Oslob, Cebu: A Humbling Experience to Swim with the Whale Sharks

Oslob is one of the municipalities in the province of Cebu, Philippines. This is the only place in the world where you can swim with whale sharks anytime of the year. There is something so majestic about the ocean and what lives within it. It’s a whole other world. Despite their intimidating name, whale sharks are some of the friendliest giants that live in the sea.

Whale Sharks is a sheltered species in the Philippines and Under Republic Act 9147, an Act for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and habitats in the Philippines, it is definitely illegal to harass them. So we better be responsible to comply with the guidelines in the activity area.

The story behind the trending “Swim with the Whale Sharks” Adventure

Generations ago, the fishermen would throw baits into the water to catch fish but then the whale sharks would end up eating their baits. So what these fishermen did, they would throw away the bait farther to divert the whale sharks. But then, later on, the whale sharks would keep coming back to the fishermen’s bait and eat it. So this happens for generations and generations ago.

There’s an NGO (non-governmental organization)that actually takes care and protects the whale sharks in Oslob. LAMAUVE, these people have been in Oslob for years already to monitor the compliance of interaction regulations. They have taken care of 600 whale sharks just in Oslob. Imagine how many whale sharks are there? The fishermen have been feeding them for generations. They have created a livelihood for these fishermen too. The tours they have here for this activity are pretty respectable when it comes to eco-system and to the animals as well.

When you go swim with the whale sharks, they’re about 8 to 10 whale sharks that actually go to the same place every day from 9 am to 12nn. They will conduct a 10-20 minutes orientation before starting the activity. It is really important to follow and cooperate with the tourism for the rules and regulations before starting to swim with the whale sharks.

I am in complete awe, humbled by the opportunity to share the same waters with the 60 million-year-old species.

Whale Sharks Interaction in Oslob and its Controversy

It has been the most talked about matter since it started the craze. Some people don’t support this activity, while some happen to be enjoying the rare adventure. It became very controversial because most people don’t abide the interaction code and conduct. Many tourists breach the guidelines given during the thorough briefings, and sadly they are not penalized.

How to get to Oslob, Cebu

Fly with Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia daily between Manila and Cebu

When you’re coming from Cebu City, you can head to the South Bus Terminal and ride a Ceres bus going to Bato via Liloan. Just don’t forget to tell the conductor to drop you off at Brgy. Tan-awan in Oslob for the Whale Shark watching just along the highway. The trip would take about 3 hours. Bus fair would cost you around Php 150-200.

When you’re from Dumaguete going to Oslob, look for multi-cabs to Sibulan Port. Ride a ferry or fastcraft to Liloan. At Liloan port, board a Ceres bus going to Cebu City and tell the conductor to drop you off at Oslob Shark Watching just along the highway.

It’s such a wonderful experience, a tick off my bucket list. I was scared at first, but the old saying were true, that when you’re already there you just have to go for it. After all, they don’t bite.

Fees in Whale Shark Watching in Oslob

Local Tourists

Includes Whale watching in the boat with no swimming, with life jacket, costs Php300
Includes Snorkeling with Whale Sharks with life jacket, costs Php500

Foreign Tourists

Includes Snorkeling with Whale Sharks with life jacket, costs Php1000

Whale Sharks Watching in Oslob lasts for 30 minutes only and available daily from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm only.

A quick tip: Go early as you can because there are so many people hungry for the experience as you do too. Safe travels!

Antique: Cascading Waterfalls and Awe-inspiring Mountains

Longing for some taste of nature? Antique has been a good choice in the Visayas.

The province of Antique is situated in the western regions of Visayas. Historically, Antique was called “Hantik” which is the name of an oversized ant. Kinaray-a is the language spoken by the people in Antique. (that  is hard to comprehend) anyhow, that is one of the best essences of traveling for me. Meeting new people, engaging with their culture and learning a new language.

