Visit the Whale Sharks in OSLOB, CEBU, PHILIPPINES
There are a number of whale shark spots here in the Philippines, including Donsol, Camarines Sur. Albeit, last year, we went off to Oslob, Cebu in the Philippines. Our trip included a swim with the whale sharks.
The whale shark, or butanding is a huge, gigantinormous creature who feeds mainly on planktons through filter feeding.
Some have also coined them the name “gentle giants”. Thousands of tourists visit Oslob to see these gentle giants. They can grow really huge as the largest reported grew to be 12.65m (41.5 ft). Though huge, they are totally harmless to humans, because they only filter feed planktons along the way.
If you ever decide to pay them a visit, I hope this article will help you with your travel.
HOW TO GET THERE
We hired a van during our visit because we went there as a group. But in case you need directions, I’ll try my best to cover them here.
1. Hire a Van
If you’re coming from Manila, find a van for hire transfers via Facebook or Google. I’d recommend our van driver last time:
Arrange your van transfers ahead of time so they can also pick you up when you arrive via Mactan International Airport, or wherever you’ll be coming from.
Should you decide to drive straight to Oslob, Cebu, find a place to sleep because whale shark viewing only runs from 5am to 12noon.
We stayed at L&M Hearthstone. It was 40minutes away from the butanding watching spot, since we had a van, it wasn’t a problem at all.
If you’re coming from Mactan International Airport, ask the locals, or security guards on how to get to South Bus Terminal.
Usually, you can hop on a taxi which will cost around 300PhP (around 6 USD). Otherwise, if you are interested on a hardcore commute, try instructions from http://bit.ly/1URtPAE.
From South Bus Terminal, hop on to the next Oslob bound bus.
Should you decide to go straight to the whale sharks, just ask the bus driver to drop you off at Brgy. Tan-awan, the whale shark post is just along the highway. Again, you have to be early.
Whale shark watching is only available from 5am-12noon. Plan to find a place to stay for the night. This is to make sure you’ll catch the schedule.
Just ask your hotel or the locals on how to get to the whale watching spot at dawn. Usually they can go arrange it for you as well.
WHERE TO STAY
If you have a van like us, you can try staying at:
Nueva Caceres, Oslob Cebu
Mr. Nonoy Puspus +63 925 862 1965 / +63 923 734 4076
Ms. Tata Puspus +63 922 877 6738 / (032) 481 8019
No frills, just bed, and a simple breakfast. They may cost around 20USD for two people. Just make sure to contact them in advance for available rooms during your stay.
GETTING UP EARLY & GETTING THERE
They regulate tourists from 5am-12noon only. A possible reason is to keep the whale shark’s stress levels down. Also, waves are calmer that time of the day. Maximum visibility of the whale sharks also happen only during daytime.
Once you arrive at the post, there will be other tourists waiting for their turn by attending an environmental seminar. You will need to secure 450PhP per head. The fee lets you use a life vest, a snorkel and mask set. Should you decide to bring your own, that shouldn’t be a problem.
After that, they usually bring groups of ten people for a 3minute boat ride to the deep.
I’d say it’s quite expensive for the 15minute allotment for each boat. You’ll only be whale watching that short, sadly. But, as long as they use it for environmental betterment, that should justify it.
Just add Tumalog Falls to your itinerary after whale watching. It’s just a 15 minute drive from there.
NO TO SUNSCREEN
Do not use sunscreen.
The chemicals may harm the gentle giants, so please, refrain from applying sunblock before and during your visit. Should you have done so, buy soap from the mini-store inside the compound and wash your skin thoroughly.
Make sure you keep the chemicals away from our whale shark friends. The sun won’t hurt you, since you’ll only be exposed to open sun-rays for 30minutes max. Just apply when you get back to the shore.
NO TO FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY
Another important reminder, refrain from flash photography. This may stress the whale sharks, in addition to tourists visiting them daily. You can bring underwater cameras, but please no flash.
Also, keep your distance from them, as their leathery skin is abrasive. At the same time, please don’t try touching them. They will not harm you, but let’s also respect their personal space, shall we?
GET WET & GET SWIMMING
You went all the way to Oslob and paid the fee all this way to the deep, now go, hop off from your boat. Get wet. Make the best before your 15minute time is up. You’ll be amazed how tiny you are when seven whale sharks decide to pass by your boat.
I kept shrieking the first five minutes and kept coming back to our boat. This made me totally miss the passing whale sharks.When I got comfortable, my time was already up. We already had to go back.
How I wished I watched them and the tunas swimming around more. They were really that huge. They seemed like huge ships coming towards you, yet they were too cute to forget.
I’m telling you, 15 minutes is short. But for the volume of people coming, it keeps the gentle giants from being overly stressed from their visitors.
AN ENVIRONMENTAL SPIEL
I enjoyed seeing them in person. I’d come back to accompany a relative should he/she want to see them as well.
The whale sharks stay in Oslob because the locals started feeding them. And instead of them wandering in the ocean, they decide to stay because of this.
Others are saying that this may disrupt the ecosystem since they are supposed to be in the vast ocean, collecting planktons with their filters. Also, the younger ones are missing the skills to navigate through the ocean.
Now, they are in the list of vulnerable species. Their population is decreasing due to illegal fishing. Hopefully, the locals are doing them a favor by making them stay there, and keeping them safe from hunters near their town.
For now, if you ever decide on visiting them, make sure to take care nature. Do not throw trash and do not create anything that will disrupt them during your stay. Hope this blog helps you, should you find yourself in Oslob.
Be amazed while being a responsible tourist. Drop by to say hello, and meet them at one point in their hundred-year life.#