Having a Whale of a Time – Oslob

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The threat of this morning’s 4am alarm was enough to curtail last night’s drinking to a reasonable hour.

The 6 of us were joined by four more guests from the Blue Orchid as we set off for Oslob, home of the whale shark at a ghastly 4.30am.

Oslob is located on the south east coast of Cebu island and is a two hour drive from Moalboal. It is renowned for its whale sharks and the tourists who pay to swim with them.

It’s a bit of a controversial enterprise because the whale sharks are fed each morning by local fisherman in order to lure and keep them in the area. Conservationists worry about potential adverse affects that this may have on the migratory species, regarding the scheme as unsustainable.

Proponents of the hand feeding respond that the project protects the whale shark by keeping them safely in the waters near Oslob and away from the hazards of the open ocean, where they risk being poached.

It’s an interesting argument and generally speaking we would tend to support the conservationists and opt for a more natural diving experience to interact with these gentle giants. That said, the chances of us actually stumbling across these creatures is slim and we’ve read reviews that they are respected in Oslob (possibly because if such big business now). In addition, a diving instructor from our resort gave us his opinion in support of the program, voicing no concerns for the health and safety of the animals which confirmed our decision to go.

As we pulled up to the beach at 6.30am we stopped for a quick bite to eat and coffee before being shown into a briefing area. We were told that we mustn’t wear sun tan lotion because it can wash off and have an adverse affect on the whale sharks, and that a 4 meter boundary around them must be adhered to at all times. Apparently there were marine biologists in the sea at all times monitoring this, and anyone caught attempting to touch the whale sharks could face a prison charge!

We were taken out on a small boat and just 100 meters from the shore were these incredible animals. It’s very hard to imagine the sheer grandeur and scale of these beauties until you are face to face with them in the water.

It really was breath taking. They were effortlessly gliding past us in the water, occasionally surfacing to feed. They are technically the biggest fish in the world and some can grow to a staggering 21 meters long.

Despite being huge, they were graceful and peaceful and whilst they seemed only an arms length away, they never touched us or showed any interest in us gawping at them.

You’d be hard-pushed to find someone who isn’t impressed by the whale sharks and their huge scale. A real one-off experience that we won’t forget.

Buoyant from the experience, we headed back to MoalBoal in high spirits, exchanging travelling tales with our bus companions.

Having enjoyed the resort and food and pool so much, we wanted to stay at The Blue Orchid for longer but there sadly was no availability. We managed to find another resort just up the road and headed to our new digs, The Dolphin House.

We couldn’t believe our luck as we were greeted with welcoming cocktails and shown around the pool and beach area. The Dolphin House is a beautiful resort, set in immaculately tended gardens. It has a series of cabanas overlooking the dazzling stretch of coastline and we seemingly have the place to ourselves.

We didn’t hold back on making use of the pool and the bar’s happy hour as we settled into a picture perfect sunset.

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