“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” – Martin Buber

Oslob: Swimming with the Whale Sharks

Getting to Oslob from Dumaguete

We awoke before six in the morning, and we were out of the hotel door just a bit after six. We took a tricycle to get to Sibulan port. Along the way, we saw the Claytown pottery shops, another attraction in Dumaguete. Albeit the stores were closed, you can see the crafts along the road. In about fifteen minutes, we reached Sibulan port.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Dumaguete shore

We were headed to Oslob, a town where sightings of whale sharks (aka butanding) were made in the past couple of years. To get there, we needed to ride a ferry from Sibulan port to Brgy. Liloan in Cebu, then ride a tricycle from Brgy. Liloan to Oslob proper.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Pump boat schedule

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Ferry Schedule

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Pump boat from Dumaguete

So, we did just that. The boat ride was short, about fifteen minutes. The tricycle ride felt a tad longer than that of the boat (though it’s roughly just fifteen minutes too).

Swimming with the Whale Sharks

The tricycle driver brought us to a resort, that also offers tours. 500 pesos per person was the flat rate if you plan on swimming with the whale sharks. If you plan to just sit on the boat, you only pay 300 pesos. I think the prices double if you are a foreigner. We also paid for the resort stay, which cost 70 per head.

We then changed into our swimsuits. Word of caution: you might want to wear something more conservative, since you’d have to walk along the highway (not the shore!) to get to the briefing area. There, someone will orient you about the do’s and don’t’s during your whale shark encounter. The most important things I remember was that we shouldn’t apply sunblock, and that we should be at least a few meters away from the butanding.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Walking along the road in Oslob

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Orientation area

Soon, we were off to swim with the whale sharks! We boarded a paddle boat to bring us to the area, then we put our snorkels on, and removed our life vests, and jumped into the water!

Here and there were these friendly creatures! There was nothing else to feel except awe, given their good nature despite the seemingly scary exterior.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

At first, I was hesitant to let go of my hold on the boat. After all, we were at the open sea. Yet, I wanted to take a closer look at the butanding. Sure enough, I did just that and swam with these gentle giants. However, when I saw one of them gulp such big amount of water, my terror made me swim hastily back to the boat.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob


Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

The sea bed

This meet and greet lasted for just about 45 minutes. We’ve been lucky with our generous boat men – the encounter should only last half an hour. In the end, we all had fun! It was another great adventure 🙂

Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob Swimming with the Whale Sharks in Oslob

Before I end this post, here are a few tips:

1. Go there on a weekday, and be there early. There are fewer people, so there’s more time for you and the whale shark.

2. Bring your own snorkel. Sure, it’s bulky, but if you have one, bring it. The ones they lend are crappy, and you’d want the best snorkel to make the most out of your adventure.

3. Wear a rashguard, or some conservative swimming attire. One, it’s to embarrassing to walk along the streets in skimpy clothing. Two, it’s not allowed to wear sunblock, so it’s best to protect your skin.

4. Make sure to bring an underwater camera! Capture those memories – it’s nice to look at them afterwards!

Sightseeing Expenses*

Oslob Sightseeing Expenses (group of 5) PHP
Tricycle to Sibulan Port 100
Pumpboat to Brgy. Liloan 225
Tricycle to Oslob (round trip) 500
Snorkeling with the Whale Shark 2500
Cottage Rental 350
Motorcycle Ride** 2000
Tumalog Waterfall entrance** 100
Ferry to Sibulan Port 310
Tricycle to Dumaguete 120
Total Expenses 6205
Cost per Head 1241

*Our food expenses are excluded here, as I believe that individual preferences vary greatly when it comes to this.

**Will talk about this on my next post.

More nature tripping in Oslob soon. Happy travels!:-)

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22 comments on “Oslob: Swimming with the Whale Sharks

  1. Jean Alaba
    July 15, 2013

    Hi there,

    Definitely agree with tip #1. It would have been a totally different experience had the ocean been crowded.

    ‘1. Go there on a weekday, and be there early. There are fewer people, so there’s more time for you and the whale shark.’

    Glad you had an awesome time with our gentle giants!

