When it comes to whale shark watching in the Philippines, Oslob comes first in the mind of most Filipinos and foreigners but people should stop supporting this exploitation!
It is really not surprising with all the Instagram and Facebook posts about it getting crazy popular if not viral, it has been the known circus. I one article it has been said that during the tourist season, more than 1,500 sightseers descend each day on Oslob, a town of 30,000 on the island of Cebu. If you want to watch real whale sharks and not puppies being fed, your best option in the Philippines is found in a lesser known site called Pintuyan.
Pintuyan is a fifth class municipality in Southern Leyte province is home to the most eco-friendly whale shark interaction in the country.
Why Choose Pintuyan over Oslob?
The difference between Oslob and Pintuyan is quite huge in several aspects.
- Less Crowd. Far from them park feeling you get when in Oslob, Pintuyan is a remote place that is not frequently visited by countless of Korean and Chinese tourists. Compared to hundreds in Oslob, in Pintuyan, you will probably have 20 other people the most.
- Longer Interaction for Lesser Cost. In Oslob, you only get to be in the water for 45 minutes and pay more while in Pintuyan, it will be for a three-hour long sea-based adventure. Since they do not feed the whale sharks, you will have to wait it out for a bit and have several chances in interacting with them.
- Directly Supporting Local Community. In Pintuyan, when you pay the fees, you are paying a small portion to the local government while directly supporting the local fishermen who are advocates of conservation, for a disadvantaged community this is helping them a lot unlike in Oslob where the government is earning millions per month without full transparency where the money is going.
- See Raw Nature and Real Local Life. Oslob has already gotten touristy while Pintuyan has remained simple and raw. You can sit back and watch the sunset from their port and enjoy local priced food and drinks in town.
- Taking An Ethical Stand Against Animal Exploitation. As travelers, it is easy to not think of our impacts when we support local destinations and activities. Saying No to Oslob is changes the perspective of tourism to a more sustainable approach and it is empowering communities that are opting to be more eco-friendly in their approach.
Getting to Pintuyan:
Traveling to Pintuyan involves several transfers but the scenery is worth it. Southern Leyte being a less frequented place has a lot to offer. I would suggest leaving Cebu at night and arriving early in the morning in either Hilongos or Maasin.
To reach Pintuyan, you can either go on a fast craft or overnight boat to Hilongos or Maasin (closer) which can take 3-6 hours. Check out Roble Shipping Lines, Gabisan Shipping Lines or Weesam Express. You can then take a van or bus to Sogod where you can take another ride to Pintuyan. From Hilongos to Pintuyan takes about 3 hours and costs around 180PHP. You can also fly to Tacloban and then take a bus to Southern Leyte, however, this will cost a lot more money.
You can take a local boat called Leopard Shipping Lines from Ubay to Maasin and from there to take a van or bus to go to Sogod Bus Terminal and then catch a van or bus to Pintuyan.
How Much Will The Whale Shark Interaction Cost?
Before you could swim with the sharks, all tourists must undergo briefing before given trip tickets to engage in whale shark interaction. Then you’ll need spotters and tour guides and KASAKA will provide that.
Charges are collected from persons engaging in Whale Shark Watching and Interaction. Interactions can be done from morning until early afternoon.
Whaleshark Interaction Fees:
Conservation Fee: Php250.00 per person
Boat Rental (Good for 3 people): Php700.00 boat tour within the Municipal Water of Pintuyan Proper.
Php800.00 boat tour within the Municipal Water of San Ricardo.
Tour / Naturalist Guide: Php350.00
Shark Spotter: Php300.00
For more questions:
Mr. Virgilio Plazon Flores
KASAKA Collector and also one of the P.O.’s Tour Guides
Mobile Number: 09359296626
Whale Shark Interaction Guidelines:
Make sure to strictly follow the guidelines before and after entering the interaction area.
Also important to remember that you SHOULD NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN as these chemicals can affect the whale sharks.
Accommodations in Pintuyan:
You might want to go a day before the whale shark interaction to have enough time to rest before the interaction as it will be an action filled interaction involving a lot of swimming. Whale sharks seem like they swim slow but trust me they can swim fast! Pintuyan has only three options for you should you choose to stay for the night:
They have twin rooms at around P5,000+ You can use my code to get a 10% discount in Booking.com:
Located near the parish church of Pintuyan
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, P.S.L.
