Whale Shark Watching

Oslob is a town located in Southern Cebu and it’s famous for whale sharks or butanding.  These gigantic marine creatures migrate to the shallow waters of Tan-awan, Oslob every year.  Barangay Tan-awan is located about 8 kilometers from the town proper and many tourists visit the area to witness the whale sharks in their natural habitat.

Generally, whale sharks thrive in tropical and open sea waters.  They eat plankton and tiny seafood such as krills – a small type of shrimp.  Also, they use their large mouths to engulf large amounts of water and filter the microscopic plankton, plants, and animals.  Cebu whale sharks (and similar whale species) can survive only in tropical and temperate oceans.  They can be found at different tropical coastal sites during their seasonal feeding aggregation.  Even though whale sharks are usually seen offshore, they can also be found in land areas near coral atolls, lagoons, and mouths of rivers and estuaries.  They are known to frequent well-known coastal areas such as Utila in Honduras, Nosy Be in Madagascar, Gladin Spit in Belize, and Ujung Kulon National Park in Indonesia.  In the Philippines, whale sharks can also be found in Donsol, Pasacao, Southern Leyte, and Batangas.  Unfortunately, these gentle giants are endangered because some people poach them for their expensive fins.

What are Whale Sharks?

The whale shark or butanding is the largest fish on earth and it can grow up to 40 feet long.  It is also considered one of the oldest species in the world.  Not to mention, whale sharks have been around for millions of years.

Oslob has become a favorite destination for whale watching among local and international tourists.  The magnificent creatures migrate to the shallow waters surrounding Oslob every year, allowing visitors to see them in their natural habitat.  Visitors can also learn about their behavior from local experts and they can also feed them directly.

Did you know that operators in Tan-awan, Oslob also provide diving facilities for a fee?  If you’re skilled in diving then you can have a much closer and deeper experience by swimming with the magnificent whale sharks.  Although, you don’t have to dive just to see them since they are being fed by boatmen.  Most visitors would prefer to snorkel so they can observe them closely.

Whale Shark Watching Tour

When you join a whale shark watching tour, you’ll get to see these astounding creatures up close.  Additionally, you learn more about their ecology, behavior, and the conservation efforts implemented to protect them.   You can also scuba dive with whale sharks if you want to experience swimming with these gentle giants.   However, do note that this activity is only for certified divers.

It’s highly recommended that you visit during October up until April since it’s during these months when numerous whale sharks gather in the area.  Visitors are also advised to follow safety protocols to protect the whale sharks and for their own safety as well.

Protocols When Swimming with Whale Sharks

  • Remember to keep your distance, stay calm, and follow your guide’s instructions.
  • Before swimming, you are required to take a shower first.  This is done to remove chemicals such as perfume, makeup, lotion, shampoo, and other harmful substances that can irritate whale sharks.
  • Avoid direct contact with their food so as not to disturb them.
  • Using a flash when taking photos or videos is prohibited.
  • Visitors are not allowed to touch the whale sharks.

Do note that all interactions with whale sharks must be done in a safe and responsible manner.  As for other activities, one must adhere to strict guidelines to protect both whale sharks and humans.


Conservation efforts have been implemented to ensure safe interaction between whale sharks and humans.  In addition, there are strict guidelines to follow such as avoiding direct contact, maintaining a safe distance, and prohibiting the use of flash when taking pictures or videos.  The national government is also coordinating with local communities and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to create a sustainable environment for these amazing creatures.  Awareness campaigns, educational programs, and research projects are also carried out to conserve the whale sharks.

Famous Tourist Attractions in Oslob

Whale sharks are not the only reason why numerous tourists visit Oslob.  The town has several other attractions that you can visit during your trip.  Let’s explore the other alluring tourist spots found around Oslob :

Sumilon Island

This 24-hectare tropical island features an enchanting sandbar and it also has one of the most exquisite beaches in Cebu.  The sandbar is owned by Sumilon Bluewater Island Resort but non-guests can still access it.  Visitors just have to pay a fee to be able to enjoy the famous seaside attraction. There’s also a small cliff on the main island where you can take IG worthy selfies and videos.  

You can also visit the natural lagoon and go on an exciting kayaking experience with your family or friends. This area is more secluded and it’s the perfect spot to spend a relaxing afternoon after swimming on the beach.  However, if you’re craving a more adrenaline boosting activity, then you can explore the various natural caves on Sumilon.

Baluarte Ruins

The Baluarte Ruins are located near the iconic lighthouse of Sumilon Island.   This historic structure was built in 1788 and was used as a watchtower.  In the past, people would stay in the watchtower or baluarte and warn the villagers of bandits and Moro raiders.   It’s also one of the most photographed attractions in Oslob.

Tumalog Falls

Tumalog Falls is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Oslob, Cebu.  Its descending waters and rock formations create a mesmerizing curtain like effect.  Most tourists include Tumalog Falls in their Oslob Tour itinerary and it’s not unusual to witness visitors taking photos in the area. 

Cuartel Ruins

The Cuartel served as a military barrack for Spanish soldiers and was built in 1860.  However, when the Spaniards left, the structure was never completed even after the Americans and Japanese arrived in the area.  This stunning tourist spot provides a romantic background for pre-nuptial photos.

Tourists all over the world love to visit Cebu and they usually come back to bring their loved ones with them.  Cebu offers numerous tourist attractions and most of them are located near each other.  The same is true in Oslob which makes it popular among tourists who want to experience the best of what nature has to offer.  It also features different natural attractions such as pristine beaches, exquisite dive sites, majestic waterfalls, and even breathtaking historic sites.