Called “whales” because of their enormity, but still considered sharks because of their gills, whale sharks really are the most curious creatures. Friendly (and hungry), they happily swim towards the shores of Oslob, Cebu where they are fed food by the locals and swim with eager tourists.
My day started out like the few days before. I had a slight fever and my throat was killing me, however I was determined to get out of the room and start my next adventure. With our motorbikes, Josh and Alvin drove us one hour south to Oslob. It started raining, which slowed us down a little bit, but we made it just in time.
After watching a short orientation and buying our tickets, we headed to shore and got in a very small blue banka (boat). We spent less than a minute on the boat and I already saw a few whale sharks swim underneath us. Many would pop their heads out of the water near the boats who would feed them. Josh and Alvin eagerly jumped in the water to swim with them. Hesitantly, I slowly got in the water, and to my left and right were huge whale sharks! Afraid to get too close to them, I clung onto the boat, which was still an extremely close view. One even passed right under me and gave my foot a high five. It was definitely an experience to remember.
We ended the day in Moalboal to eat McDonalds (yes, we were craving western food) and pick up our laundry. Right as we were about to leave, a group of locals started yelling in our direction saying that our tire was flat. Turns out Josh had been riding with a flat tire. We drove about two kilometers and paid 60 pesos (a little over $1) to get his tire fixed. We finally got to Moalboal and were surprised to learn that our laundry wasn’t at the shop. One of the workers said that it wouldn’t be ready until the next day since they weren’t dry yet. I had been wearing the same pair of pants for the past five days, so the boys and I waited until they brought our clothes back, still a little damp since it was air-drying on a rainy day.
Josh took me to see a doctor in Badian right after that. It turns out that I have tonsillitis, but I’m glad that’s all it is and that I have medicine for it. I paid 50 pesos (about a dollar) to see a doctor. There was no appointment needed and a very short wait time. Josh drove me back to Moalboal after that so we could pick up antibiotics at a pharmacy. I’m happy to say I’m well on my way to getting better.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SWIMMING WITH THE WHALE SHARKS:
*Cost: 500 pesos (locals) and 1000 pesos (foreigners)
*Do not apply sunscreen prior to seeing them. It’s hazardous to the whale sharks, and you will have to wash it off prior.
*Touching (or riding) is not allowed. They say it’s an offense of 4-6 months in jail.
*Whale shark swimming is from 6AM-12PM.
*It’s best to go in the morning. There are a lot less people and a more intimate experience with the sharks.
*Swimming/snorkeling time is approximately 30 minutes, and scuba diving is one hour.
I had a wonderful time swimming with the sharks, however I did have my doubts while I was doing it. I did see trash floating in the water where we were, which I know can’t be good for them to be around. They say not to touch the whale sharks, however, they come so close that sometimes it’s inevitable if the waves are crashing too hard. It’s a great experience, but I hope someday soon they can make it a safer and better experience for the whale sharks.