Swimming with Oslob Whale Sharks—and Jellyfish


At Oslob, snorkeling with whale sharks is an activity you can do 365 days a year. Here's what you need to know before you jump in with the gentle giants.

Befriending Giants - Whale Sharks of Oslob on Vimeo by Blue Sphere Media
Unfortunately, our cameras were all dead. Photo courtesy of lotuspilgrim on flickr.

See and Do

The only reason anyone comes to Oslob is to swim with the whale sharks. The sightings are 100% guaranteed since the locals now feed the whales plankton for several hours each morning. For 1000P, you can pay to spend approximately 30 minutes snorkeling with these giants of the sea.

TIP: Don't pay for a package tour

It's super easy to organize Oslob yourself and you'll save at least 50% doing so.

It's fairly straightforward. You show up, take the two-minute "orientation," get in a boat, jump in the water, and find yourself surrounded by the biggest fish in the sea. The morning we went, there were five whale sharks and two other tourists snorkeling, so we basically had the whole sea to ourselves. It's amazing to watch these guys swim around you, paying your snorkeling self no mind whatsoever, since what they're most interested in are the tiny shrimp the fisherman keep throwing in the water.

TIP: Watch out for jellyfish

Almost two weeks later, I'm still suffering from severe stings all over my body. If you do decide to snorkel, insist on being given a wetsuit.


Should you go? The whole setup is controversial, with purists arguing that the locals are ruining the whale sharks' normal migration and breeding patterns. We're not sure where we fall. Supposedly, no more than 10 whale sharks are "residents," which means they show up regularly. The rest simply stop when they happen to be swimming by.

TIP: Snorkel on weekdays

Fridays through Sundays are packed, but weekdays are fairly quiet, and you get some extra time in the water.

If you're really against human interference with nature, then you should skip this and try to see the whale sharks in Donsol or Southern Leyte. But if you're interested, seeing them in Oslob is a TON better than seeing them in an aquarium. And hey—at least this new focus on ecotourism helps keep the locals away from harmful activities like dynamite fishing.


We paid 1000P to stay at Aaron Beach Resort. It wasn't much of a resort (no screens on the window and no mosquito net!), and the price was a bit high, but it did put us right on the water, which made it super easy to get a boat the next morning.

TIP: Stay overnight

There were two other people in the water with us because we snorkeled before the day trippers and tour groupers showed up.


Oslob from Cebu is easily done by bus. Just head to the south terminal and hop on the next available one. The fare is around 300P (US$7).

If you're coming from Negros, you'll end up at the Lilo-An port. From there, you can take a tricycle for 100P or walk to the main road and flag down a bus or jeepney.

More Philippines

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