Care Taker’s Name: Mrs. Emmylou Banol
Contact Number: 09069372486
La Guerta Lodge I and II:
I would suggest staying at Lodge I as it is closer to the local food places, more spacious and Municipal Hall where you pay the conservation fee. A room there costs P 600, it has aircon and an own toilet but no hot shower. You can share one room with two other people though it is quite a tight space and one has to sleep on the floor with a mattress while the two has to share a double bed.
La Guerta Lodge I
(In front of the Municipal Hall)
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, Pintuyan, Southern Leyte
La Guerta Lodge II
(In front of the Pintuyan District Hospital – P.D.H.)
Address: Barangay Poblacion Ubos, P.S.L.
Care Taker’s Name: Mrs. Lynrie B. Guias (for La Guerta Lodges I and II)
Contact Number: 09261426986
6As’s Owner: Amy Tandayag – 09173211024
Staying in the Town:
- Palawan Pawnshop
- Reymart Bakeshop
- Mosqueda-Tandayag Building
- Basketball Court
- Michael Pharmacy
- CM Bakery
- Ayen Sari-sari Store
- Lucky Seven Trading
- Miq’s Haus
- Roselyn’s Sari-sari Store and Lotto Outlet
- Venus Sari-sari Store – BBQ, Vegetables and Fruit Stand
- Rucat’s Sari-sari Store
- Alice Store Sari-sari Store
- Water Market
- Pinoy ATM
- Cade’s Sari-Sari Store – Meat and Vegetables
- Richard’s Snackhouse
- Cebuana Lhuiller Express
- Surigao Sari-sari Grocery
- Ramos’ Store – Photocopy/clothes/house supplies
- Lelot Store – Fruits and Vegetables
- San Juan “Ubos” Barangay Hall
- Ariane Jee Lechon Manok
- Lhuiller Pawnshop
- La Guerta Lodging House
- Rowena’s Store
- Basketball Court Gym
- Municipal Hall
- Pintuyan Central School
- D&D Lodge
- Pintuyan National Highschool
- DJ BA Pharmacy
- La Guerta Lodge II
- Pintuyan District Hospital
- Ginell’s JenielJunJames Gen. Merchandise and Eatery
- Karaoke Bar
Another tip is to catch the sunset from the port, grab your beer and just chill. When sunset comes, you will be able to see the local fishermen head out to the sea. It is like seeing the boat version of Bagan’s air balloons. It is quite a sight to see. Also, remember that everything closes early in this place so make sure to buy dinner by 7:00PM as all stores pretty much close after. You can also use the dirty kitchen in La Guerta and cook, you can borrow the pans from the caretakers they are very helpful.
Other Activities You Can Do When in Pintuyan:
Hike Son-ok Peak
Located within the Panaon Point of Barangay Son-ok near Pintuyan Ecotourism Park, you will get a bird’s eye view of the bay.
Explore Pintuyan Ecotourism Park which has an area of 22,729 sq. meters, home to the Philippine long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis philippensis.)
A series of five waterfalls that stretch along 4.5 kilometers of river flows of Barangay Catbawan seven kms. Northeast of the town proper.
The site boast of its unique features thru different shapes of waterfalls.
The 212 hours of river trekking along the stretch is worth an adventure as one will hurdle each falls using roots and hanging “Bagon” leaving behind memories of hard knock efforts while enjoying what nature can offer. S
Snorkel or Dive
Pintuyan has several Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that boast beautiful coral coverage and an abundance of reef fishes: Dan-an, Manglit, Son-ok, and Balong-Balong. But there are also interesting spots just along the coast like right in front of the Brgy. Sta. Cruz Pier or the sandy area in Brgy. Punod for muck diving.
Before you swim or indulge in any water activities, especially in the MPAs, please contact or visit the Tourism Office first to settle conservation fees, suggestions on where you can rent gear (mask, snorkel, fins) if you do not have any, and instructions on if and where inside these areas is allowed for recreation.
Now that you have a better option than Oslob, please spread the word and help promote Pintuyan, a hidden gem in Southern Leyte.