Oslob, Cebu Whale Sharks Encounter

Oslob Whale Sharks

Part of me felt that my postponed trip to Japan was a good thing. I didn’t mind my colleague’s advice to just cancel my 2-week vacation leave and go to work instead.

The time that my trip to Japan was postponed, I told Mica about it and she didn’t hesitate to invite me on their Cebu-Bohol getaway. I was very happy when I booked my first flight of the year. The main highlight of our trip was Bohol, but since our flight was to Cebu and our friend Maire was dying to see the whale sharks (locally known as butanding), we comprised Oslob in our itinerary.

We woke up around 3:30 a.m. and left Sugbutel without fixing ourselves around 3:45 a.m. We met Matt, a young traveler from Canada whom Mica met in Thailand, and he was already waiting at the lobby. Man, he’s cute.  He traveled to Cebu just to see the whale sharks and visit Bohol.

There were no jeepneys during that time and the security guard told us to just ride a cab going to South Bus Terminal. We took an ordinary Ceres bus and the fare was around Php 145.00. It was a 2 ½-hr ride to Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob.

The bus ride was a like a wind as the driver was very competitive on the road. It was really fast and we had to hold onto our seat tight for the whole time. My butt was also sliding from left to right, then right to left for about an hour. Nonetheless, it was pretty much enjoying.

Oslob Whale Sharks

On our way, the view was very nice. Below the dark sky was a golden glimpse of horizon. The bus conductor was very alert to remind us that we’re already in Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob. We arrived around 6:30 a.m. and immediately assisted by the restaurant owner and brought us to the guides.

Oslob Whale Sharks

Oslob Whale Sharks

There was registration then briefing. The fees were quite hilarious, I wouldn’t mind if the camera fee was only Php 50 but heck it was Php 100, what made more hilarious was the snorkeling fee. By the way, you don’t need to pay if you don’t have an underwater camera.

Here is the breakdown of fees:

Php 300.00 – Whale shark watching fee
Php 100.00 – Underwater camera fee
Php 50.00 – life vest
Php 100.00 – snorkeling set
Php 20.00 – snorkeling fee
Php 10.00 – shower fee

We were shortly briefed about rules when whale watching:

Do not touch the whale sharks or ride them.
No lotion or sunblock! They say it might poison them.
No flash photography.
Minimal movements only to avoid bubbles.
Viewing is 30 minutes only.

After briefing, we changed clothes and fixed ourselves. EXCITED much!  Geared with our poor cameras we then headed to the boatmen and by the way, you can choose random boatmen to bring you in the watching site, we were there around 7:15 a.m.

Oslob Whale Sharks

Oslob Whale Sharks

Oslob Whale Sharks

We saw one that was being fed by the boatman. It was lovely! I was very excited upon see them personally. There was funny little thing though, my excitement has somehow turned into fear by the time I submerged in the water. OMG Bitch, their mouth is like a big vacuum which looked like it would suck you and EEEEKK it was getting near me! SCARY fish!

I was frightened during the first 5 minutes of snorkeling, I was like, “Omg omg omg!! Here it comes! Here it comes!” And I would frantically swim away.

Oslob Whale Sharks

The whale shark was just beside me and I was being too careful not to touch it. I wouldn’t want to touch it not just because the rules says so, but because it felt like it would wiggle and strongly slap you with its tail when you do.

The boatmen said, “Di ka kakainin nyan..” (It will not eat you) I was stupid enough to forget that they are gentle giants. There was a noticeable odor everytime I get near them, it smelled like fish. I thought whale sharks are mammals but I figured out they aren’t. They are fish.

All of a sudden I remembered that we only have 30 minutes to interact with the whale sharks. My fear then shriveled and I bravely conquered the water.

I have a DiCAPac (an underwater SLR case) which I really didn’t like, because the last time I used it my D60 broke. DiCAPac for SLR was the worst invention ever. I was struggling to use it and I couldn’t take pretty photos!! I made a big mistake for buying this, next time I will be buying a real underwater camera.

Oslob Whale Sharks

Oslob Whale Sharks
A tourist attempting to touch the whale shark..

Oslob Whale Sharks

Will I go back to Oslob? Definitely yes. There were only 3 whale sharks that time, and I want to see more. The boatmen said that the day before we went there were 8 of them. How bold it will be swimming with the 8 gentle giants. Plus, the fact that I have a wrong camera settings, I want to have a clear shots of them next time.

They are yet the loveliest sea creatures I’ve ever met. Although, I believe that this practice (boatmen feeding the whale sharks) is not right. To enlighten you, you may read this article as well: Stop feeding whale sharks in Oslob.

  • http://CebuRhythms.com McCoolot

    I didn’t know there is also a fee for underwater cam! naks! hahah.. lahat pala may fee.. lels..

    You got nice shots there Ada! 😀

  • http://www.senyorita.net Micamyx|Senyorita

    Tawa ako ng tawa nung binabasa ko ‘to 😆 hindi pa ako nakakapag-Oslob, pero I am happy na nakapunta na kayo ni Maire. Maybe I will go there soon 😀

    Btw, ang saya din na nakasama niyo si Matt hehe. Naalala ko nung kwinento mo to haha have fun in Tokyo my dear! mwah!

