CEBU: Swimming with the Oslob Whale Sharks : A Travel Guide

I wish I could say I enjoyed swimming with the Oslob whale sharks last week, but truth is, I didn’t. I am happy for Oslob, these gentle giants locally called tuki caused a huge buzz in the Philippines which is a big help to the tourism revenue of  the once sleepy town. But I am saddened by what I saw; the chaos of  tourists which could scare away or harm the poor whale sharks and even fellow whale shark watchers;  stubborn tourists touching the whale sharks, snorkelers’ fins almost hitting my face, scuba divers suddenly surfacing from down under and paddle boats almost running over my head.

Oslob, Philippines

Nevertheless, the people of Brgy. Tan-awan,Oslob deserves the blessing that they are getting now.  I love the genuine hospitality shown to us by the locals. I am deeply moved by their simple way of life; I see families happily eating together over humble meals, weary fishermen in green uniforms taking care of tourists, officers constantly checking with visitors if they enjoyed the whale shark encounter and a humble home embracing us. I saw the joy in their eyes, taking pride in the attention that their once sleepy town Oslob is getting.



But I hope in the coming days, more tourists would respect the whale shark guidelines and realize the harm that they could do to them.  The tourism officers and the fishermen are really trying hard to implement the rules and organize the whale watching activity, but the number of tourists should really be controlled and sadly,some tourists are just really stubborn!


Whale shark watching in the Philippines is on the bucket list of most tourists. Who wouldn’t? At a reasonable price, you’re getting one heck of a travel adventure! Another famous site for swimming with the whale sharks in the Philippines is Donsol, Sorsogon , the “Whale Shark Capital of the World” where unlike in Oslob,  no hand-feeding and no touching of whale sharks.  In Oslob, there’s a boat called “whale shark feeder”  that the tuki follows while the boatman feeds them.

Fishes swimming with a whale shark. Photo by Sheeze

Here is my Oslob whale shark travel guide to help you plan your trip:



How to Get to Oslob, Cebu for the whale shark watching

 From Cebu City to Oslob

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Airasia fly daily between Manila and Cebu.

From Cebu City,  head to the South Bus Terminal and ride a Ceres bus  going to Bato via Liloan.  Tell the conductor to drop you off at Brgy. Tan-awan in Oslob for the whale shark which is just along the highway.  It’s roughly a 3-hour ride from Cebu. Bus Fare (air-con) is Php 155.


From Dumaguete to Oslob, Cebu

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific fly daily between Manila.

At Dumaguete City Public Market, look for the multi-cabs going to Sibulan Port.

At the port, pay the fee for the ferry/fastcraft to Liloan.

At Liloan Port, board a Ceres bus going to Cebu City and tell the conductor to drop you off at Oslob Whale Shark Watching


Tourists ready for the whale shark watching in Oslob.


Usually the bus will drop you off at one of the resorts with “Whale Watching” sign.  But take note that if you enter here, the resort  will charge you with a Php 100 fee  for the use of locker,  cottage,   transportation to the briefing station and boat assistance.

Otherwise, you can walk directly to the Whale Shark Watching Briefing Station to register,  pay the fees and attend the short briefing (do’s and don’t for whale shark watching).


Oslob, Cebu Whale Shark Watching Fees 2018


A gentle giant. Photo by Sheeze.
Local TouristsWhale watching (in the boat only, no swimming) + life jackeetPhp  300 (USD 6)
Local TouristsSnorkeling with the Whale Shark + Life JacketPhp 500  (USD 11)
Foreign TouristsSnorkeling with the Whale Shark + Life JacketPhp 1,000 (USD 21)
  • Exchange rate :  Php 1 = USD 0.02
  • Whale Shark watching in Oslob is good for 30 minutes only.
  • Whale Shark watching in Oslob is available daily from 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM only.

Oslob Whale Shark Watching Car Charter from Cebu City or Mactan Island

  • Tick off a bucketlist experience: swim and snorkel with whale sharks in the Philippines
  • Go at your own pace as you enjoy a private roundtrip transfer from your hotel in Cebu City or Mactan Island with an experienced local driver
  • Participate in shark feeding and explore surrounding coral reefs
  • Enjoy a scenic 3 hour drive along the Southern Cebu coastline
  • After your whaleshark experience, you may opt to climb up the amazing Tumalog Falls!


Cebu Sumilon Island Day Tour


Sumilon Island. photo credit Sumilon Island Resort

  • Visit one of Cebu’s best kept secrets: Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort at the southern tip of the island
  • Snorkel with the diverse aquamarine species in the first marine protected area in the Philippines
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch on the beach!




