Panagsama beach detail
Moalboal town detail
The password is ‘rimu2019’.
Each of your devices has a data limit of 700 MB per day.
If you find yourself regularly using up your 700 MB without using your phone much, you might be using Instagram. It preemptively downloads videos incase you might watch them later, which is very wasteful. Also check your Facebook app settings to see if it is doing the same thing. Another culprit is the automatic iCloud backup of photos on iOS devices.
If you are in Philippines for a week or more I recommend buying your own 4G sim card from Gaisano mall in Moalboal town. Globe works much better than Smart at this location but either will do. Putting money onto your phone can be done at any shop that has a sign saying “Load”. If you’re buying large amounts of load do so at Rose Pharmacy at Gaisano mall – the small shops won’t have enough to sell to you. Refer to https://www.ekstratips.com/globe-gosurf-promos/ for information about how to use your load to subscribe to a data package that matches your requirements. Txt the keyword to 8080 to subscribe.
Drink as much as you want from the blue dispenser beside the fridge. It only costs me 20 peso per bottle so it is not a large cost to bear.
Don’t drink the water from the tap. Look inside the tank outside the back of the house and you’ll see why.
If the water stops working then the big silver tank at the back of the house might need refilling. Contact us if this happens.
Start and stop the shower by using the grey button. Adjust the temperature using the white knob – you might need to keep adjusting it as the water pressure fluctuates – less water coming through needs less electricity to heat it.
Try to keep the toilet part of the bathroom floor dry – when the floor in there is wet people’s feet leave mud everywhere.
Food can be difficult. A good restaurant might do well at 80% of the things on their menu but if you order any of the other 20% it’s going to be a disaster. So look at the style of the place and try to figure out which of the things promised on the menu are actually going to be able to be delivered. A dirty cheap filipino-run place will probably do amazing value Pancit Canton but terrible terrible pasta, for example.
The best value is the 2 small places at the start of Panagsama, immediately after Panagsama Rd turns sharply left and the town itself begins. Near where the tricycle drivers lurk. They’re cheap, quick and have a good variety on their menus. However they are literally on the road (noisy, fumy, dogs) and have no view of the ocean so they’re more about saving money than having a good time.
Here are the top restaurants on TripAdvisor, with my commentary.
- The Three Bears – a small menu but all of it done really well. The vegetarian stir-fry is delicious, cheap and healthy.
- The pleasure principle – Their food is ok, but the most expensive in town. The vegetarian choices are all definitely not worth the premium.
- Ven’z kitchen – it’s ok. The food is attractively priced and offers a variety of filipino dishes that are not commonly available. They have a big sign out the front about their vegetarian meals, which are all the same but with different sauces. There is no view and it is beside a busy road. Probably overrated.
- Lantaw – behind Chili bar. There are branches of this in other cities but here they have expanded the menu due to the more international customers. Consequently the filipino food is good but the rest is very random – you might get lucky or you might not. The service is good and the view is nice. Above average prices but still reasonable.
- Cockonuts – quite nice food, mostly filipino and seafood. Great view of the sunset, looking over the water. A little more pricey than average but worth it. This should probably be #1 but isn’t for some reason.
- One Eyed Jacks – it’s a bar, not a place to eat. Their burger is ok but forgettable. Great pool table.
- Chili Bar – again, mostly a bar. Their menu is extensive and the burgers are legendary in size, the pizzas are fine and the view of the sunset over the water is great. However the price is high and the service very very slow. The bar is good fun later in the evening when things get rowdy but not really as a place to eat.
- Last filling station – really nice ambience but the food is average. A safe bet.
- Andi’s Talisay – mostly a bar. It is the best sunset watching place by far, if you can get a beanbag. It is also next to the biggest strip of what remains of Panagsama Beach now that it is covered in buildings. Quite cheap and tasty burgers but that’s it.
- Cafe Cebuano – no idea, too expensive for me to risk it.
- Chief Mau – Definitely the best pasta in the area but you’ll pay 300+ PHP.
