Moalboal. The generic term for when tourists usually mean Panagsama. When I was doing my research, all the reviews said that it doesn’t have a beach any more after it being washed away was washed away in a typhoon in 1984. To be honest with you, that didn’t sound much like somewhere I wanted to make the effort to visit (a huge drive from Malapascua, and a good trip over to the airport). However, it was coming up time and time again for a must see in Cebu.
Despite not having a beach to write home about, Panagsama is where the resorts, restaurants and dive shops are located. A 5-10 min taxi from the main bus stop in Moalboal and you pop out at a crowded and higgledy-piggledy arrangement of all of the aforementioned establishments. In fact the lack of beach has probably helped keep Pangasama free of massive chain hotels and over-development. There is a beach, aptly named White Beach about 7km to the north of the town, but be warned, this does get crowded on weekends and school holidays.
The main draw for sacrificing a beach is the world class diving, literally on your doorstep. There are numerous options for diving here and most come with an attached (or at least recommended) accommodation option. Consequently it wasn’t easy to choose somewhere to stay. The top end resorts were too far away from the ‘town’ center for my liking, not to mention being prohibitively expensive. Similar issues were found with the resorts on White Beach – whilst not being overly pricey, for a single person they were all a little far away from the action and I didn’t want to have to rely on taxis all the time. What I was after was somewhere central that was clean, friendly, with nice views, a/c and a pool, afterall, I was on holiday and planning some time to relax.
You’ve found the best resort in the town. Quick! Check if there’s a room and book it. That’s the sort of review I’d have liked to have seen. It would definitely have made my choice much easier. As it was, I kept coming back to Quo Vadis. Sadly, it didn’t have rooms with a beach view or a pool view available direct so I sent the resort an email. This was where I made a mistake. I found one of the prime rooms available on a third party site and booked it before I’d heard back. I absolutely do not recommend you do this. Whatever you do, wait for the resort to come back to you because they will go out of their way to help you. I had an email back from Pieter the manager who said that he’d seen my third party booking but was sorry that those rooms weren’t available so offered me an alternative. As it was a cheaper alternative, I’d get a credit on the room rate for use against diving, or food. As he’d been so polite and friendly, and it looked like a lovely resort with a pool, it seemed churlish not to take this.
After a 7 hour (yes, that’s how long the boat plus drive from Malapascua takes) journey, boy was I glad to land at this place. I’m glad the driver had sat nav as well as a vague sense of where he was heading and the ability to spot the large painted signs on every corner as you drove from Moalboal town to Pangasama.
My first encounter was with the lovely and friendly reception team. They work on a crazy spreadsheet for their guests – I have no idea how they do this, but it works for them. They knew who I was when I arrived and what room I’d booked as well as the third party booking mix up. Now, I was expecting a garden view room, so when we walked from reception, past the pool, past the dive shop (mental note made for popping back in there once I’d dropped off my bag) to the block next door, I was a little surprised. I most definitely had a room with an ocean view. Apparently there had been a cancellation so they’d moved me. Amazeballs as a friend of mine would say.
The room was furnished with everything you need – comfortable large bed, a/c, large bathroom (and decent towels) and a fridge in which to store your very essential bottles of water. Outside was a small table and two chairs facing the ocean. Perfect for watching sunsets. Which are stunning. Every single night.
For those who want a cheaper option, the garden view rooms, are literally just over a road from the main resort and a 2 minute walk from the water. They are also a little newer.
There is an onsite bar which is great for post diving beers and quiet for sundowners. Whilst there is a restaurant, I would recommend a short stroll along the road for food though. Sadly this isn’t a strength of Quo Vadis, but fortunately, there are some great, cheap and hearty options within a 5 minute walk – Last Filling Station (amazing food at all times of the day, but especially pre-dive breakfasts), Chili Bar to name a couple.
The dive shop is staffed by some of the best people I’ve met on this trip (Sofie, Inge, Nils, Pernilla, Emile and others) and the diving is fabulous. Groups are never big, equipment is well maintained and the range of marine life suits all. There are up to 3 dives per day and it is really up to you which you pick and choose. If you don’t fancy it, then snorkeling on the house reef is just as rewarding.
The sites are really out of this world for variety and quality of marine life. There’s a couple of key attractions here: sardines, Pescador Island (ideally the Cathedral site), Tongo, Talisay, White Beach, Ronda, Umbrella and many more. As for what you see, well, keep your eyes open and you will see so much: sardines in their thousands, frog fish, scorpion fish, many varieties of nudibranchs, pygmy seahorses, turtles, ghost pipefish….
Just stop looking for anywhere else and book this place, you won’t be disappointed.