Thanks to my “dirtiest” (my endearment for him) friend Francis who planned the whole trip for the Apps&Dogs. The five of us wanted to have a unique adventure together so we decided to push through Antique. From Roxas City, Capiz,  we brought goods for our overnight stay. On our list were: Chips, Red Wine, Coke, Bread, Cup Noodles, Canned goods, utensils, Water, Gums, Candies, and Coffee. We also had a lunch box filled with cooked adobo chicken/beef, hotdogs and chorizo for our lunch.

The Adventure

Around 6:00am we departed Roxas going to Kalibo, Aklan. We arrived around 8am and decided to eat breakfast at McDonald’s. We then rode a van from Kalibo going to crossing Nabas, that took us 30 minutes to 1 hour. From Nabas, the bus going to Tibiao was very rare, so we stopped over in a small cafeteria and bought some rice for our lunch. Unfortunately, it rained. Not too heavy but it rained!!!! What we had in mind? RANDOM! So when the bus passed by and stopped, we hurriedly ran ourselves into the other street fighting the rain and the wind. (So many bloopers that remind us always) the bus ride would take 1-2 hours. This is our best opportunity to see the view of Antique and we witnessed how Mountains meet the Sea. It was mesmerizing and enchanting at the same time.

Arriving in Tibiao feels so relaxing and refreshing. If you were looking for a place to renew, this is the best place to be.

We arrived in Antique at around 11am, we then rode a habal-habal (₱80.00 each back & forth ) going to Tibiao. The road was so rocky, bumpy and a lot of muddy tracks surrounded by dense forest, plus it was raining that moment, lucky us because the drivers were very nice to lend us their “kapote”. We paid ₱50.00 each for the environmental fee, then headed straight to where were staying.

We stayed in Kayak Inn, Tibiao for our overnight. Isn’t it so native? Everything we had in mind were exactly what we got ourselves into. The ambiance were very soothing and inviting. They also offer a lot of nature adventures perfect for adrenaline junkies like us.

 THE RAPIDS OF THE TIBIAO RIVER

Very much excited to start our tribal adventures, we proceeded with White Water Kayaking first which cost ₱450.00 per pax. Across the greenery and calm atmosphere, this is a good place even for newbies like us to try our hands in paddling. The instructor said, the water is usually placid during summer month but since the rain just stopped, the current of the water is strong at the moment.

After we geared up, we headed to the river and started the demonstration. The river is so long and very tricky, lots of big rocks and the water current is telling us “break a leg”. We went Kayaking one by one, supporting each other.

Some of us fell and fell all over again but we actually managed to finished the track. We had the most wonderful feeling, right after as if we’re fighting for our lives and won the battle. Yes, we survived.

BUGTONG-BATO FALLS

In the wilderness of Antique there lies a beautiful wonder. We all love waterfalls. So we didn’t miss Bugtong-Bato Falls. Together with our tour guide, we trekked to the Mountain for almost an hour. We were really tested for our outdoor skill. More chikas, laughter and sightseeing on our way to the falls. The moment we got there, we felt heaven.

Back to our Inn, we were starving so we ate an early dinner. The ambiance, the atmosphere, and the smell were perfect. We heard the nature’s natural sound at night and to that, we celebrated life and friendship over red wine.

HANGING BRIDGE

We woke up early the next day to visit the hanging bridge near Kayak Inn. It was only a 5 mins walk. We took pictures and decided to cross the bridge, but the ending? I was the only one who survived the test. We even met a new friend. He’s kind of adorable you know. 🐶🐶🐶

KAWA SPA This is definitely a must try whoever goes to Antique. A soothing, relaxing and meditating spa-bath be like. Kuya said, it is normally done at night but since we want better pictures, we decided to do it early morning (vanity).

We basked in an early sunshine in an enormous kawa hot bath. It has herbs and mints which give us this feeling of serenity and bliss.

After our glorious Kawa Spa, we fixed our things and leave Tibiao. We rode habal-habal again and caught the early ride going to Pandan. We visited Francis’ aunt and eat our lunch there.

MALUMPATI COLD SPRING

The cold scenery, turquoise water, and astonishing aura made our heart smile the moment we got here.

