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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Whale Shark "Butanding" Crazy Experience

Whale Shark "Butanding" Crazy Experience

My Butanding experience was fascinating and bizarre. I've never been a huge fan of marine animal’s especially big fishes. I have the courage to go snorkeling and find Nemo and swim with all those other colorful fishes as they nibble my skin and that's about it. But never in my wildest dream that I hope for a whale shark to be lurking below me or swim even a few inches away from me. This is one of those crazy summers I had where I'll be telling the story over and over again for the rest of my life. 

How to get there: Cebu-Oslob
Location: Natalio Bacalso, Tan-awan Oslob 6025, Philippines
From the airport:
Take a taxi to South Bus Terminal, from the bus terminal look for the Ceres Bus bound to Bato then alight at Oslob. 

From Cebu City:
Head to South Bus Terminal, a few walks metres away from Elizabeth Mall. The terminal is clean, organized and don't worry you'll never get lost inside. Buy your ticket in the counter and make sure to read the board signs placed in front of the windshield mirror before hopping inside the bus.

Transportation and Travel Time
Buses Operates from 1 AM - 9 PM 
From South Bus Terminal to Oslob:
Ceres Bus Fare (non-air-conditioned) :150+ php
Ceres Bus Fare (air-conditioned) : 155 php
Travel time : 2-4 hours ( depends on the traffic )

Butanding Feeding Schedule:  6:00-12:30am
UPDATED PRICE LIST as of March 2014
Whale Watching only : 300 php (Locals)
Whale Watching plus Snorkeling (inclusive of equipments) for Locals : 500 php
For foreigners- 1,000 php
Waterproof Camera Rent (without memory card) : 500 php 
Waterproof Camera Rent (with memory card) : 550 php 
Optional: Locker Rent of 20 php or just leave your belongings in the fisherman's shack.

For Accommodations check out:
I love this site because they have "pay later" or "pay upon arrival" when booking for rooms. This gives you options to cancel bookings, manage activities and figure out the location, and if transportation works going to your destination. 
Most travelers I know booked from this site. I try to be flexible when it comes to my bookings; I go for whichever site gives me a cheaper price.

My friend just came from abroad for a vacation; she'd been dragging me for so long for her Butanding Bonanza and I just can't help it but to say yes to adventure. I was extremely fearful for this trip but I was excited to add this to my checklist. The wooden boat was weak and vulnerable for any predators. The boat man paddled until we were about 24 feet deep and our 30 minutes time allotted started. We were hesitant to leave the boat,only 3 of us paid for the snorkeling activity with the whale shark while others stayed safe watching the whale shark swim around us . It took great courage to touch the water with my toes especially when I saw the whale sharks famous triangle fin making its way to our boat. I made sure it was far away from the boat when I'd plunge in the water, I was that scared. 

I was clinging to the side of the boat like it was the last land on earth (one look from that picture and surely it won't keep you guessing where am I!). The whale shark were feed by the fisherman's, their mouths were like vacuum cleaners taking all that was feed to them. They passed by our boat and we started screaming, during the orientation they said we we're suppose to maintain a 4 meters distance away from them. But then they were freakin' close to us like you can almost touch them; we were also advised to avoid moving our feet to keep the water free from bubbles as it would be mistaken by the whale shark as food ; Perfect! There was this moment when I've felt it was already at my back and that was way more frightening compared when it was just beneath us. My friends felt the chills in their spine and immediately we jump or more like fly right back to the boat for safety. It was crazy and I was surprise to see myself laughing like a lunatic. The guys knew about our situation and started feeding the whale sharks more. They were teasing us like kids and even feed more for them to tag longer alongside our boat. We were surrounded with more than three whale sharks. I can't keep the huge smile from my face especially when I tried to see the whale shark underwater again and again. 

They were breathtakingly gigantic, it's my first time to see such enormous marine life and I couldn't believe what I was missing all this time while clinging on the boat. We didn't get a chance to get good shots with the Butanding as I refuse to bring my camera with me and the underwater camera rental was not available during that time. Great thing is are friendly new friends were kind enough to share the pictures they have with our backs on it; better than nothing. I guessed their camera was set-up at the wrong time frame, anyways I am deeply thankful for the pictures: shout out to the family with a German couple and her Filipina wife, they've been living in Germany for so long and they took a one month vacation here in Philippines, along with their two outgoing relatives. These people were really kind and they showed sweet concerns for us, we were like their kids who has gone wild and they have to keep an eye on us all the time.

