DAYS BY-THE-SEA AND THE INCREDIBLE DIVE WITH THE SARDINES
CORALS FULL OF COLORS in a crystal clear blue sea, along a wall with so much life, turtles, 'nemos' and SARDINES! YES! Thousands of them! Have you ever imagined yourself diving in a silver ocean? It was exactly that feeling we had in Moalboal, in the Philippines.
> ONE 'THRILLING' ARRIVAL
In fact, our adventure through the quiet dive site on the island of Cebu began with, what we call, "a little turbulence". Our flight from Manila to Cebu City delayed more than 5 hours (believe it or not we heard that is a common thing at Manila airport), and we only arrived in Moalboal at night, after facing another 3 hour busride on the road.
Well, let me say that in many cities in the Philippines it is not as common to book your hotel in advance, you just get there and book it on sight. This actually was a routine for us while travelling, but the best time to do this is ~ of course ~ during the check out times, which usually happens between 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Every time we are going to arrive between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. we book the accommodation in advance, otherwise we just do it once we get to the destination.
Summing up our 'drama', we arrived at Panagsama Beach at 7:00 pm without hotel, and with everything completely full! It was Lunar New Year week (aka Chinese New Year) and the whole Asia gets C-R-A-Z-Y during the holiday season.
We knocked on every-single-door and with all super crowded we have already decided that that night we would sleep on the beach. But then we heard a good old-fashioned Portuguese coming from an alley. There were two Brazilians girls who were living in Australia and saved us!
We went to the guesthouse that they were staying (which had also no vacancy, of course) but it turns out that the owner was simply an incredible human being. She lined beach chairs so we could sleep in her living room (instead of the beach) and said that there was "no way that we were going to be homeless!" ♥ Gerty, we only have love and gratitude for you and Marisa!
We were practically 'adopted' by this Filipino family and all we feel is gratitude. They turned our trip into something bigger! The bonds we have created are alive till this day, regardless of whether we are on opposite sides of the world.
> FREE DIVE
After receiving only good feelings toward us, we woke up on the other day determined to leave behind the turbulence of our arrival in Moalboal. Masks and fins ready we got into the sea in front of Pacita's and started swimming in direction of the pier.
The coral reef and a perfect wall for divers who do not even need to go on board to dive. It's just walking 30m and LITERALLY you are at the bottom of the sea!
We were getting the thrill little by little. First came the turtles, then clown fish, frog fish, lion fish, octopus, sea snakes... A variety of species that looked like they had been handpicked! You know, like an aquarium?! It was kind of surreal and Madu was just feeling Ariel herself LOL
Over15 dive sites just on the coast, with visibility around 40-50m and we began to see that silver mist: sardines spotted!
(Yep, I know the photo is not so good, but it's just to give a 'scaled notion' of how AMAZING this diving is)
> IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RUN It was definitely the best dive ever! Thousaaaaaand of sardines surrounding you, that you even lose track of where you are. It becomes the floor, ceiling and wall around you. They reflect the silver sun and darken the seabed when cover over your head. They flee from divers 'bubbles', forming drawings in the ocean.
When the predators arrive, the whole cluster moves like dancing, back and forth along the wall. I must confess that every time the dance began, my imaginary already glimpsed a great white shark in the attack, right?! Or at least a Marlim of 15m long :D lol. But ~phew~ that was not the case. Only medium-sized fish were surrounding the sardines and making them dance the "waltz under the sea".
> FIN LIFESTYLE
This experience was more than contemplation, it was an interaction with the sea like we have never done before. We actually felt part of everything, not just as visitors or strangers 'al mare'.
Moalboal is one of the best places in the world to have this experience, along with Raja Ampat in Indonesia and the famous Sardine Run in Port St Johns, South Africa (note: this is only for the strong hearted - take a look at Google to understand a little more 'cause what I really mean is STRONG-HEARTED-REALLY-BRAVE-AND-FEARLESS person ;)
The days of 'silver' sea in Moalboal, enjoying playing with the sardines, were life changing. We felt just like home, with a super friendly Filipino family, doing dives all day and every day, always closing in golden hour with a Red Horse or San Miguel, to see the sun set behind the neighboring island: Negros Oriental.
Island Life F-O-R-E-V-E-R.