Unexpected Bonus

Mag-dive ka na, nandito ka na rin, you should dive, you’re already here”.  To be in Moalboal and not dive is indeed ridiculous. But because I was the only diver in the group, I didn’t plan to… until the divemaster convinced me, that is.

So we got up early the next day, sore from yesterday’s canyoning, and headed to this tiny island called Pescador.  Among the many impressive dive spots in Moalboal, Pescador is described to be their “jewel”.  My friends indulged and shared the cost of the banca (outrigger boat) with me.  They went snorkeling while I explored the world under… ok, that doesn’t sound right but you know what I mean.   😉

Located in the Tañon Straits, a narrow stretch of sea between the southern end of Cebu and Negros Oriental.  Considered “the most unique in the world” as it has the richest marine biodiversity in the coral triangle in the Philippines.

The island is essentially a wall dive made interesting with the overhangs, small caverns and holes in the reef wall.  It was an easy dive with just the right currents.  I was enjoying the drift, fascinated with all the marine life along the small caverns when divemaster taps me on the shoulder.

He pointed to my left and there, a short distance away, was a giant wall of fish, a silvery cloud of endless sardines against the blue backdrop of the deep, moving in one accord.  I was awestruck.  Never thought I’d ever get to see such a spectacle in our shores.

The first time I became aware of a sardine run was when a friend, years back,  showed me an awesome video filmed in South Africa.  Every year between the months of May and July, this famous shoal of sardines travel from their home in Agulhas banks and head north.  Predators follow this migration making it the main attraction for divers, rivaling the great migration in the African savannah.  This made it to my bucket list.

The tiny island off Moalboal has been host, for a few years now, to millions of sardines running the tropical waters but unlike the migration in South Africa; the sardines in our shores seemed to have made it its home (at least for now).  This wonderful phenomenon is seen all year round.  Predators seen in these side are mostly Threshers, White Tips and Whale Sharks.  Unfortunately, there were no predators in sight in this dive.  We were flying out the next day and couldn’t go below 40 ft.  Although not as spectacular as the South African video, it was an awesome experience nevertheless.

Observing from the surface, the snorkelers had their share of awesomeness from a different perspective.  They had to abort mid-stream though as the water got choppy, making it difficult to continue.  “Super bitin, too short” they said.

On our way back to the resort, the choppy waters were too big for our small boat, breaking an outrigger.

We were dropped off somewhere along White Beach.  Carrying our gears (except the tanks), walked the rest of the way back to the resort.  Awesome day.

The Kawasan High

Credits:  Papers by Queen of Quirks, Elements by Scrap Matters’ Life Simple Surprises Kit

Remarkable diving defines Moalboal and many combine it with a side trip to Kawasan Falls in nearby Badian town.

Just an hour away from Cebu’s diving destination, Badian is known for its 3-tiered waterfalls called Kawasan Falls.

A short trek will take you to the first falls where one can enjoy it with nary a need to swim if that is the preference (bamboo rafts are available to take people to the falls).

The beauty of the waterfalls cascading into turquoise pools and the lush tropical vegetation surrounding it already provides a natural high.

What more if, for 4 hours, you get to swim, trek, and jump into several of the turquoise pools along the way to Kawasan Falls?

We entered the falls from upstream, near the border of Badian, at the Matutinao Valley geared with a pair of booties, a life jacket and an adventurous spirit.  Canyoning at the Kawasan is not your ordinary Kawasan Falls excursion.

It requires swimming, river trekking, jumping off waterfalls and a bit of rappelling.  Canyoneering, as they call it, is a sport of exploring a canyon by engaging in rappelling, rafting and waterfall jumping.

The adrenalin started pumping at the Matutinao River, just a short distance from our jump-off.

We scrambled over rocks as we get use to the art of river trekking.

We sort of rappelled down a mountain slope to reach another canyon.

We swam when the water was deep.

We jumped from big boulders 4 times, sometimes over waterfalls, other times into a small basin with little room for error.

It was terrifying at times, but for the most part, it afforded us an ultimate high, non-stop adrenalin rush.  It was a high like no other.

The Aquaholic team made us feel safe all through out, guiding us through the magnificent sceneries of gorgeous blue lagoons and spectacular canyons and rock formation.

The remoteness and lack of habitation have left this valley a sanctuary.  In the course of our 4-hour escapade, we bumped into a few locals at the start and another canyoning group that explores the river the harder way from below, which they call river climbing.  Otherwise, we had the river and the beautiful riverscape all to ourselves to take pleasure in.

