I Swam With Whale Sharks in Cebu

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
whale shark watching

There's this moment between taking the first dip and getting settled in the water that scares the life out of me. I love the ocean, I love the fishes, hell, I even love the sharks but every time I go under, my body starts to curl up to the surface, feeling alien amidst the deep blue. I need about a few seconds before the fear of getting bitten by tiny fishes start to feel like ticklish kisses instead. The fear I once had seems ridiculous now.

And so, I’m staring down this shark a few feet away from me. It’s blue, white dots all over, and mouth as wide as the length of my arm. I’m calm, actually, excited even. It’s what we came here for. It’s a whale shark, chill. I’ve done this before.


My sister, her boyfriend, and I went to Cebu with no plans whatsoever.

They just wanted to get out of the city and I happily tagged along, not minding not having a plan. But I told her we had to do one thing while we were there. I told her we had to go and see the whale sharks (aka butanding in the Philippines).

I've seen them before at Donsol.

We rode a boat and went around the island while the divers were on the look out for the whale sharks. Once they found the spot, they'd ask one of us to jump into the water quickly. 

And so you jump, the water is cold but you don't have time to react. You take one big breath and go under. You swim towards this big, blue shark. You marvel and take it all in. It's exhilarating. You swim. You swim hard. But then you fall behind, this whale shark is obviously no match to you. This is his ocean. This is his home.


That's not how they did it in Cebu.

We didn't even plan on going to Oslob because my sister's boyfriend was afraid to swim in the ocean. And so we did all of the touristy things we could do instead.

Daytrip at Movenpick.  I do not recommend this. All hype. It's a grand place and all but you could do much more with the P2,500 entrance fee. The buffet was subpar.

Eat lechon everyday.  We tried Rico's Lechon and Zubuchon. I'm not much of a lechon eater so it all tastes the same to me. But if you send some my way, I'll eat it.

Visit Temple of Leah.  Apparently, it has been in construction since 2012 and it still isn't done. But the view up there is amazing.

Fort San Pedro, Magellan's Cross, Basilica Minore Del Santo Nino, Simala-Lindogon Church Sibonga.  ~tourist lyf~

Skywalk at Sky Experience Adventure.  I suggest going at sunset - the sky turns into a pink/purple hue (v Instagram). By the time you head out and walk, it's dark out and the air is cool. It also helps that you're behind my slow-walker sister who's afraid of heights so you get to stay out and enjoy the view longer than usual. 


So, we did all of these things but it still didn't feel like quite the adventure we wanted (probably because we did none of the things I wanted to do)

On our last night, we decided to go to Oslob, about 2.5 hours away from the city. We rented a car and set our alarms for 430am.


It was 6am and we hit the road. The drive was long and it took a while. Between having sung along to car tunes, telling stories about some roommate's girl, and napping, we arrived at the place and got acquainted with everything we needed - payment, orientation, rentals. It went by fast - no lines or anything. I'm assuming it's because we arrived early.

Oslob, Cebu

It was different at Oslob.

From the shore, I already saw the whale sharks. There was a fisherman on a boat going around in circles, feeding them. Boats lined up a couple of meters away with all the excited tourists floating around - me included. We waited by our boat for the shark to come our way. It didn't take long before one appeared in front of us. It was breathtaking. They were stunning up close. I had the time to marvel, take a breath, and marvel some more. It was quite the experience.

I left not wanting it to end. I wanted to stay a bit longer but we had a flight to catch.

And so we drove away from the sea. Flew over the sea. And landed back in the city. Another adventure over.

Time to plan the next one.

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