal Tourism Office: (032) 474 8323

The Moalboal Post Office is conveniently situated on the ground floor of the Municipal Hall. As you enter the building, take the first left, and you'll find the post office. Ample parking space is available in front of the municipality. Public restrooms are available in the Municipal Hall for added convenience.

Moalboal Municipal Hall

Moalboal Municipal Police Station

Moalboal Tourist Information Center and Tourist Pass

Moalboal Seaside Park - is an excellent place to relax, featuring vendors offering snacks and drinks. Moalboalanons regularly gather at the park to enjoy the nightly free movie screenings, making it a popular spot for community entertainment.