During our second day in Dumaguete, we found ourselves traveling to Oslob, Cebu to see the famous whale sharks and take a tour of the surrounding area as well. We were supposed to leave at 5 in the morning but unfortunately, my alarm didn’t go off so we left around 6 am instead. From Dumaguete City, we need to go to Sibulan Port where we are going to ride a boat going to Oslob. Since we were on a hurry, we decided to hail a tricycle to take us to the port. We asked him how much the fare is and he told us that minimum payment is 100 pesos since the port is quite far. It was far indeed, and I think the tricycle driver should have asked more fare from us but he didn’t. Upon arriving in the port, we bought tickets immediately and then waited for the boat to set sail. After 30-40 minutes we have arrived in Oslob and surveyed the transportation offerings. There were tricycles, “habal-habals” (motorcycles) and Ceres bus waiting for passengers. I reckoned that the cheapest way to get to the drop off point for whale shark watching is to get on the bus so I asked the conductor if they are passing by that area, he said yes but we will have to wait since we didn’t reserve our seat at Sibulan Port. We stayed at the waiting area for around 5 minutes before the conductor called us and we finally got our seats in the bus. The bus fare in only 30 pesos, we would have been asked to pay hundreds if we chose to ride the tricycle or habal-habal so it was a good choice.
The journey from the port to the resorts which offers swimming with the whale shark experience is not that long. We alighted in front of Aaron’s Beach Resort and arranged the trip with them. The fee for swimming with the whale shark is 500 pesos but we had to pay an additional 100 pesos for use of the resort’s facilities (locker, shower, etc.). After paying and securing our valuables in the locker provided to us, we made our way to the orientation area. The place is only a few meters away from the resort but we rode a boat to get there. In the orientation area, a local explained to us the do’s and don’ts while in the viewing area. They were very clear that we could serve jail time or be fined if we violated any of the rules. Yikes! Once finished, armed with my camera, a life vest (provided) and snorkel (also provided), we made our way to the viewing area by boat. From afar, I cannot make out where the whale sharks were but when we finally reached in the swimming/viewing area, I was surprised by the number present. My cousin told me that they are feeding the whale sharks in order for them to surface and indeed, that’s what we found there. They were feeding the whales with krill, lots of them. In fact, the smell of the krill is lingering from where we were staying. The boat men helped take our photos which was very nice of them but I guess this is expected when you pay 500 pesos for the experience, right? 😀
We had a hard time in the water and I didn’t get to snorkel much since the current was strong. Too bad I can’t swim…
I’m such a loser. Due to the strong current, we were advised to hold on to the boat and to take our picture with the gentle giant, the boat man takes us on a spot near the whale and dunks us in the water. I still laugh whenever I remember this… it’s just too funny. Haha!
We were taken back to Aaron’s Beach Resort after the encounter and we tried hard to get rid of the fishy (or should I say krilly) smell by taking a shower. The guy in-charge of looking after the lockers then asked me if we are planning to go to the nearby waterfalls and told us that the fee for a habal-habal to take us there is 120 per person round-trip. We took it since we had no choice as there are no other vehicles going there because we are not part of an arranged a tour. He then introduced us to the driver taking us there and I asked the driver if he can also take us to Oslob town since we wanted to see the Cuartel as well as the old church. The driver told us he can if we add 100 pesos each for the ride. I can’t believe he only asked us for 100 pesos each since I heard the town is quite far but I won’t argue with that. 🙂
Our first stop was Tumalog Falls. It’s a short ride from the resort but there’s a 5 minute walk going to the falls itself. The road is paved and it goes downhill so you don’t have to worry about going there, you just have to worry about walking back uphill. Hehe. When we reached the falls, we were at awe by its grandeur. Truly, I haven’t seen a falls that looked like this. Since the water cascades down several rocks before hitting the bottom, the falls create a mist and you can actually get close to the water source itself. The experience of having the water cascading down your body is like having a shower but much stronger.
After cooling down in the waterfalls, we made our way to Oslob town proper. The ride took around 20-30 minutes but we didn’t get bored since the view of the mountain and the sea while on the road is gorgeous. We also got to see Sumilon Island on the way and our driver was nice enough to stop and take a picture of us with the island as backdrop.
When we got to the town, we were greeted by the imposing Cuartel. When I saw pictures of this structure in the past, I actually thought is was a ruin but research told me otherwise. The construction of the Cuartel started sometime in 1850 but it was never finished. Much like old structures during the Spanish Era, the building is made of coral stones.
A few meters from the Cuartel is the Church of the Immaculate Conception. Also made from coral stones, the construction of the church started in 1830. The church was destroyed by fire twice, first in 1955 and the last only in 2008. The foundation of the church however, is still original.
Past the church, you will see what is left of what once was a watchtower or “baluarte”. Built in 1788 as part of the town’s defenses against Moro raiders.
I’d say Oslob was the highlight of our four-day trip even though we only spent half day to go around this town. To redeem myself, I want to take swimming lessons so I can swim with the whale sharks for real next time :p