The Butanding / Whale Shark Watching and Tumalog Falls Experience
Getting to Oslob, Cebu from Citilink near South Bus Terminal in Cebu City took us about 3-4hrs by van/V-hire. Each one of us had to pay 180pesos for the fare. But if we hadn’t taken the V-hire, we could have travelled by an airconditioned bus, which would have cost each one around 140pesos. Since it was Saturday at that time at around 4pm, South Bus Terminal was a bit crowded, it was so hot inside the terminal and we had our parents who had come along with us, so, we had to go to Citilink and got to travel by V-hire. As soon as we arrive there, we still had to wait for the line but much better than that of the South Bus Terminal. And since we were impatient enough to wait, we decided to rent the V-hire, or pakyaw, as we call it in Bisaya and had paid 2500 pesos. We would have paid 2800 pesos if we did not haggle. The 3-4-hour ride wasn’t that stressful because 9 passengers were not enough to make the V-hire so congested.
Upon arriving in San Jose St. Poblacion, Oslob, we were greeted by Minong, the assistant of the owner of New Village Lodge, where we would spend our night there. I had to specify the name because he was so accommodating and so nice not to. We had already booked this lodge earlier through Agoda for a very affordable price. It only costs 800pesos for a fan room. It is very ideal for backpackers. It can accommodate 8 people. Here’s a snapshot of the room. (Please don’t mind the faces. Haha)
It looks as though it can be ransacked any time but safety was never an issue for us because the owner’s house is just beside this lodge. However, it is advisable for travellers to contact the owner beforehand for them to confirm if the room is available. Because in our case, we booked two fan rooms where each can accommodate 4 people. However, when we contacted the owner, only one fan room was available. Fortunately, this room can accommodate 8 people. The owner explained that Agoda was not updating their room availability on time. The owner was also very accommodating and friendly. He can also give you a ride using his Sportage which can carry 7 people (maximum) and the rest of us (that’s me and my husband) had to ride the motorcycle. He just asked 250 pesos for each passenger which cost us 2250 pesos for 9 people.
On the next day, on a sunny Sunday, thank God for that, we woke up 4:30am, prepared our things for the day’s exciting event, and took our breakfast. At around 5:45pm, we departed for Butanding / Whale Shark watching. It took us 10-15 minutes to get there. Whale Shark Watching starts 6am and ends at 12nn every day. My advice for travelers is for them to be there early like 6am coz it will be too crowded and too hot at around 9am onwards. The fee for the whale shark watching inclusive of the boat and the life vest is quite affordable. It only costs 300pesos if you just want to watch the butandings on the boat. But if you want to swim with them, you need to pay 500pesos and you will be given a snorkel. If you want to capture the moments with the butandings, you can rent an underwater camera for 500 pesos. One underwater camera is enough for 4 people in one boat. The image files you have will be given to you later and if you want to burn the files in a cd, you need to pay 80 pesos. Before the exciting 30-min whale shark watching you will have to attend an orientation that you should not wear sunscreen/sunblock when you want to swim with the whale shark, that you need to rinse if you had already applied sunblock and that you also need to be 4 meters away from the butandings which was impossible for us because they kept swimming towards us .
After the orientation, we went directly to the boat/bangka. Two assistants who worked there accompanied us.
By the time we reached to the feeding site (though it is technically not feeding because fishermen only gave the butandings hipon/small shrimps just to lure them), one of the assistants would help those who didn’t know how to swim very well just like me and the other one would take photos of you with the butanding underwater. You should make the most out of it. After all, it’s unlimited.
After that moment with the gentle giants and a rest of about 20 minutes, it was now time for Tumalog Falls, a side trip that you should never miss. 15 minutes ride away from the butandings’ site is the cold waters from the Tumalog Falls. After we arrived, we had to pay 20 pesos each for the entrance fee. But we had to walk on a steep road for about 5 minutes from the entrance before dipping into the water and before we can witness the beautiful site of the falls. But if you are too lazy to walk, you can ride a motorbike (habal-habal in Cebuano) for 50 pesos to and fro. Now, it’s time for the Tumalog Falls experience. The residents there were so friendly that they would help have our pictures taken.
That’s all for now folks. Hope to share with you another exciting adventure next time.