While there’s a lot to do in Cebu Island, the one attraction which stands out and brings many travelers to Cebu is for swimming with Whale Sharks.
Swimming with supremely beautiful and massive Whale Sharks was a lifetime experience especially when they are just a feet away.
Two years back I chanced upon a photo of a girl swimming underwater in front of a huge whale shark. From that very minute I knew I wanted to do this and thus began my countless hours of browsing. My eagerness to visit Philippines only grew stronger as I kept browsing more about this tropical paradise.
Finally came a day where I succeeded in convincing Divin to travel to Philippines. Of 7000+ islands that Philippines is made up of, Cebu has many waterfalls and activities one can experience. Oslob town in South Cebu is famous for swimming with Whale Sharks.
On reaching Whale Shark Watching point in Oslob we registered and sat for quick orientation (do’s and don’ts) after which we were handed a token and asked to wait. As the crowd started multiplying, I sat under the shade for 15 minutes cursing myself for coming to do this on a Sunday.
Sooner than I thought our numbers were called out. We were given life vest and snorkeling gear. We hopped on to the boat that took us few meters away from the shore.
Honestly the first whale shark I saw from our boat wasn’t as big as I imagined it to be. We jumped from our boat as our guide said “Your 30 minutes starts now”. Our boatman then asked us to look left as he saw a whale shark swimming towards our direction. There was another shark that was swimming just below us.
Only when I saw them underwater, I realized how incredibly large they were. They swam as calm as they could trying to feed on shrimps and plankton that were fed by boatmen. We remained closer to our boat as the sea was choppy. At the end we managed to see three whale sharks.
Watch ⇒ Video Teaser of our Experience
GOOD TO KNOW
- Timing: Whale shark watching is open from 6AM-12:00PM every day and the activity lasts 30 minutes.
- Rates (As of March 2018)
- Snorkeling (30 minutes) – 500 php (approx 650 inr) for local guest and 1000 php (approx 1300 inr) for foreign guest which includes life vest & snorkel.
- Scuba Diving (1 hour) – 600 php (approx 780 inr) for local guest and 1500 php (approx 2000 inr) for foreign guest
- In Oslob, It’s guaranteed to see whale sharks as they return every morning because they are fed and it’s round the year activity.
- You don’t have to know swimming. Whale Sharks are harmless and with life vest you can snorkel around them.
- Try to go as early as possible to avoid crowd especially on weekends.
- If you are coming from Cebu, you can book online with any tour agents to arrange a trip to Oslob Whale Shark Watching. There are many other activities you can choose to add on like visit to Tumalog Falls, Sumilion Island, Canyoneering etc. Check online as options are plenty.
UNDERSTANDING WHALE SHARKS
- The whale shark is a slow moving, filter-feeding gentle fish.
- Whale sharks can reach incredible lengths of up to 40 feet, and can weigh up 20 metric tons. While intimidating in size, a whale shark’s diet consists primarily of plankton.
- They swim with their mouths wide open in order to catch large amounts of their tiny prey.
- There are a number of places you can snorkel with whale sharks in the Philippines. Two of the popular spots are Oslob where whale sharks are fed and Donsol where they are not fed.
WHETHER TO GO TO OSLOB OR NOT
To guarantee whale sightings for tourists in Oslob, the whale sharks are fed by boat operators. These sharks are migratory by nature but they remain in Oslob forever as they are used to being fed by humans. There is also growing concern of increased tourist visiting Oslob. I recommend you to go to Donsol for Whale Shark sighting as they are in their natural habitat and the rules are much stricter. Thus being responsible travelers. Here they are spotted seasonally from April to September and the sighting is not guaranteed.
CHASING WATERFALLS (Side Trips)
South Cebu is famous for Water falls and the closest waterfalls from Oslob Whale Shark watching point is Tumalog Falls.
Ten minutes’ uphill drive from whale shark watching area brings you to the entry point to Tumalog Falls. From this point no four wheeler’s are allowed. The road to get to the foot of Tumalog Falls is very steep and the 2 minutes ride is itself an adventure. You will have to ride pillion on motorcycle (Cost: 20 php) like most of the tourist do to travel to-back Tumalog falls. Other option is to walk down but climbing up is a nightmare and nearly impossible unless you are super fit. Alternatively there are motorbikes in the whale shark point area that offers 150 php (less then 200 inr) round trip fee including the entrance fee.
HOW TO GET TO OSLOB, CEBU
Fly to Cebu: From India there are direct flights to Mactan Cebu International Airport or you can fly to Manila and then to Cebu. Round trip in Low cost airline Airasia would cost: 20,000 inr per person
From Cebu: From Cebu airport take a white coloured meter taxi to South Bus Terminal. From the bus terminal, ask for buses going to Oslob. There are both AC & Non AC buses. Buses to Oslob leave every 30 minutes during the day and it takes around 4 hours to reach Oslob whale watching area. Alternatively you can ask your resort/hotel to arrange a taxi for you.
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