Panagsama Beach, Moalboal Cebu – Comprehensive Guide 2024

Moalboal coastline areal turquoise waters

Staying in the Panagsama Beach area was genuinely one of the top highlights of our trip to Cebu. There is so much to see and do in the area; we have decided to write a dedicated, in-depth article purely on Panagsama Beach (and the surrounding area).

In this article, we will tell you everything you need to know to plan your own trip to Panagsama Beach in 2024. We will include specific tips and recommendations; we will share the best places to eat and the best places to stay. What’s more, we will also share the best things to see and do, with specific tips, locations, and recommendations.

Having spent a lot of time exploring this area, we have a lot to share. Please do read this article carefully; we really hope that our tips and advice help you plan an amazing trip.

BOOK YOUR STAY – Don’t miss this Dedicated Guide to the BEST hotels in Moalboal

PLAN YOUR TRIP – Don’t miss the FULL GUIDE – The Best Areas to Stay in Cebu

Visitor’s Map of the Panagsama Beach Area

Interactive map – click on the pins for more details…

What is Panagsama Beach?

Panagsama beachfront evening

Panagsama Beach specifically refers to the beach situated at the end of Panagsama Road in Moalboal. This is a small, sandy beach lined with cafes and restaurants, and it is a fantastic spot for diving and free diving (you can do both of these activities directly from the beach without needing to take a boat trip). However, Panagsama Beach more generally refers to the area around Panagsama Road.

Moalboal Panagasama Street

This area has plenty of accommodation, including hostels, guest houses, hotels, and resorts. There are also lots of shops, cafes, restaurants, and plenty of dive shops and tour operators in the area. In this article, we are not just writing about the beach specifically, but we are going to focus on the facilities, amenities, and activities in the area.

Is it worth visiting Panagsama Beach?

Panagsama Beach area Moalboal

The short answer is yes, it is definitely worth visiting Panagsama Beach. In fact, if you are planning a trip to Moalboal, we strongly recommend finding a place to stay in the Panagsama Beach area. If you are planning a trip to Moalboal, there are lots of good reasons to pick this area for accommodation.

Firstly, there is a wide range of accommodation concentrated in the Panagsama Beach area, so whether you are a solo, budget backpacker or a large family splashing out, you should be able to find a place to stay. Panagsama Beach is the main tourist hub of Moalboal. You can find plenty of places to eat and drink in the area. There are lots of bars, shops, cafes, and restaurants around; everything really isn’t walking distance, so you don’t need to worry about relying on taxis or using a car rental or bike rental to get around.

This is also the best area to arrange tours and trips; for example, if you are hoping to visit Kawasan Falls, you can arrange a canyoneering trip with one of the many tour operators in the area. Another great reason to pick Panagsama Beach: this area is a top spot for snorkeling, diving, and free diving. You only need to paddle out into the water from the beach, and within 100m of the shore, you can reach a stunning coral wall teeming with tropical fish and vibrant coral reef. This is a top spot for swimming with magnificent swirls of sardines and wild sea turtles (keep reading for more specific details about swimming, snorkeling, diving, and freediving in this area).

panagsama beach

Top tip: If you’re planning to visit Moalboal, we strongly recommend that you stay in the Panagsama Beach area unless you find some really good accommodation in a different area. The north of Moalboal is very beautiful and tranquil, but it can also feel a little cut off, and if you do not have your own transportation, you may struggle to find taxis in the area.

How do you get to the Panagsama Beach area?

Check out the FULL GUIDEHow to travel from Cebu City to Moalboal

Long distance buses Cebu

Most people who visit Moalboal travel from Cebu City (this is the main city on Cebu Island, and it is also home to the international airport). The journey from Cebu City to Moalboal generally takes at least 3 – 4 hours (the slowest part of the journey is normally getting out of Cebu City, so the journey time depends on traffic and your location in the city). The cheapest way to travel from Cebu City to Moalboal is to take a bus. Once you have arrived in Moalboal, you can easily arrange a tuk-tuk to take you to Panagsama Beach. Here is a step-by-step guide to the journey:

Cebu City South Bus Terminal
Seats on bus Cebu Philippines

The first step in the journey is to get to the South Cebu bus terminal (there is also a North Cebu bus terminal, so don’t get the wrong bus station). It is not possible to pre-book a bus ticket; you just need to turn up and take the next bus. There is not a strict bus schedule; buses tend to depart when they are full. Buses generally depart every 20 or 30 minutes, so you shouldn’t need to wait too long.

