Swimming with whale sharks in Oslob and Sumilon Island day trip

The next day, we woke up at 4am to go to Sibulan port. There wasn’t anything open at that hour so we didn’t get to eat until we got to Oslob. It is recommended to go to Oslob very early 1) to avoid crowds and 2) to make sure we see the whales! They say around 10am, the whales leave.

How to get to Oslob

1) From your accommodation, take the tricycle/bus/jeep to Sibulan port.

2) At Sibulan, enter the port office and buy a ticket for the pump boat to Lilo-an.

At the next desk beside the tickets to the boat is a desk for the one-way bus tickets. Don’t forget this because you can’t take a seat on the bus without a ticket; you’ll end up standing. The bus ticket is already part of the fee you paid for the boat.

3) Tell the driver you’re going down at the Oslob Whale Shark Watching Briefing Center.

4) Enter the compound, approach the desk inside the hall to pay the fees. You will be assigned a group and handler. The handler will make sure you have all the things you need during the swim.

The rate is cheaper if you’re just staying in the boat and watching the whale shark from there.

5) Attend the briefing in the center just behind the desk for the do’s and don’ts. The handler will call you when it’s your turn.

We waited about an hour before we were called. You can also get a locker because aside from an underwater camera, you won’t be allowed to bring your things in the boat. There are plenty of restaurants along the shore so we had a light breakfast while waiting. I think some of these are also hostels. Our guide was so nice because our wallets were already in the locker, and he volunteered to front the money for our meal. We paid him when we got back from the boat.

When our number was called, we went to the shore where we were kitted with snorkel gear and life jackets. Life jackets are a must when you’re on the boat, but I removed mine when I was in the water because I couldn’t sink and see the whale shark. I prefer to swim underneath the waves because the waves were already quite strong.

Mom was so afraid to let go of the boat. This looks like one of those scary shark movies!

You have to maintain a 10-meter distance from the whale shark at all times. Not because it’s going to bite you but because you might be a danger to it or you might get caught by the undercurrent.

It was so majestic! At first, I was afraid to get out of the boat because I didn’t know what to expect, but our two companions in the boat were so encouraging so we went down. Incredible! The water was so choppy, our guide couldn’t get decent shots of us. He’d often say “don’t move!” and then start taking photos. When I looked back, the sharks were so close! For the nth time, I wish I had 20/20 vision.

My guide said, “Don’t move!”, so of course I turned around.

There were people who’d swim a bit closer to the sharks, and their boatman would swim up to them to ask them to retreat. I’m glad we didn’t see anyone touch the shark. I truly hope the visitors would listen. Please don’t hurt these gentle giants. I also wish this could take place a bit deeper/farther from the shore so the sharks would have more room to move.

A lot of fish surrounded the whale shark, which added to the beautiful sight.

When our time was up, we went back to shore. We hired a tricycle to take us to the Bancogon port for a day trip to Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort, which is just a short ride away. The driver didn’t drive down the super steep road to the port because he said he wouldn’t be able to drive back up. Even vans have a hard time driving up that road!

Sumilon Island day trip

At the Bancogon port, they served us welcome drinks while we waited to board the boat. Sumilon Island is one whole resort under the Bluewater company so there are no other restaurants. The day trip fee covered the entrance fee, buffet lunch with one non-alcoholic drink, roundtrip boat transfers from Bancogon to Sumilon and back, kayaking, snorkeling gear, island trekking, use of the beach, payags, shower rooms, and pools. More info here. Boat schedule here.

View of Sumilon Island. The water looked so inviting! It made me want to jump off the boat and start swimming.

We were only going to stay until 3pm because the boats back to Dumaguete were limited. I spent the whole day swimming while my mom went around the island. The buffet lunch was worth it. They served plenty of food, and it was all delicious. I even thanked them for cooking such a good meal. I definitely went back for thirds.

We tried swimming by the beach. On one side, the water was so choppy and the sand was full of broken corals so it was very difficult to swim. I couldn’t stay there for even ten minutes because I kept drifting away. It’s a must to wear your life jacket. But just cross the little strip of land, and you’ll find yourself swimming in very calm water. However, the water there is a bit murky and you have to swim a bit farther away to enjoy snorkeling.

Mom showed me to one of the trails she discovered, and we found a hidden grotto with a small statue of Mama Mary in the cove. It felt like a blessing. 🙂

We were ready to leave by 3:30pm when clouds surrounded the island. It started raining pretty hard, and there was zero visibility. Of course we couldn’t cross the water. We were low-key worried because we didn’t have any other clothes with us and we had to catch the last boat back to Dumaguete, and Bancogon is still about an hour away from Lilo-an port.

Zero visibility! But people still continued to swim…

After thirty minutes of heavy rain, mom and I were already discussing that we would contribute half and half for a room in Sumilon, just in case we couldn’t leave anymore. Then the rain stopped, and the fog lifted. Everyone quickly piled onto the boat. We still had just enough time to make it to the port.

When mom and I got back to Bancogon port and walked up the steep driveway to the main road, we hailed a bus back to Lilo-an port. Once we got to Lilo-an port, we rode a jeep back to Go Hotel to drop off our things, then we went to Dumaguete’s Rizal Boulevard. When we went to Dumaguete last year after a day in Siquijor, we saw a night market of street food, so we were hoping to eat there. But there was no night market, so we crossed the street and ate at a Mexican restaurant.

The next day was spent going to mass and shopping for mangoes. The mangoes are just one reason why I love going to Dumaguete. There are so many other water-based activities you can do in Dumaguete, plus it’s not so crowded and I feel safe.

Love mangoes? Go to the fruit market in Dumaguete City. Their mangoes are fresh, sweet, have no chemical taste, and cheap. The prices depend on the age of the mango. Buy the older ones and pack them well if you’re bringing them on a flight to avoid them getting bruised or mushed.
Happy 29th birthday to me!

One Reply to “Swimming with whale sharks in Oslob and Sumilon Island day trip”

  1. Too bad the whale shark behind you didn’t open its mouth. That would have been a stuff of thriller movies. 😉

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