Wildlife Series | Oslob Whaleshark Encounter in Cebu

Butanding: Up Close and Personal

A trip to the Queen City of the South is a usual mix of food trip (lechon), cultural tour (Magellan-Mactan, Sto. Nino) and some beaching and water sports (Malapascua, Bantayan). In recent years,  Cebu’s southern tip suddenly became a talk of the town with the advent of its newest natural attraction, the whalesharks (butanding or tuki) of Oslob. Unlike the pioneer butanding attraction in Donsol, Sorsogon, Oslob prides its unique and more intimate interaction with the tuki.

En route to my sister’s graduation in Leyte, Ive and I decided to fly in via Mactan, Cebu instead of going straight via Tacloban. With at least two days to spare, we set our eyes on Oslob’s whale shark watching as our main activity. But prior research suggests that it only takes about an hour to finish this, meaning there’s more time to explore the town. And that’s exactly what we did. We arrived in Cebu late in the evening and went straight to our lodging place after a sumptuous Zubuchon dinner in IT Park. We woke up early, went  straight to the South Bus Terminal and took the first Ceres bus trip to Lilo-an. For first time goers, just tell the driver to drop you off at the whale shark area in Tam-awan, which is after the town proper (When traveling around this time, make sure to have a peek of the Tanon Strait sunrise). It took us about two hours to reach Oslob.


The bus dropped us off at Aaron Beach Resort, a beach front resort and restaurant that offers packages for whale shark watching. Rates are as follows: Local tourists (Php 500), Foreigners (Php 1,500) and Php 300 for those who opt to stay in the boat. Also, they offer an underwater camera for Php 500 rent. The resort also offers breakfast meals, so without thinking, we ordered the danggitsilog. We highly suggest this resort as they have lockers to secure your belongings and you can also take a bath after for free.

Take note of the sign board: BATO-OSLOB via LILO-AN
Resort marker on the right side of the road


Classic appetizing Cebuano breakfast


From there, we were led to our boat and ferried us to the Whale Shark Interaction Center where the required briefing/orientation is being conducted.

Pre-encounter posterity

The local government of Oslob is taking charge of the overall operations and regulation of the whale shark encounter. So before going into the water, take note of the Do’s and Dont’s during the duration of the encounter below:

DO’s and DON’T’s.


The orientation lasted for about 10 minutes including the donning of the life vest. Make sure to choose the vest with comfortable fitting since it will take a lot of snorkeling-submerging acts to be able to have a good picture with the gentle giants. We returned to our boats with two boatmen-guides and paddled for less than 10 minutes, and there we were, seeing the butandings just beneath the ocean surface. Given the limited time, our guides directed us to get off the boat while there are not so much visitors around. Good for us, we were there on a weekday (take note). According to them, during peak days and even on weekends, the crowd could swell to the point where you cannot fully enjoy interacting with the whale sharks, no to mention the undesirable human photobombers alongside the  butandings. For over 20 minutes, we did these:

The whaleshark crowd
The gigantic size of this gentle wildlife equals the enormous wonder & amazement it brings
Katawa pa bay!


Surreal encounter and posterity with the world’s largest fish



How to Go There

From Cebu City, hail a taxi to the Cebu South Bus Terminal.  Ask for the Ceres Bus going to Bato-Oslob via Lilo-an. Schedule may vary but as early as 3AM, there are already air-conditioned units going there and regular trips comes every hour (Check the updated schedule for South-bound buses). Fare is Php 150.00/pax. Travel time is from 2 to 3 hours depending on the traffic along especially exiting Cebu City proper. But since the whale shark interaction has time restrictions, better go there either the night before or very early in the morning. Tell the driver to drop you off at Tam-awan for the whale shark, and most likely they will drop you off at Aaron’s (left side).

Where to Stay

Aaron Beach Resort and RestaurantCebu South Road, Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob, Cebu. In recent years, resorts have cropped up offering accommodations and tours around Oslob. So you can check online for other accommodations or service providers of your preference. Or you can contact Oslob Tourism Office for further information and guidance: (032) 481 9054 (Municipal Hall).

Other Attractions

Equally enthralling and fun activities abound in Oslob and surrounding areas. In fact, straight from whale shark interaction, a usual route is to proceed directly to the fascinating Tumalog Falls, just a few kilometers from the resort. Motorcycles are available outside the resort if you opt to go there. For the culturally-inclined, a historical walk/photo walk is also an option within the town proper, where the Municipal Heritage Park, the Spanish-era Cuartel and Baluarte are located. You can also explore further Sumilon Island known for its white sand beach and coral reserves or take some dip at Mainit Hotspring. Check with the Municipal Tourism Office for updated details.

Day Tour Itinerary:

03:00 – 06:00 Cebu – Oslob (Depart from Cebu South Bus Terminal via Ceres Bus)

06:00 – 06:15  ETA Brgy. Tan-awan, Oslob / Make arrangement with Aaron Beach Resort

06:15 – 07:00  Breakfast at Resort (Ala Carte orders)

07:15 – 07:45   Set-off to Whale Shark Briefing Center / Orientation

08:00 – 09:00  Whale shark Watching

09:30 – 10:30   Side trip to Tumalog Falls (Inquire with motorcycles outside the resort)

10:30 – Onwards Proceed to your next or preferred destinations/activities – See Other Attractions

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