Bus tickets cost 209 pesos, which is approximately £3 or $3.50. The bus should drop you off on the national highway at the Panagsama Road junction. This area is a bit of a hub; there is a 7-Eleven nearby, and you can find plenty of tricycle tuk-tuks waiting in this area. From here, it is a few kilometers to get to the Panagsama Beach area. It is slightly too far to walk, especially if you’re carrying heavy bags. We recommend taking a tricycle tuk-tuk (which should cost around 200 pesos).

Car rental cebu

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more convenient method of transport, you may wish to rent a car in Cebu. Car rental in Cebu generally starts at around 1,000 pesos per day (this is around £14 or $18). There are several advantages to renting a car in Cebu. Firstly, you can go at your own pace, you can sling your bags in the boot, and you can also use the car to travel around the Moalboal area (no need to barter for every journey and rely on local taxis). It is important to be aware that the roads in the Panagsama Beach area are quite small and can be quite crowded. Parking can also be pretty challenging around the Panagsama Beach area. If you’re planning to rent a car and drive, we recommend that you speak to your hotel or guesthouse and check on the parking situation.

Top tip: It is possible to rent a motorbike in the Panagsama Beach area. Bike rental generally starts at around 300 pesos per day.

Moalboal Environmental Fees

Environmental fees kiosk Moalboal

If you plan to go swimming in the water in the Moalboal area, you will need to pay an environmental fee. The fee applies from Sunday to Friday between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, and Saturdays and holidays between 8:00 am – 10:00 pm. It costs 100 pesos per person for swimming and 25 pesos per person to stay on the beach. If you’re staying in the area for a week or two, we recommend requesting an environmental fee receipt that covers the full dates of your stay, so you do not need to pay each day. Make sure that you keep a copy of your environmental fee receipt so that you can present it if you are asked.

Top tip: If you book tours, activities, or trips in the area, check whether the environmental fees are covered in the price of your trip.

How do you rent snorkeling equipment at Panagsama Beach 

Fins and mask for rent moalboal

There are plenty of shops around the Panagsama Beach where you can rent a range of kit.  This includes snorkel & mask, fins, water shoes, life rings, life jackets (very useful if you’re not a strong swimmer). Most things cost a standard price of 100 pesos per day (around £1.40 or $1.60). Long fins generally cost 300 pesos per day. If you are renting for a longer duration, negotiate a cheaper deal. 

What are the Best Things to See and Do Around Moalboal?

1 See the Sardine Run

Stunning formations sardines moalboal

One of our personal highlights of the Panagsama Beach was the ability to see the spectacular sardine run. All you need to do is paddle out from the beach and swim a short distance to the coral reef drop-off, and you can see spectacular swirls of sardines. The sardine run is particularly impressive early in the morning, although you can see it throughout the day. Many people take a guided snorkeling trip; however, it is possible to rent snorkeling gear in the area and go independently. Alternatively, if you want to arrange a snorkeling trip in the area, you can take a guided trip for around 500 pesos per person (one hour, including environmental fee).

2 Visit the Mermaid Underwater Statue

Mermaid statue and sardines Moalboal

You can also see an underwater sea sculpture in the area. If you head north to the brand-new scuba resort, you can find a Mermaid statue approximately 5m depth (the depth varies a little bit depending on the tide). The Mermaid statue is situated in the water before the steep coral reef drop-off, approximately 50m from the shore. It is relatively easy to find if you are swimming in the area.

