There is a guy sleeping on the bench where I am sitting. I put my pink backpack beside me to cover myself from a possible deadly kick from the sleeping man (He might be dreaming that he is a ninja! Better be safe than sorry!). I still have an hour before the ferry arrives so I thought of composing this blog entry. I am inside a waiting area in Toledo.… (No! Not Toledo in Ohio… and definitely not in Toledo, Spain) but in Toledo, Cebu. I am on my way back to Negros Island.
The adventure yesterday is still fresh on my mind. I am totally amazed of what I have encountered in the blue waters of Oslob.
I invited friends to join me in this adventure but only 2 girls (G and D who are natives of Cebu) were available. So I headed to Cebu by myself, took the long way (7-hour bus and barge ride compared to the 25-minute of plane ride). I arrived in the Queen City of the South at dinner time, and had a fantastic one with my former colleagues in Ayala Center. I slept for only a few hours before heading to the South Bus Terminal early in the morning. The bus left the terminal around 4am (bus to Oslob is available 24/7). The ride to Oslob is not an easy one; although the road is totally paved but it’s like riding in a roller coaster – curvy and zigzag road it is! After almost 3 hours of battling my motion sickness, the bus dropped us at Aaron’s Beach in Brgy. Tan-awan in Oslob.
We’re surprised to see that at 7am there are already a number of boats in the whale shark area. (The viewing/swimming time starts at 6am until 1pm. It is best if you arrive their before 6am: not too many people, the water is calmer during early morning, and to avoid too much exposure to the heat of the sun). After listening to a very brief orientation, we paid the required fees (the fee is inclusive of the boat and the life jacket: P300 per person – ideal for those who will not dive/swim , P500 per person – for those who want to swim/dive and they will give you a snorkeling gear/mask, ) and headed to the small boat that would take us to the gentle giants.
The distance from the shore to the whale shark area is very short that after the boatmen paddled for a couple of minutes, the 3 of us were stunned to see the big creature in front of our eyes…and then there comes another one… and another! Whoa! Awesome! We were so excited to dip into the water and swim near them. We took off our life jacket put the snorkeling mask…and slowly dived into the deep water.
When you are in the water you can can have a better view of the giant fish. (So if you can swim, go ahead and dive into the water! Do not just stay on the boat!) These creatures are massive! According to our boatman there are 10 whale sharks in here and the largest one is like the size of a bus.
After a few minutes in the water, I took off my snorkeling mask because I am not comfortable with it, and it turns out, the other 2 girls are having the same trouble. We dived back near the whale sharks, took many photos as we can, and absolutely having a great time!
They may look scary especially when they open their huge mouth; it is like they can just suck you in quickly, but they are harmless and so gentle that if I can hug them, I definitely would.
We went up to the boat to have a quick rest when suddenly one of the boatmen said that it is already time to head back to the shore, as our 30 minutes is over! The 30-minute time limit is not enough to enjoy these lovely creatures under the water ( but I have to admit that it’s quite tiring to stay in the water a long time).
This is really an experience that I highly recommend to everyone, especially to those who are in the Philippines. There are 3 places where one can enjoy swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines: 1) in Donsol, Bicol (Luzon area) 2) in Oslob, Cebu (geographically ideal for those who are in Visayas and Mindanao) 3) Southern Leyte, I just knew about this recently, this is also ideal for those in Visayas and Mindanao.
To those living outside the archipelago and are planning to visit the country, “swimming with the biggest fish in the world” deserves a spot on your itinerary.
I am inside the ferry now and still smiling as I am writing this. This adventure made me appreciate more how wonderful God’s creations are, and to swim with these enormous creatures is an extraordinary experience that I would remember for the rest of my life (that if my memory cells would still be intact!).
I wish this blog post will inspire you to carry your feet and swim with them…. soon.
Another spot in Oslob that is worth a visit is the Sumilon Island. I will talk more about the blue waters of Sumilon in my next entry.