Swam with a Whale Shark in Oslob, Cebu

I was pretty excited about our second day in Oslob as we were about to check out the much talked-about whale shark watching at Tan-Awan. We woke up early and after a little beach stroll, breakfast, and a few more picture-taking in Sumilon Island, we took the first scheduled boat transfer (9:30am) back to Puerto Sumilon in Bancogon.

15 minutes later we arrived at Bancogon and our Glamping assistant from Sumilon was nice enough to help us with our bags and accompanied us until we got a tricycle (P10/pax) going to Tan-Awan (it is about 10-15 minutes away from Puerto Sumilon).

This sign points you to the registration area.

When you get there you have to fall in line for registration and fees (P300/pax). I suggest that you don’t go there on peak seasons such as Holy Week because there would be a lot of people – both foreign and local tourists. (Side note: They don’t operate during Fridays). Best time to go there would be on a weekday, and come early. We went there on a Saturday during the Holy Week and we had to fall in line for just registration for an hour.

The people lining up for registration.

After registration, they will give you a number (written on a blue or green laminated paper). The color of your number indicates which resort you should go to – the green ones or the blue ones. We were assigned to a green one but we mistakenly went to a blue resort. The boatmen were kind enough to just include us in the blue queue because it would eat up so much time if we were to go all the way to the other side of the beach (where the green resorts were) and line up again. Because (again) there were a lot of people that day, we had to wait for about 40 minutes for a free boat.

Finally after we boarded our bangka we saw the star of the season. There was only one whale shark. It was just about 15ft long.

After several attempts, we finally got a good shot of me swimming near the whale shark. You’re not supposed to touch it.

Around 1.30pm we took a shower and waited for a bus going to Cebu City to catch our flight back to Manila. It was a really fun experience and it was my first time to see a whale shark, but it would have been more fun if there were just a few people. I was amazed at how the whale shark didn’t seem fazed by the number of boats floating around. It was just following the boatmen guiding it, making sure that everyone got a good look and saw what they came for. I don’t know how they make it follow their boats, though. Maybe they were feeding it? But from what I know you’re not allowed to feed it.There was also no proper tourist orientation after they register, which is a great risk for the whale sharks’ safety. Let’s just hope that the incident where a girl was photographed riding on the back of a whale shark won’t happen again and people are more careful when interacting with them.

Oslob is 3 hours away from Cebu City. Ride a bus at the South Bus Terminal and tell the bus driver to drop you off at Tan-Awan in Oslob. Fare is P150/pax.

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