Oslob, Philippines

A whale shark spotted whilst diving in Phuket, Thailand  

Located in Cebu, Oslob has long been known on the backpacker scene as the place to swim with whale sharks. However, an explosion in tourist numbers and controversial ethical practices have thrown all of that into question. 

Despite this, whether snorkelling with whale sharks is your thing or not, Oslob is still a good place to explore for a day or two. 

Girl snorkels alongside whale sharks
Swimming with whale sharks is the main reason people visit Oslob. Photo credit: Chelsea Diamond

Where to Stay in Oslob

Although there is a lot of accommodation in Oslob town proper, your best bet is to look in and around Tan-awan, close to the ocean where the whale sharks are fed.

There are a few local homestays in the area (most of them don’t have websites so just walk around and ask if you’re interested). These are great for backpackers as they usually allow you to cook in a communal kitchen. It is also a lovely way to get to know the locals.

Boat on sea in Oslob
Oslob after the crowds have dispersed! Photo credit: Chelsea Diamond

Anglers Hub & Resort

Located on the beachfront is Anglers Hub and Resort. The staff are super helpful and they run tours to the main attractions around the local area. There is WiFi although guests report that it can be spotty – well it is the Philippines! A bunk in a mixed dorm will set you back around 400 PHP ($8USD). 

New Village Lodge 

Set in Oslob, New Village Lodge is within easy driving distance of Santander and Alcoy. It also provides an airport shuttle, room service and a tour desk. There is a range of amenities available to guests, including wireless internet access in public areas, a designated smoking area and a laundry service. Pets are also welcome. A double room is around 1000 PHP ($20USD).

Germaroze

Offering a tour desk and wireless internet access in public areas, Germaroze is situated in Oslob and provides comfortable accommodation. The hotel has a laundry service, a designated smoking area and parking. All of the rooms have a private bathroom with hot water. A double room with a sea view will cost around 585 PHP ($12USD).

La Lune Oslob Hostel 

Another great option for backpackers is La Luna Oslob Hostel. The accommodation is basic but comfortable and there is free drinking water available. The dorm rooms are well maintained and budget-friendly, coming it at 400PHP ($8USD) for a bunk in a 4-bed dorm. There is a common area with books and games which is a good place to meet other travellers. 

For more great accommodation options in Oslob, click here!

Things to do in Oslob

Swim with Whale Sharks 

Sightings of whale sharks are guaranteed in this area however, this is because they are fed by local fishermen, disrupting their natural migration patterns. Swimming with whale sharks is cheap in Oslob but this is largely due to the huge crowds who flock to see them. The experience has been reported as crowded, impersonal and unethical (although that, of course, depends on your point of view). 

If you are interested in getting up close with whale sharks but don’t want to be involved in anything ethically questionable, or simply want to do more research, check out our article all about swimming with whale sharks the ethical way! You may find that Donsol or Southern Leyte is a better destination if your only draw to Oslob is the whale sharks. 

How much does it cost to swim with whale sharks in Oslob? 

The prices are regulated by the local government and are different for locals and foreigners. The feeding area is a stones throw from the beach away from the beach. Whale shark activities are available every day from 6 a.m. to 12 p.m. only. 

Whale Shark Watching (1 ticket = 30 mins)

  • 300 PHP ($6USD) – Locals (inclusive boat ride)
  • 500 PHP ($10USD) – Foreigners (inclusive boat ride)

Whale Shark Watching & Snorkelling (1 ticket = 30 mins)

  • 500 PHP ($10USD) – Locals (inclusive boat ride and snorkelling gear)
  • 1000 PHP ($20USD) – Foreigners (inclusive boat ride and snorkelling gear)
Whale shark underwater with snorkelers
Swimming with whale sharks has become increasingly popular. Photo credit: Chelsea Diamond.

Visit the Tumalog Falls

These waterfalls are stunning! The pool is lovely to swim in and makes for a refreshing break from the sun. The surroundings are also lush and tropical, which means that this is the perfect place to unwind after an adrenaline-filled morning. There is a 20 PHP ($0.50USD) entrance fee to the falls. 

Tumalog Waterfalls, Oslob
A visit to Tumalog Falls is a great way to spend an afternoon!

Head to Sumilon Island 

This island paradise is just a 20-minute boat ride from Oslob and well worth the day trip. Of course, the Philippines isn’t short of beautiful beaches but the picturesque sandbar makes this island postcard perfect. 

Although great for a lazy day spent in the sun, there are also activities for backpackers who prefer a faster pace of life. Explore the blue waters with a snorkel, kayak through a mangrove forest or even join a cave tour – the choice is yours! 

Sumilon Island
The beautiful Sumilon Island.

Check out the Cuartel Ruins

For a dose of history, check out the Cuartel Ruins. These would-be military barracks were built in 1860. Designed for the Spanish soldiers, the construction was halted when the Spanish rule ended and the buildings were never finished. The ruins look similar to that of the Colosseum in Rome (but much smaller)!  

How to get to Oslob

From Cebu:

Ride a bus to Oslob from Cebu Southern bus terminal. The terminal is beside Elizabeth Mall, or E Mall, as the locals call it. Don’t worry about getting on the wrong bus because there will be boards displayed clearly to guide you which bus goes where. If you want to be sure, the guards and staff are friendly and will be more than happy to offer assistance. The journey takes around 3.5 hours. 

Where to next?

Moal Boal

This famed island is known for its excellent diving, and most recently, it is home to one of the largest sardine shoals. Here you can swim and dive with millions of sardines. It is an incredible experience! The journey can be done by bus and takes around 3 hours. 

Bohol

For a taste of jungle life, head to Bohol and visit the magnificent Chocolate Hills! After all, did you even go to the Philippines if you didn’t see these?! There are also hidden waterfalls, lazy river cruises and kayaking to enjoy. The journey takes between 3-4 hours and you will need to take a ferry part of the way. 

Siquijor 

For some picture-perfect Instagram shots, begin your travels to Siquijor, located around a four hour journey away (if using public transport). This beautiful island is a great place to while away a few days, coconut in hand! 

Founder & Editor at South East Asia Backpacker | Author\'s Blog

Nikki Scott is the founder & editor of South East Asia Backpacker. A traveller-turned-entrepreneur, she left the UK in 2009 and after 6 months on the road, she started a bi-monthly print magazine about backpacking in Asia. South America Backpacker soon followed and today she runs her backpacking enterprise from her base in Spain. Her honest and fascinating book, Backpacker Business, tells the story of her success in the face of adversity.