Ethical Whale Shark Philippines

Last Updated on 21/06/2024

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Swimming with Whale Sharks in the Philippines

Hopefully you are here on my ethical whale shark Philippines post because you are keen to experience whale sharks in the Philippines but you wish to do an ethical whale shark snorkel rather than anything that can impact them negatively.

If you are planning to visit the Philippines to swim with whale sharks then please do some research into the type of establishment you are supporting. Sadly, the huge number of tourists flocking to places like Oslob every year suggests that many aren’t fully aware of the ethical concerns and I would like to be part of changing that.

Oslob Whale Shark Experience

As visitors we can have a positive influence on tourism in a country when travelling.  When I first visited the Philippines, I am ashamed to say I participated in the Oslob whale shark experience. It was many years ago and I am happy to say I have now had amazing ethical whale shark experiences in the Philippines and around Asia that do not include whale shark feeding.

At the time I was aware that Oslob whale shark experience included feeding, but that the local community used to fish them for meat and instead are now protecting them. This has become a huge boost in the local tourist economy. As always, wildlife encounters in Asia are not always so simple as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ as there are many factors that go into this.

However, awareness is now growing, and it’s partly thanks to tourists driving the demand for responsible practices. If tourists stop supporting unethical practices like whale shark feeding, local communities will be encouraged to adopt more ethical ways to interact with these magnificent creatures. This IS possible in a few places in the Philippines so you can still enjoy an ethical whale shark snorkel in the Philippines, without worrying about the negative impact.

Whale Shark Feeding: Oslob Whale Shark Experience

Feeding whale sharks might seem harmless or even beneficial, but it can have impacts on their behavior and health. Whale sharks are migratory animals, traveling vast distances to feed on plankton. Feeding them disrupts these natural patterns, causing them to remain in one place and become dependent on human-provided food. This dependency can lead to malnutrition since the food provided is often not nutritionally adequate for them. There are also suggestions that these whale sharks in Oslob are not breeding and therefore after the current Oslob whale sharks die out, there will be no more there and the local economy will suffer in the long term.

Furthermore, I was disheartened to learn on my recent Philippines trip that Oslob is not the only place that is feeding whale sharks. At the time of writing, there are now two additional locations in Bohol that are feeding whale sharks as part of a Bohol whale shark tour in Lila. Many of the locals I spoke to know that whale shark feeding is detrimental yet understandably feel they must follow the tourist dollar. Imagine if we could change that by selecting ethical whale shark encounters instead.

Moreover, the feeding process draws in huge numbers of tourists, with so much splashing and stress in the water for both the tourists and the whale sharks. Wouldn’t it be great if we could still snorkel with whale sharks in the Philippines in a small group where the whale sharks are not fed?

whale shark snorkel Philippines
Our beautiful whale shark

Ethical whale shark snorkels in the Philippines

Luckily, there are a few places in the Philippines where you can swim with whale sharks in an ethical way and I cannot recommend this enough.

My ethical whale shark snorkel was one of the best marine moments I have ever had. We visited Leyte and we saw two whale sharks in Sogod Bay, just off of Pintuyan. It was ocean magic. We were able to snorkel with one of the female whale sharks for 45 minutes, she was so relaxed around us and came from the deep to very shallow. There were only 2 boats on the water and approximately 20 or so people.


Peters Dive Resort run these whale shark snorkels, employing the local community as spotters to help find the whale sharks. As always it is not guaranteed because these are wild whale sharks and it is the ocean. However, you have a very high chance from mid November to early May. We visited during April and did not see any the first day trip so 7 of us from our boat booked again for the next and that’s when we had our magical moment with the whale shark snorkel.

Compare prices on Agoda here for Peters Dive Resort

Ethical whale shark snorkels in the Philippines tip: Book minimum 3 days in Leyte as it takes a while to travel there and whale sharks cannot be guaranteed but if you have an extra day or so then you have more chance like we did!

Swimming with whale sharks Philippines

Peters Dive Resort was the best place to stay to swim with whale sharks in the Philippines. It is a small dive resort, right on the edge of Sogod Bay. If you are a scuba diver then book some dives! Sogod Bay has the best coral reefs I have ever experienced – so much colour and marine life there. The snorkelling is also excellent at Medicare and we saw a huge pod of dolphins from the boat on the way to our ethical whale shark snorkel.

Diving with whale sharks in the Philippines

This area does not offer diving with whale sharks in the Philippines. These encounters were for whale shark snorkels only. There are alternative areas such as Donsol that are on my future list!

Best Place to See Whale Sharks in the Philippines

Is Leyte the best place to see whale sharks in the Philippines? As a result of my experience I would say a resounding YES. You will not be disappointed by including Leyte into your Philippines itinerary. Here is my two week Philippines itinerary that includes this incredible whale shark snorkel.

My happy sister waiting for our next whale shark snorkel

For more ethical wildlife adventures check out these posts:

Ethical elephants in Thailand

Wildlife in Thailand

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