Oslob and the Whale Shark Watching.
Traveling to Oslob:
You can take a taxi, but commuting via bus from Cebu City to Oslob is the best and cheapest option. Take a Ceres bus bound for Bato-Oslob from the South Bus Terminal in Cebu. Travel time is also 3 to 4 hours but be prepared for delays as the bus might stop every now and then to drop off or pick up passengers. There are buses with air conditioning but also buses without, so pay attention. The buses without air conditioning are equipped with many windows that are open throughout the journey, so you can enjoy a nice breeze in the bus. You can take your backpack in the storage room at no extra cost, or in some cases on the floor if the storage room is dirty. If you have limited time, you can choose to leave early in Cebu city (first bus 1am) and book the Whale Shark tour immediately upon arrival (tour 6am - 11am).
Many people stay in Oslob, but we traveled a little further by bus and stayed 8km past Oslob. The advantage here is that you are within walking distance of the Whaleshark activity. You are also close to the beautiful Tumalog Falls and the beautiful island of Sumilon.We ourselves stayed at Stay N Save B&B. A lovely place, and man what a view! The location here is great, and only a 10 minute walk to the Whale Sharks. The nice thing here is that they are located on a beautiful rock formation. You can walk to the sea through a stairway. You can snorkel beautifully below, and it is full of huge turtles here. We even saw a Whaleshark swimming from above, ran down quickly but unfortunately missed the shark after snorkeling for a long time.
Whale Shark Watching:
The whale shark watching place is very controversial and we understand why, so it's important to know both sides of the story to make a good decision whether or not to go. We went to have a look the day before, and did the tour the day after, here is our thought. The Oslob’s whale shark watching is only available from 6:00 AM to 11:00 AM. Reservations are not allowed, this experience is on a first-come-first-served basis. You can avoid the bulk of the crowds if you’re one of the earliest visitors to arrive. We went at 6 in the morning, and it was wonderfully quiet. Also great for the sharks. An hour later, however, it was already getting very busy.
At the Oslob, Cebu whale shark watching site, you can choose to snorkel or scuba right next to these harmless creatures. I'm a big fan of diving, but I think snorkeling is better here because you can enjoy them up close. If you’re Filipino the snorkel price is 1,000 PHP. For foreigners, the rate for snorkeling is 1,500 PHP. I think we were lucky, because now there was a special rate of 500 PHP for everyone. Perhaps this has to do with Covid and the rainy season.The whole activity will last for only 30 minutes, and it’s conducted in batches. Before heading out into the water, there will be a short briefing session on the guidelines to follow.
Here are some key rules that are good to know beforehand:
No feeding or unauthorized feeding of the whale sharks.
No flash photography is allowed.
Always keep a distance of 6 feet away from the whale sharks.
Do not restrict their movement.
No sunblock before going into the water.
Then it will finally happen, the boats leave. First impression, glad the boats don't have engines, I think this is better for the whale sharks. After a short distance we can enter the water. Wow, what beautiful animals and how big they are. After 8 years of diving and never having seen one, it is very impressive to finally come face to face. However, the great controversy also becomes apparent, as they are heavily fed during the activity. In any case, it was very important for me to see that the sharks are not locked up, and that they can go back into the open sea after the activities. There is a line stretched around the site, but it only floats on the surface to keep out snorkelers who haven't paid. The sharks are of course responsible for the large income of this community, so that ensures that the entire community protects the sharks and other marine life here very well against poaching and fishing.
On the other side the many ethical issues that arise from feeding whale sharks cannot be ignored. Regular feeding disrupts the natural migratory behavior of this endangered species. And some of the whale sharks reside in Oslob all year round, instead of moving on to other waters. There is a worry that this new behavior might affect reproduction. It’s also likely that whale sharks may start associating humans and boats with food which will be dangerous if they ever encounter fishing boats and poachers. In Oslob, at the site itself, the “no touching” rule is not strictly enforced with the dozens of people who come every day. Oslob’s whale shark watching attraction still has a long way to go in improving its regulations. Think carefully before you decide to go.