Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Donsol Whale Shark Adventure: Bicol - Caramoan Adventure Series Day 2

This blog post is the second part of our awesome Bicol - Caramoan adventure... 

So, after our trip to Lignon Hill where we did the zip line, then visited Cagsawa Ruins and the nearby LCC Mall, off we went to Donsol in Sorsogon the following day to swim with the gigantic whale sharks. Unlike the ones I saw in Oslob, the whale sharks in Donsol are huge... even bigger than the buses here in Manila! They were so huge (about 12-18 meters and weigh as much as 40 tons) that it was difficult for me to take a photo of its whole body. As you can see from the pictures below, I was only able to capture a portion of its body one part at a time. 

Anyway, let's start from the beginning...

We were already staying at Kawayan Resort in Sto. Domingo. The trip from the municipality of Sto. Domingo in Legazpi City, Albay to Donsol in Sorsogon is approximately 1 hour should there be no traffic. We only rented a jeep for this trip which can accommodate 15 of us so we allowed ourselves two hours (5:00 AM - 7:00 AM) to reach our destination. 

To see the budget we did for our entire trip, please read:

We wanted to be in Donsol early in the morning since whale sharks are best spotted before noon when the water is clearer than usual. 

Just before 7:00 AM, we reached the whale shark registration site. Whaleshark Adventure and Tours office is the office of the Donsol Tourism Office located in Brgy. Dancalan, Donsol, Sorsogon.  

You can also contact the following for more information:
Albay Provincial Tourism Office
Albay Tourism Bldg., Albay Astrodome Complex,
Capt. F. Aquende Drive, Legazpi City, 4500 Albay
Republic of the Philippines
Tel: (52) 481-0250  . Fax: (52) 481-0250
e-mail: albaytourism@gmail.com

How to get to Donsol? 

Well, from Manila, we flew to Legazpi via Cebu Pacific. For local transportation, please check the following:

Legazpi to Donsol: 

Vans to Donsol may be picked-up at the Pacific Mall in Legazpi daily.
Private Van: P1,440, driver included, seats up to 12, one-way
Public Van: P60 (US$1) per seat.

Donsol to Legazpi:

Vans back to Legazpi may be picked-up at the Donsol Town center
Last return trip to Legazpi is 3pm daily

How much are the fees?
Boat Rental:

P3,500 (approx. US$69)
Includes crew, spotter and BIO/Tour Guide
Maximum of 7 per boat
Registration (per Person):

P100 Local 
P300 Visitor (approx. US$6)
Equipment Rental per set:

P300 per set (approx. US$6)
includes mask, snorkel and fins

Donsol Whale Shark Encounter Important Notes

After filling out some forms, we watched a short video of how proper interaction with the whale sharks should be done. Then we waited for our group to be called before we headed  to our designated boat.

Here's what you can expect to happen if you wish to do this Donsol whale shark adventure as well:
  • We were assigned our own boats that can accommodate six-seven guests each and one Butanding Interaction Officer or BIO.
  • We must listen well to what our BIO would say. Once on the boat, we should get ready by wearing our fins, life vest and skorkeling gear. Take some time to get acquainted with the snorkeling gear. If we want, we can practice swimming while wearing it in shallow water.
  • Each participant must tell the BIO his/her swimming skills. If you're not a swimmer, wear your life vest at all times and stay close with the BIO. I'm telling you, it's quite a challenge to swim in those turquoise waters full of krill and plankton. Plus the whale sharks swim so fast that you'll really have to swim your best to catch up with them.
  • The BIO will be the one to spot the whale shark or butanding for us. When he says jump, we should all jump from the boat and swim where he swims coz that is where the whale sharks are. Make sure that you are within safe distance from any part of the boat before you focus your attention on the whale shark.
  • Once you've spotted the whale shark, get your underwater camera ready if you have one but please don't use flash.
  • Make sure you are about 3 meters away from head and the body of the whale shark and about 4 meters from the tail. Do not touch it or impede its movement. Unfortunately, for me, I was so tired from swimming that I was just floating in the water hoping to see one when the whale shark passed beneath me and my tummy got hit by one of its hard fins. It hurt (it's like someone kicked me in the gut) but I was also thinking if I hurt the whale shark. Ooops. It was an accident... sorry.
  • Make sure you don't throw your trash in the ocean. 
During those moments that our BIO was busy scouring the sea for whale sharks, we took the time to have some photo ops on the boat. Weee!!! Fritz was a stud! (^_^) Photo taken by my hubby Peter. 