3 Swim with Wild Sea Turtles

Swimming with a green sea turtle Moalboal

If you have ever dreamed of swimming with wild sea turtles, then we definitely recommend a trip to Panagsama Beach. It is relatively easy to find wild sea turtles swimming in this area. Sea turtles can be found in these waters throughout the day. The best way to find sea turtles around Panagsama Beach is to swim along the wall parallel to the shore; keep your eye out on the reef. You can often find turtles resting amongst the rocks. Another way to spot turtles is to watch out for crowds; local guides normally spot turtles in the area. A group of swimmers is normally a good giveaway that there is a turtle in the area.

4 Learn to Freedive

Safety freedive with a buddy

Don’t miss our FULL GUIDE to freediving in Moalboal

Moalboal is one of the best locations in the Philippines for freediving. So, if you have ever wanted to try free diving, this is the spot for you. There are several free diving schools situated in the Panagsama Beach area. So, why is this area so good for free diving? There are several reasons. Firstly, the visibility in this area is generally excellent; you can normally see at least 10 – 15 m in the water. The underwater landscape is also very unique, with a dramatic underwater wall to depths of 30 – 60m.

If you’re looking for some informal line training, then we highly recommend Moalboal Freediving (situated next to Tipolo Beach Resort). They charge around 1,000 to 1,500 pesos for line training. Alternatively, if you want to take free diving to the next level, you could do an accredited free diving course. We particularly recommend Orca Free Divers. They offer excellent prices for AIDA courses, and the instructor, Czar, is very experienced and can really help you challenge yourself to reach new depths.

5 Try Spear Fishing

Panagsama Beach is an excellent location for spearfishing. If you are interested in trying spearfishing, we recommend Moalboal Freediving (situated next to Tipolo Beach Resort). They offer spearfishing courses.

Freedive Moalboal Spear fishing
Moalboal freediving shop Cebu

The instructor, John, will teach you about the equipment and safety using dry training sessions before heading to the water to put it into practice.

6 Take a Scuba Dive

If you’re spending some time in Moalboal, we highly recommend that you do at least one scuba dive. Scuba diving is a perfect way to experience the beauty of the spectacular underwater landscape. There is a very good chance that you will see a wide range of sea creatures (including sea turtles and sardines). This really is an absolutely spectacular area for scuba diving. The price of diving in the area is relatively low because you do not need to take a boat; you can dive directly from the beach. Many diving centers and schools offer dives for 1,200 – 1,400 pesos (if you have never been scuba diving before, you can take a discovery dive).

7 Island Hopping Trip to Pescador Island

Boat-White-beach-coastline

Another popular activity in this area is island hopping. You can take an island hopping trip to Pescador Island. A private boat costs 2,500 pesos (around 3 hours). A private boat can take up to 24 people. Exploring Pescador Island gives you another opportunity to experience a beautiful part of the West Cebu coastline.

8 Visit White Beach

White beach sunset moalboal cebu

If you love a good beach, then don’t miss the beautiful White Beach, situated in the north of Moalboal. This beach is an amazing spot to enjoy a tropical sunset, tasty barbecue fish, and a refreshing paddle in the water. Expect to pay around 300 pesos for a tricycle tuk-tuk from Panagsama Beach to White Beach. There are a few simple cafes and restaurants situated in this area. Overall, White Beach is a pretty chilled and tranquil area.

9 Try Some Tasty Seafood

fresh fish seafood cebu

If you are a seafood lover, you will love Cebu. While you are exploring the Panagsama Beach area, we highly recommend trying some epic seafood. You can often find a wide variety of barbecue fish, as well as delicious, juicy shrimp and squid. Seafood is also relatively affordable in the area. We particularly recommend the Little Corner Restaurant for affordable BBQ seafood, situated right on the Panagsama Beachfront (next to the environmental fees kiosk).

10 Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls

big 7m cliff jump kawasan

Don’t miss the Full Guide – Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls

If you are looking for an active adventure in the area, then we highly recommend a canyoneering trip. You can do an exhilarating zipline jump off waterfalls, float down the river, and try rope swings. Canyoneering at Kawasan Falls is one of the most popular activities in the area. The cheapest way to organize a canyoneering trip is to book with a local tour operator in Moalboal. You can generally find trips for 1,900 pesos (including transportation, food, entry fees, and guide). As a popular activity, Kawasan Falls can get very busy. If possible, we recommend avoiding the weekend and booking an early trip (you may be able to get a 6am pickup).

