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Swimming with Whale Sharks: Philippines Edition

Seize the moment beneath the waves! Dive into an incredible adventure — swim with gentle whale sharks in the Philippines.

A few hours south of Cebu, the mountainous coastal town of Oslob is home to 30,000 locals and miles of pristine coastline. The town’s primary attraction is an obscure wildlife tourism activity allowing those brave enough the incredible chance to swim alongside Whale Sharks. 

These underwater giants can reach lengths of up to 4-5 meters (15-20 feet), making them the largest fish species in the world. While technically categorized as a shark, the origin of their name comes from their similarity in size to whales and not the aggressive nature of traditional sharps – in fact, they act like overgrown goldfish and pose no significant danger to humans.

These majestic creatures, known as the gentle giants of the sea, live a simple life, constantly filter-feeding. The opportunity to swim alongside these magnificent creatures, witnessing their graceful movements and sheer size, is an exhilarating experience that leaves visitors in awe. 

The Philippines is renowned for its responsible and sustainable approach to whale shark tourism. In places like Oslob and Donsol, strict guidelines are in place to ensure the well-being of whale sharks and their habitats. Local communities and conservation organizations work hand in hand to protect these magnificent creatures, educating visitors about their importance and the need for conservation efforts. By participating in responsible whale shark encounters, visitors actively support conservation initiatives and contribute to the long-term survival of these awe-inspiring animals.

Through the viewfinder

Swimming with Whale Sharks Uncensored

Every morning dozens of locals set out to “hunt” for whale sharks, not to kill or harm them, but to lure them close to shore. At the same time, canoes with 6-10 people each make their way into deeper water to meet these gentle giants. Typically, 3-5 whale sharks filter feed, swimming very slowly in large circles. The sharks are focused on food and completely ignore humans.

It is a mind-over-matter battle for some visitors to get into the water with something that big lurking just under the surface. But, once in the water, the fears subside quickly as Whale Sharks want nothing to do with humans.

The exhilaration of swimming alongside these magnificent creatures, the responsible approach to tourism, and the stunning marine ecosystems of the Philippines make it an unparalleled destination for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. Swimming with whale sharks in the Philippines is an experience that will leave an indelible mark, inspiring a lifelong commitment to marine conservation and igniting a sense of wonder for the natural world.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can you swim with whale sharks?

Swimming with whale sharks is a popular tourism activity that can be found in many countries throughout the world including (but not limited to) Australia, Indonesia, Mexico, Philippines, and Thailand.

Are whale sharks dangerous to swim with?

Whale sharks are docile creatures, resembling a big goldfish which filter feeds on plankton, shrimp, and small fish.

Do whale sharks have teeth?

While the mantra around sharks is that all sharks have teeth, a whale shark doesn’t. It feeds by moving water across its gills to grab (primarily) plankton or small marine life.

How old are the whale sharks you can swim with?

Typically, most of the whale sharks on tourist excursions are juvenile whale sharks, measuring 4-5 meters (15-20 feet).

Is swimming with Whale Sharks safe?

Yes! Whale Sharks are not aggressive and want nothing to do with humans. The biggest risk when swimming with Whale Sharks is getting a sun burn.

Everything you need to know before you Swim with Whale Sharks


31 C
/ 88 F

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9.5209, 123.4317


February – May


June – January


1-2 Hours


Philippine Peso (PHP)



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