( All pictures with the Wrong Time Frame are from our friendly companions, thank you for sharing the pictures with us. )
Snorkeling with whale sharks was an experience of a lifetime; it's a must-try! I can't guarantee its safe because we never know what these gentle giants might be thinking at anytime, as long as we keep in mind to follow the guidelines and continue respecting the ocean that should send a good signal to the Butanding not to have a bite on you. I hope nothing will post a threat to these whale sharks that will provoke them to change.

Back to the City or Sidetrip
Two options:
a. If you're in a hurry or need to catch your flight or a boat ride then better get back to the city early as the traffic is unpredictable. Just wait for the Ceres Bus to pass by the road and make sure before hopping in it has the sign going back to Cebu City. 

b. Check out Tumalog Falls. There are parked motorcycles nearby the briefing area. These guys will you take you to the Tumalog Falls. Entrance Fee: 20 php 

If still have ample of time then you can drop by Our Lady of Immaculate Concepcion Church, one of the oldest churches in Cebu.

Check out:


  1. Hi! May ask if when did you go to oslob? a friend of mine said whale watching in cebu is banned now a days? is it true? I am planning to go there this April.. thanks -mia

    1. Hello there, I've been there last month February 2013. As what I've seen there the management is open for whale watching. Be reminded of their schedule, from 8am-1pm only for the said activity. If you want the best experience be there before 8am when only a few tourist have arrived. Have fun! and don't forget to bring your own googles for hygienic purposes. ^__^

    2. it's still open, my cousin just got back from their family vacation at Dumaguete and he drove his family there. We saw the videos just last night. will be going there next weekend for sure!

    3. It's true the activity is still available. However, they are issues going on about shutting down the operation. Some organizations believe this kind of activity is not good for the whales.

      On the other hand, it was such an amazing experience and I hope you can visit the place before its closed down.

  2. HI,
    We are gong to be there this month (June 2014) to experience the gigantic water creature, may we know if you have any contacts (local people in Oslob) you can share to us, to whom we can rent an underwater camera. Thank you so much in advance. God bless.

    1. Hello Dean,

      Last time I check I think they have available cameras there for rent. Prices are as follows: Waterproof Camera Rent: 500 php (without memory card) 550 php (with memory card).

      Make sure to be there as early 6am ,less crowded. Enjoy your trip!

    2. It's my pleasure Dean. Godbless too. Safe trip for you guys!

  3. Hi,
    Question po... how about lunch? are there nearby restaurant/canteen po? and how far is it going to Tumalog Falls?
    Thank you.


    1. Hello Mai,

      The last time I was there no restaurants nearby, only local eateries or our so-called "carinderias" , and they're just situated inside the area.

      The travel time going to the falls is aprroximately 15-20 minutes by van/motorbike.

      Have a safe trip. Enjoy!

  4. Hi great blog! How about for the transportation from oslob going back to cebu city proper? Thanks!

    1. Hello Lily,

      There are a lot of buses heading to the city in the area. You can take the Ceres airconditioned buses for comfort and safety.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Enjoy your trip! 😆

  5. ANADALE BOAT RENTAL SERVICES & ANADALE FOODHAUS would like to offer a package for you while your here in Oslob after whale watching like FOODS, ACCOMODATION & TRANSPORTATION going to your side trip to Sumilon Island, Siquijor Island, Panglao, Bohol & Apo Island...... and also going to Tumalog Falls, Aguinid Falls & Kawasan Falls for canyonering.

    If you want my help just contact 0932-737-5972/ 0908-944-9491(anne)

  6. Island Hopping? after whale watching in Tan-awan Oslob Cebu?

    We have a boat duly registered by the MARITIME INDUSTRY AUTHORITY and authorized to ply to Sumilon Island, Siquijor, Panglao Island, Apo Island and Dumaguete City.

    We also have our own Food House to cater you here in tan-awan or to prepare a pack lunch if you want to eat your food in Sumilon Island.

    For more information please text or call 0932 737 5972 (Anne).



    1. Hello Anadale Service Team,

      Do you have an email address? I have some inquiries about the Canyoneering activity.

      Thanks for checking out my post.

      I hope to hear from you soon.


  7. My e-mail add is maam....


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