Have you ever dreamed of swimming alongside the largest fish in the sea? In the pristine waters of Oslob, Cebu, this dream turns into a breathtaking reality. Whale shark watching has rapidly become one of the most awe-inspiring activities for eco-tourists and adventure seekers alike. This Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching Review will take you through everything you need to know to make your encounter with these gentle giants as magical and responsible as possible. From the best times to visit to tips on sustainable tourism practices, get ready to plunge into the deep blue and meet the majestic whale sharks of Oslob.

The best time to go to Oslob Cebu for Whale Shark Watching

We chose to stay in a hotel at Oslob the night before as we knew we had a full day planned. Immediately after swimming with Whale Sharks in Oslob Cebu, we had to start the journey to Moalboal for our 4-hour canyoneering excursion at Kawasan so this worked better for our schedule. We finished checking out at around 6 am and arrived at the whale shark watching site at around 6:30-7 am local time Saturday morning. Even at this time, we noticed that the site was starting to fill up quickly!

If you have the option, I do recommend doing this activity during the morning hours of a weekday. You will have the least amount of tourists in attendance and as I’ve mentioned, it gets busy fast on a weekend!

The staging area can be pretty chaotic. There will be groups, couples, and individuals, all with different time and group allocations. You will receive a group and number assigned to that group that indicates when it will be your turn to head out onto the water. During this time you’ll be able to hang out in the covered seating area and watch an informative (though a bit repetitive) video about the whale sharks and some of the rules while on site. Be listening during this time as they will continue to call group letters and numbers every few minutes.

You will have a chance to purchase some clothes, other souvenirs, and even food before or after the event if you need to. We picked up a couple of Oslob shirts for 500 Filipino Pesos each, tossed them into the van we had hired, and headed into the seating area to listen for our number.

Oslob Cebu Philippines Beach
oslob whale shark watching registration

What to bring for the Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching


There can be a bit of confusion when you get there on what you should bring or not bring. Depending on how busy the area is, the grounds staff may not even take the time to speak to you at all! Once they call your group and number you will have to move quickly to the boarding area and the next thing you know you will be whisked away to say hello to the gentle giants.


To help you prepare for this, here is my list of top things to bring with you to the Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching tour:



  • GoPro Camera If you don’t have one don’t stress, they do have some on-site and start at 500 Filipino Pesos
  • Snorkel Gear If you have your own gear and plan to have it with you when you arrive, go ahead and bring it with you. They ran out of snorkel tubes before I had a chance to get on my boat so I was limited to lung capacity on how long I could remain underwater. I would have preferred longer sessions before having to surface! They did however have plenty of masks!
  • Towel When you finish snorkeling with the whale sharks in Oslob Cebu you will be able to shower but they do not provide a towel. I used a microfiber travel towel which worked out perfectly for this trip.
  • Change of Clothes If you are not staying in the area, I recommend a change of clothes for the long drive back. It is no fun to sit in soggy clothes for the 4 hour drive back to Cebu City after swimming with whale sharks!
  • DO NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN Don’t even bring reef safe sunscreen. The animals you will be swimming with are sensitive to the chemicals in these lotions and they do not want you to wear any or bring any with you onto the property.

What to wear for the Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching Excursion


Planning what to wear is actually very easy. You will be out on the water for about 30-40 minutes so don’t over think this. Try to put the animals and the experience first and don’t wear anything that will prevent you from moving around easily in the water.


Here is my list of what to wear to the Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching tour in Cebu:



  • UPF Shirt If you dive on a nice day, you can expect the sun to beat down on you while out on the water. I wore a UPF Nike shirt and had no problems with my skin burning or feeling too hot while I was with the whale sharks in Oslob Cebu. You will have the option to swim with or without a life jacket (they don’t tell you this, we figured out half way into the activity that we could remove them) so keep that in mind when preparing.
  • Shoes or No Shoes This is going to be totally personal preference but I wanted to lay out the options for consideration. You will start out walking across sand and rocks until you board the boat to head out into the water. This is the part where having some soles under your feet might be really helpful. Once you get out into the water though you might find that having shoes/sandals on might hinder your ability to move around properly in the water so that you can really enjoy the experience. I wore my Chacos into the water which were fine, but I did find that they really got in the way of my ability to move through the water. Next time, I will ditch them in the boat before going overboard!
  • Swim Trunks or Swimsuit I wore very thin swim trunks (and dare I say without the netting) and my partner wore a UPF shirt with bicycle short type bottoms. There were several people who wore bikinis and one-piece suits. I would say wear what is comfortable but keep in mind the sun could hit your legs while in the boat.
  • DO NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN  Just one more time, don’t do it! It is harmful for the animals in the area that you are going to enjoy!
Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching
Rowing out to see the whale sharks in Oslob Cebu
Rowing out to see the Whale Sharks in Oslob Cebu Philippines
Diving with Whale Sharks in Oslob Cebu Philippines

Hit the next arrow for more Oslob whale shark watching photos

Oslob Whale Shark Watching


You will have a few moments to kick off your shoes, prepare your camera, and adjust your snorkel gear while the staff paddles you out to the specific area where your group will be hanging out. Take advantage of this time so you can be ready when they tell you it’s time to get out! You will want all of the time you can get with these amazing creatures!