Oslob Whale Shark Snorkeling and Badian Canyoneering Adventure


  • Head to Oslob for a once in a lifetime chance to get up close to real whale sharks
  • Tick off a bucketlist experience: swim and snorkel with whale sharks in the Philippines
  • Participate in shark feeding and explore surrounding coral reefs
  • Climb up the breathtaking Tumalog Falls
  • Scramble, climb, jump, rappel and swim through the rugged but scenic cliffs of Badian
  • Make a splash as you brave through jumping off towering cliffs as high as 30 feet!






Tumalog Falls is a good side trip after whale shark watching in Oslob.


How to get to Tumalog Falls in Oslob


  • To get to Tumalog Falls, just approach a habal-habal (motorbike) driver.  Fare is Php 120, roundtrip. Good for 2 persons.
  • Tell the driver what time they will fetch you. Pay the driver half  first (Php 60)  and pay the remaining Php 60 once they pick you up.
  • Pay the Tumalog Entrance Fee of Php 20 per head.



Sumilon Island


Sumilon Island. photo credit Sumilon Island Resort


Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort

Bangocogon, Oslob, Oslob

Check room rates here



St. Joseph Church – Nueva Caceres

Mainit hot springs

1788 church belfry

Spanish-era gazebo

Nigad tree – centuries-old legendary tree



Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching Trip Budget


Bus between Cebu City and Oslob (roundtrip)Php 155 x 2 = Php 310
Whale Shark WatchingPhp 500 (locals)
Habal-habal ride to Tumalog FallsPhp 120
Tumalog Falls Entrance FeePhp 20
FoodPhp 100 per head per meal


  • Best to do this on weekdays when there’s not much crowd.
  • Come early to avoid long lines.
  • Our group left Cebu City at around 3am (Oslob bus runs 24/7 at South Bus terminal).
  • Coming from our trip in Malapascua, we just stayed at a coffee shop in Cebu IT Park while waiting for 3am.






Oslob Malonzo Pension House

San Jose Street Oslob, Oslob


Seafari Resort Oslob

Cuan-cua-ay, Tan-awan Oslob, Cebu


MB Sunrise View Resort

National Highway, Tan-awan Oslob


Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort

Bangocogon, Oslob, Oslob





Cebu City Walking Tour Part 1

Moalboal, Cebu : Travel Guide

Osmeña Peak
Bohol Travel Guide
Siquijor Travel Guide

Things to Do in Dumaguete





  1. I am happy for the town to getting some ecotourism-driven revenue. But I do hope that they learn that whale sharks MUST be protected if they want that revenue to be sustainable long-term. Doesn’t sound like a very good environment for the whale sharks, but with a few regulations I’m sure it could be a great responsible travel destination.

  2. I hope they all find an amicable way to generate income and also to keep the whale sharks in a safe environment.

    Great photos!

  3. I would love to explore more in Cebu come last week of march, but the itinerary given to us by the Foundation would not warrant. I would just make use of my time like revisiting the magellan’s cross and other nearby heritage sites.

  4. great shot on that tumalog falls!
    looks so inviting! summer pa naman dyan ngayon (dito kasi summer everyday, you know! haha)

  5. It’s not about a mere traveling but how you take good care of the things around you while enjoying the good views. Protecting these species also contributes to a thriving, healthy planet for people’s health and well-being. We should protect them para maabutan pa sila ng next generation. Wanna experience that!! Have you visit Malapascua?

  6. since this is supported by DOT, i heard malapit na sila dalin sa donsol to watch and observe yung right way to treat these giants. in time, magiging organize din yan.

    1. a dozen of oslobanons went there on may 2012 upon an invitation…hope it helped them

  7. […] Travel Guide : Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob […]

  8. I agree with you, and I hope that soon both tourists and fishermen will strictly enforce and follow the agreed guidelines, to make it both beneficial to the community and these gentle giants of the sea. Everybody happy, and hope next time we bring an underwater camera that is sealed properly haha

    1. i wanna try donsol, pero saka na pag my underwater cam na! haha

  9. nice! when i went to donsol, i only saw one whale shark at murky pa ng water.

    i’m a backpacker too! 🙂

    1. one lang din yung andun, tsaka maliit. hand-fed kaya d umaalis, in fairness, malinis ang water dun. 🙂 thanks for dropping by andy! 🙂

  10. Ack! marami talagang turistang makukulit at hindi sumusunod sa guidelines. Kung sila kaya ang ‘tuki’ at hawak-hawakan sila ng maraming turista… Hopefully, maging maayos na ang implementation ng rules and guidelines. Thanks Gael for sharing the information pati yung mga sidetrips. Ang ganda nung falls! 🙂

  11. Hey, this is actually my first concern when going there. Part of me is guilty because whale sharks should be living diversely away from humans but they are just too beautiful to see up close and we just have to keep in mind those rules and Snorkeling fins should be prohibited!!