- Maya’s native garden restaurant – worst Mexican food I have ever had. I gave it a few tries because I really wanted it to work out but it didn’t.
- The French Coffee Shop – expensive, slow and low quality. Still, where else are you going to find croissants?
- Little Corner Restaurant – good seafood and filipino food. Cheap. Great for sunset watching. Ghastly pasta, as per usual.
- Pescador View – ok filipino food at ok prices. Not much of an actual view.
- Marina Cucina – bad in all respects except it’s beside the sea so it’s nice for sunset. Ok pizza.
- Arista – the restaurant of Quo Vadis. Bad, all bad.
- Club Serena Resort – this is my go-to place in White Beach. It is at the northern end of the beach, away from the crowds and where the good snorkelling is. The food and service is top notch and the prices are only a bit above average. The food comes quite slowly so best to order and then go for a swim while you wait.
- J & C Food Haus – ridiculously large burgers and very close to the house. However it’s beside a busy road and can get very hot during the day.
- Veranda – looks nice but is utterly terrible. Every day 3 bus loads of Chinese tourists are herded in there to be ripped off.
- Silveray – looks like a place where you go to get food poisoning but has surprisingly good filipino food and large good quality servings of western dishes. Cheap. Good vegetarian food, too. I’m a big fan. Hot during the day due to poor ventilation and with no view of the sea.
- Seven sins – despite having a food menu they don’t have a kitchen as they get all their food from Little Corner (excellent Weiner Schnitzel, by the way). Mostly good for drinking and pool.
- Three Crowns Bistro – this is in Moalboal town, not Panagsama. They make a valiant attempt at western food and mostly succeed. Give it a try if you’re out that way but probably not worth a special trip.
- The Plaza Cafe – again, in Moalboal town. Cheap and high quality filipino food.
The pet cat here is called Simba – he’s the orange one. He has no fleas or worms so cuddle him without fear.
It’s not a good idea to let Simba into your room because he tends to fall asleep somewhere and then get accidentally locked inside when you leave. Then he is almost guaranteed to pee on the bed (to have revenge??).
Usually Indai will feed Simba but if you would like to help then please do. Cat feeding instructions (video).
The other cats that sometimes lurk around are not pets – do not let them in the house and chase them away if they eat Simba’s food.
Simba naps on the stairs which are the same color as his fur so watch out for him there.
The rustling sound you hear in the roof / walls is usually a cat – there are many holes in the house they use to get inside. It’s safe in there and they can hunt rodents and lizards so they enjoy it.
The wild dogs are very timid and I’ve never felt threatened by them. But if any act aggressively you can pretend to pick up a stone and they will run away. Better yet, pick up an actual stone and gently toss it in their direction. They know about stones. Keep the small blue gate at the entrance closed so the dogs don’t come inside and dig through our rubbish bins or frighten Simba.
If you get tired of the dogs barking at night there is a device which detects the sound of barking and emits a noise that only dogs can hear and which they really dislike. Soon they stop barking or leave. It looks like a brown bird house and is sitting in the drawers in the dining room – to use it, turn it onto maximum and put it on the veranda railing near the road. To save the battery, only turn it on at night.
Panagsama beach township with many restaurants, dive shops and bars is a 10 – 15 minute walk away (see map). If you’re only here for a couple of days you can probably just walk everywhere.
Ramon (+63 922 919 1692) and Macmillan (+63 935 502 5069) are two tricycle drivers that I recommend. They are good for trips to White Beach, Kawasan Falls, the bus stop or Gaisano Mall.
There are many places nearby that will hire you a motorbike – you’ll see several if you walk in any direction. Take the road towards Panagsama Beach to find them quickest. Prices can be 300 – 450 peso per day, much cheaper if you are hiring for long periods.
Traffic is not heavy here, except on the busy road through Moalboal town, so it’s a relatively safe place to learn compared to the city or other parts of Southeast Asia. Thailand is safer but still super dangerous compared to the west.