When is the best time to go?

Whale sharks or butandings are typically sighted from December to May. Sometimes, they also appear as early as November and as late as June but the best months would be from February to April. Since whale sharks come to Donsol to feed on krill and plankton which get very abundant here at those times of the year, guests can see as many as 12 in a span of four hours. There are those who claim that they have sighted 40. Well, maybe if they have the whole day to swim without getting tired! As for us, we were out in the water fo two hours (puff! puff!) and I think we saw six of them. Good enough for me! Here's a video I took:

At noon time, we hung out at Morena Bar for some nourishment... yep, I'm talking about lunch. We were so famished from chasing those gentle giants!

Back in Sto. Domingo, Legazpi, Albay

In the afternoon, we went back to Kawayan Resort to enjoy the beach and the swimming pool. If you're looking for an affordable place to stay in Legazpi, please contact Don Balin at 0919-4805656, owner of Kawayan Resort.

At dusk, we explored the town a bit by visiting the park, buying bread from a local bakery shop, buying fruits and dropping by the church. 

Then in the evening, we went back to Koryn's Aunt's place for another feast. 

Til my next post! Coming up next is our Caramoan adventure! (^_^)  

Lignon Hill Zip Line, Cagsawa Ruins, Mayon: Bicol - Caramoan Adventure Series Day 1

To see more photos, please head to: 


Koryn said...

We're both so thin in these photos Jen! Haha. I'm thinking about where to go for our next adventure!

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Koryn! We'll be this thin again when we do our next adventure! :D

Rowena Wendy Lei said...

Amazing how close you can get to the whale sharks. I hope they'll have more kid-friendly facilities and accommodations soon.

Marriage and Beyond said...

I just had to say, ANG PUTI NI FRITZ!!!! :)

You sure looked like you had tons of fun! I should've gone with my folks when they last went to Bicol a couple of years back. Will add this to my to go to places. :)

claire said...

Wow! Whale shark encounter, I wish I could experience it also, :)

purses and bags said...

oh wow! loads of fun sexy momma! Thank you for sharing.. definitely bookmarking this for reference!

Mick said...

Great whale shark adventure! Ayos! A very nice experience indeed!

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Rowena, it is indeed amazing and scary at the same time. Good thing these whale sharks are the gentle kind. :)

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Jenny! Hahaha! That's coz Fritz is scared of the water and the sun. Kidding! Hahaha! Visit Donsol next time. It's an awesome place! :)

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Claire, the experience is one-of-a-kind. You should try it too. :)

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

purses and bags, thanks! :)

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Thanks Mick! :)

Franc Ramon said...

Swimming with the Whale Shark is one of things I'd want to do.

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Go for it Franc Ramon! :)

John and Joyie said...

Save save and save. Kelangan ko maka save coz I wanna experience swimming with the whale-sharks too. Inggit mode!

Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

You can do it John and Joyie! Invite your friends too! The more the merrier and the cheaper! :D

michymichymoo said...

Seems fun! I hope I could visit soon! :)


Jennifer Adams-Juan said...

Hi Mich! Try to include Donsol in your list of must visit places. You'll surely have an awesome time! :)

Sweethestia said...

Yay!!! Nakakaloka naman adventure mo Jen. Sasabihin ko nga sa friend ko na bago kami mangaap mag Coron o Palwan dito muna sa Bicol ng malapit... Lol. Thanks for the review.

Mitchteryosa said...

Parang ako ang napagod haha! I'm sure you really had fun!!

Btw, I love your cover tops! :)

Aileen said...

Can't wait for your post on Caramoan! I'm very interested about how the place is; since I'm looking into visiting it soon. Haha!

...and I'm so jealous of this trip. I like activities like this! Even if I can't swim! :)))


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