We reached the top of the 3rd cascade of Kawasan Falls at around 2pm.  Contrary to the tranquil environment we came from, we were greeted with loads of people enjoying their Sunday.

Caught off guard and surprised to see people out of nowhere walking down from atop the falls, they watched us with wonder as we walked pass them, exhausted but exhilarated.  Their facial expressions seemed to ask, “Where the heck did they come from?”

Going back to the van we walked this bamboo bridge which ironically was more frightening.

Why, one might wonder, do we take the grueling route when it only takes 15 minutes, 30 minutes tops to reach all 3 falls?

The answer to that would be because we love the challenge of an adventure.  Because we like doing things the unconventional way.  Because we are adrenaline junkies.  Because off-the-beaten paths are always more breathtaking…

Useful Info:

Philippine Aquaholic Diver’s Inc.
Club Serena Resort
Moalboal, Cebu City
Contact No: +63 (32) 516-1847; +63 (32) 474-0050; +63 (917) 717-3333
Email: dive@aquaholics.com.ph

Prelude To A Great Adventure

We were squished in a corner at the back of the mini van that was to take us westbound to Moalboal.  The van leaves when it is full and another one takes its place, taking in more passengers.

We only had time for a quick brunch at One Citilink Terminal before the conductor started calling for passengers.  There was no leg room where I was sitting in the van; I had to sit up the entire 2 hours to Moalboal.  I could not be happier to stretch my legs finally when we got off.  And even more so that we are to embark on a new adventure.  Yay!

Boasting of world-class dive spots, Moalboal has been a favorite haunt of serious divers since the ‘70s.  Diving, snorkeling and beach combing aside, a new adventure has emerged a few years ago in this side of Cebu.  This led us to Club Serena.

Where the van dropped us off, we took a tricycle to the resort.  The chatty tricycle driver offered to take us island hopping, snorkeling…  “Makakamura ho kayo (it will cost you less)”, he said.  I would have taken his offer except that we had more than just snorkeling and island hopping in mind.

Beach in front of the resort

In the outskirts of Moalboal is White Beach and lying at the end away from the busier Panagsama Beach is Club Serena.

Stunning hues of blue from sea to sky is supposedly typical throughout Cebu.

Although both beach share a coastline, separated only by coves and rocks, White Beach also known as Basdaku (which means big sand in Cebuano) has a wide stretch of sand.  Panagsama Beach, however, plays hosts to many bars and restaurants but has no real sand to boast.  Typhoons and bad coastal management has left the beach of Panagsama rocky and without sand.  Depending on preference, I’m glad we ended up in quiet White Beach.

Honey for sale outside the resort.

Possibly the most expensive resort along the strip, Club Serena has 8 rooms scattered around its grounds.

We took the Beachfront Suite, which they also call the Honeymoon Suite (perfect actually for honeymooners but that was not what we were there for).

Fits all 4 but 2 had to sleep on mattresses.

The suite comes with a room that is big enough to fit 4 of us, it also has a living and dining area where we would hangout and read.

Albeit slow, the clubhouse just across our suite whips up wonderfully prepared Asian dishes and having all our meals there during our stay was a delight.

Having breakfast before we went off to our adventure.

An activity center offering a wide array of activities from diving to dolphin watching to canyoning was the reason we decided to splurge on the resort.  The resort alone with its many cozy corners, a nice pool and well-appointed rooms is already worth the splurge.

Having an activity center that arranges all your activities so close by was icing on the cake.

Over a late lunch when we arrived, our guide came up to brief us on tomorrow’s activity.  What to bring, what not to bring, what to expect, taking note too that one of our companion was over 60.  He seemed worried but was assured when he learned that our friend has climbed Mt. Kanlaon many times.  More than what I can say for myself.

We spent the rest of the day chilling.

We slept, read, and enjoyed the sunset over some wine and cheese until it was time for dinner.

The owner threw a party that night hence the nicely set-up tables.  It went till the wee hours of the morning but we were too tired to care.   🙂

What a perfect prelude to exceptional activities to come.  Stay tuned.

Useful Info:

One Citilink Terminal
N. Bacalao Avenue, near Cebu City Medical Center & Cebu Technological Center
 
Club Serena
For reservations:
Telephone:  +63 32-417-2445
Mobile:  +63 920-902-8888 / +63 917-623-6057