For only ₱20.00 you could enjoy the resort as long as you want. The Malumpati’s water flows all the way to Bugang River. We were very mesmerized by how the place pleases tourists. We changed our outfits and dipped in the clear / coldest water we’ve been to.

Almost time to go home, we headed to the terminal and rode a van going to crossing Nabas. Then rode another van going to Kalibo. We stopped over again at McDonald’s for a quick snack and finally headed to Roxas.

Get a tan,  Go paddling, Scale a mountain, Get wet in the rain and Soak your stress away in one destination. Many have changed in Antique nowadays, it offers a whole lot as what we experienced a few years ago. I hope you’ll be tickled by your wanderlust and try to experience the fun Antique has imparted in our lives. Safe travels!

Bohol, Philippines: Friendly Heart of Visayas

When you’re planning to fall in love with a Wonderland, it would be definitely Bohol, Philippines.

Let’s lose ourselves and fall in love with a bizarre and perfect one-day trip in the Heart of Visayas.

I wasn’t really sure if I’ll include Bohol in my itinerary knowing my original plan was to explore Cebu for four days. Fortunately, I did spare one day in Bohol and it couldn’t have been any better. Its located in the Visayas and a quick ferry journey from Cebu. Yes, it’s the best side trip whenever you’re in the Queen City of the South.

Bohol, Philippines is popularly known to be the tenth largest island in the country. People come here for the white beaches and beautiful nature with its diverse wildlife. The world-class diving, waterfalls and hundreds of caves for spelunking. And they come for the incredible history of the place.

Welcome to Bohol, the friendly heart of the Visayas and one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the Philippines.

What I came for Bohol, Philippines:

1. HISTORY

Boholanos still affectionately call their province the “Republic of Bohol” in reference to the island’s short-lived independence at the turn of the 19th century. Bohol is known not only for its environmental wonders but also for its old churches, some of which are built during the Spanish colonial era and considered national treasures.

I came to visit Loboc and get to see the famous Loboc Church, it is massive in scale and elegant in design. Unfortunately, I came and saw it dramatically damaged due to the typhoon Yolanda way back 2013. The infrastructure is work in progress, hopefully, it will recover soon. Now this place is called “Loboc Church Ruins”. But the place became even more attractive because of new mysterious and historical atmosphere.

 

2. MAJESTIC CHOCOLATE HILLS

One of the best spectacular landscape I’ve ever seen. The main reason why Bohol is famous and highly recommended as a tourist destination. They all have the same shape but differ in altitude. The best time to come here is when summer because they literally look like chocolate, while greener for the rest of the months.

I simply can’t imagine that everything around is not man-made, it’s a wonderful example of a caprice of nature. So mesmerizing!

3. JUNGLE INTERIOR

Man-made forest (Mahogany Forest)

It is filled with hundreds and thousands of Mahogany trees. Every one of it was planted by man. The place is beautiful, relaxing and nature loving. However it’s just a mahogany forest, nothing else. I even stepped out from the bus and walk-on.

4. EYE BUGGED TARSIER

Tarsier Conservation Area

Tarsier is Bohol tourism’s mascot. It is known locally by many names like; mamagmagomagaumaomag, malmag and magatilok-iok but I would prefer calling it Tarsier.


Tarsier Conservation Area is the new home of the captive tarsiers previously displayed for tourists along the Loboc River for decades.

We were told to strictly observe silence to avoid interrupting their sleep. The use of camera flash and touching them is strictly prohibited as well.

5. LOBOC RIVER CRUISE

The cruise was surprisingly pleasant. Actually, there were many foreigners onboard. There is an “Eat all you can” buffet system on this restaurant-boat, so it works well as a place for lunch. There’s also a native folk singer who will serenade you as you enjoy your sumptuous meal. It was very relaxing, serene and very good for the soul.

In general, the food was delicious, the river was astonishing and the waterfalls at the end of the route were picturesque.

I now know that a one-day trip isn’t enough to explore this wonderland. I have now more reasons to go back. Until my next time.

TRAVEL GUIDE:

1. Transportation:

Fast Ferry: The most convenient way to get from Cebu to Bohol.

