Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Right after the Bohol earthquake and a week before Typhoon Haiyan, my family and I were in Cebu for our outing. The city looked fine with very few broken buildings so we decided to push through. After all, the place of the whale sharks (aka butandings) is four hours away from the city.

My mom rented an Innova for P3,500 to bring us to Oslob. The driver was very nice and he has been chauffeuring for my mom before. The other option was to take the bus to Oslob for less than P200 each but comfort is our priority since we had several luggages in tow and my mom even bought a guitar.


About two hours from the city, we stopped at the Carcar Market. I only read about this from Our Awesome Planet. This is a market which sells the best lechon for only P290 a kilo. Like a typical market, they have stalls and we chose the one by Aling Guiling. All stalls offer free taste of the lechon and the lechon skin so you can have your pick. Puso (the Cebuano rice in leaves)is also sold here for only P5 each.

And don’t forget about the chicharon here. They say that you can buy the best chicharon in Carcar. We bought the packed Mat-mat chicharon only to find out that you have the option to choose the chicharon, have it weighed and then packed. Just keep walking around the chicharon area in the market and you’ll definitely see this stall. There’s also one stall that lets you choose the chicharon about 5 minutes away by car from the market (on the way to Oslob).

See the boats on the right part of the photo? That's where the whale sharks go for the "Meet and Greet".


My siblings and I were all excited as it was our first time to see and swim with the gentle giants. The rates were P500 for the locals and P1000 for foreigners. I loved it that they had a more affordable rate for locals - great way to promote local tourism. The rate already includes the snorkel and the mask and the 30-minute experience. Flippers can be rented for P50. I brought my own snorkelling gear but they did not allow the snorkel to be replaced by the fins. If one does not want to go swimming with the whale sharks but want to do whale shark watching, the rate is only P300.

Some of the rules about swimming with the whale sharks:
  • Do not feed the whale shark
  • Do not touch the whale shark
  • Keep your distance from the whale sharks (about 4m away)
  • No flash photography
I found the rules quite ironic since the boatmen were feeding the whale sharks to lure them to the spot where the tourists are. And the whole area is a bit cramped so it’s quite impossible for you not to accidentally touch the whale shark. I was terrified so I kept avoiding them if they got too close but a whale shark’s tail accidentally brushed my brother’s foot. 

We rented an underwater camera for P400 and the boatmen were the ones who took our photos. Some of us had a little difficulty staying underwater (we kept on floating to the surface!) that the boatmen had to push us downwards just to capture that shot with the whale sharks.

Over all, the experience was exhilarating, if not too short. With the 30 very short minutes, I spent half the time fretting because I was scared (believe me you’ll probably be scared too if the mouth of the whale shark is a foot away from your face) and half the time drowning just to get the perfect shot. We got to see about five whale sharks with the biggest one about 8-10 feet long. According to the divers and boatmen, there is an average of 18 whale sharks a day that visits the area and the biggest is as big as a bus.

There were several food stalls in the area so we had brunch after swimming. Souvenir items can also be bought in the area. The key chains and magnets were sold for 3 for P100.

Read about where we stayed and what else we did in Oslob on my next posts.

It's better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times.


  1. Hi!

    Good post!

    How did you get from Malonzo's to the whale shark area and back? Are there any transportation nearby?


    1. Hi Shelly! Since I am with my family, we rented a vehicle (a Toyota Innova, I think). But there are also lots of buses going to Oslob from the city, I am just not sure where the terminals are.