  12. when exactly did you go to Oslob? actually, I went there last week. March 12 to be exact.. I’ve noticed that there were some backpackers in the area and it’s easy to tell and recognized them. 🙂

    1. haha yeah, there’s a lot out there. it was sunday – march 11. 🙂

  13. Hope they [authorities] can give solution to these problems ate Gael, such as seminars for tourists and to the community before interacting with the whale sharks. But it could have been better if visitors become responsible tourists themselves and the community people should have the discipline not to abuse what blessings they are receiving right now 🙂

    By the way, ang rami ring attractions near Oslob ha, sulit din po.

    1. in addition to Tumalog Falls meron din silang Sulfuric Spring water sa Brgy. Mainit.
      may medicinal value po ang tubig na to lalo na sa balat ng tao. limang piso lang ang entrance fee at pwede ka nang maligo sa pool na continuous ang daloy ng tubig so napakalinis talaga.

  14. wow, I didn’t know they also had whale sharks over there. Usually kasi, pag whale sharks, ang maiiisip ng tao, sorsogon. may facilities din pala sa cebu to swim with them. Thanks for sharing!

  15. It’s autumn in your site – ang cute ng falling leaves! 🙂

    Pano ba yan – who should be responsible for these whale sharks? Kelan pa kaya maging disciplined ang mga Pinoys to deserve this up-close-and-personal experience with whale sharks. tsk tsk

  16. Ang dami biglang fees!

    Sana when we go there mas organized na ang tour. I feel bad for those whale sharks dahil hindi natural ang habitat nila ngayon and I do wish na matuloy yung sabi ni Chyng na ilipat sila sa Donsol. Although baka mahirapan din sila bigla dun dahil nasanay sa spoonfeeding environment.

    Sana maabutan pa namin yan next week!

    1. robbie,

      dapat mong malaman at sa mga nagbabasa rito na ang ibang fees dyan ay gawa gawa na lang ng mga resort owners. wala pong bayad ang camera kung sarili mo ito. sa 300 na bayad mo sa whaleshark watching libre na ang gamit ng life vest…ito po ay handog ng municipal government. wala ka na ring babayarang banca kasama na yan sa 300.

      dumeretso na kayo sa briefing area, ito ay nasa resort ng butihing alkalde ng boljoon. walang entrance fee di katulad ng ibang resort na nanghihingi ng 100P as entrance fee. kung may sasakyan ka may parking fee lang na 20P.

  17. ganda ng kuha.. gusto ko ung second pic at ung experience sa tumalog falls.. mapuntahan nga.. 😛

  18. Nice… we are planning to go to the southern towns of Cebu this summer. This travel guide really helps.

  19. Namiss q tuloy ang working place q gael sa post na to, ive stayed in oslob for more than 1 year indi pa patok ang whale watching nun,,, 4hun pesos mga 5 persons na un… Wid side trip pa sa palibot ng sumilon,,, last feb ngpunta kmi dito and good to know na may do and donts na pero may matitigas pa rn ang ulo,,,

  20. after reading chyng’s comment i feel a lot better. i just been to costa rica where the locals have been trained and educated on the value of environment and its protection.

    i am saddened that there are many of us pinoys who are not heeding the rules. i also hope that implementation of the rules and guidelines would be strictly followed and certain penalties diligently meted out to rule breakers.

  21. nagandahan din ako sa tumalog falls. di namin napuntahan yan. sana maayos na nila yan with wwf group yung sa whale shark.

  22. dapat may fine yung mga turista na di sumusunod sa patakaran.

  23. i wanna swim with the whale sharks too! 🙂 thank you so much for this informative post! truly,it’s more fun in the Philippines <3

  24. daming fees. kumikitang kabuhayan!

    bakit kaya hindi nalang nila pagisahin yung bayaran pala hindi naman mukhang nakakaloko pag kung anu ano pa sisingilin sayo 😀

  25. tsk tsk tsk meron at meron talagang mga pasaway. sana nga matuloy na yung sabi ni Chyng para mas maging organize na sila. Kawawa naman yung mga tuki. Eh kung sila kaya ang hawak-hawakan ng maraming tao?

