Oslob is a municipality located in the southern part of the island province of Cebu. Every year, the Toslob Festival is celebrated in the town to give thanks to its patroness, the Immaculate Conception. It is held on December 8, which is also the feast day of the said patroness.
Oslob is famous for its one of a kind marine life. Its waters are inhabited by the gigantic butanding or whale sharks, the gentle giants of the sea. Tourists can watch them from boats, but snorkeling and diving near these friendly sea creatures are also permitted. In fact, whale shark watching has become the main attraction of the municipality.
After a close encounter with the whale sharks, next in your itinerary should be the beautiful Tumalog Falls. Anyone will be mesmerized as the mist from the falls surrounds the mossy bedrock, just like gigantic white curtains. It is a sight you shouldn't miss.
For some peace and quiet, you can head to Sumilon Island. Known as a refuge for fisherman during typhoons, this little island boasts amazing white sand and crystal clear waters, where you can enjoy the calming sea breeze.
You can also take a trip down memory lane by visiting the Cuartel and Baluarte, the ancient structures near the Municipal Hall of Oslob. The Cuartel was built as a headquarters for the Spanish soldiers during the Colonial Era, but the construction was halted when the Americans came to the Philippines. The Baluarte, meanwhile, was built in 1788 to serve as a watchtower to protect its surrounding areas from Moro attacks.
There are no direct flights from Manila to Oslob, so if you plan to reach this enchanting destination by air, you will have to fly to Cebu City which is about 120 kilometers away. There are a handful of local airlines that fly to Cebu like Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, and PAL Express. The flight from Manila usually lasts for about an hour. If you want to score great deals for your next trip to Cebu, be sure to avail of their regular promos or seat sales.
There are shipping vessels that also ply the Manila–Cebu route. 2GO is the leading company that offers ferry rides to the different provinces in the country. Travel time from Manila to Cebu will take about 22 to 24 hours. If you have loads to time to spare, this should be a more affordable option for you.
Once you’ve arrived at the Mactan–Cebu International Airport or the Port of Cebu, find your way to the South Bus Terminal where the Oslob-bound buses are stationed. Travel time between Cebu City and Oslob is about two to four hours, depending on traffic and weather conditions. Travelers who frequently visit Oslob are recommended to take the earliest bus ride possible in order to avoid traffic and to have ample time exploring and enjoying the sights and sounds of the town.
Throngs of tourists come to Oslob to see whale sharks up close. If whale shark watching is your priority then ask the bus driver to drop you off at Barangay Tan-awan where the whale watching tours have set up shop.
How to Get Around
The habal-habal is a convenient transportation to take around Oslob. Upon alighting at the Municipal Hall of Oslob, you can ride a habal-habal if you want to get to the different sights and attractions in Oslob.
What to See
The quaint and cozy town of Oslob is home to a number of heritage sites that you should visit when traveling to the south of Cebu City.
One of the landmarks of Oslob is the Church of the Nuestra Señora de la Immaculada Concepcion. Built in 1830, this grand structure that forms part of the Municipality Heritage Park is believed to have been built using corals that were washed ashore from the nearby ocean. Adjacent to the church is what remains of the bell tower that was constructed in 1858. The church suffered damages over the years from natural and man-made calamities, including a fire in 2008 that destroyed almost the entire interior of the church. Fortunately, the heritage structure survived including the image of the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception.
A couple of steps away from the church is the old Spanish Cuartel, or at least what remains of its unfinished structure. Yet another heritage site worthy of a visit, the cuartel is a two-story structure that features arched woods and doors. Originally built to serve as the headquarters of the Spanish soldiers or Guardia Civil during the Spanish occupation, the construction of the Cuartel was started in 1860 but remained unfinished even after the end of the Spanish invasion some 38 years after. Today, the Cuartel makes for a good backdrop for various photo ops and even postcards.
Another heritage site in town is Baluarte. Locally known as Lantawan, Baluarte was built in 1788 to serve as a watchtower where the Spanish forces can guard the coastline from invaders or pirates. The Baluarte of today is what remains of the seven other watchtowers that have warded off Muslim slave raiders that once tried to take over the town.
Natural and Man-Made Attractions and Activities to Try
Swimming with the whale sharks is the biggest draw of the municipality of Oslob. For tourists visiting the town, it is usually on top of their itinerary. Interestingly, the presence of the whale sharks in Oslob is one of the reasons why the town has been seen an influx of tourists since 2011. So if you are looking forward to seeing these mammoth-size underwater creatures, then Barangay Tan-awan is the place to visit.
Before heading out to the waters to meet the whale sharks or butanding as they are called in Filipino, you must first sign up with a government accredited Whale Watching tours shop. You must also undergo a quick orientation about the DOs and DON’Ts of swimming with these gentle creatures.