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  • http://marxtermind.com Marx

    Waaah! Andaming fees pero mukhang sulit naman. Gusto ko din mag whale shark watching pero gusto sa Donsol ko muna sya gagawin. hehehe!

  • Jean

    I’m excited! We’re also planning to go there next month. Parang bitin ata yung 30 minutes. Btw, saang resort kayo nag-stay sa Oslob?

  • http://www.gotravel.ph/ jef

    galing naman sulit na sulit ung bayad… buti walang fee yung walking 😆

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  • http://wandershugah.blogspot.com wandershugah

    Hi ada! Thaknyou for the informations you posted here. especially the fare to oslob. im going there on may and wow prang nahilo ako sa dami ng fees. haha but theres no turning back .sayang ung ticket namin 😀 kaya yes nlng. btw, love your blog!

  • JQ

    OSLOB’S Whale Sharks will end up dead eventually!

    Hand feeding distrupts the natural way of life of the whale shark which will eventualy lead to problems for both animals and humans. Hand feeding a wild whaleshark does allow tourists an up-close experience but when you think about it should a 9 tonne Whale Shark be trained to beg for food like a dog?

    The fishermen of Oslob are unintentionally training them to beg for food for tourists to watch and see. The Marjority of the Whale sharks passing by OSLOB will eventually be used to the feeding act.Because of OSLOBS hand feeding practices, these mograting Whale Sharks are now much more vulnerable to poachers in their future encounters with people.

    They will eventualy end up DEAD when they migrate and passby other countries that hunt and eat whalesharks specifically Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan which supplies Japan and China’s whale shark and sharksfin demands. These 3 countries are part of the top 20 shark catching countries which account for nearly 80 percent of the total shark catch reported globally.


    Also getting comfortable around boats and people could cause the sharks to approach other boats and risk colliding with them, or their propellers. Lastly changes in reproduction rates and health issues related to the type and amount of food could also arise.


    Its only a matter of time before thousands of people will be turning up in Oslob looking to encounter these gentle giants upclose not knowing that they are supporting a wrong cause.

    Support DONSOL’s Whales Shark Eco Tourism instead, it is properly managed by LGU of Donsol with assistance from WWF Philippines.
    WWF has assisted the Donsol local government unit (LGU) to protect whale sharks and develop a community-based whale shark ecotourism programme for the municipality.

    In Donsol they don’t hand feed the whale sharks.

  • ako si shapit

    …hahaha!!!panay ang laboy!!!…>:D

  • http://www.adaphobic.com Ada

    Hoi Shapit napakaaddict mo haha! Nasa Xerox pa naman ako LELs

  • http://wanderingdylan.com Dylan

    Ada, I can only imagine you sitting in the bus for 2 and a half hour…
    Remember our taxi ride in Panglao on our way back to the city? Para ka nang nahihilo nun… How much more dito sa bus trip nyo.

    I’m based in Cebu but I’ve never seen the Butandings pa. Buti pa kayo. 😀

  • Mark

    Hi Ada, Nice post. Sad to hear that the whale sharks are being hand fed! DO NOT DO THAT!sigh. These are wild creatures that shouldn’t be interfered with in anyway and interaction should be kept at a minimum. Spread the word please Ada , these aren’t toys to be used for the satisfaction of tourists.

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  • http://capturedbymiranda.blogspot.com Milet Miranda

    ada quesstion, kahit may sariling snorkeling set may fee pa din?
    Thanks :)

  • http://www.adaphobic.com Ada

    Hi Miranda!! If may snorkeling Set ka na, snorkeling fee na lang which is Php 20.00 ang babayaran mo 😉

  • http://www.oslobwhalesharks.com oslob whale shark

    Oo nga ang daming fees pero sulit naman talaga. Ang pera na kinikita nila ay ginamit nila para sa pagpapaganda ng mga bangka at mga facilities doon.
    Whale sharks are waiting for you guys.

  • Houston Siding

    This is very wonderful. I never imagined that whale sharks are so majestic. Thank for letting us enjoy your excursion by posting this article.

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  • riocarlo

    Oslob, Cebu is indeed a very beautiful place. Those whale sharks are the perfect proof of its beauty. This article is very informative.

  • http://tl.wordpress.com/ Ephramar Telog

    Our entire trip is really relaxing and astonishing. Seeing those Whale Sharks (Gentle Giants) swimming near you is a breathe-taking experience. I really love it! I would come back to Oslob every vacation

  • http://www.adaphobic.com/ Ada Lajara

    Indeed a fantastic experience. Although I have a feeling that this act will soon be stopped.

  • http://tl.wordpress.com/ Ephramar Telog

    Yeah, baka nga ihinto kasi kung anu-ano na lang yung pinagagawa sa mga Butanding. Sayang

  • Naza

    I like your travel blogs. It’s really helpful and fun to read. By the way, how much is the boat fee?

  • http://www.reneleandropadilla.com/ boyiboyi

    Very nice underwater photos!