    Hopefully, by the time na pumunta kami dyan sa august eh medyo organize na sila.

  26. i have yet to experience swimming with the whale sharks. i hope i could tick this off my bucket list this year

  27. is it 24 hours to see the whale sharks?

  28. Hi is there a season that the whale sharks are there? i plan to go last week may… will i see them?? thanks.. you really have a wonderful site, take care always in your travels!! 🙂

    1. because they are hand-fed they’re always there.

      1. thank you very much, and as suggested in your amazing site, I booked at Boljoon at the Granada Resort and will hopefully see my most dreamed of Butanding!!! thanks and take care always on your trips!

  29. hi gail. i agree one can never be really happy if ganyan pala ang attitude ng marami sa mga turista dyan. figured its the picture of tourists riding these whale sharks in oslob thats controversially makin rounds in the internet lately.

    just a save money in lodging, is camping allowed in oslob? planning to go there this march…

    1. ay april na pala lol. sorry bout that

    2. i don’t think so. madame kase bahay sa my shore at ginagawang daungan xa ng mga boats, so wala tlga space for camping.

  30. I’m quite torn if I should go to Oslob for their whale watching when I go to Cebu next next week. Part of me doesn’t want to be part of the exploitation, and yet the other part of me wants to help the local economy. And also gusto ko rin makakita talaga ng butanding hehe.

    Sana nga maayos nila yung sistema nila. Para sa kanila rin, sa mga butanding at sa mga tourists tulad natin.

  31. Hello Gael,

    Been frequenting your site since I saw your link from James´ blog.:) I like reading your travel stories, and just like the other travel bloggers, you inspire me to travel more.

    God bless and keep safe on your travels.

  32. […] Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob : Travel Guide […]

  33. Never seen a whale of that species before. Nice article and well written

  34. Kawawang mga tuki…

    Keep on promoting responsible tourism Gael!

    I’m a supporter. 😀

  35. hi gael. happy to find you here. so this is where life has taken you after kalai? 🙂 i left my email add. would love to hear from you.

  36. […] have enjoyed swimming with the dolphins because it is effortless and not chaotic like swimming with Oslob whale sharks. I do hope the Misamis Occidental Aquamarine Park really returns the dolphins once they’re […]

  37. Pano bumalik sa Cebu city from Oslob? San kami sasakay and gaani katagal byahe pabalik Cebu city?

    1. sa highway lang, kung saan kayo bumababa po. a few meters lng xa. 4 hrs din.

  38. Thanks! I noticed there’s 100 pesos camera fee, will they charge you for bringing your own camera or they have underwater camera you could rent for 100 pesos?

    1. i know, confusing. but unfortunately, they charge you for the camera fee if you bring a camera sa boat. walang for rent na camera.

    2. last may lang po at may underwater camera for rent po doon, napakamahal ang renta 500 pesos! may dala akong compact camera hindi naman po ako siningil ng bayad sa camera ko.

  39. Do u need to be able to swim well to go snorkeling with the whale sharks? Do they give you life jackets to wear?

    1. yes, my life jacket. d naman, my life jacket naman so ok lang kahet d ka ganun kagaleng lumangoy, actually i can;t swim. haha

  40. waaaaaaaaaaaaaw…this is amazing… all the info’s i need’s in here!!!!
    makes mooooooore excited to go!!!!!!!!
    gOod job ^_^

  41. Hi Gael, thanks for this! I’m off to Oslob in a few hours. Hope to see the tukis but also want to advocate proper whale shark tourism procedures. I will be on the lookout for guidelines etc 🙂

  42. must be nice to see whale up close and personal. but poor whale.. it’s just being used for monetary gain.. 🙁

  43. Hindi din ganyan ka organized sa Donsol- it’s just as messy, especially when the whale sharks are nowhere to be found. There can be up to 10 boats= 60 pax to one whale with the spectacle being the people elbowing one another in the water as they race toward the whale sharks. The boats are also motorized and extremely loud- which I can’t imagine would be pleasant to the fish. I dunno, feeding them sounds a lot better than harassing them with very loud motorized boats and boatloads of tourists.