Ocean Jet: If you’re from Pier 1, Cebu Pier Area this is the best choice. The fare is 800.00 Php (tourist class), and 1,000.00 Php (business class). The trip is daily from 6:00 am to 6:30 pm from Cebu port to Tagbilaran, Bohol vice versa.

Supercat: If you’re from Pier 4 North Reclamation Area, Cebu City this is the best choice. The fare is around 500.00 Php (promo fare) and 423.57 Php (discounted fare). The trip is daily at 6:30 am to 7:40 pm from Cebu to Tagbilaran and vice versa.

Starcraft: If you’re from Pier 1 North Reclamation Area, Cebu City, this is the best choice. The fare from Cebu to Tubigon vice versa is 200.00 Php (economy), 220.00 Php (tourist class), and 280.00 Php (business class). The trip is daily from 5:45 am to 5:30 pm back and forth.

Domestic Flights: Bohol is currently connected with Manila. (Check their websites)

Philippine Airlines: One-way fare starts at about 3,300.00 Php and it varies from time to time.

Cebu Pacific: One-way fare starts at about 2,438.88 Php and it varies from time to time.

Air Asia: One-way fare start at about 2,757.99 Php and it varies from time to time.

PLACES YOU CAN VISIT IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN A DAY:

Panglao Island

Corella Tarsier Sanctuary

Alburquerque (Santa Monica Parish Church)

Antequera (Mag-Aso Falls)

Balilihan (Spanish Watchtower)

Sagbayan Peak

Danao (Extreme Adventure Tour)

 

 

 

Siquijor: A Magical Island of Fire and Mystique

If you’re looking for a magical adventure, Siquijor is the place to be!

Siquijor is a Province located in the Central Visayas Region of the Philippines. It is mostly labeled as, the Island of Fire due to the glow it shows off during sunset as a multitude of fireflies gathers on the Molave trees surrounding the island. For the older generation, it has been said that Siquijor is a place of mystery, mystics, and magic; for they believe in witchcrafts, sorcery, and black arts. In a matter of fact, it is indeed practiced until today, but on a less prevalent than before.

 

Honestly, people find it very odd when they found out that I’m traveling to Siquijor Island. I know I’m going to like this place because it’s pretty bare, there’s not a lot of things to do, no noise, more trees trees trees and beach beach beach. It’s such a nice hideaway! But who would have thought that this island people used to be scared of going into, will turn out to be a perfect tourist destination? Apparently, this island is known to have witches and mythical creatures which are why for a while even the locals wouldn’t come here. But I think that was just an urban legend or something like that. I don’t know but maybe some people still believe it, maybe it’s true, or yeah hopefully it’s not.

 

 

More than that, Siquijor island is unexplored in terms of its tourist destinations, it isn’t the top destination people have in mind when travel popped in. That’s why we’re here because it’s honestly a hidden gem.

Basically, when you arrive at the port, you can buy your tickets there. There’s no need to buy your tickets in advance because there’s a lot of room, no worries needed. You show up at the Dumaguete, Port, buy your tickets for around 130.00Php, a terminal fee of 15.00Php, and you’re good to go. Of course, there’s a lot of choices, you could go fast craft for around 200.00Php or more. The travel time ranges from 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on your chosen boat.

 

Getting around the island is quite easy especially when there’s a lot of tricycles available for tour, their rate is 1000.00php per day which is around $20USD. Usually, you could split that with 3 to 4 people depending on your preference. Each tour guide has actually a specific route to follow depending on where your starting point. But since I’m going to explore Siquijor for a day with my siblings, I made some arrangements with our tour guide. Cos, of course, I’m gonna take you to places that are must visit.

Sites to Explore in the Province of Siquijor

1. St. Francis of Assisi Church

In just a hop away from the seaport, this church is considered to be a warm opening feature of the province. This church was built in 1793 and was made of coral stone. Like most colonial churches, its belfry is separated from the church.

2. Lazi Church

Known as San Isidro Labrador Parish Church, a Roman Catholic founded and became an independent parish in 1857.