If you are not in a hurry and want to save money then you can go to Panagsama Rd and wait – tricycle drivers go backwards and forwards between Panagsama and Moalboal town, similar to a bus. Wave at one that has passengers already and they will take you in the direction they’re going for 10 pesos each. Just get in, don’t say where you’re going or ask how much (then they’ll know you haven’t done it before, putting you at a disadvantage) and give them 10 pesos at the end of the trip. They will stop quite often to put down and pick up passengers – you are not getting exclusive use of the tricycle.
If it does not have passengers already then they will attempt to charge you whatever they can (100 – 200 pesos) to go wherever you want – you are very unlikely to get the 10 peso fare as he’s no longer operating in ‘public bus’ mode.
Once you get to Moalboal town you can walk or get in one of those bicycle things with the umbrella or a jeepney if going to a nearby town. 10 peso.
If you want to be very comfortable then take a taxi. Ramon is very good at finding taxis to take you to Cebu City. The price is roughly 2000 peso which sounds like a lot but chances are when you convert it to your home currency you’ll see that for a 3 hour journey it’s quite reasonable. There are no official taxies in Moalboal but when someone from the city comes here in a taxi the driver is left stranded here without a customer to pay them for the return journey so they sometimes sit around in Moalboal hoping to get lucky. Ramon watches for them and can hook you up – call him the night before.
The bus stop to the city is a few meters to the right of where the Panagsama <–> Moalboal road joins the National Highway around the island. The yellow chairs go to Cebu City while the other side of the road goes to Dumaguete or Oslob. The bus also stops at Gaisano mall so if the weather is very hot then waiting for the bus from inside McDonalds (ahhh, air-conditioning) is a good trick. Be ready to rush out when it stops because they pause only long enough for people to get off/on.
Busses arrive every 15 – 30 minutes until quite late in the evening. Half the busses have air-conditioning and half do not. The prices are only slightly more for the air-conditioned one. The wifi sticker on the bus is only for show.
The journey to the city takes 3 – 4 hours. Try to avoid getting a bus that will arrive in Cebu City between 5 PM and 8:30 PM as rush hour traffic can add an hour to the trip.
A little south of the bus stop, past the fruit stand, is a van depot which is cheaper and faster than the bus. However the seats have been moved to be very close together in order to fit in an extra row of seats. They also squeeze 4 people in per row. This is not a situation for large foreigners or people with significant luggage. If you go for this option, consider buying a whole row of seats for yourself (120 peso each seat).
You need to be in Oslob in the morning as the whale sharks go away by lunchtime.
You can go by bus, which takes about 2 hours, but you need to change busses at the tip of Cebu island which might involve waiting around for 30 minutes to an hour. Jeepney is cheaper and quicker (they leave from just south of the bus stop, before the fruit stand) as you won’t need to change vehicles but less comfortable especially if you have large bags.
Tricycles will try to tempt you to ride in them to Oslob but it is a long noisy expensive bumpy ride. Not advisable.
Sometimes guys will approach you at the bus stop and offer you a space in a van or taxi that needs one or two more to make the whole situation economical. They are legit and you won’t get mugged or kidnapped. Probably.
Follow this route on a motorbike to see a rural area with many traditional houses, rural scenes, animals and hardly any traffic. Economic development is happening very fast and this lifestyle will be gone within a couple of decades.
Be very careful if it has rained recently as half of the roads are dirt.
Sunday afternoons are especially good as less people are working so there is more ‘life’ around. During the week around 3PM many curious and friendly school children are walking and from 5PM onwards people are relaxing outside their homes after work. Sunset is typically around 6PM so if you time it right you can be at the Moalboal pier for that.
You can go into the sea basically anywhere nearby and see great stuff (swim out to where it suddenly becomes very deep) but there are a few especially good places.
Do not touch or stand on the coral. They grow extremely slowly so any damage takes years to recover from. If you need a rest find a rock, sandy patch or hold onto a boat/buoy.
- The Sardines – enter the water at Cebu Dive Center and swim south a little, quite close to the shore. 10 million sardines are hard to miss and a sight that is impossible to forget.
