is there such a thing as Eco-Friendly whale shark Watching?
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.
Pintuyan vs Oslob: Eco-Friendly whale shark Interaction
The difference between Oslob and Pintuyan is quite huge in several aspects.
- Less Crowd. Far from the 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 Eco-Friendly Whale Shark Watching 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 from KASAKA.
Charges are collected from persons engaging in Eco-Friendly Whale Shark Watching and Interaction. Interactions can be done from morning until early afternoon.
Whale shark 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 to maintain eco-friendly whale shark watching.
Also important to remember that you SHOULD NOT WEAR SUNSCREEN as these chemicals can affect the whale sharks.
Where to Stay in Pintuyan:
You might want to go a day before the whale shark interaction to have enough time to rest before. The interaction is an action filled one involving a lot of swimming. Whale sharks seem like they swim slow but trust me they can swim fast! I tried it without fins and got jelly arms after. Pintuyan has only three options for accomodations 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 and Municipal Hall where you pay the conservation fee.
A room costs Php 600 it comes with aircon and toilet but no hot shower. You can also 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
- Sari-sari Store
- Alice Store Sari-sari Store
- Water Market
- Pinoy ATM
- Cade’s Sari-Sari Store – Meat and Vegetables
- Cebuana Lhuiller Express
- Surigao Sari-sari Grocery
- Ramos’ Store – Photocopy/clothes/house supplies
- 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
Things to Do Beyond Eco whale Shark Watching:
Do catch the sunset from the port, grab your beer and just chill. As sunset comes, you will be able to see all the local fishermen head out to the sea. It is like seeing the outrigger boat version of Bagan’s air balloons! Also, remember that everything closes by 7:30 PM in this town so make sure to buy dinner ahead of time.
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 long river trekking along the stretch is worth an adventure. One will hurdle each falls using roots and hanging “Bagon” , leaving behind memories of efforts while enjoying what nature can offer.
Snorkel or Dive
Pintuyan has several Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that boast beautiful coral coverage and an abundance of reef fishes: Dan-an, Son-ok, and Balong-Balong. There are also interesting spots along the coast, like right in front of the Brgy. Sta. Cruz Pier or the sandy area in Brgy.
Before you swim or indulge in any water activities, especially in the marine protected areas, please contact or visit the Tourism Office first. You may
Now that you have a better option apart from Oslob, spread the word and help promote Pintuyan for it’s eco-friendly whale shark watching. Tell people about the hidden gem in Southern Leyte.