3. Lazi Convent

Lazi Convent is the biggest and the oldest convent in the Philippines and all of Asia. It is constructed around 1871 and declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines. It is also nominated for UNESCO World Heritage. What a goosebumps! Amazing isn’t it?

  4. Capilay Spring Park

A public natural spring pool located at the heart of San Juan town. Capilay Spring Park provides a refreshing plunge to everyone as it has no entrance fee.
The pool has three chambers which are the spring area, the swimming, and the laundry pool. The flowing waters stream down to the nearby bay.

5. Old Enchanted Balete Tree

In the Philippines, Balete tree has been known to be a dwelling place for supernatural beings. This Balete tree in Lazi, Siquijor is centuries old and believed to be over 400+ years old; the most popular landmark in Siquijor is. Right under the tree, there’s a fish pond that is very popular for its “fish spa”.

 

6. Cambugahay Waterfalls

This multi-tiered waterfalls can be reached 135 steps down from Lazi main road. Enjoy the clean, refreshing, and cold waters that cascade all the way from natural springs. You will have the chance to jump using a swing, which is popularly known as the Tarzan jump. The water is so turquoise, no filter needed.

7. Salagdoong Beach

A very nice and secluded beach on the far side of Siquijor. This beach is popular because of its blue waters and endless skies. Salagdoong Beach is famous for its twin beach separated by the boulder rock. You can cliff jump, eat, party, and everything you want to do. It is quite a scenery!

8. Cantabon Cave

This is a must adventure in Siquijor, the cave is fascinating and extraordinary. There are plenty stalagmites and stalactites formations which will make you stare in awe. Exploring the cave, you will have to coordinate with the Barangay officials to get a tour guide and rent a flashlight.

Siquijor is a place that would amaze you with its natural and pristine beaches, astonishing waterfalls, lush hiking trails, serene environment, centuries-old churches, and the friendliest people. If you guys have the chance to visit this magical island, I so so so recommend it. Go to Siquijor and experience what I did or better yet, have more fun than I did. Let me know in the comment section below about your adventure friends, safe travels!

Boracay Island, Philippines : Timeless Beauty

You wanna know what the white beach in the world looks like? Let me take you to the Philippines, where Boracay Beach stands out.

Summer never truly ends in the Philippines which brings the locals and tourist to a perfect haven. By witnessing its beautiful white sand beaches, blue crystal clear waters, sunrise and sunset, serene atmosphere, and fresh salty air; you know that you’re in the ultimate vacation island of the Philippines, Boracay! This has been always my summer go-to beach or anytime I feel stressed out.

Boracay Island is part of Aklan Province, located specifically in Caticlan. According to the local tourism of Aklan, in the year 2015, it was visited by 1.5 million tourists coming from different parts of the world.

Boracay is one tiny island but there are more reasons for millions of people to cross an ocean and visit the Philippines.

It has become the face of tourism in the country since then. Boracay is considered one of the astonishing hotspots in the Philippines and one of the top islands in the world. This piece of beach paradise is always on the must-visit list of every tourist. People go here to unwind and take a time off from the busy zone of the city. It has been popularly known as the top destination for relaxation, tranquility, and nightlife.

This place is seriously an all-in-one packed with everything.

It is a home of hundreds of beach resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, activity area, and businesses; that will suit every taste and budget of any traveler. The island is adorned with several white sand beaches; the most famous of which is the one known as “White Beach”, as the name implies, this beach is the fairest of them all. This is also the commercial center of the island and also never miss the amazing sunset this beach is famous for.

What composes the Island?

This island is divided into three stations; Station 1 is a 3.5-kilometer white beach, it has the finest white sand in the entire island. This is where the most luxurious resorts, restaurants, and bars are found. Station 2 is considered the busiest area, where you can find the most famous mall on the island (D’mall). Many varieties of shops and restaurants are found here. Station 3 is the most peaceful and less crowded part the island, where you can find cheaper deals in the southern end.

