Travel Guide: Philippines – Swimming with the Whale Sharks

The Philippines has a lot to offer in the world of tourism like the country’s  virgin islands, unspoiled beaches, and other natural beautiful landscapes. As a tropical country, the sun shines almost 365 days a year, though it has random typhoons usually  from June to December.
In the sleepy town of Tan-awan, Oslob in Cebu Province, a 3.5-hour bus ride from Cebu City, international and local tourists rush to experience what it’s like to swim with the gentle giants of the sea, the whale sharks. Measuring between 20-45 feet and up to 45 tons in weight, it is the largest fish in the world.

How to get there:

Take a taxi or jeepney to Cebu South Bus Terminal.
Taxi fare: flag down is 40.00 pesos and additional 3.50 pesos every 300 kilometers.
Jeepney fare: 7.00–10.00 pesos
From South Bus Terminal you can either take a van or bus going to Oslob, Cebu.
Van : 160.00-180.00 PHP
Bus w/ AC:  160.00–180.00 PHP
Bus w/o AC:  150.00–170.00 PHP

Ceres bus is preferable for this long distance travel. Their buses with AC are comfortable with free Wifi and DVD movies. No bus toilets available. Vans are tolerable, but unfortunately, drivers tend to overload and wait for the van to get packed before leaving. And if you are really tall, believe me; it’s going to be an uncomfortable ride. Best time to swim with the whale sharks is early in the morning. Feeding time starts at 6:00am until noon. If you are travelling from Cebu City, you can take the 2:00am – 3:00am bus from the terminal.

Watching / Swimming Fees

Local tourists: 500.00 PHP
Foreign tourists: 1000.00 PHP
GoPro for rent: 500.00 PHP


1. Visitors are not allowed to use sunblock to avoid contaminating the water.
2. No petting. Swimmers need to be four feet away from the whale sharks. Touching them will cost you a fine of 2800.00 PHP or imprisonment.
3. Feeding of whale sharks by unauthorized personnel is not allowed
4. Avoid creating a splash when entering the water.
5. Avoid chasing the whale shark.
6. Maintain a 3-meter distance from the whale shark.
7. You may use the camera to shoot photos and videos, but you must avoid utilizing the flash.

Whale Swimming / Watching:

Visitors will be grouped in fives or tens depending on the size of the boat. A boat driver and an assistant will be assigned to help in the dive. They can take pictures of you while you are enjoying your moment with the giants.


During the summer months of March – May, the water will be pristine blue, you can spot the whale sharks immediately once you are in the water. The whale sharks eat krills, small fishes and other sea plants, don’t wonder if the water smells like shark food. The swimming and whale watching will be for 30 mins.


The experience was amazing and the giants were really beautiful though a lot of controversies tail the tourism industry of Oslob because of the possible harm to these gentle creatures.

Where to Stay:

Tan-awan, Oslob, Cebu
Contact Nos: +639435097295 / +639991580681 – Karen
Oslob, Cebu
Contact Nos: + 63 (0) 943 279 3855 / +63 (32) 513 16 15

For budget travelers:

There are few options of beautiful resorts located in Oslob, unfortunately, if you are on a budget it might be off your spending. A good option if you plan to stay for a night at the beach for free is to bring your own tents and go to Tingko Beach Resort in Alcoy, it’s the next municipality from Oslob. Cheaper rooms are also available about 1000.00 – 500.00. Alcoy is only 20–30 mins. bus ride from Oslob.

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