    Sharing our experience with the Oslob whale sharks,


  2. Pingback: DIY Cebu City Tour | eagerexplorer

  3. somestupidusername
    August 20, 2013

    Wow! This looks and sounds like an amazing experience…

    • Karen
      August 20, 2013

      It is, indeed! I hope you get to visit my country someday, Tasha. It has a lot of amazing places waiting to be explored 🙂

  4. Rita Monica
    October 26, 2013

    Hi, i am planning to visit!! so excited.. but just one question, after the whale shark viewing, how did u guys climb back up the boat?? My 1st time going on a apaddle boat… i scared i might tumble it over! hehehe…

    • Karen
      October 27, 2013

      Climbing back to the boat was the harder part. You’ll have to muster some strength to do it, or ask the boatman to help you. Don’t worry too much about toppling over! Have fun and enjoy swimming with the whale sharks! 🙂

  5. Raquel
    January 20, 2014

    Hello Karen, i read your OSLOB Blog and i loved the pics and as well the information you give.My name is Raquel from Hamburg, Germany we are a Group of 9 Person + 2 Kids and planning our Trip to Dumaguete from Feb 22-Feb 27, maybe you can give me a Tip where to stay a night in Dumaguete as we will arrive 16.15hrs in Dumaguete and next day plan the Whale Shark Encounter and right after that take Ferry to Siquijor, i would be happy if you can give me some tips and advice for this trip. Many thanks and regards from Hamburg, Germany 🙂

    • Karen
      January 20, 2014

      Hi Raquel,

      Thank you for choosing to visit the Philippines. Upon your arrival in Dumaguete, head to the ferry terminal to reserve your tickets to Siquijor. (We just turned up at the terminal on the same day of our trip and there were no fast craft ferry tickets available!) Make sure that you’d have an allowance in traveling from Sibulan port (the one going to Oslob) to Dumaguete port.

      In Dumaguete, we stayed in Hotel Nicanor. I didn’t love this hotel, but it was adequate for an overnight stay. It was located at the heart of town, and the famous Sans Rival is just at the corner.

      For Oslob, I suggest that you bring your own snorkel and an underwater camera, and wear a rashguard as sunblock is prohibited).

      Siquijor deserved more than an overnight stay. I love Coco Grove. I recommend that you stay here!

      Enjoy your trip! 🙂

    • dilek
      March 5, 2014

      hi there,
      my family and i have just stayed in a fantastic place called liquid. its a dive resort as well. they have lovely cottages,a big pool,fanstastic restaurant-cafe-lounge.and on top of it offer great diving,snorkelling and day trips. auch babysitter service. die besitzer haben selbst kinder.
      uns hats bestens gefallen!safe travels,

  6. Gala
    February 27, 2014

    hello, I have a question. How do you book the boat that takes you to swim with the Butandins?

    • Karen
      February 27, 2014

      I’m not sure how to book it in advance. Just show up at the seaport in Brgy Liloan, Cebu (if you’re coming from Dumaguete) and a tricycle will bring you to the shore. Be sure to go early to avoid the crowd. 🙂

  7. dilek
    March 5, 2014

    hey karen,
    thanks for sharing!

  8. irina kristi
    March 8, 2014

    hi karen!
    what time did you arrive at the resort given that you departed at 6 in the morning from dumaguete?

    • Karen
      March 8, 2014

      Hi Irina. Probably it was 7.30am, since we got the 6.30am pump boat from Dumaguete. 🙂

    • irina kristi
      March 8, 2014

      can i ask if you have any idea how far is malatapay market from sibulan port?

      • Karen
        March 8, 2014

        I honestly don’t have an idea about Malatapay market. Sorry I couldn’t help. 😦

        • irina kristi
          March 8, 2014

          its okay. thanks so kuch karen for the tips! your blog entry and the pictures are a big help already!:)

          • Karen
            March 8, 2014

            Glad to be of help, Irina! 🙂

  9. fuji
    March 20, 2014

    Hi karen,
    We will be in oslob this coming weekend probably. I may know why tricycle is costly, it is for the whole tour after whale shark dive? or just one trip? thank you.

    • Karen
      March 21, 2014


      The cost of the tricycle was for the round-trip transport to the resort and back to the port, for a group of five. The ride is approx 15 minutes, hence the cost.

      Hope this helps. Happy travels! 🙂

  10. kae
    May 4, 2014

    Hi!! May I know what underwater camera did you use? Hehe ‘m planning to buy one for our Oslob trip next week. Thanks!

    • Karen
      May 5, 2014

      Hi Kae!

      We used a Nikon AW100 🙂 I highly recommend it for your underwater needs. Though there’s a newer version (AW110 or AW120) from Nikon which you may want to check.

      Happy travels!

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2013 by in Cebu, Philippines, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , .
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