The staff will begin giving commands to drop overboard and each of you will exit one by one or two at a time at most. I was lucky and was the first one out of my boat so I was able to get a few unobstructed shots of the whale sharks before everyone started filling the area!

If you have or if you rented a GoPro, now will be the time to pass it off to your guide if you choose to do so. They will work extremely hard to capture some perfect moments of you and your party during the 30 or so minutes you are in the water. Be prepared to tip your guide if you ask them to do this. They go out of their way to do this when they don’t have to and it is very respectful for you to give them some money for their time and effort.


Remove the jackets and enjoy the whale sharks in Oslob!


Strong swimmers can go ahead and remove their life jackets if they still have them on at this point. I don’t recall hearing anyone mention anything at all about having to wear them but they were shoved into each of our arms as we prepared to load the craft so no one really had time to ask. We figured out that we could take them off about half way into the visit and I really do wish we had learned it sooner. It was extremely difficult to stay underwater to observe the whale sharks with those jackets on!

Once we took them off though we were good to go. Aside from the occasional bumping into strangers, it was awesome being able to swim alongside such amazing creatures. They are giant teddy bears of the sea and were extremely calm with everyone swimming around them.

Whale Shark at Oslob Cebu Philippines
Whale Shark at Oslob Cebu Philippines
Whale Shark at Oslob Cebu Philippines
Whale Shark at Oslob Cebu Philippines
Diving with whale sharks in Oslob Cebu

Hit the next arrow for more Oslob whale shark watching photos

Closing out a fun day snorkeling with Whale Sharks in Oslob Cebu Philippines


The ride back was quite loud from the excitement of those around us. Everyone seemed to have had a wonderful time and could not stop talking about the incredible animals they had just witnessed!

When you get back there will be multiple opportunities to stop and shower. Most people will stop at the showers directly on the beach right as you finish the activity. If they are busy, head back over to the shop area and use the showers next to the bathrooms. I found the lines to be much shorter! Use this opportunity to use the restroom if you are about to head to Moalboal. Check out my Kawasan Falls blog if you intend to check it out afterwards!

If you didn’t get a chance to purchase a souvenir before heading in to the activity, you can head over to the main area now. Be mindful of the time though if you are intending to drive from Oslob to Moalboal to do the Sardine run or Kawasan Falls!


Here is a list of things to do in Oslob Cebu after your Whale Shark Watching Tour


1. Tumalog Falls


Just a short drive from the whale shark-watching sites, Tumalog Falls offers a spectacular natural retreat. These falls are known for their fairy-tale-like ambiance, with gentle waters cascading over a wide, moss-covered cliff into a shallow, clear pool. It’s a great spot for cooling off and capturing stunning photos.


2. Sumilon Island


Take a boat trip to Sumilon Island, known for its pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. It’s perfect for snorkeling, swimming, and even just relaxing on the beach. The island also features a sandbar that is visible depending on the tide, making it a unique location for beach lovers.


3. Heritage Tour of Oslob


Oslob is not just about natural beauty; it’s also rich in history. You can explore various historical sites like the Oslob Church, Cuartel Ruins, and the Baluarte Ruins. These sites offer a glimpse into the colonial past of the Philippines and are perfect for history enthusiasts.

Oslob Cebu Map

How to get to the Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching


It’s around a 4 hour drive straight down from Cebu City, so if you’re planning on making the drive down from the city same-day make sure you leave very early! You could consider grabbing a hotel down in Oslob the night before. I have stayed at the Seafari personally. If you’re not intimidated by steps, this is a very unique and interesting hillside hotel that I recommend doing some research on! If you stay in Oslob the night before, you will save yourself hours of travel time the morning of your fun activities. This will give you more time if you’re trying to pack multiple excursions into one day or will allow you to get back to the city earlier to beat the evening traffic and checkpoints.

If you do decide to make the drive though, here is how you do it. It’s pretty simple!


Directions to Oslob Cebu Whale Shark Watching Tour from Cebu City


  • Head south on V Rama Ave toward Nogras St. Pass by 7 Days Inn (on the left in 1.9 km) Total Time: 5 min (2.1 km)Follow Cebu S Rd and
  • Natalio B. Bacalso S National Hwy to Natalio Bacalso Avenue in Oslob. Total Time: 3 hr 25 min (123 km)


F97H+9W, Natalio Bacalso Avenue, Oslob, 6023 Cebu, Philippines