Whale shark watching is the most awaited part of our Bicol trip. We didn’t just do it once but twice!
One of the leading tourist attractions of the country is in Donsol for it is famous in whale shark watching. They also offer firefly watching for 1250 per boat ride (5 person max) that runs at 6 PM every night.
It came to our senses that our first whale shark “butanding” interaction was like only a split second moment and not meeting them again is such a loss. So, we cut our journey going north to make way for another round in Donsol and as a birthday treat to my Maarte much na friend, Laiza. Lol
Before I slept the night, I prayed that her birthday wish will be granted not knowing that it was for a long encounter of butanding. We were hopeful on our way back, though the weather doesn’t seem to be very grateful. It was very gloomy and the Low Pressure Area is a threat.
Things to consider:
- Snorkeling set. You can also rent them right beside the tourism office for 300 per set
- Water and food
- Underwater camera
- Make sure to check the weather as there is a low probability of whale sightings during rainy season.
- And a bunch of swimming practices so you won’t be left in a bunch or horrible flippers.
- It’s better to be in the port earlier as 6 AM to avoid the crowd. They offer 2 batch of boat rides per day that mostly run from 2 to 3 hours per trip. But don’t worry as there are a lot of banca that can accommodation more than a hundred people in one day.
- Non swimmers are welcome top as BIO (Butanding Interaction Officer) will help them through the crowd of swimmers.
The sleeping laid back town of Donsol, are pretty acquainted with foreigners as there are a lot of foreign tourists frequenting the place than local tourists to see the whale shark. There are a lot of places to stay that ranges from PHP 150 to PHP 2000 from the seaside resort to home stays. We stayed at Hernandez home stay for 500 PHP per night per room. Ate Baby is very accommodating and we’d like to stay there again for the next visit. They got big rooms and the house is well maintained. You won’t get lost in finding their place as they are right at the heart of the town. All public Van will stop right in their corner. Also, there are motorcycles nearby waiting for passengers for 30 pesos per trike. Careful as other drivers offer overrated fees (like the driver who offered to send us firefly watching for 250 PHP). If you want to rent a tricycle, just go straight to the tourism office and ask. Also, there are shops who offer bicycle and tricycle rental. Some offers 500 PHP motorcycle for 3 hours. You can also haggle to have it in a cheaper rate.
Going to Donsol
You can take a bus from Pasay or Cubao to Legazpi or take a plane to Legazpi. From the airport, take a trike for 50 pesos to the terminal. Tricycle on the line of the airport trike terminal offer 50 pesos per trike. For cheaper rides just walk to the main highway and have the trike for 30 pesos. Alternatively, you can hire a taxi going to the terminal. In terminal, take a van going to Donsol. They have van until 5 PM for less than 75 per head. In donsol town center, take a trike going to the port for 30 Pesos. And off you go to see whale shark.
Getting to Know Donsol
The local’s source of income before the hit of Whale shark watching is fishing and farming. Donsol and the rest of Sorsogon Provinces is very rich of vegetation. As we were heading south-ish part of the Bicol archipelago, the greeny and yellowish rice fields is very proud of their hectares and hectares of abundant crops with a beautiful mountain ranges as the background. The locals, upon their harvest, place their Palays in the streets who were not even bothered if vehicles run through them.