Whale sharks, the gentle giants of the sea, are a sight to behold. These magnificent creatures, known for their enormous size and distinctive mar kings, have captured the hearts of many travelers.
If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines, specifically Cebu, then Oslob is the place to be if you want to witness these incredible creatures up close and personal.
How to Get to Oslob from Cebu City
Getting to Oslob from Cebu City is relatively easy, as there are several transportation options available.
Bus: The most common and affordable option is to take a bus from Cebu South Bus Terminal to Oslob. The journey takes approximately 3-4 hours, depending on traffic. Buses depart frequently, so you won’t have to wait long. The fare is around 150-200 PHP ($3-$4).
Van: If you prefer a more convenient and faster option, you can take a van from Cebu City to Oslob. Vans are available at various locations in the city and offer a more direct route. The travel time is around 2-3 hours, and the fare ranges from 150-250 PHP ($3-$5).
Car or Motorcycle: For those who prefer to drive, you can rent a car or motorcycle in Cebu City and make your way to Oslob. This option offers more flexibility and allows you to explore the surrounding areas at your own pace. Just keep in mind that the roads can be narrow and winding, so drive with caution.
Regardless of which mode of transportation you choose, it’s always a good idea to plan your journey in advance. Check the schedules, fares, and book your tickets early to secure your seat. Be cautious of scams and only use reputable operators.
Where to Stay in Oslob
After a day of swimming with Oslob whale sharks, you’ll need a comfortable place to rest and rejuvenate. Here are some recommendations for accommodations in Oslob:
Oslob Garden Stay Beach Resort – Located right on the beach, this resort offers stunning ocean views and easy access to the whale shark watching area. The roo ms are clean and spacious, and the staff is friendly and accommodating.
Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort – If you’re looking for a more luxurious experience, this resort is a perfect choice. Situated on a private island, it offers pristine beaches, a swimming pool, and a range of water activities.
Seafari Resort Oslob – This budget-friendly resort is a great option for those traveling on a tight budget. It features comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant serving local cuisine.
BCD’s Place – For backpackers and budget travelers, BCD’s Place offers affordable dormitory-style rooms and private rooms. It’s conveniently located near the whale shark watching area and other attractions.
When booking your accommodation, it’s advisable to do so in advance, especially during peak seasons. This ensures that you secure the best rates and availability.
How to Book a Whale Shark Watching Tour
Whale shark watching is an incredible experience that allows you to get up close and personal with these gentle giants of the sea. If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines and want to include this activity in your itinerary, here’s a guide on how to book a whale shark watching tour.
One option is to book your whale shark watching tour online. Many tour operators have websites where you can easily make a reservation. This is a convenient option, especially if you prefer to plan your activities in advance. You can browse through different tour packages, compare prices, and choose the one that suits your preferences. Online booking also allows you to secure your spot ahead of time, ensuring that you won’t miss out on this amazing experience.
Booking Through a Hotel
Another option is to book your whale shark watching tour through your hotel. Many hotels in popular whale shark watching destinations, such as Oslob in Cebu, offer tour packages to their guests. This can be a convenient option if you prefer to have everything arranged for you. The hotel staff can assist you in booking the tour and provide information on the best operators in the area. Keep in mind that booking through a hotel may be slightly more expensive compared to booking directly with a tour operator.
Booking on the Spot
If you’re more of a spontaneous traveler, you can also book your whale shark watching tour on the spot. When you arrive at the destination, you’ll find numerous tour operators offering their services. You can compare prices, ask about the tour details, and choose the operator that fits your budget and preferences. However, keep in mind that during peak seasons, there might be a high demand for whale shark watching tours, so it’s advisable to arrive early in the morning to secure your spot.
Price Range, Duration, and Schedule
The price range for whale shark watching tours can vary depending on the location and the inclusions of the package. On average, you can expect to pay around PHP 500 to PHP 1500 per person. The duration of the tour is usually around 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the operator and the number of people in the group. The schedule for whale shark watching tours also varies, but they typically start early in the morning, around 6:00 AM to around 12:00pm midday, to take advantage of the calm waters and better visibility.
Choosing the Best Tour Operator and Avoiding Hidden Fees
When choosing a tour operator, it’s important to do some research and read reviews from previous customers.
Look for operators that prioritize the well-being of the whale sharks and follow responsible tourism practices. Avoid operators that allow touching or feeding of the whale sharks, as this can be harmful to these gentle creatures. It’s also a good idea to ask about any additional fees or charges to avoid any surprises. Some operators may charge extra for snorkel gear, underwater cameras, or entrance fees to the Oslob whale shark watching area.
What to Expect from the Whale Shark Watching Experience
Rules and Regulations
Interacting with whale sharks requires following certain rules and regulations to ensure the safety of both the visitors and the animals. These guidelines are put in place to minimize stress and disturbance to the whale sharks.
Some of the rules include wearing a life jacket at all times, keeping a safe distance of at least 3 meters from the whale sharks, and refraining from touching or feeding them. These rules are strictly enforced to protect the whale sharks and maintain the sustainability of the activity.
The typical itinerary for a whale shark watching tour usually starts with a meeting point, where you’ll gather with other participants and receive a briefing on the rules and regulations.
From there, you’ll board a boat and head to the whale shark watching area. Once you arrive, you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel or dive alongside these magnificent creatures. After the allotted time, you’ll return to the meeting point and conclude the tour. It’s important to note that the itinerary may vary depending on the operator and the location.
Whale Sharks’ Behavior, Appearance, and Conservation Status
Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world, reaching lengths of up to 40 feet or more. Despite their size, they are filter feeders and feed primarily on plankton and small fish. These gentle giants have distinctive markings, with a dark grayish-blue or brownish-gray body covered in white or yellow spots and stripes. They have a wide mouth and a large, crescent-shaped tail.