Bear in mind that there is a limit to the number of people that are allowed to go to the shore to swim with the whale sharks. With their popularity, these animals have attracted quite a number of visitors. If you want to avoid the long lines, it’s best to come early. Above all else, one must not forget to treat the whale sharks with respect and to abide by the rules as discussed in the orientation in order to avoid any untoward incidents, especially those that may potentially harm the animals.
Aside from the whale sharks, the Tumalog Falls is another must-see natural attraction when in Oslob. Characterized by crystal clear waters that cascade down a steep slope into a water basin at the foot of the highlands and surrounded by lush greens, the falls is truly a sanctuary where tourists can enjoy being one with nature. From Barangay Tan-awan, ride a van or habal-habal to get to the jumping-off point where a trek down a steep road will get you near the falls. Enjoy an invigorating dip in its shallow waters and revel in the relaxing sound of the falls. Just don’t forget to waterproof your bags and other essentials since the mist from the falls will be spreading all over your surroundings and could reach even great distances.
Perfect for a moment of solitude and meditation, the Baywalk at Oslob offers the ideal venue where you can be alone while soaking up the relaxing atmosphere. In addition, the fascinating Heritage Park is just a couple of steps away with the cool breeze from the Cebu Strait blowing freely.
Off the coast of the southern tip of Oslob lies Sumilon Island, a 24-hectare property that is known for its outstanding beauty and exceptional and world-class diving sites such as the Garden Eel Plaza, Julie’s Rock, Coral Landscape, and Nikki’s Wall. These dive sites are known both locally and internationally for their clear blue waters, stunning reefs, and diverse marine life that never fails to amaze anyone who gets to see them. There are professional divers in the dive sites who can assist you if you're a beginner. Snorkeling is also an alternative way to explore underwater. Aside from these water activities, however, you can also visit the stunning sandbar, the lighthouse at the southern portion of the island, or even go bird watching, trekking, fishing, or even glamorous camping or “glamping” as it is more commonly called.
Events and Festivals
Just like any town or city in the Philippines, Oslob celebrates its own festival every December. It is called the Toslob Festival, which coincides with the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Aside from the town’s beautiful sights and attractions, visiting Oslob in time with the Toslob Festival allows you to catch a glimpse of local culture, history, and tradition. During the celebration, the people of Oslob don bright green and yellow costumes, and dance merrily to upbeat songs in celebration of a prosperous and bountiful year.
Where to Eat
Oslob doesn’t have fast food chains available but fret not: there are a number of restaurants that offer delectable dishes and a fine selection of drinks. Sizzling n’ Shakes Restaurant is one of the crowd favorites in town, offering a bevy of Filipino, Asian, and other Western dishes. This restaurant is well-loved for its breakfast menu and refreshing shakes. Moreover, the al fresco setting and the attentive staff make dining at this restaurant a truly memorable experience.
The Chez Tonton Restaurant is another crowd favorite, and their pizzas are definitely a must-try. This place is ideal if you want to have fantastic meals while enjoying a charming view of the sea. Other favorite restaurants in the area include The Big J’S International & Local Cuisine Restaurant and the Aaron Beach Restaurant—both specialize in Filipino, Asian, and Western dishes.
Fare: PHP 1,300.00++
The cost of either a plane or ferry ride will vary depending on the season or even with promos included. On average, the prices start at PHP 1,300.00 for a one way trip from Manila to Cebu City.
The bus ride from Cebu City to Oslob starts at PHP 150.00, depending on the kind of bus you’ll be taking (air conditioned or not). When you’re finally in Oslob, a habal-habal ride starts at PHP 50.00.
Food: PHP 150.00++
Though fast food isn’t available in the town of Oslob, tourists will still get to enjoy delicious and satisfying at around PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00.
Shopping: PHP 200.00++
The bulk of your activities in Oslob will revolve around sightseeing or whale shark swimming. There will be a lot of shopping to do when you hunt for souvenirs or pasalubong. There are some shops that sell trinkets like key chains, magnets, or T-shirts. A set of three whale shark magnets is about PHP 100.00. The retail price for a shirt starts at PHP 250.00, which varies depending on the design and the quality of the cloth.
Accommodations: PHP 500.00 to PHP 2,500.00
Due to the booming tourism in Oslob, there are a number of hotels, resorts, and other types of lodging facilities that have opened around the area. A basic room will cost you PHP 500.00 per night while the rooms with the more complete amenities and services can cost as much as PHP 2,500.00 per night.
Activities: PHP 300.00++
The fee for whale shark swimming starts at PHP 300.00. There will be additional charges for gear rentals and photos. The entrance fee to Tumalog Falls is just PHP 20.00. Other places to visit in Oslob have no entrance fees.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
Service charge is usually added to your bill when you dine at restaurants, so tipping is no longer necessary. But if you wish to leave a tip, PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 should be enough. The same amount should be ok as well for tour guides and habal-habal drivers.