Whale Shark Watching in Oslob

Our travel companions flew back to Iloilo in the early morning and we had to the extend our visa before we could move on. Unfortunately the Philippines only allow you to stay for 21 days with the initial visa on arrival – which is way too short to explore  this fantastic country. Fortunately it’s quite easy to extend the visa for another 39 days – it took us 90 minutes and 3000 PHP at the immigration office (everything is quite efficient but makes one wonder why they don’t grant two months in the very first place).

After we had dealt with this formality we grabbed our backpacks and headed to the Southern Bus Terminal where we took a bus to Oslob. The three hour ride along the beautiful east coast of Cebu Island cost 155 PHP (about 5 SGD) in a comfortable aircon bus (or half if you don’t want the aircon).

Oslob which is about 250 km south of Cebu City became famous in the last few years for its whale shark watching. The town itself is still small and we hope that mass tourism won’t spoil it in the future. The lovely, super clean and very friendly Malonzo Pension House was our accommodation for the next two nights. We event met a Swiss couple who stayed at the same place.

By now we knew that any kind of animal watching involved an early start to the day and so we weren’t too shooked to get up at 5:30 AM. A ten minutes bus ride brought us to our small six men boat. Funnily the first ride only lasted two minutes and brought us to another place where we received a three minute instruction about the dos & don’ts of whale shark watching (basically no touching, no flashlights and keeping a distance of at least four meters – sounds a bit like secondary school disco ;)). Then finally the paddle boat brought us about 150 meters away from shore where we spotted the four whale sharks. The educated reader might now ask why the whale sharks (which by the way are whales and not sharks) are so motivated to show up for the tourists. Well dear reader it might mainly be because of the feeding done by the local fisherman – although they say that the whale sharks were always there even before the feeding. At least one has to admit that the locals control the numbers and interactions with these mammals. Needless to add that as tourist one is always part of the problem itself – with no tourists there would be no watching and ergo no problem of feeding them. 

In any case these gentle giants are very impressive. Despite their size – we guess that the ones we saw were about eight to ten meters long – they are very agile and more than once they just appeared beneath us or swam directly in our direction (which scared the hell out of Kevin – no our dear Kevin, he is not an adventurer). We were deeply amazed by the thirty minutes encounter we had with these gentle giants and it marked for sure one of the many highlights of our trip so far.

Later in the afternoon after a good rest Kevin went to have a look at the local church which was surprisingly big. Unfortunately fires in the 1950s and 2008 destroyed part of it. He and some vendor at the marked had a hearty laugh about their similar “hair-style”.

For dinner we had very yummy street-side satay, fried chicken and some delicious mangoes. Needless to say that the Filipinos Mangoes are the best in the world!

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