Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dumaguete: Swimming With The Whale Sharks in Oslob & Crystal Clear Water of Sumilon

 To real ALL posts about Dumaguete, click here.

This post on Dumaguete is soo late, but mommy duties keep on getting in the way of blogging that I did not realize that had this post on draft until recently. Still, it's not too late to finish this post, as the kids' semestral break will soon be upon us, and mommies have to plan on where to take the brood for that short vacation.
The tranquil water of Sumilon
Dumaguete attracts a considerable number of foreign tourists, perhaps because of its proximity to some of the country's best diving sites, the whale sharks swimming around Oslob, and the dolphin sightings in the nearby city of Bais.

When we visited this rustic town last summer for the 2013 Palarong Pambansa where J represented the NCR region for swimming, we made sure to visit some of their well-loved sites within the city. Dumaguete offers its visitors a gentle and laid-back ambience, with some exquisite architecture; especially in the confines of the Silliman University campus, which we visited when the NCR swimmers swam in the university's 25-m pool the day before the start of the swim events.
There is the famous Rizal Boulevard, a beautiful park fronting the sea, very much similar to our Manila Bay promenade.

But the real beauty of the Dumaguete lies in the nearby islands. We had one free day after the Palarong Pambansa events, and so we had to make do with our tight schedule. On our last day, we rented a small boat to visit the islands. Our day started even before the sun started peeking through the clouds. We left the hotel to wait for our rented boat at the dock.

Our first order of the day was to go to the small barangay of Tanawan, which is near the town of Oslob, Cebu. Since Dumaguete lies very near the southern tip of Cebu, tourists wanting to visit the dive sites in Sumilon and to swim with the whale sharks in Oslob are actually advised to fly in via Dumaguete since all these islands are just an hour away from Dumaguete via a boat ride.
photo taken by swim-dad Bombit Consunji

J had nail art done on her toes in the NCR colors of blue and yellow.

From our rented boat, we had to transfer to a banca to take us ashore for a quick briefing. We were given the following reminders:

- Do not touch or approach the whale sharks. Maintain a good and safe distance, especially in the tail.
- Only the boatman is allowed to feed the whale sharks
- Do not litter
- No flash photography
- Do not use sunblock so as not to contaminate the water.

Although the warning for sunblock came quite late, as everyone had already put sunblock even before we left the hotel that morning.

photo taken by swim-dad Bombit Consunji
There are life vests available and snorkels for rent, but since all the kids were experienced swimmers, they did not put the life vests anymore; add to that they were only allowed to swim in the area that is bordered by buoys anyway. But the adults in our group were wary enough to put them on as a precaution. As a general rule, it is safer to put on life vests; but we trusted our kids knowing that they are endurance swimmers whose arms and legs are used to paddling and kicking non-stop for 90-120 minutes daily. Likewise, most of them did not bother with the snorkels since everyone brought their own goggles with them, and all of the kids are used to holding their breath underwater for long stretches of time. And I also have issues with hygeine, and sharing the snorkel with someone who came before me sounds gross.

Swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob Cebu is 100% guaranteed because these gentle giants are corralled by buoys near the shore. Local fishermen feed the whale sharks by hand, which is something that concerned me the moment I saw how the whale sharks were being led around the water. I am no expert, but I am aware that whale sharks are migratory animals for the purpose of feeding and reproduction. And if you want to read an expert's take on it, click here.

Swimming with the whale sharks is an experience of a lifetime, and I am glad my daughter got to try it. She was nervous at first; and naturally so because these creatures were big, even if they were not fully grown yet. It is well to follow the fishermen's advise to keep a safe distance from these creatures as a swipe form their tails is enough to give anyone a big bruise. 

Bluewater Sumilon Island, is located on its namesake, Sumilon Island in Oslob Cebu. The island remains as one of Cebu’s best kept secrets and is found on the southeastern tip of the mainland. It is actually closer to Dumaguete than it is to Cebu.  As you can see from the photo below, the crystal-clear water surrounding the island is a beautiful ombre shade of aquamarine blue. 

photo taken by swim-dad Bombit Consunji
We were not paid guests of the resort, and just chartered our own boat from Dumaguete, so we did not actually swim on the beachfront of the resort.  But instead, our boatman, took us to an area that shared the same shoreline with the resort.  Think Boracay with its station 1,2, and 3. It did not make any difference as you can see in the photos.  The water is cleaner than that of Boracay's; the sand is as white and powdery soft.  Plus, there are none of the rowdy crowd that really loses its appeal once you hit middle-age.

But should you wish to make arrangements to go in Sumilon Bleuwater Resort, the resort can arrange pumpboats to bring guests directly from Dumaguete to Sumilon Island. Travel time is between 30 minutes to an hour depending on the sea conditions.

To real ALL posts about Dumaguete, click here.