Swimming with Oslob's Whale Sharks

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

You may have already heard by now about the new buzz going around in social networking sites and in some travel blogs. The once sleepy town of Oslob located just south of Cebu City is now starting to attract thousands of local and international tourists — myself included.

Commonly found in Donsol, Sorsogon, the gentle giants of the sea seem to have found a new home in Oslob, providing the locals additional livelihood and eco-tourism for the barangay and the municipality. The butanding (Tagalog term) or tuki (local term) started to appear late last year after a fisherman apparently spotted a group of whale sharks swimming in the area. Since then, swimming with the whale sharks at Oslob spread like wildfire.

This guide aims to help you plan your trip — from the budget rundown to the different activities in the area.

How to Get There
From Cebu City South Bus Terminal, ride the aircon bus going to Bato via Oslob, which will take 2 to 3 hours depending on the traffic. The fare is only PHP155.00 per person. Buses depart every hour and the first trip leaves at three in the morning. Terminal fee is only PHP5.00.

Tip: I advise you to take the first trip in the morning to be the first in line during registration. Take the aircon bus since non-aircon buses will have a lot of stopovers along the way. I have a friend who took the non-aircon bus and arrived at Barangay Tan-awan at 6:30 in the morning. She was already number 81 in the list and was able to swim at 9 in the morning.

You can request the bus driver to drop you off at Barangay Tan-awan's Whale Shark Watching Briefing Center, which is just along the highway. Look for the red gate beside Ester's Store (see picture below). Walk inside and you will reach the center a few meters away.

The local tourism council officially opens their briefing center shortly before 6 in the morning. Beside it, there are a few stalls where you can eat your early breakfast. Prices are very reasonable, too, which range from PHP30.00 to PHP60.00. If you're traveling with a group, have someone fall in line at the registration while the rest can take their breakfast. Check out the guy who sells lechon, too. A kilo is only PHP375.00 — relatively cheaper than in Cebu City.

There are six comfort/shower rooms where you can change or take a shower for only PHP5.00 per use.

Tip: There's one food stall that has wooden lockers for rent where you can leave your bags and other valuables. The friendly lady only charged us PHP50.00.

Activities, Rules, and Expenses
The municipal-controlled Oslob Resorts and Recreation Commission will charge you a considerable amount of PHP300.00 for the registration, which is already inclusive of the boat rental, local guide (1-2 fishermen), and whale food.

You will also need to attend the briefing before you sail out. Do remember the important rules and regulations like: (1) Do not touch, ride, or chase the whale shark; (2) No flash photography since this may shock the whale shark; (3) Viewing is limited to 30 minutes; (4) No feeding other than whale food (krill); (5) Do not restrict normal movement or behavior of the shark; and etc. Otherwise, you will be reprimanded by the fishermen.

Viewing/swimming is on a first-come-first-serve basis, which starts from 6 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon. Upon registration, the locals will assign you a "priority" number written at the back of your ticket and you need to present this to the fishermen before they will let you ride the bangka (small boat).

You are also required to wear life jackets, which can be rented for only PHP25.00. For those who want to swim with the whale sharks, you can bring your own gear or you can rent their Speedo snorkling gear for only PHP100.00. Again, remember the rules and regulations.

Here are some of the pictures that we took:

We arrived at 5 in the morning.
Briefing spearheaded by the local tourism council.
This was taken after we sank.
Upclose shot of the butanding.
Manong feeding the whale shark.
Taken a few minutes after the butanding appeared.
Carefully following the butanding.
Officemate, girlfriend, me, lechon.

After swimming with the whale sharks, you can also visit other areas in Southern Cebu like Oslob's Tumalog Falls, Kawasan Falls in Badian, and the beaches in Moalboal. Catch my complete post on how we enjoyed the southern tip of Cebu for less than a thousand pesos soon.

For more information about Oslob's whale shark watching, you can also check out this other guide. Feel free to leave a comment below.


Hazel said...


thanks for this very nice and informative post.
can you please post the link of your southern cebu trip for our reference..

we'll be three in 2 days time..

thanks in advance.. :D

Vernon Joseph Go said...

very informative post indeed, it seems the more I plan and wait the more expensive it gets waaaa -_-

The Lord said...

@Vernon: Sorry. I just got back from hiatus. You should go now! Did you read about the fee increase?

Clint John Cabigon said...

Nice place to visit during summer and holidays. Visit Oslob

The Lord said...

Hi Clint. It is! But I think feeding is no longer allowed.

Krystel del Mar said...

Hi, very nice post. Is the info still applicable up to this date? Do you know about the changes, if any? Thanks. :)

The Lord said...

Hi Krystel! Thanks for dropping by. As far as I know, they already stopped the feeding of the whale sharks.

Anonymous said...

HI..from Tan-awan, how to get to Kawasan Falls?

Post a Comment