    1. Hi, Daniel Here, I am interested to visit the whale sharks in coming Oct, would like to find out any under water camera are available to rent over there ? Thanks

  44. Racism is alive and well in the Philippines!
    If you are “WHITE” you will pay 3x more than anyone else for whale shark watching in Oslob.
    Today I went with a group of 6 people and we all agreed that after the lady and gent admitted that they are racist that we will not go! I told them that I am a travel agent of more than 30 years, and that I was here in answer to a request by the Philippine Government to bring tourists to this country, they did not care either! Well I am now going to do my utmost to ensure that I stop as many “WHITE” people from coming here as tourists….so that these people can continue to live like sewer rats and enjoy their poverty…

    1. I’m sorry you feel that way. But if you are a travel agent for 30 years I am sure you are aware that even other countries have the same policy,not only in the Philippines. Locals pay less than foreigners. I’ve been to a few countries in SE Asia and even if I am not “white”, because I am a Filipino, I am still a foreign tourist and I pay the foreigners’rate. Locals and students always get the discounted rate.

    2. Hi Charles, Sorry about your experience with the whale watching fees. I guess another way to look at it is you were given the basic rate while locals were given a resident discount. It’s pretty much the same as reduced college fees for California residents… Locals pay taxes, and since the government (local or national) subsidizes some of these tourism operators, they give a portion of it back to tax payers as a form of discount. Hope this explains.

  45. Hey Gael,
    Thanks for the info on Oslob. You’re awesome!
    Me and my bf are about to do a whale shark trip this January and deciding on the best location for it. Online information is overwhelming and we’d appreciate quality recommendation as to where to go: Donsol, Oslob, or Leyte?
    What do you say?
    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    1. hi, never tried the donsol and leyte yet so i really can’t compare po. though i heard na mas malake ang chance to see the whalesharks in donsol kase nga handfed sila.

  46. […] I was contemplating about a swimming with the Oslob  whale sharks,  my uncle brought me to a famed public beach in Daang Lungsod, Alcoy.  This gorgeous tropical […]

  47. Thanks for a good informative write up. Really made me want to visit.

    Just a small correction, I am pretty sure that there is no church in Cebu inscribed as a UNESCO heritage site. The only 4 UNESCO churches in the country are in Manila, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur and Iloilo.

    1. hi Paulo, thanks for the correction,my bad forgot to use “Tentative List”. Boljoon is submitted in UNESCO World Heritage Sites Tentative List. thank you for dropping by. happy travels! 🙂

  48. This looks like such an amazing experience, so jealous of you Gael!

  49. Hi Gael. Are the whale sharks around all year through? Or they are only there at certain season?

  50. This is so helpful. Thank you for sharing this infos to us.

  51. Hi!
    Great infos! 🙂
    You left Cebu at 3 am, so I guess you started WS watching around 7am – and it was already crowded? Was this on a weekend?
    What do you think about monday?

    Looking forward to my trip to PI 🙂

    1. yeah, it was weekend asfaras I can rmmbr. Mondaywould be better, less people.havefun!

  52. Quite disappointing to hear the differrence in prices. As a Filipino I am charged the local rate while my husband is charged twice or treble the cost I pay because he isn’t.

    This is discrimination. We are all paying for the same privilege-to see the whale shark. Surely, if you want to see it regardless of nationality or colour of your skin, you should pay the same price unless you have to have first class service.

    1. I understand, but it’s the same thing when you are traveling in other countries, there is almost always a difference in price for entrance fees for locals and tourists. I always have to pay for the foreigner fee when visiting temples, parks, etc.

      1. WRONG
        Not in Australia, all tourist spots and entrance fees are the same regardless of race or skin colour.It would be illegal to do that.

        1. I see. Different countries have different rules, and as tourist we got to respect that. In PH and some other SE ASian countries, the fee for foreigners is usually different from locals. But I’m guessing the fees in Australian are way higher, I heard it’s expensive to travel there compared here, but it must be worth it. I wonder how much it cost to see a whale shark in Australia? 🙂

  53. Thank you for such a practical post – your blog really helped me in planning my Philippines trip last year.
    The behaviour of some tourists disturbed me also – they were really quite careless with how close they were getting to the whale sharks!

    As for the comments about foreigner fees… I personally did not mind paying the foreigner fee. I am not white, but I am also not oblivious to the fact that I do not support the local community in any other way, and even as a budget traveler It was still vastly more affordable than doing something similar in Australia!

  54. Very informative. Thank you! ?

  55. Hello, just wanted to ask if it is possible for me spend just at that budget even if I go there alone? I am planning for a solo travel but I am worried about spending way higher because I am just alone.


  56. My friend and I will be in cebu in less than 2 weeks from now. This really helps me a lot to manage the places we are planning to go to.

  57. Hello po, just want to ask if may idea po kayo sa daily trip ng Ceres Bus papuntang Oslob. Thank you

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