Oslob has become famous for its whale-sharks watching, only a couple of meters away from the shore. These mammals are impressive, their mouth can be as large as one meter, but don’t worry they only eat plankton and small fishes. Seeing these beautiful animals swimming around is just a wonderful experience. Oslob whale sharks watching is for many tourists a must-do activity if you’re in Cebu, but is it ethical? Read on to read my full review and discover other things to do in Oslob.
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How to organize your Oslob Whale Sharks watching tour
The actual whale sharks watching is not in Oslob city but in Tan-Awan. There are plenty of accommodations there and most of them are really close to the office where you start the tour. The whale watching is controlled by the municipality, there are no private operators doing it. So you just get in the center in the morning, pay, get briefed and then hop on a boat. You only go 50 meters from the shore.
The Oslob whale-sharks watching is from 6 am to 11 am. You get 30 minutes with the whale sharks. There are other boats that feed them, so basically, the boats with the tourists form a line, and the feeding boats just go near the boats with the tourists, with the whale shark just following the trail of food. Expect the place to be really crowded. There are around 20 boats full of people at the same time in the water.
There are two options: you can either get in the water, you’ll need to stay near your boat, or you can just stay on the boat. The water is really clear so you get to see the whale-sharks really well, even if you’re not in the water.
Oslob whale sharks watching costs
You’ll pay 500 if you stay on the boat and 1000 for snorkeling (for foreigners), respectively 300 and 500 pesos for locals.
Whale sharks watching in Oslob: Is it ethical?
In short no, it’s not ethical.
It was actually better than what I expected, I’m glad I did it, but I won’t do it again and to me, what’s happening there is probably not good for the whale sharks. I don’t know what they feed them with but it’s definitively not fresh fish. It’s like they get addicted, the whale-sharks will just follow the feeding boat for hours instead of enjoying their freedom. The feeding has already altered their migratory and feeding patterns. It’s hard to say they’re wild anymore. It was kind of sad, they really made me think of junkies.
Also, there are way too many people in the water at the same time. You’re not supposed to touch them, but if you do, no one will stop you. That plus the feeding makes it totally unethical.
How to see whale sharks in the wild
You can go diving with a private operator, you’ll go farther into the sea, but it’s not guaranteed you’ll see any whale sharks. It’s a good way to see whale sharks in an ethical way. Donsol, in southern Luzon, is also famous for whale sharks watching, and feeding them is illegal there, so they are 100% wild.
Other things to do around Oslob:
1- Enjoy the beaches
The beaches in Oslob and Tan Awan are so-so, but only a couple of kilometers away, are some amazing beaches, such as Tingko beach in Alcoy, only 30 kilometers from Tan Awan. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the sun and the sea. The sand is white and the water crystal clear.
2 – Tumalog Falls
Near Tan-Awan, you can go to Tumalog waterfall, it’s one of the highest and widest I’ve seen so far in the Philippines. As usual, the color of the water is just magical, and the water so refreshing.
Entrance fee: 20 pesos – Habal-habal : 120 pesos both ways from Tan-Awan
3 – Sumilon Island
Sumilon Island is a small and beautiful island not far from the shore. Unfortunately, most of it is private and owned by a resort. Only the sandbar is public, it’s beautiful but really really really crowded, not worth the trip in my opinion.
A better option would be to take the day trip organized by one of the tour agencies operating in Oslob. It usually costs about 2000 pesos per person, with everything included. Then you can access the whole island, enjoy the white-sand beach, do some kayaking, explore the lagoon and some hidden caves, do some trekking and hiking, and finally do some snorkeling. A busy day on a beautiful island.
4 – Kawasan Falls
Kawasan is probably the most famous waterfall in Cebu, maybe even in the Philippines, it’s a must-go if you’re nearby. The color of the water is amazingly blue, the fall is wide and tall, and the pool is large and deep. It’s also the perfect place to get a massage. You can just rent a bamboo boat and go under the fall, the water pressure will do the rest. The guys renting and operating the bamboo rafts can show you how to position yourself for the best massage ever.
Where to stay in Oslob and Tan-Awan:
For backpackers, in Oslob, check out La Lune Oslob Hostel, tidy dorms with aircon (around 350 pesos). For a budget option in Tan-Awan, check out D Downhill’Place (1000 pesos for a double room with aircon).
Related articles to help you plan your trip to Cebu and the Philippines:
- Best places to visit in Cebu Province + Itinerary
- Negros best tourist spots
- Everything you need to know before going to the Philippines
- Ethical places in Southeast Asia to see wildlife
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