Is it possible?
That was my first reaction when I found out that you can swim with the whale sharks in the Philippines. Later on, I found out that it is actually safe to swim with the whale sharks, known as butanding. Good thing my friends and I decided to attend Sinulog Festival. We decided to fit in our schedule to watch and swim with the whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu.
To swim with the whale sharks, you have to ride the bus or bring your own car to Brgy. Tan-awan in Oslob, Cebu. The journey may take you 3-4 hrs depending on the traffic conditions. If you have a private van/car with you, more or less it can take you 2 in a half hours to reach Oslob. Also, the feeding happens every 6am-12pm. So I suggest you leave early to reach the designated time to swim with the whale sharks. We decided to leave Cebu City around 530am and reached Oslob around 8am.
When we arrived Oslob, the first thing we looked for was a resort where we could park our car and accommodate our needs. Each person had to pay 600php (100 entrance fee of the resort + 500 to swim with the whale sharks). Inclusive of the lifevest, snorkeling goggles and snorkel. There’s an extra charge if you want to rent their underwater camera so I suggest you bring your own. After paying all the things needed, off we went to the main entrance for the swimming of whale sharks.
Before you can start swimming with the whale sharks, you have to listen to the briefing first. They will tell you the do’s and dont’s when swimming with the whale sharks. Here are the following reminders one has to remember:
1. Don’t put on sunblock
2. Stay far away as possible from the whale sharks
3. DON’T TOUCH THE WHALE SHARK
4. no flash photography
After the briefing, you will have to wait for your designated boat and off you go!
Once we arrived on the site, we were in awe! We saw 2 baby whale sharks but they actually look like grown whale sharks! Since the current was too strong, I wasn’t able to have a decent picture with them. If you don’t know how to swim, you can wear a life vest. You are only given 30 minutes to swim with the whale sharks so use your time wisely!
Truth be told, swimming with the whale sharks is a controversial issue. Whale sharks are supposed to be swimming freely and looking for their own food. Instead, they depend too much on humans to feed them. In this case, this tends to not be a part of their natural habitat. From what I’ve heard, there are some tourists who actually touch these whale sharks. This just goes to show that they are not being a responsible traveler. As a responsible traveler, you have to make sure that you still get to respect Mother Nature at its best. Although it is a controversial issue, I still decided to swim with the whale sharks. To swim with the whale sharks is a part of my bucket list and I wanted to experience first hand. Now that I was able to experience it, it would be first and last experience.
Swimming with the whale sharks is a memorable experience. At the same time, we have to be responsible tourists. We become to be responsible tourists by making sure we follow the rules or not swim with them at all. As much as possible, we would want Mother Nature to be at peace.