Anyone that knows me will know that I am not a fan of getting my hair wet, let alone being on a wooden boat surrounded by some of the worlds biggest sharks. However being in the Philippines and getting into island life I was excited to see these spectacular creatures I had heard so much about.
Prior to arriving in Oslob, which is roughly a 3hour car ride from Cebu, my sister in law had listed the ‘fun’ facts of swimming with whale sharks, they belong to the shark family, they are fish not mammals and unlike their relatives they eat plankton and are strictly vegetarian. The latter being the only one my mind clung onto.
It is important to get to the whales early, I think this is due to how close they come to the shore in the morning but also to ensure other boats, and tourists don’t surround you. This being said when we arrived around 6am there were no other people, which was a pleasant surprise for something I anticipated to be a tourist trap.
After being briefed on the rules and regs we are told to jump into tiny wooden boats, so that we can row out to see these 12 metre gentle giants. Warning if you are doing this trip and hoping to be cocooned on a large boat then this isn’t for you. As we row out towards the whale sharks we are suddenly surrounded by them and they are absolutely huge! At this point we are told to put our masks on and jump in whenever we fancy it. This felt like something from my nightmares but I just knew once I committed to the experience it would be unforgettable. With my mask safely adjusted I jumped into the beautiful clear waters and there I was swimming with the largest species of fish in the world. Once we got used to our monster friends which didn’t take long, we were left to dive freely around them. This was such a unique stunning experience that I will never forget.
Natalio Bacalso, Tan-awan Oslob, 6025 Cebu, Philippines
**Travellers tip if you get a chance to stay in Oslob for the day then take in some of the beautiful water falls including the famous Kawasan falls.