An early start to a fairly drizzly morning! The weather was still pretty bad but not awful. We didn't need good weather for what we had planned anyway. We were off to swim with whale sharks and I couldn't contain myself with excitement. Alex and Rose were a little reluctant to go at first as they weren't sure if we'd be able to see anything but Matt and I were going regardless, we'd come all this way!
Philip had offered to take us to the beach at 5.30am and he was waiting as planned. The whale watching was around 15 minutes from the hostel and when we arrived I was actually really surprised to see how many tourists there were. Although I knew it was a tourist attraction, I hadn't thought for one second how busy it would be but there were hundreds of people waiting to get onto the small boats. We had to write our names into a log book and listen to a safety presentation before being allowed onto the boats. The presentation discussed how to treat the whale sharks with respect and to not touch them. I thought it was good that they provided this presentation so that tourists understand that the beautiful creatures are wild and not to be tampered with.
Luckily, our man Philip had sorted us out a boat so we were one of the first groups to go out. I really wasn't sure what to expect in terms of their size, I knew they were big, but I couldn't imagine what they would actually look like. As we were arriving to the spot where they come for feeding, I could see something long, thick and dark grey poking out of the water. I couldn't make out what it was until our boat guide told us it was the top of a mouth to one of the whale sharks! It was at this point I thought to myself, "bloody hell they're going to be massive!".
I wasn't wrong! On slowly sliding into the water as instructed, I could not believe what I was seeing beneath the waters surface! They were stunning! Dark grey with white spots, maybe 7 metres or more long and so graceful in the water. I've never seen anything like it! We took our buoyancy aids off and floated next to one, whilst still giving it space. Their mouths were just huge, swallowing litres of water at one time. We swam next to them for 30 minutes or so before being called back into the boat. I wanted to stay longer!
On arriving back at shore, I felt euphoric... what an incredible experience! Philip took us back to the hostel where we were served with a delicious breakfast. The weather was still pretty miserable and many of the boats to Bohol island (our next stop) had been cancelled. There were smaller little islands off the south of Cebu that I had looked into visiting but I didn't want to get there and be stuck on the island for a week if boats weren't coming back. I had booked to do my Scuba Diving PADI on the 21st so I had to be in Bohol for that.
Philip informed us there was a boat that crossed to Tagbilaran on Bohol at 12 midday from Taloot which was an hours drive North. Matt and I packed up our stuff as quickly as possible, said our goodbyes to Alex and Rose and made our way to the bus stop. Philip waited with us to show us which bus we needed, but after waiting 15 minutes and we only had an hour and 20 minutes until the boat left, I wasn't sure we were going to make it. Philip offered to take us in the back of his open back van for 600 pesos (about £10) so we took it! The ride to the ferry port all along the coast was awesome, I would have paid just for that!
We arrived in plenty of time and started chatting to a Canadian couple who were on holiday in the Philippines for two weeks, Lenor and Sean. Unfortunately, this boat was then cancelled at the last minute due to poor weather conditions. Gutted! Onto Cebu city we went! The four of us managed to find a bus heading that way, and it only cost 80p each for a two hour trip!
There were plenty of boats going from Cebu ferry port and we managed to get onto the next boat going to Bohol. The boat was only an hour long which was ace! We arrived at 6pm and haggled a tuk tuk to take us to a hostel I managed to book using the port wifi. We would stay in Tagbilaran for a night before heading to Alona beach tomorrow! We were shattered and very hungry by this point so we dropped our bags off at the hostel and went in search of food. It was a very busy place and I didn't fancy the look of any of the restaurants. Although I had told myself I wasn't to have any more... we saw the Golden 'm' ahead of us! I was so hungry I gave in... Maccy D's it was!
Full, tired and excited to be in Bohol, we headed back through the bustling streets to our hostel! I couldn't wait for the Chocolate Hills and Alona Beach tomorrow!