If swimming with whale sharks is on your agenda then look no further then Tan-Awan, Oslob, Cebu. The locals feed the Sharks daily between 7-11 meaning you are guaranteed to see and swim with these gentle giants all year round.
For 1000 PHP (Roughly $31 AUD at time of writing) per foreigner you get 30-40 minutes in the water with them to experience their gentle and gracious energy. This price is inclusive of snorkel, mask, getting to them and returning to shore by boat, and fins & life jacket if required.
We entered the beach area via BCD resort. As this is a private area and we were not staying guests we were charged an additional 50 PHP per person for access and use of their toilets and showers.
I would recommend aiming to visit on a weekday and aiming to be there by no later than 7am. This to eliminate your waiting time, as it can be extremely busy with tourists, and also for the best visibility. I found that once the sun grew higher and the light hit the surface the visibility became significantly poorer to see these beautiful creatures.
Disclosure: There were no ATMs that enabled foreigners to withdraw cash and most places did not have access to EFTPOS at time of writing. I cannot stress enough to ensure you to have enough cash for your time in Oslob.
How to get there & back again:
From Cebu international airport take a taxi to the south Cebu bus terminal. This will cost you approximately 300 PHP depending on the time of the day and the traffic situations.
There are multiple and frequent buses to Oslob. Be sure to get a bus that has air con and secure a seat early. If you are travelling with someone else don’t be fooled in thinking you can spread out and enjoy some solo time. The buses fill up quickly and by the end of the trip there will be several standing.
The duration of the trip is between 3-4 hours and with no stops so ensure you bring enough water. The average price for a foreigner is no more then 150 PHP for your ticket although we were only charged 137 (yes a random sum but it was less then we anticipated so we were happy). The bus timetables can be checked here: http://www.cebu.gov.ph/cebu-south-bus-terminal-bus-schedules/
To return simply wave the bus down from outside your accommodation & reverse the steps outlined above.
Alternatively you can be collected by private transport which should cost you absolutely no more then 3,000 PHP per vehicle but be sure to negotiate this and agree on the price before you commit. If you pre-book your accommodation, which I recommend, I would encourage you to contact them for assistance arranging this.
I would recommend staying as close to the Sharks as possible as you may be lucky enough to encounter the gentle giants swimming by for free. Also there isn’t much else to do in Oslob besides Tumalog falls (Which I highly recommend) and a venture onto Simillion Island if you please.
For this reason, I feel that 1 night in Oslob is suffice irrespective of wherever you choose to lay your head.
We stayed at Lagunde Beach Resort which costs about 3000 PHP for two nights. They had a great pool, semi-decent wifi, they were on the beach and about a 15-20 minute drive from the whale sharks. Elsa, a worker there, was a also incredibly friendly, hospitable and helpful.
Unfortunately the food was lacking around the Lagunde beach region so we ate mostly at our hotel which is certainly not worth writing about.
However, we did stumble across 1 place worth mentioning.
Bora Bora : Found nestled close to the pharmacy and the red money changer on the left hand side in the ‘main street’ this Dainty little cafe did an excellent beef Tapislog for only 65 PHP. Small portions but delicious and satisfying. You will see a Life size statue of a large Italian man holding the cafe sign out the front of the cafe. The bus stops right in front of it so you shouldn’t miss it. No wifi.
Oslob is certainly a sleepy town with a curfew in place for grommets. If you wish to enjoy a few beverages your hotel poolside is the best place to be.