1. From Cebu City, ride a cab to South Bus Terminal (or you may commute via jeepney, but will have to walk a bit from Elizabeth Mall aka E Mall).
2. Take a bus that would pass by Barangay Tan-awan, Oslob.
Take note: Oslob’s Whale shark watching is in a small barangay about 10 km away from the town center of Oslob, so you would want to inform the bus conductor collecting the ticket fare to get you off in Brgy Tan-awan for the “Butanding” watching, do not get off in Oslob town. Bus tickets are paid in the bus, during travel, via the bus conductor – no need to look for a ticket counter at the terminal.
3. When you get off in Brgy Tan-awan, choose any resort for your Butanding watching activity (doesnt matter which resort, the price is standard across).
Pshychie and I boarded an air-conditioned Ceres bus bound for Bato at 4am. When we arrived in Brgy Tan-awan around 7am, there weren’t too many tourists yet.
Ceres Bus fare (air-conditioned): Php155
Travel time: 2-3 hours
Butanding watching schedule: 6:00-12:30am
WHAT TO PAY:
Entrance fee: Php100 (with free locker to leave your belongings in)
Whale Watching only : Php 300 (Locals)
Whale Watching plus Snorkeling (inclusive of equipment): Php500 (Locals)***(For foreigners – Php 1,000)
Underwater Camera rental (unlimited shots, by a boatman): Php 550 with free CD of pictures (or you may give them a memory card or portable USB drive instead to save the pics in) ***you may use your personal underwater camera though. The feeding spot for whale shark watching is quite near the dock but deep enough for the gentle giants to swim on. After they briefed us of the dos and donts of the activity, we headed on to the feeding area.
We were a group of 6, only Pshychie stayed in the boat to merely watch. Naturally I was the first person off the bangka and into the crystal clear waters. I only used the snorkeling gear for a little bit to admire the beautiful underwater view, but took it and the life vest off eventually. I didnt need them, sorry.
Then, the whale sharks came one by one, and they came fast! I wanted to see a Ceres-bus-sized butanding, but to no avail. Can’t complain though. The ones I saw were bigger than me (I’m 5″10′), some even bigger than the boat we were in!
You’re only given 30 minutes interaction time with the whale sharks. Renting an underwater camera also means a personal underwater photographer c/o the boatman, so you have to maximize the 30 minutes you’re given to get a decent shot at least with the gentle giants. During the briefing session, we were told to keep 4 meters distance away from the whale sharks, but the butandings are so fond of swimming very close to the divers! At this point, remember the next thing discussed in the briefing – dont panic. Note: I got hit by their pectoral fins a few times.
Other things to do or places to visit after whale watching:
1. Day trip to Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort. Weekdays Php1,500/person. Weekends/Holidays Php2,000/person.
2. Cool down at Tumalog Falls. Extra charge by the resort for guide.
3. Experience Kawasan Falls in Badian.