Oslob Whale Shark Watching
One of the most popular activities, yet controversial, in Cebu is swimming with the whale sharks. Whale sharks are gentle giants and are the biggest fish in the world. It is called ‘butanding‘ in the Philippines.
The whale shark tourism center is located in Brgy. Tan-Awan in Southern Cebu. Local fishermen feed these gentle giants with shrimps and lure them to the boats so tourists can swim with them. This became controversial because the whale sharks don’t naturally gather there, and it disrupts their natural behavior.
Hopefully, more tourists will respect Oslob’s whale shark guidelines. But, the Oslob Whale Shark Watching is no doubt a unique experience. I have put together everything you need to know about Oslob Whale Shark watching.
There are four places in the Philippines where you can swim with the whale sharks:
- Pintuyan, Southern Leyte
- Tubbataha Reef
- Donsol, Sorsogon
- Oslob, Cebu
Whale shark watching in Sorgoson should be your best option since the fishermen are not hand-feeding them for the tourists.
There’s a higher chance to see the whale sharks in Donsol between April and May.
In This Post
How to get to Oslob for whale shark watching
It will take between 3-4 hours to travel from Cebu City to Oslob depending on the traffic. The first trip is at 1:00 AM and the last trip is at 12:00 MN. The ticket costs at least PHP 200.
- Go to Cebu South Bus terminal
- Ride a Ceres Liner bus going to Oslob.
- Ask to be dropped off at Oslob whale shark watching briefing area in Brgy. Tan-awan.
- It’s along the highway, so you could see the briefing area right away.
Schedule and fees
The Oslob Whale Shark Watching is only available between 6 AM until 12 noon. The activity is only for 30 minutes.
Fees for local tourists
- Whale watching (with life jacket): PHP 300
- Swimming with the whale sharks (with life jacket): PHP 500
Fees for foreign tourists
- Whale watching (with life jacket): PHP 500
- Swimming with the whale sharks (with life jacket): PHP 1,000
- Everyone is required to attend the orientation on the rules on interacting with the whale sharks.
- Viewing is limited to 30 minutes.
- Maintain a minimum distance of 5m from the head and 6m from the tail.
- Do not touch the whale sharks.
- Do not use flash photography.
- Do not wear sunscreen if you are going to enter the water.
Oslob Whale Shark Watching – what to expect
Since Oslob Whale Shark Watching is a popular activity for tourists, expect that there will be hundreds of tourists every day.
If you want to arrive early, you should leave at 3 or 4 AM from Cebu City. Our group arrived at 5:45 AM and a lot of people have already arrived.
There’s no reservation and it’s a first-come, first-served basis so you need to arrive ahead of time.
Once you are in the briefing area, the orientation will start at 6 AM. You will get a group number, and after the orientation, everyone will proceed to wear the life jackets and get the snorkeling gear.
If you don’t have a camera, you can rent a GoPro for PHP 550 and an additional PHP 150 for the boatman to take your pictures.
I had different expectations of this experience: I was expecting that we will wait for the whale sharks. Instead, the fishermen hand-feed them so the whale sharks will come to the tourists.
It felt different when looking at the whale sharks from the boat and swimming with them. They are huge!
I only spent 5 or 10 minutes in the water and went back to the boat. Everyone has 30 minutes for this activity. Nonetheless, whale shark watching was a unique experience.
Swimming with the whale sharks is only 30 minutes, but because of the volume of tourists, you need to queue a long time for the shower rooms.
The shower rooms are clean and properly maintained!
Tourist spots to visit after whale shark watching
Right after swimming with the whale sharks, you should not miss going to Sumilon Island! It’s a small sandbar that is a short boat ride away from the briefing area.
Our van is parked at the briefing area, so after visiting Sumilon Island, we went back to take a shower and have lunch.
Here are other tourist spots you can visit after whale shark watching:
- Sumilon Island
- Tumalog Falls
- Oslob Heritage Park
- Osmeña peak
Cebu package tours with whale shark watching
One advantage of getting a tour package is it includes almost everything. From transportation, accommodation, itinerary, and sometimes food.
We booked our tour in Cebu for two days & one night with Happy Juanderer. The package we booked is called Project Sursuroy.
- Day tour to swim with the whale sharks and visit Tumalog Falls
- Oslob Whale Shark watching and Badian canyoneering adventure
- 3-days Cebu tour including Oslob whale shark watching, canyoneering adventure, Sumilon Island, and Cebu City tour
Here’s a complete travel guide to Cebu including itinerary, budget, and tips.
Discounted Hotels & Resorts in Cebu
Save money on your accommodation by booking from one of the hotels & resorts below! You’ll also get more perks like late check-out or more discounts.
Click the links below to get more details.
bai Hotel Cebu – up to 75% discount! Overnight or 2-nights stay in a deluxe room inclusive of breakfast for 2 and PHP 500 or PHP 1000 worth of food and beverage credits that can be used in Marble and Grain Ume Japanese Restaurant, Wall Street, Pool Bar, In-Room Dining, or Lobby Lounge.
Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort – up to 65% discount! A minimum of 2-night deluxe room with breakfast, 15% discount on F&B, BlueCARES Sanitation Kit & welcome Bluewater coolers.
Seda Ayala Center Cebu – up to 35% discount! 1-night stay in a deluxe room for 2 person(s) and inclusive of breakfast and/or PHP500 worth of dining credits.
Seda Central Bloc Cebu – up to 35% discount! 1-night stay in a deluxe room for 2 person(s) and inclusive of breakfast and/or PHP500 worth of dining credits.
More activities in Cebu
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