In recent years, people have been coming to Oslob to experience something that is one for the books and that is to get up close and personal with the gentle giants, the whale sharks. Cebu is known for its beaches, nature tripping and historical sights and definitely that is what Oslob could offer plus a rare encounter with these majestic sea creatures. Now it’s time to get this a check on my bucket list. From the city, we took a Ceres bus (aircon Php155) from South Bus Terminal at 4AM and it was a 3-hour travel to Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob located south of Cebu. Tell the driver or steward to drop you off to the place for the whale shark watching which is just along the road and from there you can choose from a number of sites that offer whale watching services.
We took a quick breakfast to get some energy from a small carenderia just outside the area and then geared up for the briefing. Time check it was 7AM and the sun is already up so most of us applied sunblocks which was a bad move.
Inside the briefing area, a personnel will give a quick orientation for about 5 minutes for the dos and don’ts and the very first thing that was mentioned is sunblocks and sunscreens are not allowed because it will contaminate the water and may poison the whale sharks. Oops! Now you know why so we were asked to wash it off in their bathroom after the briefing.
Whale Sharks Watching
The activity is only done in the morning starting 6AM until 12:30 noon so it is best to be early for a good morning sunshine. If possible, it is also ideal to come on weekdays to avoid the rush of people. Surely you don’t want to miss this experience so we rented a waterproof camera for the group where you have the option to copy it to your flash drive or on a compact disk later. Rates
- Watching from the boat only – 300 php (locals)
- Swimming with whales (snorkeling gear included)- 500 php (locals)
- For foreigners- 1,500 php
- Waterproof camera rent: 500 php (without memory card) 550 php (with memory card)
As other blogs would mention, it is recommended that you bring your own snorkeling gear for hygienic purposes. Wearing a life vest is required as said by the boatman but you can take it off after you get to the area if you know how to swim. The activity is good for 30 minutes only so be sure to enjoy and not waste your time dealing with your fear. 🙂
The watching area is just a stone’s throw away from the shore so you can easily see the paddle boats. As we approach the area, we started to hear voices in awe and fingers pointing down below. And we started to feel the excitement and thrill.
And there it is! Wow, isn’t it amazing to see that big creature underneath? If you are afraid of sharks from watching those movies then you better keep yourself together because these giants are really gentle and very friendly. These whale sharks, locally known as tuki, are being dragged by boatman by feeding them with krill (small saltwater shrimp) and that is where you get a chance to watch them underwater.
What an unbelievable and spectacular sight to see as these creatures swim very slowly and tenderly. I would say they got used to be swimming with people and that takes out the little fear inside of me and was filled with astonishment.
There were a number of whale sharks in the area, I would estimate 5-10 of them scattered around and I think the boatmen are doing a good job in spacing them.
One minute you see them in front of you the next you’ll see another one behind you or underneath you. Hey John, right beside you! 🙂
See that? These creatures may have that dorsal fin on their back that we are scared of but they don’t have those spiky sharp teeth and fiery eyes. In fact they have cute little eyes and vacuum-like mouth to swallow their tiny food.
It is an advantage to know how to dive so you get to see them in different perspective. Just make sure you don’t disturb and touch them as these creatures are still wild animals.
Though there is a distance of 4 meters that should be maintained as stated during the briefing, sometimes unexpectedly one will appear unnoticed. Just don’t panic and let them pass by you. This one below was really close but first, let me take a #selfie! 🙂
Half an hour went by very fast but it was still really worth it. It’s moments you will cherish and get to share or even brag with your friends. It’s definitely a must try activity that can be considered only-in-Cebu.
On the other note, this activity is also challenged with controversies over the years that this activity is not good for the animals as it disturbs their natural habitat. I’ve heard there’s still some lobbying to stop these activity and we can never know when these creatures decide to leave as the environment change.
One way or the other, this should be on top of every traveler’s list. The people behind this should continue working closely in saving and preserving this nature’s wonder that has given livelihood to a lot of locals. And lastly we also need to do our part to be a responsible and good traveler enjoying by the rules. Next stop, Sumilon Island and Tumalog Waterfalls.