Swimming with whale sharks is the main attraction of Oslob- a city located on the South East part of Cebu island. Here is a step-by-step guide to show you exactly what a day with these gentle giants will look like:
Purchasing a Ticket
Swimming with the whale sharks is regulated heavily by the government because they need to make sure it remains ethical and the animals are taken care of. The tickets are given on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you were to get your own ticket you'd need to get there around 3AM to make sure you get a ticket for that day. But, if you book it through your hostel or tour organization, they will go early and get the ticket for you and then come back at your desired time for the tour. For this reason alone, I think the easiest option is to just book through a 3rd party. This way, you can ensure you get a ticket and get to sleep in a little!
You can pick any time between 6am-12pm to swim. I recommend going at 6am because there are a lot less people. Starting around 8am it gets very crowded.
I booked a tour through my hotel (Sascha's Resort) and total it was 1125 pesos per person ($21.50 USD) for the transportation + ticket.
Once you arrive your driver will hand you your ticket and you'll need to wait & listen for your number to be called. You'll probably wait for about 10-15 minutes, and during this time you can change into your swimsuit, grab your underwater camera, and get ready to swim with the gentle giants!
Remember no sunscreen is allowed in order to protect the animals! And if you forgot or don't have an underwater camera, you can rent a gopro on-site for 550 pesos. They'll give you all the digital copies of the photos and videos you take.
They will provide everyone with a lifejacket and snorkel gear.
Once your number is called, they will tell you which boat number to get on. Each boat has about 6-8 people on it. Some locals will row you out (only about 2 minutes from the shore) and then you're free to get in! You cannot jump from the boat, slowly get in the water.
If you're a strong swimmer you can take off your life jacket, but if not it's best to keep it on.
You'll have 30 minutes to be in the water with the animals. It truly is one of the most amazing things I have ever done. These creatures are MASSIVE and so gentle. It's so beautiful to watch how gracefully they swim.
Just be careful because it's illegal to touch them and they sometimes swim very close to you.
Once the 30 minutes is up, the boat drivers will call you back to the boat and they will row you back to shore. You'll give back your lifejacket and snorkel gear, and be on your way!
The whole thing is pretty quick, I selfishly wish it was longer because swimming with them is so magnificent. But I completely understand why they have to regulate it the way they do to ensure the safety of the animals.
Overall, it is my favorite thing I did in all of the Philippines and one of my favorite things I've ever done in all my travels! I can't recommend this experience enough.
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