What Are the Best Places to Eat and Drink in the Panagsama Area?

Little Corner Restaurant

Little Corner Restaurant

One of the most affordable restaurants in the area, they have a wide range of dishes including pancakes, BBQ seafood, soups, noodles, curries, and rice. It is very centrally located, right next to the environmental fee kiosk. This is a great spot to grab a drink and relax (it can get busy here, especially on weekends).

Shaka Smoothie Bowls

Shaka smoothie bowl moalboal

If you’re looking for something super healthy and tasty, then check out Shaka Smoothie Bowls. It is a small cafe situated right in the heart of the Panagsama Beach. This cafe is pretty small, so it can be hard to find a seat during busy periods.

My Greek Taverna

My Greek Taverna 1

This is a lovely little Greek restaurant serving fresh, tasty, healthy Greek food. The menu is creative and the food is genuinely excellent.

Smooth Cafe

smooth cafe moalboal

If you’re looking for that coffee hit, then we highly recommend Smooth Cafe, situated right in the heart of the Panagsama Beach area. Not only do they serve coffee, they also have a very tempting menu including things like pancakes, cheesecake, and delicious brownies. This cafe is a little on the pricey side but well worth it (Smooth Cafe has indoor seating with fans but not air conditioning).

O Delices French Bakery

O Delices French bakery

If you’re hoping for a real treat, then we highly recommend this beautiful French bakery. It has comfortable indoor air-conditioned seating and serves a wide range of tempting drinks, treats, and meals. This is a top spot for breakfast. O Delices is relatively expensive, but the quality is high. It is slightly out of the way (maybe a little too far to walk from the beach).

What Are the Best Places to Stay Around Panagsama Beach?

1 Maayong Hostel 

MAAYONG HOSTEL

Unique, beautiful, trendy & stylish wooden teepees. Great facilities, clean, comfortable and luxurious. Great location – lots of cafes and restaurants nearby. 5 minute walk from the beach. 

2 Harman Suites 

HARMAN SUITES

Spacious, clean, stylish and very comfortable. Great area – lots of tasty food nearby. 2 minute walk from the beach. 

3 D Gecko Hotel 

D Gecko Hotel

Stylish, comfortable and great value for money. Very central – right next to the main beach area. They also have a spacious family suite. 

4 West Side Cabana 

West Side Cabana

Affordable, comfortable and simple guest house with clean rooms. They have a triple room – great option for a family on a low budget. 

5 Home Sweetie Homestay 

Home Sweetie Homestay

Friendly hostel with good vibes. 10 minute walk from the beach. Dorms and private rooms available. 

What Shops Can You Find in the Panagsama Area?

supermarket at gaisano grand mall
Large supermarket – Moalboal
7 eleven moalboal cebu
7 Eleven in Moalboal
small local shop panagsama beach area
Small local shop Panagsama Beach area
gifts cebu panagsama beach
Gift shop Panagsama Beach

In the immediate Panagsama Beach area, you can find a few convenience stores selling drinks and snacks. You can easily buy bottles of water, bags of crisps, biscuits, and noodles. However, if you are looking for a bigger shop, you will need to head towards the National Highway (a few kilometers from Panagsama Beach). There you can find a large supermarket selling a wide range of products. There is also a 7-Eleven convenience store, a fresh fruit market, and several pharmacies. You can also find a Jollibee fast food restaurant in this town area.

ATM moalboal
Laundry moalboal cebu

You can also find plenty of ATM machines around the Panagsama Beach area. There are also ATM machines in the 7-Eleven store in Moalboal. You can find several places to do laundry. 40 – 50 pesos per kilogram is a reasonable price for laundry. Just drop off your clothes and pick them up clean and dry a day or two later.