When in Manila and you see that your favorite airline has a seat sale ongoing, I’d strongly suggest you book a flight to Cebu and before you get there, talk to tour operator Happy Juanderer and check out their unique itineraries that allow you to see parts of Cebu that are usually off the usual beaten path and at prices that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Our latest adventure led us to Tan-awan Oslob where we got to swim with the largest living nonmammalian vertebrate — the whale shark.
Tan-awan used to be a sleepy town where tourists would just stop by and ask for directions to get to other tourist spots in Southern Cebu and then never look back. Today though, it’s a different story. When a video of a tourist feeding a whaleshark in Tan-awan, Oslob went viral on the internet, one by one, tourists came to see these gentle giants and today, this once sleepy town is now one of the busiest municipalities in southern Cebu, all thanks to this booming attraction of swimming with the whale sharks.
Our second day in southern Cebu started early, we left Moalboal at 7am and arrived Tan-awan, Oslob at 8:30 in the morning. We were asked to register and then had a quick orientation about the do’s and dont’s of swimming with the whalesharks and in less than ten minutes, we made our way to the shore where we got in our little banca’s (boats) and proceeded to the wale shark encounter area, which was about 3 minutes away from the shore.
boats are lined up in the whale shark encounter area where some of the tourists were already in the water
it doesnt take long to get to the whale shark encounter area as the shore is really close
We were asked to gently get off the boat and as soon as we were in the water, this was what greeted us.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! About ten whale sharks were in the area, some were being hand fed by the whale shark guides and some were just swimming lazily at the bottom or around us. There were times like I felt there were too many people but the whale sharks didn’t seem to be bothered at all, I guess by now, this is something that they’re used to. I was told that this was actually a good day because there weren’t too many people which made me think the rest of the days must get pretty crazy.
The whale shark guides tell me that they’ve seen these whale sharks in their waters for years, they tell me, even as children, they saw these giants in their waters and considered them as pests who would eat their bait whenever they tried to fish, so when tourists started to come in to see the whale sharks, they saw this as an opportunity to promote this as a tourist attraction. Tan-awan used to be one of the poorest towns in Cebu, now, the community is progressing at a quicker rate. When back then they couldn’t even afford to eat 3 meals a day, now, because of these whale shark encounter activities, they could, and still have a little more to spare. And because the whale shark encounter hours were only from the hours of 6:00am to 12:00nn, they also had more time to spend at home with their families during the rest of the day.
I’m a little on the fence about hand-feeding the whale sharks, it just looked so unnatural to me. Instead of the whale shark swimming horizontally, some would have their heads tilted up with it’s tail almost touching the bottom of the beach just because it was being hand fed. Now I know the local government and community in another town called Donsol has done a remarkable job in promoting their whale shark encounter activities without any need to feed the whale sharks, so I do hope that in Oslob, the local government can look into other options as well without causing a shift in the natural feeding cycle of these gentle giants and yet still help the town in a way that would not make the locals lose their revenue.
Regardless of how I feel about the whale sharks being hand fed, I also can’t deny the fact that I had an amazing time just seeing them and being that close to them. There’s just something about seeing them for the first time when you get yourself into the water and seeing them swim lazily about, there were times that I would think, “I can’t believe I’m seeing this!” They’re absolutely beautiful. I was told that the ones we saw were not full grown whale sharks, the adult whale sharks could grow as big as a bus! Can you imagine? I would love to see those!
Each group was given 30 minutes in the whale shark encounter area, I guess it’s one of the ways for them to regulate the number of tourists swimming and I felt that was enough time to swim and admire these gentle giants. It was such a unique experience, one I enjoyed a great deal. I may have a few misgivings about how it’s operated, but who knows? Maybe we’ll see changes soon. All in all, I’d certainly recommend this to other tourists, local and foreign alike and I encourage you to see the rest of southern Cebu as well. Check out the itinerary prepared for us by Happy Juanderer where we got to see a lot of southern Cebu in just two days! No need to figure out where to go, how to get there, who to talk to, where to sleep and what food to eat because I must say, figuring all that out on your own can be pretty time consuming and with just two days, you’d want to make the most out of it. I saw in some of the websites that they offer this activity for 2,500 per head! If you book a trip with Happy Juanderer on the dates below, you get to do the whale shark encounter plus so much more at their introductory price of P4,995 per person.
OCTOBER 22 & 23, 2014
DECEMBER 10 & 11, 2014
JANUARY 14 & 15, 2015
JANUARY 20 & 21, 2015
If you want to experience the same and yet are not available on these dates, check out these package rates for you and your family or friends.
2 Days and 1 Night #SURSUROY Adventure Package
1. Van Transfers during Tour
2. Driver Tour Guide
3. 1 Night Resort Accommodation in Moalboal
4. Island Hopping in Moalboal with Life Vests and Snorkeling Gears
• TURTLE ISLAND
• SARDINES LAND
• PESCADOR ISLAND
5. Canyoneering Adventure with Lunch
6. Kawasan Falls
7. Santander Viewpoint
8. Whale Shark (Butanding) Encounter
9. Sumilon Island Hopping with Lunch
10. Tumalog Falls
11. Osmena Peak
12. Happy Juanderer Certificate of #Awesomeness
Add P1,500 if client would like to avail ACCOMMODATION and AIRPORT TRANSFERS Prior & After the CEBU SURSUROY TOUR
RATES PER PERSON: (If EXCLUSIVE GROUP)
No. of Persons and Rate per Person
12 PAX P 5,200
11 PAX P 5,450
10 PAX P 5,600
09 PAX P 5,800
**EXCLUSIVE GROUP: If group wants to choose their own travel dates.
08 PAX P 6,000
07 PAX P 6,200
06 PAX P 6,400
05 PAX P 6,750
04 PAX P 6,900
If you want to check out how our whole itinerary went, click on the link below and read all about our great adventure in the South of Cebu!
Shayla wears many hats. Apart from being a Senior contributor for wheninmanila.com, she is also professional boudoir and wedding photographer for Imagine Nation Photography and theboudoirdolls.com. When not shooting weddings, people or places, Shayla also enjoys being a regular weekend jock for a local radio station, Mellow 94.7 where she gets to work on her other God-given passions, talking and sharing her love for music. She believes it is only best that we honor God by using the talents He has blessed us with and share that with the people around us that they may be inspired to do the same---to live a full life blessed in so many ways by HIM.
Check out more of my Photography here : www.shaylasanchez.com