It was 6 am. After a tiring journey and less than 4 hours of sleep, we were up and ready! No amount of tiredness would matter as this was the day when we’d get to SWIM with whale sharks.
Would they be aggressive like a shark or docile like the whale? Would they be too huge? Would I drown? What if I dropped my GoPro into the sea? So many questions kept popping up in my head. But did all this apprehension outweigh the excitement? Absolutely NOT!
What are whale sharks?
The whale shark is one of the world’s gentlest giants. They are slow swimming filter-feeders, usually in a shade of grey and currently the largest amongst fish species in the world. Fully grown whale sharks can reach incredible lengths of up to 40 feet. Imagine, it’ll be 7 times the size an average human! The very thought of swimming with these giants gave such chills.
We arrived in Oslob which is about 120kms from Cebu (4-5 hours by bus) at about 2 am after a comfortable bus ride. We stayed in a tiny cosy resort called ‘Germaroze’ which is a 15-minute bike ride away from the whale watching location.
Swimming with whale sharks is a very popular attraction in Oslob. Offbeat tourists come to see the local fishermen feeding these whale sharks every morning between 6 am and 12 pm in the relatively shallow parts of the Bohol Sea. This experience is quite well organised and systematic. There are 4 steps to do the whale swimming.
- You Pay. To Snorkel: PHP 1,000 (Rs 1,300), to view from the Boat: 500 PHP and to Scuba dive 1,500 PHP.
- You go through a quick orientation where they give you instructions on the average distance that you need to keep from the whale-shark, how you must not use sunscreen lotions and how not to be scared if they come too close to you.
- Verification and distribution of snorkelling gear and life jacket
- Getting onto the boat (the ah-finally-moment! )
After about 30 mins of waiting, we were on our boats and set sail for the dive location.
“Slide slowly into the water. You don’t want to scare them! “The Boatman said.
With snorkeling gear & life jackets on, we got into the water . There were moments of complete silence as we waited for them in the deep blue waters. A few minutes later, these gentle giants emerged so gracefully! Their sheer size makes you feel so insignificant in this world. While we were tried hard to digest the reality as it unfolded, one of the whale sharks swam just beneath our feet. We froze. Was it the fear or awe for these amazing animals!? We began feeling a lot less intimidated as time passed. It felt blissful to see them move around and sometimes come very close to you.
There’s something magical about how these whale sharks moved. They were calm and their long tails moved elegantly under water. Within 10 minutes, there were 3 of them around the boat in the close distance. Few people around us took off their life jackets to swim closer to the whale sharks.
After 30 unforgettable minutes with these gentle giants, we half-heartedly climbed back on to our boat not wanting to return. Watching the whale shark have its meal on a Saturday morning truly is an unforgettable experience 🙂
Watch Our Whale Shark Experience Here
How to Get To Oslob?
Once in Cebu city, head to the Cebu South Bus Terminal (bus station) and take an AC/Non-AC bus to Oslob (Php 177 per head for the AC bus). You could pick up snacks/chips for the bus journey as they do not stop for a meal on the highway. Alternately, do reach out to our friend Mr Peter Ang if you wish to travel in a Mazda luxury sedan/bus (if you’re many in number). He’ll give you a good package deal for your visit to Oslob, Kawasan falls and return to Cebu (approx Php 4,000-4,500).
Peter Ang: Mob: +09163102289/+09333155793 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Flights to Cebu
- From India: Several options available from Bangalore, Chennai, Cochin etc. as per your requirement. ( Approximately Rs 25,000 Return)
- Within the Philippines: We took a flight from Puerto Princesa to Cebu. (Approximately Rs 2500) You could also fly from Manila.
So, will Oslob- Cebu be your next check-in?