Day tour in Oslob, Cebu: Whale shark watching and nature adventure

Oslob Cebu day tour: Sumilon island sandbar
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Oslob is a coastal town in the southern part of Cebu, and it’s one of the best places to visit in this province especially if you’re after unique & adventurous activities such as whale shark watching. Here’s a Oslob day trip itinerary you can use as a rough guide!

How to get here

From Cebu, head to the South Terminal and board a bus to Oslob (~P155, 3 hours). Trips start as early as 1AM. Make sure to inform the driver to drop you off at the whale shark watching area in Oslob.

Alternatively, you can also ride a van instead (~P150, 2.5 hours). Vans can be found at the GT Express Terminal along Junquera Street, near the University of San Carlos. You will be dropped off at Oslob town center. You might have to take another transport to get to one of the resorts.

Staying in Cebu? Look for discounted hotels in Cebu here.

Itinerary for Oslob day trip

Here’s a summary of our Oslob day tour:

Early morning (6-7AM)
– Whale shark activity
– Breakfast
– Visit Sumilon Island
Lunch (if you didn’t bring packed lunch to the island, then get lunch back in the mainland)
– Visit Tumalog Falls
Late afternoon
– Sunset viewing in Osmena Peak

If you’re coming from Cebu City, it’s best to leave at 3 or 4AM.

After your day trip in Oslob, you may opt to go back to Cebu City or proceed to Kawasan Falls where you can enjoy swimming and canyoneering. You can also stay there for overnight.

Budget breakdown:

  • Bus from Cebu City to Oslob – P155 per person
  • Whaleshark watching and resort entrance fee – P500 + P100 per person
  • Boat rental to Sumilon island – P2000
  • Ride to Tumalog falls and entrance fee – P140 per person
  • Bus from Oslob to Dalaguete – P60 per person
  • Habal-habal from Dalaguete to jump-off point in Osmena Peak – P100

Anyway, here’s a little more of our Oslob day trip itinerary!

Whale shark watching in Oslob

Oslob is famous for one thing — it’s whale shark tourism. Here you can see whale sharks (locally called butanding) up close and even take pictures with them!

Once you get off at Oslob, you can proceed to one of the resorts which offer boats to get you to the whale shark area. You can also drop off your items for safekeeping there. We chose MB Sunset Views Resort since it was nearest our drop-off.

Before the activity, tourists are required to attend a short orientation about the dos and don’ts in whale shark watching. The most important points to remember are: (1) do not touch the whale sharks and keep a reasonable distance and (2) do not apply sunblock because sunblocks contain harmful chemicals.

Guidelines on whale shark watching in Oslob
Guidelines on whale shark watching in Oslob. (Photo credit to Hali)

The whale shark activity costs P500 and lasts about 30 minutes. It’s best to bring an action camera, but if you don’t have one, you can ask your tour coordinator for unlimited GoPro shots saved in a CD for P550.

Whale shark watching activity starts at 5:30AM and closes at midday, so make sure to go there in the morning preferably before 11 AM. Actually, the best time is early in the morning before the currents get strong.

Our experience

I was amazed that the whale shark area itself isn’t far from the beach. It’s easy to see the boats from where we were standing before we boarded the boat.

Our experience was quite fun. We wore lifevests and took pictures with the whale sharks, aka the gentle giants of the sea. The current was strong though so it’s a bit difficult to navigate in the water.

Swimming with whalesharks in Oslob, Cebu
All of us were grabbing on to the boat because of strong currents. (Photo credit to Hali)
Whaleshark in Oslob, Cebu
Twice, Hali got hit by a whale shark swimming too close to the boat. (Photo credit to Hali)

Your guide will help you get pictures with the whale sharks, by the way. Our guide pushed me down while another took photos of me with the whale shark. If you know how to swim, leave off the life vest in the boat to get a good picture.

The whale sharks were just gliding in the water in ones or twos and threes, with mouths hanging open. Indeed, they are very gentle. In the confusion — the strong waves pulling us in the sea and the tourists crammed in the area, my friend and I accidentally kicked a whale shark while trend and neither of us were attacked.

Although the local organizers prescribe a distance of 4 meters away from the shark, it’s easy to touch or get close to the whale sharks unintentionally. Just as our case above. Also, at one point Hali dived down and got hit by the tail of a whale shark swimming past.

Update: Is this an ethical activity?

After this trip, I’d read about whale shark watching in Oslob and found out it is actually an unethical activity. Keeping the whale sharks in Oslob year-long is harmful to them . If you still want to have a whale shark encounter, a good alternative is going to Donsol, Sorsogon, where whale sharks are left in the wild.

Here’s further reading on ethical animal encounters around the world.

Visit Sumilon Island

After the whale shark activity, have a quick breakfast back in the resort and then contact a resort staff to arrange a boat for a trip to Sumilon Island. Sumilon Island is just several minutes away from the main beach.

Sumilon Island is famous for its fine, white sand bar. You can find the 4-star Bluewater Sumilon Island Resort here. However, day tour boats do not have access to the resort itself and may only stay in the sand bar.

Sumilon Island in Cebu
Approaching Sumilon Island. (Photo credit to Hali)

If you’re on a day tour, you may only stay in the sand bar.

Our experience

We stayed here for a few hours, and it was time well spent. The water was clear and then turns a beautiful deep blue. The waves were strong. Beside the sandbar there’s an area with picture-friendly seaweeds as well.

The pristine waters of Sumilon Island. Make sure to do a side trip here when you’re in Oslob! (Photo credit to Hali)
Sumilon island stairs
Stairs to the sea. (Photo credit to Hali)
Sumilon island clear water
Team Alon in Cebu. (Photo credit to Hali)
Sumilon Island sand bar in Cebu
Walking through the fine sand of Sumilon Island sand bar. (Photo credit to Hali)

Chase waterfalls in Tumalog Falls

After visiting Sumilon Island, have a quick lunch and then proceed to Tumalog Falls.

