After chasing sardines at Moalboal, I moved to Oslob for the whale shark watching. In the last few years, Oslob became a big hit in tourism industry not just in Cebu, but in the entire Philippines. Who wouldn’t want to get up close with the world’s largest fish, right? But swimming with whale sharks in Oslob comes with big controversy. There are several groups who are against feeding them. If you ask me, it’s one of the most wonderful water activities I ever did, so it’s your call if want to swim with them or not.
It was one hot afternoon, I was patiently waiting on a highway in Moalboal for a bus bound in Oslob. I tried to look for a coffee shop or an air-conditioned restaurant, unfortunately there’s none. My only refuge was the big pharmacy across the street. I stayed there for a couple of minutes, pretending that I’m looking for something, but in reality, I just needed to cool down.
Finally a bus, arrived. I asked the driver if it’s bound to Oslob and he said, “Just hop on, this bus will stop at the terminal, then you can take another bus going to Oslob”. We stopped somewhere at Santander; travel time is 2 hours for 85php. From the terminal, I transferred to another bus bound for Cebu City and dropped off at Poblacion, Oslob. Travel time is just an hour for only 40php.
I booked my room at Cronin Residences via Traveloka. I intentionally chose to stay in Poblacion area because I heard it’s a lively place; I made the right choice. It’s more of a private residence than a resort so the ambiance is homey and it’s even beachfront. It’s only a 5-minute walk to the public market, Municipal Hall, Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, and Museo Oslob. These spots are perfect for an afternoon walk around the town.
I got a Deluxe Nipa cottage for around 1,200php per night good for 2. The room is basic, nothing fancy but I appreciate the relaxing atmosphere. The place is quiet all day giving me my much-needed rest. Another reason that I booked this place is because of their strong Internet connection. Generally, the Internet connection in Cebu is weak so having a strong connection in my room is heaven because I had a lot of online tasks needed to be done. They also have dorm-type room for backpackers.
If you’re looking for a place to hang out, they have a nice terrace where you can sit and relax while enjoying the view of the ocean. Their staff are accommodating, they help me arranged my whale shark and Tumalog falls tour. If I needed something or had a question, Karen the daughter of the owner is just one call away.
I walked around the town to observe the life in Oslob. Along the way I saw a church with amazing century old beauty. There is wide park facing the sea. I saw people sitting on the grass, running kids, some were playing volleyball, others were biking. Life in this part of Cebu is so simple and you will see that people are happy.
There are few visitors having a photo-op at some ruins, and visiting their museum. A walk around the simple and peaceful town in Oslob will give you a glimpse of its Spanish history.
I remember asking Karen on where is the best place to eat here, she said, “Before sunset, food stalls open up by street in front of the Public Market. There’s a variety of grilled food to choose from”.
With this in mind, I went to the street in the afternoon and discovered the best place to eat in Oslob. In fact, I had 6 sticks of different grilled food and my favorite is the grilled chorizo. You guys should try it.
The next day, I woke up early to prepare for the highlight of my South Cebu trip, and that is to swim with the whale sharks. I asked Karen if there’s any other place to visit, she said, “We have Tumalog falls here in Oslob, although it’s not that famous and beautiful as Kawasan. I think you will still like it”.
Kuya Ritchel was my habal-habal driver. We started our tour at around 7:00 a.m. going to the falls. Travel time from Poblacion is around 20 minutes. From the gated entrance, you have an option to take another habal-habal going down or walk; I opted the former. The motorcycle ride is only 50php roundtrip. I thought that it’s far, turns out it only takes a 5 to 10 minutes of walking. If you also want to get the service of my habal-habal driver, you may contact kuya Ritchel at this number, 0915-258-9499. I paid 250php for his driving service, this includes includes pickup and drop-off from the resort, and the ride to Tumalog falls and whale watching center.
Entrance to the falls is 20php. It’s a good idea to come here early because there are only a few people during this time. The water is like Gatorade blue that I found myself wondering how could this happen. It’s simply amazing.
I just stayed for a couple of minutes watching the white water cascade from a series of rocky outcrops, giving the effect that there are several waterfalls rather than just one. Some people describe it like a “white curtain” covering the whole rock wall. Then it flowed on its way, nonchalant as if nothing had occurred. Only a few falls impressed me so much and Tumalog falls is definitely part of my top 5. If you’re visiting Oslob, make sure to include this on your list.
Tumalog falls is just a short distance away from the whale shark watching center. I was shocked when I arrived seeing hundreds of people wanting to swim with them. September is a low season, imagine this place in summer. Unbelievable.
The first step is registration, fee for locals is 500php and 1,000php for foreigners. There’s a short orientation where they reminded people to never touch the whale shark and to keep a distance of at least 4 meters. There is a penalty for those who will violate the rules. After a quick orientation, fall in line to pay, you will get a number and wait for the organizer to call you.
In my estimate, there are about 10 small boats that go at the same time, each one can take 8 passengers. Tourists are only given only 30 minutes to swim with the sharks. As we approached the feeding area, the smell of the air becomes fishy. I found out it’s coming from the shrimp that was being fed to the whale shark.
I haven’t even gone to the water yet when I saw one of the whale sharks. I literally said, “WTF!” because it’s so big. I never encountered this huge in my entire life until that moment. I saw and swam with at least 3 whale sharks around our boat.
I observed them and they seem to be in good condition, but again it’s just my observation. I tried to look for any wounds because one concern of the people who are against it is that whales are getting wounded from the boats. I checked if people are touching them, gladly no one did so. And I wouldn’t dare touching them not just because there is a penalty but they are really big and it was a bit intimidating to get close to them.
The boatmen are hospitable and helpful. They assisted all their guests to have great photos with the whale sharks. My 30 minutes swimming with them is surely one of my most memorable experiences in all of my travels. If you’re planning to visit they are open from 6:00 a.m. till 12:00 noon only.
So the big question is, is it worth visiting? Definitely yes, but if this is something against your belief, I am not going to convince you to do it. You can still visit Oslob and enjoy the place without doing the whale shark watching. They have amazing falls and an interesting town proper. Also, Sumilon Island is just one boat away.