Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TRAVEL: Whale Shark Encounter at Tan-awan, Oslob

This experience is AMAZING! Whenever my friends and family ask about it, I just. can't. even. Gaaaah! All I do is jump and squeal until I run out of energy. 

Anyway, I'm just so happy that I was able to swim with these gentle aquatic giants. This activity wasn't part of our 6-day Cebu-Bacolod itinerary (more of that in my future posts), but I must say it was all worth it. 

Around 3:30AM, we took a cab from our budget hotel in Mabolo to the Cebu South Bus Terminal where buses to Tan-awan are available. We arrived there a little before 4:00AM where we were able to catch a CERES air-con bus. The area was not packed with people, probably because we went there on a weekday. The bus left around 4:30AM. 

The trip to Tan-awan, Oslob was around 3-hours long. I was kind of entertained with the sights during the bus ride because I clearly saw the gradient from the city to province (even if I slept majority of the trip haha). The barker of the bus was kind enough to wake us up when we got to our bus stop. 

We chose the first whale shark resort that we saw which is BCD's Place. I didn't have any regrets with choosing this resort because they have good service, clean facilities and is near the orientation and pasalubong area. Tho their equipment was not the best, but I guess its ok to use for 30 minutes of snorkeling. 

You can choose from 3 different whale shark encounter. You can just stay on the boat (P500.00), go snorkeling (P550.00 - snorkel & lifevest included) or you can go scuba diving with them (P600.00 - without the gear). You can also rent a camera as well, P500.00 if you have your own SD card and P550.00 if you want your pictures to be burned in a CD. 

After paying our fees, our guide directed us to the orientation area where they discussed the do's and don'ts during our whale shark encounter. We were told here that we're not supposed to apply sunscreen or any chemicals in our body if we're swimming with the whale sharks and it's best to keep 4-meters away from them. It lasted less than 10 minutes. 

The orientation center with my adventure buddies Rona Angeles and Diana Cristino.
Can you see how excited/nervous we are?
After that we were introduced to our boatman and diving guide and was directed to our paddle boat. After around 30 to 40 meters of paddling (less than 5 minutes), we were able to see the whale sharks already. It was amazing! 

The Butandings are stationed around 30 to 40 meters away from the shore!

Fishermen feed the Butandings small shrimps and plankton.

I'm ready to dive! Woohoo!
They are everywhere! You can spot 3 butandings just in this photo!
Another swam right below us!

Our individual shots with the butandings!
(L-R) Diana Cristino, Kimmi Recuenco (B) Rona Angeles

Apart from enjoying our time with the whale sharks, we also enjoyed the clear blue waters of Tan-awan!
After swimming with the whale sharks, we also had a side trip to Tumalog Falls which is not far from BCD's Place. 
Tumalog Falls (Photo credit to Rona Angeles @carekoba)
The waterfalls is very, very, VERY picturesque and I'm sure anyone who would go there won't help but "work it" and do a private photo shoot!

Habal-Habal! (Photo credit to Rona Angeles @carekoba)
Our habal-habal ride was also very amazing since we got to see the other neighboring Islands (like Bohol and Siquijor) and also got to see the Oslob Heritage Houses from afar.

We headed back to our hotel around 11:00AM. Good thing we were able to chance upon a CERES air-con bus travelling back to Cebu City. (Both AC and non-AC CERES buses usually drive by this area in an interval of 30-minutes).

I am not fully aware of the environment and wildlife issues of the whale shark encounter in Tan-awan, Oslob but as far as what I experienced, I think both the butandings and the fishermen are benefiting from it for now. After some time, the people of Oslob should also have the heart to let these gentle giants go and live their normal lives in their natural habitat. 

But nevertheless, this encounter is still one of the best experiences I have ever had while at the sea! 

If you're planning to go through your own Tan-awan, Oslob adventure, here's a summary of our expenses for your reference: 

Cab from Mabolo: P60.00
AC Bus to Tan-awan: P155.00
30-Minute Snorkeling with the Whale Sharks (for Filipinos): P550.00 
Underwater Camera Rental: P550.00
Habal-Habal Ride to Tumalog Falls and back: P100.00
Entrance to Tumalog Falls: P20.00
AC Bus to Cebu South Bus Terminal: P155.00 

You can also check out BCD's Place at the details below: 

Mobile Number: 09228736128
Address: Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob, Cebu, 6025, Cebu, Philippines


  1. Doing good on your blogging and travels, partner! Hope to catch up before I fly :) Let's visit Denise & Janina soon haha

    1. Justin! Thanks! :P Yup, let's visit them soon! Bwahahahahaha!

  2. i have conflicting opinions on whale sharks in oslob. as much as i'd love to see them so close like that, i do pity them because they are now too domesticated to leave and find their own food. it's kind of sad really. but its nice that you got to visit them and enjoyed your visit too.

    1. Thanks for your comment biyachessa! Ditto to what you said. I actually researched about the issue after my encounter (lesson learned: research before you do something :P). As far as what I experienced, the fishermen and butandings seem to work out ok. But like what I've said in my post, hopefully the people of Tan-awan would also have the heart to set them free in the near future :)

      Again, thanks for you comment :)

  3. I guess I would freak out when I go swimming with those gentle aquatic giants but at the same time be happy to have one of the most unforgettable moments in my life. :)

    1. Hi Rochkirstin! I actually did freak out when I first saw the butandings (as well as the spectators on the other boats hehe). But yeah, it was all worth it :)

      Thanks for your comment! :)

  4. It was such an amazing experience to have an encounter with the whale sharks in a crystal clear blue waters of Cebu.

    1. Oooh...The clear blue waters of Cebu (most especially in Oslob) are indeed amazing!

  5. The whale sharks are such gentle giants, it's so nice to swim with them.

    1. Yes! Have you tried swimming with them as well? :)

  6. nice. i am considering this trip when we get to cebu by august. thanks for the blog

  7. I envy you for your underwater encounter! The last time I went under water, the only fish I saw was Dory. Not even little Nemo was there.

    1. Therefore, it's time to book your next snorkeling adventure! Hahahaha! With all these diving and snorkeling sites in the Philippines, I'm sure you'll get a better experience next time you visit the sea :)

  8. That is really something memorable! I hope I could also go to Oslob and see a butanding. My family is flying to Cebu this October but Oslob is not a part of the itinerary. We have a kid a baby kasi eh! :)

    1. There so much more to do in Cebu aside from diving with the Butandings :) (One fun family activity would be eating those juicy lechons hahaha)

  9. Awww this is exhilarating! My boyfriend had tried this before and he quite enjoyed it. I guess I need to learn treading first before going here because wearing a life jacket just wouldn't be the same unlike really really swimming with the Oslobs. :D

    1. And when you do learn to tread already, make sure to book your trip to Oslob right away :D