Most Eco-Friendly Whaleshark Interaction in the Philippines: Pintuyan, Southern Leyte

Planning to go to Oslob? Visit Pintuyan instead! The most eco-friendly whale shark interaction in the Philippines.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

From Cebu:

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.

From Bohol:

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.

guidelines

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:

Pintuyan Dive Resort :  

They have twin rooms at around P5,000+ You can use my code to get a 10% discount in Booking.com:

D&D’s Lodge:

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

6A’s Resort

6As’s Owner: Amy Tandayag – 09173211024

Staying in the Town:

  1. Palawan Pawnshop
  2. Reymart Bakeshop
  3. Mosqueda-Tandayag Building
  4. Basketball Court
  5. Michael Pharmacy
  6. CM Bakery
  7. Ayen Sari-sari Store
  8. Chapel
  9. Lucky Seven Trading
  10. Miq’s Haus
  11. Eatery
  12. Roselyn’s Sari-sari Store and Lotto Outlet
  13. Venus Sari-sari Store – BBQ, Vegetables and Fruit Stand
  14. Rucat’s Sari-sari Store
  15. Alice Store Sari-sari Store
  16. Water Market
  17. Pinoy ATM
  18. Cade’s Sari-Sari Store – Meat and Vegetables
  19. Richard’s Snackhouse
  20. Cebuana Lhuiller Express
  21. Surigao Sari-sari Grocery
  22. Ramos’ Store – Photocopy/clothes/house supplies
  23. Chapel
  24. Lelot Store – Fruits and Vegetables
  25. San Juan “Ubos” Barangay Hall
  26. Ariane Jee Lechon Manok
  27. Lhuiller Pawnshop
  28. La Guerta Lodging House
  29. Rowena’s Store
  30. Basketball Court Gym
  31. Municipal Hall
  32. Bakery
  33. Pintuyan Central School
  34. D&D Lodge
  35. Pintuyan National Highschool
  36. DJ BA Pharmacy
  37. La Guerta Lodge II
  38. Pintuyan District Hospital
  39. Ginell’s JenielJunJames Gen. Merchandise and Eatery
  40. 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.)

Chase Waterfalls

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.

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Weekend Wandering: The Unspoiled Beauty of Southern Leyte

Visayas is home to a lot of beautiful destinations however, we often hear about Cebu and Western Visayas. Get to know more about Southern Leyte! A less popular diver’s paradise and a offbeat traveler’s dream.

The problem with the Philippines is that we have too many islands. There are so many options that you cannot possibly visit them all in a month! However, when people ask me for suggestions, I rarely suggest the popular ones. Why? Because other islands are also deserving of appreciation and have the same if not better things to offer. I am guilty of exploring my own province and nearby destinations quite late. One of the places I have grown fond of visiting is Southern Leyte. Why? The province offers a rustic and unspoiled beauty that is conveniently near to Cebu.

Now who do I recommend Southern Leyte to?

Beautiful Reefs of Napantao

First, to anyone who wants to dive in a pristine spot without the tourists, Sogod Bay is one of the few places where I have seen little trash while diving and they still have a good reef cover.

Whaleshark at Pintuyan

Second, to people who want to swim with the whale sharks in an ethical way, Pintuyan offers whale shark watching with the proper interaction guidelines. Will be writing more about this in a separate post.

Sunset over Liloan Bridge

Third, to travelers who want to avoid the touristy place and thrive on offbeat adventure. If you want a place all to yourself without breaking the bank and not travelling too far from Cebu City where you can see nice sunrises and sunsets while driving through quite roads and covered with numerous stars then definitely this place is for you!

Green fields of Southern Leyte

For an introvert like me, Southern Leyte is one of my favorite places to visit, though I still have tons of islands to explore. Its tranquil and raw nature excites the explorer and romantic in me.

WHAT TO DO:

Dive – Sogod Bay is quite popular to a lot of dive photographers as it is a good spot to find pygmy seahorses, whale sharks, nudibranches, mandarin fishes and other interesting marine creatures. You can do muck dive, night dive, drift dive and even blackwater dive. I would have to say doing a night dive in Sogod Bay is quite a visual experience as it is highly diverse, you see tons of creatures lurking at night. Also one of the spots to not miss is Napantao! This site looks like something out of a fairy tale because the reef forest is so magical.

Diving Selfie

Trek and Spelunking – You can trek to find Cagnituan Falls or the three falls in Taglinaw, explore Cambaro Cave and Lagoon or to hangout with wild monkeys in Hindang Caves Park.

Sogod Bay

Swim & Snorkel – You do not need to go far to find interesting creatures just by the shore you can find sea turtles swimming around. Padre Burgos is a less crowded version of Apo Reef. On my first trip where I stayed at Sogod Bay Scuba Resort, just a 100 meter swim away and I already saw the house turtle. At Pintuyan, you can snorkel with the whalesharks for hours without the crazy circus in Oslob!

Ready to Dive

Island Hop – Southern Leyte have several islands nearby worth visiting such as Limasawa, Cuatros Islas and Canigao Island where you can find dolphins playing along as you head to the islands. These islands also boast of beautiful white sand beaches and pristine waters.

Southern Leyte Road

Ride a Motorbike and Zipline- Take a scenic ride around Southern Leyte, they have different landscapes that are sure to please your eyes. You can even drive to Agas-Agas Bridge, the highest bridge in the Philippines and try out the zipline known as Zipline Leyte! It was easy for me to lose track of time as I relished the unobstructed landscapes where it be rice fields or beautiful sunsets over Liloan Bridge.

Surf – Unknown to many, Southern Leyte also have a number of surf spots.  There are at least 18 surf spots around the province, most of them in the Pacific towns of Hinundayan, Hinunangan and Silago. If you want to have a chill surf sans the crowd of Siargao then this is your spot.

Volunteer – If you heart is in marine conservation, you can join several NGO’s located in Southern Leyte such as Scaphro Philippines which creates artificial reefs out of bamboos, Coral Cay where Filipinos and foreigners can volunteer and maintain the Napantao Reef and LAMAVE , an NGO active in the protection of whale sharks and other large marine vertebrates they help train the local fishermen in Pintuyan in making their whaleshark interaction low-impact and eco-friendly.

Here are just some of the things I have listed above that you can do featured as in a local travel show:

HOW TO GET THERE:

Liloan Bridge

To get to Southern Leyte, you can now either fly or take a boat to Ormoc or just directly book a fast craft or an overnight boat to either Maasin or Hilongos. You can choose to take Weesam, Roble or Gabisan. Roble is the cheapest option while Weesam is the fastest. Fares ranges from P 133 to P 650.

Here is the schedule though it is always advisable to double-check with the shipping companies as it tends to change every now and then.

transtime

ACCOMMODATION:

The area where you can find a good number of accommodations is in Padre Burgos as it is where the white sand beaches and dive spots are. Last time I went there, I stayed at Leyte Dive Resort and Adventure Tours. The good thing about this place is that they have limited huts which means you do not have to deal with crazy boisterous crowds and you can rent a motorbike for P250 which is a must do if you want to go around Southern Leyte as transportation is not as often unlike other tourist spots.

If you are heading to Pintuyan, you can stay at La Guerta Lodge  they have aircon rooms good for two for P 600.

Leyte Dive Resort and Adventure Tours
Leyte Dive Resort and Adventure Tours

All of the possibilities that Southern Leyte have to offer should be enough to convince you to include in your bucketlist for your next travel destination in the Visayas. These are the same reasons are why I include this region as part of my top 3 destinations whether for adventure or chill this region has it all!