Whale sharks are considered a vulnerable species, and their conservation is of utmost importance. The Philippines is one of the few places in the world where you can have a close encounter with these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
It’s crucial to approach whale shark watching with respect and a deep appreciation for their conservation. By following the rules and regulations, we can ensure that future generations will also have the opportunity to witness these incredible creatures in the wild.
What to Bring and Wear for the Whale Shark Watching Tour
When going on a whale shark watching tour, there are a few essential items you should bring. These include:
– Sunscreen: Protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays, especially if you’ll be spending a significant amount of time in the water.
– Water: Stay hydrated throughout the tour, as the sun and physical activity can be dehydrating.
– Camera: Capture the unforgettable moments with these majestic creatures. Make sure to bring a waterproof camera or a waterproof case to protect it from water damage.
– Towel: Dry off after the tour and keep yourself comfortable.
– Change of Clothes: It’s always a good idea to bring a change of clothes, especially if you plan to explore other attractions or continue your journey after the tour.
While not necessary, there are a few optional items that can enhance your whale shark watching experience:
– Snorkel Gear: Some tour operators provide snorkel gear, but if you have your own, it’s always preferable to use equipment that fits you well.
– Underwater Camera: If you have an underwater camera, bring it along to capture the beauty of the underwater world.
– Dry Bag: Protect your belongings from water damage by bringing a dry bag. This is especially useful if you plan to bring your phone or other valuable items with you on the boat.
When choosing what to wear for the whale shark watching tour, opt for comfortable swimwear, such as a swimsuit or board shorts. It’s also a good idea to wear a rash guard or a t-shirt to protect your skin from the sun. Don’t forget to bring a pair of flip flops or water shoes that you can easily slip on and off during the tour.
Other Things to Do in Oslob
Located just a short distance from the town center, Tumalog Falls is a stunning natural wonder that should not be missed. As you approach the falls, you’ll be greeted by a mesmerizing curtain of water cascading down lush green cliffs.
The cool, crystal-clear water is perfect for a refreshing swim or simply relaxing in nature’s embrace. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the magical beauty of Tumalog Falls.
Situated off the coast of Oslob, Sumilon Island is a paradise waiting to be discovered. With its pristine white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and vibrant coral reefs, this idyllic island is a haven for beach lovers and snorkelers.
Spend your day basking in the sun, snorkeling among colorful marine life, or taking a leisurely walk along the island’s nature trails. Sumilon Island is a true tropical retreat.
Oslob Heritage Park
Immerse yourself in Oslob’s rich history and culture by visiting the Oslob Heritage Park. This park is home to several well-preserved ancestral houses that showcase the town’s Spanish colonial architecture.
Take a leisurely stroll through the park, admire the beautiful architecture, and learn about the town’s fascinating past. The Heritage Park is a testament to Oslob’s heritage and a wonderful place to gain insight into its cultural roots.
Also known as the Nuestra Señora de la Inmaculada Concepcion Parish Church, the Oslob Church is a significant religious and historical landmark in the town. Built in the late 18th century, this impressive church boasts stunning Baroque architecture and intricate details.
Step inside to admire the ornate altar and beautiful stained-glass windows. The Oslob Church is not only a place of worship but also a testament to the town’s enduring faith and architectural beauty.
To make the most of your visit to Oslob, here are some tips:
– To get to Tumalog Falls, you can hire a motorcycle taxi from the town center. The journey takes approximately 15 minutes.
– To reach Sumilon Island, you can take a boat from the mainland. There are organized tours available, or you can hire a private boat. The boat ride takes around 15-20 minutes.
– The Oslob Heritage Park is located near the town center and is easily accessible on foot. Take your time to explore the park and soak up the history.
– The Oslob Church is also within walking distance from the town center. Remember to dress modestly and be respectful when visiting.
In conclusion, while whale shark watching is the main draw in Oslob, there are plenty of other attractions and activities to enjoy in this beautiful coastal town.
From the enchanting Tumalog Falls and the pristine beaches of Sumilon Island to the rich history of the Oslob Heritage Park and Oslob Church, Oslob offers a diverse range of experiences for every traveler.
So, pack your bags and embark on a memorable journey to Oslob, where natural wonders and cultural treasures await.
Important Frequently Asked Questions
Where Can I See Whale Sharks in Cebu?
Oslob in Cebu is one of the best places to see whale sharks in the Philippines. The whale shark watching activity takes place in Tan-awan, a barangay in Oslob.
What Time of Year Are Whale Sharks in Cebu?
Whale sharks can be spotted in Cebu throughout the year. However, the peak season for whale shark watching in Oslob is from November to May, when the sea is calmer, and the visibility is better.
How Much Does It Cost To Swim With Whale Sharks In Cebu?
The cost to swim with whale sharks in Oslob varies depending on whether you are a local or foreigner. For foreigners, the fee is around 1,000 pesos, which includes snorkeling gear and a boat ride.
For locals, the fee is significantly lower. Please note that these prices are subject to change, so it’s best to check with the local tourism office for the most up-to-date information.
When Can You See Whale Sharks in the Philippines?
Whale sharks can be seen in various parts of the Philippines, including Oslob in Cebu, Donsol in Sorsogon, and Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan.
The best time to see whale sharks in these locations varies, so it’s advisable to do some research or consult with local tourism offices before planning your trip.
What Months Do Whale Sharks Come Out?
Whale sharks can be seen year-round in the Philippines, but the peak months for sightings in Oslob, Cebu are from November to May. During this period, the chances of spotting these magnificent creatures are higher due to favorable weather conditions and increased plankton, which attracts the whale sharks.