It’s a 15-minute ride from the resort area. From the jump-off point/entrance, you can walk down a steep pathway with sharp turns or simply hire a habal-habal for a death-defying ride (P50, back and forth).

Tumalog Falls is an 80-100 meter high waterfall. It has umbrella-like formations (similar to Ulan-Ulan Falls in Biliran) with the water falling gently from above. The water is collected into a man-made pool and flows down to lower elevations. The pool is a beautiful light blue. It’s shallow and freezing cold, which will make your teeth chatter.

Tumalog Falls in Cebu
Tumalog Falls from afar. (Photo credit to Hali)

Our experience

We chose to walk to get here and enjoy the scenery. It was fun, although we regretted it on the way back since it was very tiring.

Tumalog Falls is very lovely. It’s so high that it was difficult to capture the entiretly in the camera. It’s also one of the best waterfalls I’ve seen as of yet. I highly recommend including this stop in your Oslob day trip itinerary.

Interestingly, I had googled Tumalog Falls after the trip and noticed that the cement pool walls were a recent addition. I think I would’ve preferred it au naturale, but that’s the price of commercialization. As long as the locals and local tourism office keep it in great condition, I’ll be happy.

Tumalog Falls in Cebu
Tumalog Falls features a gentle curtain of water falling from perhaps a hundred feet high. (Photo credit to Hali)
Tumalog Falls in Cebu
The water in Tumalog Falls is freezing cold. (Photo credit to Hali)
Tumalog Falls in Cebu
Everybody say Cheers! (Photo credit to Hali)

Sunset viewing in Osmena Peak

If you’re still up for one more activity, you may finish your Oslob day tour in Osmena Peak.

To get here, ride a bus en route to Cebu and ask the driver to drop you off at at Dalaguete (pronounced Dalaget), which is 3 towns away. From there, hire a habal-habal or multicab to take you to Osmena Peak.

Osmena Peak is one of the highest points in Cebu. It’s famous for its natural rugged peaks and a favorite stop for those who want to see the sunrise or sunset.

Osmena peak in Cebu
Osmena peak in Cebu (By wikimedia – Tyrll Adolf Itong)

You can choose to hire a guide. The trek is relatively easy and takes only 20 minutes to reach the peak.

We skipped this part since we were all tired already and we had a small boy in our group. However, it’s still a good way to end your Oslob day tour.


Has this Oslob day trip itinerary been helpful to you? Let us know in the comments below!


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P.S. This post is part of our 5-day Cebu-Siargao trip. See other places we’d been to:

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  1. hi! can you share info regarding boat rental? I’ve been looking through FB, but all are linked to a tour package. we only need a pumpboat for the Sumilon island trip

  2. Im so xcite because i read a lot about in cebu theres a lot of fun..this is my list bucket for my vacation dis coming december in the philippines…i never canceled to go there with my family..thanks for sharing the xpirience in cebu

  3. Hi. Just want to know if you can book directly in oslob for the swimming with the whale sharks? And can we join other groups for this activity to cut the cost since the tours i’ve seen in various websites are expensive for 2persons? Thank you.

  4. Thanks so much for this! I am planning my first trip with my sister and filipino boyfriend to do this travel together in south cebu,looking forward to it! Thanks

  5. I’m planning a day tour for Oslob for my family. Would you know any beach resorts around the area where we can wash up?

  6. What a beautiful place and an incredible experience! I feel like 4 meters is still too close for the creatures’ own comfort though, when considering their size in comparison. Was this area baited/krill-stocked to attract the sharks? I’ve read of that being done, which would be my only concern with visiting.

    1. I think so, yes. It turns out there’s a controversy about whale shark watching, with environmentalists saying it changes the natural behavior of the sea animals. I think whale shark watching in Donsol, Sorsogon, is a good alternative to Oslob.

  7. Amazing trip! On your next trip, try the other side as suggested by Mustachio. There’s snorkeling and scuba diving in Moalboal, falls hopping in Samboan, and more! Cebu has so many adventures and sites to visit. 🙂

    1. Next time we’ll do that! 🙂 We only had a day to spare because we were on a connecting flight to Siargao then.

  8. Have you been to the southwest municipalities in Cebu? I recommend boating/snorkeling in Moalboal, canyoneering in Alegria (though I haven’t tried this myself), going to the waterfalls in Samboan, Ginatilan, and Badian.

    1. Haven’t yet! This is literally the only time I’ve been in Cebu haha. 🙂 But I’ve been seeing so much photos of Moalboal, Alegria and the waterfalls you’ve mentioned I think it’s time I actually schedule another visit.

  9. I love the beach and the falls, swimming w/ whale sharks seems fun, but according to studies, it disrupted the normal behaviour of this gentle creatures.

    1. I read that as well, but that was after our trip. I’m not sure what to feel about it, I think I need to read the two sides of the argument first.

  10. I never been to the southern part of Cebu, I’ve been planning to visit oslob ever since. I love to do diving with Butandings too that’s sooo awesome. Lovely beach plus falls. Ohhh Cebu has a lot to offer. By the way, I explored the northern part of the Province when I went there 🙂

  11. I’ve been to Cebu, but never in Oslob and Sumilon. This post makes me want to book a flight ASAP and fly there. Philippines is truly amazing. You just made me fall in love with it all the more. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Great tips on what one can do with only a day in Cebu. If I were to choose, I would simply chill on a beach. am not the type to cover as many places as possible. I like staying at a place for a certain period of time to relax. LOL.

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