Thursday, December 22, 2011

Whale sharks

Shark!? Did anyone say shark?! Worry not for you have selective hearing (or reading)! I said whale sharks. Do not be afraid of their size and, particularly, of their large mouth; they do not feed on people but rather have a taste for plankton and microscopic plants and animals. (Unless you are microscopic or own the Chum Bucket in Bikini Bottom then you should have been alarmed five sentences ago.)

To cross off an item in your bucket list, assuming one of them is to swim with the whale sharks, you do not have to haul your butt to Donsol, Sorsogon. You can do so in your own backyard! Okay, more like 117 km from your backyard if you're from Cebu City. At Barangay Tanawan in Oslob, a town south of Metro Cebu, seven whale sharks have taken a liking to its waters (or maybe to the krill...or was that baby shrimps?...the fishermen feed them).


To borrow Discovery Channel's words "The world is just awesome!"

How to find them whale sharks: Hop on a bus bound for Oslob and get off just before you reach the drop off for Sumilon Island (tell the bus conductor you're paying the whale sharks at Barangay Tanawan a visit, they'll know where to let you off). If they eject you in front of a gate with a whale shark painted on it, then you're in the right place.

What to bring for this awesome experience:
Snorkel and mask or goggles (to avoid getting red eyes after staring underwater at the whale sharks too long)
Rashguard (if you're afraid of jellyfish)
Money (to pay the fees)
Waterproof camera (to record this bucketlist item)

Answers to questions I would most probably have asked before going:
  • The bus ride to Oslob will take 2.5 to 3 hours. Buses for Oslob leave the South Bus Terminal every 30 minutes.
  • Driving will take 2 hours if you're a speed devil or 2.5 to 3 hours if you're a Sunday chill driver. There is a parking area.
  • If you're thinking of having a picnic, open cottages are available (Php 100).
  • It is not every day the seven will grace you with their presence. After a typhoon, underwater visibility will be low, and some of them might hide (yes, yes, I made that up) or take a holiday somewhere.
  • You can wash the seawater off your hair and skin, there are shower rooms you can use for free (bring your own shampoo, soap, and towel... it is not that free).

How this awesome experience bore a hole thru Mustachio's pocket:
Cebu to Oslob nonAC bus Php 150
Entrance fee at a resort Php 100
Banca Php 200
Lunch at Lusapon Resort in Boljoon Php 0, thanks to the kindness of a stranger
Oslob to Cebu Php 0, thanks to the kindness of a stranger

  • January 7, 2012 – Heard there are 14 whale sharks now!
  • January 10, 2012 – This from a friend who went to see the whale sharks last January 8:  you have to register and pay at the barangay.  Fees are as follows: Php 300 for banca, add Php 20 if you're going snorkeling, and Php 100 if you're bringing a camera. (Why all the fees??) And according to this news article, 60% goes to the fishermen, 10% to the barangay, and 30% to the municipal government.
  • April 28, 2013 – Fees for Filipinos: Php 300 if whaleshark watching only / Php 500 if snorkeling. For foreigners: Php 1000. Fee already includes banca ride, life vest, snorkel, and transfers to and from registration area/briefing area. Whaleshark watching is from 5AM to 12NN only.


  1. Nice catch (pun intended) post mustachio. :) How are the whalesharks called in Cebu, tawiki?
    The migration patterns of the whalesharks have eluded researchers for quite some time. It is interesting to know that they also ply by the Visayas seas. I do hope that the the Boljoon LGU (and the nearby islands and Cebu provinces) would ensure that these gentle creatures will be protected and not hunted.

  2. Hahahah It's tuki in Cebuano :D
    Yes, I think they're working on policies and whatchamacallits.

  3. Great post! :) What time would be best to swim with these big fish? Do you know anyone we can contact there? We're planning to go there this January.

    1. Hi Synz! Best to go early morning. We actually took the 4AM bus and arrived at 7AM --- a good number of people were already there at that time. Sorry, I don't have the contact number but you can't miss the house, it has a blue gate with a drawing of a whale shark on it. It's before Sumilon. By the way, I heard there are 14 whale sharks already. That should be fun! :)

  4. Awesome share this ha? it really is amazing.

    1. Thanks for dropping by! Sure, you are welcome to share :)

  5. wonderful
    im planning to go during march
    is it a good time to go?

    any hotel around that area? how often does the bus fr cebu leave the station to Oslob if you dont mind sharing

    thanks and happy new year

    1. Hi May! Thanks for dropping by. I honestly don't know if the whale sharks are there the whole year round or just some of the months... but word from the fishermen is that they have been constantly seen in the area for the past two years.

      Buses from the station in Cebu City leave for Oslob every 30 minutes. It is best to go early in the morning so you arrive at Oslob before 7AM, or better yet, go on a weekday when there aren't too many tourists.

      There are a few seaside resorts/inns in Oslob and in the neighboring towns, unfortunately I didn't take note of the contact numbers. Sorry.

  6. im excited for this one, im not a fan of Cebu but because of this - napabook ako ng flight to cebu bigla. =)
    sana wag muna tumaas ang fees at that time. hehe

    1. Hi Chyng. When are you visiting? You should go there on a weekday. Locals and out of towners flock to see the whale sharks on weekends and holidays!!! My sister visited just this weekend and it was chaos... ok, I'm exaggerating, but if you don't want to wait 3 hours plus waiting in line to watch the whale sharks, do go on a weekday. :)

  7. Is August a good time to visit the Sharks out there?

    1. I think the whalesharks are always there...