If you find White Beach very busy and you’re looking for something low key and just want a relaxing trip, the next island suits your taste; it is known as “Bulabog Beach”. When you suddenly crave for peace and serenity with fewer people going around, head on to the next island popularly known as “Puka Shell Beach”. Whatever it is that you prefer as a traveler, Boracay got a place for you.

How to get on the Island?

There are two ways to get to this island. If you’re coming from Hongkong, Singapore, or Seoul; you can fly directly to Kalibo, Philippines. Or if you’re coming to everywhere else, you can drop by Manila, the capital of the Philippines and fly to Caticlan, the airport that is much closer to the island. When you get there, you can take the Southwest Bus from Kalibo Airport to Boracay, it is more convenient compared to the vans, They can also facilitate your boat transfer from Caticlan to Boracay. Upon arriving in Boracay Island, a tricycle can take you to your booked hotel.

Every time I travel here, I see to it that I can try new things or be in a new station for my accommodation. This time, I checked in with the Bambooze Hauz, located in Station 3 of the White Beach. The hotel is affordable and offers a very good accommodation.

What to Eat and Where to Chill?

Dining on the island is diverse. This party island has the most popular restaurants to date, flaunting their sumptuous and delicious meals. Few of these are; Real Coffee & Tea Café offering the most talked about Calamansi Muffins and every breakfast craving you have had. They serve different breakfast meals, and yes this place will convince you that Breakfast doesn’t only deserve a coffee. (Cos I don’t normally eat breakfast, Coffee is my everyday breakfast) I find myself in awe and I will probably start eating every morning.

The Banana Peanut Shake at Jonah’s is something I always have when I’m on the island. Jonah’s is an icon of fruit shakes in Boracay, which means everything in their list is worth a try.

D’Talipapa offering their very own Dampa-style wet market wherein you can have your food cooked and watch them as they do it, and Merly’s BBQ offering a home of the original chori burger made of Filipino longaniza.

You will never starve!

My favorite dining place is always I Backyard BBQ located nearly D’mall at Station 2, it is labeled as the “KING OF THE GRILL”. They have the best tastiest baby back ribs, BBQ, Chicken, and a lot more. You have to arrive really early before every meal time to avoid waiting for your table. (People usually fall-in-line just to dine)

When you get hungry, thirsty, and a bit tired in the afternoon, there’s a nice place to chill. Spider House is located at Tambisaan Jetty Port Road, just a bit farther from station 3. The Bamboo built Resort/Restaurant has a lot to offer; from a unique accommodation, a spectacular sunset straight from the best view on the island, very relaxing and inviting couches, and the food are outstanding!

 

Gypsea Shack formerly Hoy Panga is a must visit Bar and Restaurant on the island. it is the home of the best-grilled tuna and all festive food in the Philippines.

Fine dining right at the beach with French-Mediterranean food when you dine in Degustacion at Sandbar Beach Club. For Pizza and Pasta, Caruso at The District hotel is a winner. For Japanese, there’s Sushi Shi-ro at Bulabog Beach, where your Sushi and Sashimi are made right in front of you.

Boredom has no place in the Island

Not to mention this island has a lot of water and land activities to offer. Just like Parasailing, Paddle Boat Riding, Flyfish, Banana Boat Ride, Cliff Diving, Atv, and etc.

No one thought this small island can have it all. It blooms every single day, not knowing it has been a fun part of every single person’s life who indulged in it. Usually, people who came to this island tend to visit the place for a few days, but for some, they chose to stay and make a living. The memories of Boracay experiences are too fast at night time but seems like fast approaching at daylight.

The white beach is full of dreamy paraws (outrigger sailboat) giving rides, colorful parasails fly through the air, perfect scenery, many food choices, the live music breaks out, fire dancers twirl their batons while spinning fire, and the party goes on all night until dawn.

Boracay is a place where you can find everything that you have been looking for in a vacation destination, everything is considered. It’s going to be worth a try to visit it if you haven’t yet. Then, grab that cocktail by the beach, sit on the bean bag and see what the paradise has to offer.

 

 

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