Whale sharks are the largest fish species in the sea and can grow to lengths exceeding 12m. Whilst their name and enormous size can sound intimidating, they are known as the gentle giants of the sea and pose little risk to humans.
Swimming with whale sharks is an amazing and unforgettable experience, and whilst they are generally friendly creatures, guidelines are set up to keep tourists safe and to lessen the disturbance to the whale sharks. Always maintain a set distance away from the sharks, avoid the tail area, don’t feed them, and don’t use flash photography.
Whale sharks can be seen in several locations in the Philippines where they are known by locals as “butanding”. Tan-awan, Oslob, on the southeast coast of Cebu, is one of the best places for sightings year round. Here the water is plentiful with krill and plankton which forms the main diet for whale sharks.
Oslob is a 2-3 hour drive south from Cebu City. Whale shark interaction tours start from 6am each morning.
Consider staying at the Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort further south off the coast. This tranquil island is one of Cebu’s best kept secrets, and it is only a 30 minute boat ride to the whale shark area. Alternatively, you can bypass Cebu by flying via Manila to Dumaguete and getting a boat transfer to Sumilon Island.
For a fantastic island, whale shark & beach break, we recommend combining a couple of nights stay at the Bluewater Sumilon Island, with a whale shark tour in Oslob, followed by a few nights of pampering at a resort in Cebu.