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? Quo Vadis Dive Resort, Moalboal, Philippines
⚓ Sardines
⏱ 55 minutes
? 15m
⇩ 11m
? June 2018
Realness, by Kai Engel (licensed under CC BY 2.0, sourced from Free Music Archive)
? GoPro HERO5 Black, edited with iMovie

If you’ve heard of Moalboal in the Philippines, then you’ve probably heard about the sardine run. It’s not the only reason to visit the seaside town, but it’s certainly one of the biggest draw cards. I’ve only been diving for a little over a year now and haven’t had the chance to dive the annual sardine run in South Africa yet (which is happening as we speak), so when I heard about the sardine run in Moalboal, I promptly jumped on a local bus from Cebu City and headed down to the action.

Unlike the sardine run back home which is an annual frenzy, Moalboal’s glistening hoard appears to stick to the west coast of Cebu all year round. Apparently they were previously hanging out at Pescador Island, but have now moved closer to the mainland and are accessible a mere 20-30 metres from the shoreline on Panagsama Beach where the reef drops off. This means that you can simply snorkel straight off the beach for free, but as a diver I couldn’t skip the opportunity to float around with 87 bajillion fish.

I’d planned to get to max depth as quickly as possible so that I could float upside down below the action, staring up above me at the mass of glistening bait balls, but this particular dive didn’t go all that well for me unfortunately. I didn’t realise that I was getting a cold (inevitable after 3 months of traveling) and as a result I struggled throughout the dive to equalise, only managing to get to a max depth of 11m after an exceptional test of patience, and not really being able to enjoy the experience with as much attention and gusto as I would’ve liked.

Despite being a tad grumpy and spending the majority of the dive between 5 and 7 metres, it certainly wasn’t a shabby view at that depth, watching them twist and turn and pulsate and glisten and dance around bubbles together in perfect, flowing sequence, and there were moments when I was almost completely surrounded which is an exquisitely overwhelming experience.

A whale shark had made an appearance the week before and I was obviously hoping to get that lucky on this dive, but that wildly special encounter is clearly saving itself for another time. While the world famous South African version seems to bring with it a whole lot more action, the Moalboal run is definitely something that I’m stoked to have added to my log.