Oslob has quickly become one of the most popular places to visit in all of the Philippines. A population of whale sharks- the largest fish in the world- that has become quite docile bring in tens of thousands of visitors wanting to get an epic picture with the gentle giants. While we are firmly against how this unethical tourist attraction is negatively affecting the vulnerable species, it invites people to visit one of the cutest towns in the country.
What to do
The town is most known for the whale shark swims which have been covered by many others who don't see the issues the practice is causing. Many people spend just one day and only do this activity however, they leave a few hidden gems by not spending the time to explore the area.
Church and ruins
Along the waterfront of Oslob is Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church and the nearby ruins. The church, first built in 1830, is one of the oldest in the area even though it has a tragic history of fires and destruction. Guerilla fighting in the 1940s first destroyed it, then a fire in 1955 burnt everything inside except for its prized depiction of the immaculate conception. In 2008, a fire tore through the church again leaving the residence of Oslob to rebuild it for the 3rd time. The dedication the locals have to preserve the church is clearly evident.
Just beside the church are ruins of the 19th century unfinished barracks for the Spanish government. The walls are the only things that are still standing but walking between the 3 ft thick walls is pretty amazing.
There are hundreds of waterfalls in South Cebu ranging anywhere from just a few feet to hundreds. While many people only visit Tumalog Falls, Binalayan Hidden Waterfalls is well worth the visit. It takes about an hour to get there by tricycle or a bit longer by public bus but only costs 60 PHP to visit! It will be easier if you have a tricycle driver and you can also stop at many beautiful beaches along the way!
The 60 ft waterfall is sunken deep in a canyon and pops out of nowhere giving it its "hidden" moniker. There are tons of spots to jump from ranging from just a few feet to a running rope jump at about 45 feet! A tire swing and foot spa top off the great experience! A guide is mandatory but they are helpful in showing you the best jumping spots and are great personal photographers. Just make sure to tip your guide at the end!
A lot closer to Oslob is Tumalog Falls, a popular stopping point on whale shark tours. While it is nice, it is very busy with tour groups and has only become popular due to its location rather than beauty. If time is not in your favor it is a great spot to do a bit of waterfall jumping and swimming but if you are able to explore further, there are nicer spots.
Covid Conscious Activities
With Covid-19 being such a huge factor in daily life, it is important to take steps towards a safer holiday like trying to limit your daily contact with others. Keep up to date with the latest local advisories and information.
Oslob is popular thanks to two very popular attractions in the area; the whale sharks and Tumalog Falls. While we are against the whale shark swims in the first place, the excessive crowds that it draws daily lead it to be not covid conscious. The same can be said for Tumalog falls. If you are wanting something a little quieter, check out Bayanalan hidden Waterfalls by private Tuk Tuk. The falls allow jumps up to about 45 feet and you likely will only need to share it with one or two other groups!
Where to Stay
At only 30,000 people in the general area of Oslob, there aren't very many main streets in town! As long as the reviews are good, and it is within a 10-minute walk from the main bus stop (outside of the 711 going either way) it should be a great choice. All restaurants, taxis and activity salespeople can be found within a few blocks of that 711 so use it as a guide point. If you are able to find something shore side of the main highway that is ideal as the waterfront walkway and Church of the Immaculate Conception are great things to do! If you are on a budget, we suggest Luna Oslob Travellers Inn. The rooms are basic but it has a great morning breakfast and a top-notch rooftop terrace that is perfect for stargazing or relaxing during the day!
How to get there and around
There are a number of ways that you can get to the town depending on where you are coming from. Arriving from Cebu City is the "easiest" however is the longest journey. A single bus going clockwise around the island will take you from the island's major city to Oslob in just 3 hours. At a cost of 150PHP it isn't a bad option for all things considered.
Moalboal, the other major tourist city on the island is well connected to Oslob through the counterclockwise bus. This route has one change in Bato, but the bus should be waiting there so you likely won't have any wait between buses. This route takes 4 hours and costs about. The bus can be picked up at a number of spots along the main highway in Moalboal. Any local in town will know where you need to go!
The third option is the most complicated but shortest route! Across the Tanon Strait is Dumaguete (a city well worth visiting) and a great ferry port for Bohol or Siquijor. From Dumaguete, there are three steps to get to Oslob. First, make your way to Sibulan Ferry Terminal by either private tricycle (between 150-200 PHP), shared tricycle (20PHP/person + 20PHP/big bag), or a jeepney for 10PHP. This journey should take a maximum of 20 minutes.
From the Sibulan Ferry port, hop on either the fast craft or the RORO to Liloan Port. Here is the ferry schedule as of December 2019. The fast craft runs every hour, costs 80 PHP/person and takes just 20 minutes. The RORO takes about twice as long, runs less frequently, and costs the same so unless you have a car or your timing coincides with its departure, it probably isn't your best choice.
Once you are across the strait, hop on the bus going counter-clockwise around the island. There will likely be a bus waiting so just ensure it is going towards Oslob/Cebu and not Bato/Moalboal. From Liloan Port, the bus takes only 40 minutes and costs 100PHP making the total route taking between 2- 2.5 hours depending on your connections.
Where to go next
Oslob does not have an airport or a well-established port so the only way to leave the city is by bus. As it is on Cebu Island, you can either continue along the ring road to either Moalboal or Cebu City. As an alternative, you can head south to Dumaguete which is not only a great city to visit but also has an established port with direct access to Siquijor and Bohol, as well as an airport with many connections to Cebu City and Manila.