- White beach – the northern part is especially good. Many little shops around there can hire equipment to you although the quality is low – get equipment from elsewhere first if you feel organised. Club Serena is a resort in the northern part of the beach has pretty good food at very reasonable prices although service can be slow. On the way to the beach is a checkpoint where they charge a small toll to foreigners – bring coins.
- Secret amazing spot #1 – enter the water at Quo Vadis, go out to the edge of the shelf and head south past Love’s resort until you are at a place in the sea which a white wall on the shore points to. It’s quite far to swim and there is a fair bit of average stuff along the way so keep believing.
- Secret amazing spot #2 – it’s beyond white beach on a side road. There are no resorts or restaurants and there is a gate at the end of the road. Ignore the gate. This spot is only good when there is little wind or a southerly (more common in the rainy season).
- Fish sanctuary – quite far south from Secret amazing spot #1 is a remote undeveloped area of coast demarcated by two rows of white buoys. Fishing within this area is not allowed so there are more and larger fish than usual. Swimming there from Quo Vadis or Love’s is possible although tiring. You can get there by road but it is very very poorly signposted so ask me for directions.
There are a few shops in Panagama that hire out snorkelling gear, one in the alley near Chilli Bar and another near Coras Palm Court. Also try Cebu Dive Centre.
Did I mention about not touching the coral? You’ll see a lot of dead and damaged coral out there and it’s because people are careless. One of the ironies of travel is by doing it we change (destroy) the places we visit. Please be good.
Every evening the hoards come out to feast.
There is no malaria in this part of the country although dengue fever is a problem.
Keep your bedroom door closed during the day so they don’t go inside and hide, waiting to pounce. If they get in then you can use the mosquito killing can below the stove to kill them – aim it in the cupboards and under the bed where they like to hide. Pharmacies sell mosquito repellent – don’t use one with > 25% deet as if it gets from your fingers onto anything plastic (phone, camera, etc) the plastic melts. ‘Natural’ mosquito repellent from the west doesn’t work very well on tropical mosquitos.
If that still isn’t enough or you want to sit on the front porch in the evening there are mosquito coils to burn. They are a fire hazard and the smoke is potentially cancerous when inhaled so use them carefully and in well ventilated areas (not your room). The little shops nearby sell mosquito coils, if you need to buy more.
The gas stove is very hot so you probably want to use it on it’s lowest setting most of the time. You don’t need matches or a lighter to turn it on, there is a spark built into it.
The rice cooker is handy – put in twice as much water as you do rice and turn it on with the lid on. Once it’s done cooking the rice it switches to a ‘warm’ mode but you should unplug it at that point so the rice doesn’t get burned onto the bottom of the pan.
When you check out please remove your food from the refrigerator – otherwise it becomes very full of food that no one owns and bad smells begin to emanate.
Power outages are fairly common. Sometimes they are planned because of maintenance work or load shedding and those can be for an entire day. Accidental outages usually only last a few minutes or an hour.
There are candles above the fridge and lighters by the hammock.
PH has the 5th most expensive electricity in the world so any effort you can make to reduce air-conditioning use or make it more efficient will be very appreciated. I recommend having the thermostat on about halfway and use the fan instead if you can tolerate it. Especially in the very early morning after midnight, a fan is usually enough.
We will usually remove the rubbish for you but if bins are starting to overflow then you might like to do it instead.
Here is how the rubbish works (video).
There are many places nearby which will do laundry for you. Next to the basketball court is a new place with washing machines and dryers.
There is an automatic washing machine at the back of the house, please do not use it. We do not have enough water in the tank so if you do laundry then you might not be able to have a shower or flush the toilet soon after. Also for the same reason do not hand wash laundry in the bathroom unless it is just a few small things.
Wikivoyage / wikitravel has great information – https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Moalboal
TripAdvisor has good restaurant / bar reviews – http://bit.ly/2mDyyeg
OpenStreetMap has the most detailed map of the area – there are many little paths and minor roads which are not on Google Maps so use this if you’re interested in getting off the beaten path.