Donsol - Whale Shark Interaction

Donsol is one of my favorite tourist destinations.  I had been dreaming of swimming with the gentle  giants - the whale sharks, local...

Donsol is one of my favorite tourist destinations.  I had been dreaming of swimming with the gentle giants - the whale sharks, local name "Butanding".   It's one of the things in my bucket list - and I just put a check on it!  It's definitely one of the best experiences of my life.  

The whale shark down under looked like a big plane moving gracefully.  I was in big awe when I finally saw one after the long hunt. It's really hard to spot them because they're in the wild and you may not be lucky to see one during your visit. It's a different happiness overall. 

Whale sharks migrate in the Philippines as early as November and stay until late June.   We were there last April 2012 (super peak!!!!). 

Initially, we just booked at Misibis Bay (Sunday to Tuesday).  See related blog post Misibis Bay.
Since, we don't have anything to do on Saturday, we decided to take a side trip to Donsol, Sorsogon.
[I recommend to spend at least 3 days to surely see one.]

How to get there?  

You can book a flight Manila to Legazpi (PAL, Cebupacific, ZestAir). It should be just less than P4,000.   GET THE EARLIEST FLIGHT so you can join the early morning tour.  From Legazpi, we rented a van  P2,000 one-way (convenience!) to drive us to Donsol.  It took us around 2 hours.  You can book the transfers from the hotel.  See map: Donsol to Legazpi


We booked at Vitton Beach Hotel.  It's the nicest looking inn nearest the registration office (or where you book the tours) -  it's pretty standard (just right for its price), rooms are clean, the staff is really helpful, great sunset view, and there's a bar by the beach (wink!).  Well, I didn't expect too much at the beginning.  But the hotel exceeded my expectation. The bed is not that comfortable though - no white sheets and duvet that I love :(   

Room rates (as of April 2012)

Single Deluxe – includes 1 queen size bed. Good for 2. 2,200 Php
(20 Rooms Available)
Standard – includes 2 double size beds. Good for 4. 2,200 Php
(17 Rooms Available)
Double Deluxe – includes 2 double size beds. Good for 4 . 3,200 Php
(10 Rooms Available)
Family – includes 2 queen size beds, living room and kitchenette. Good for 4. 3,700 Php


Whale shark interaction: 

Interaction with the whale sharks is regulated by the local Department of Tourism (DOT) office. WWF guidelines are generally observed to protect the sharks.  You will be asked to watch a video for briefing before you head off.   They limit the swimmers per boat to six.  Sharks are not allowed to be touched (although the sharks swim really deep so it's quite impossible to touch them if you're not a diver).

Rate is Php3500/boat good for 6 persons only, this includes the boat, boat captain, spotter, and a guide who will swim with the group.  There were just two of us, so we were joined with some other couples. 

There is also a registration fee of Php100 for locals and php300 for foreigners.  You can rent a snorkel for P150 and P150 for the fins.  The trip lasts for about 3 hours.

There are early morning and afternoon tours (7am to 11am and 1-3pm - around these times). Registration is from 7am until 2pm. 

Other tours:
At night, try the firefly watching tour where you can see thousands to millions of fireflies dancing on trees.  It's really awesome!! The guide captured one firefly and gave it to me.  It was twinkling inside my hand. :D  In the water, you can see planktons too! They are glowing!

It's really hard to take a picture because it was pitch dark.  You can bring beer in the boat during the tour.  They even sell it at the registration desk.  :D

Waiting to dive. We had few dives before we saw one.  We didn't wear life jackets so it's really tiring.  You have to struggle as there are LOTS of swimmers and boats.  I was kicked by flippers so many times - in the face, body, everywhere!  LOLz

Good thing about sharing a boat is that you meet new friends.  

They said, we have a beautiful country.  :)

Just to give you an idea of how many boats were spotting for a Whale Shark. 

And how far we were swimming :D



Since we only stayed overnight, we just opted to go for the hotel food.  Nothing much to see outside the hotel.  You will need to take a tricycle and all to get to the town.   Food was okay, although a lil bit pricey.

During sunset you can just enjoy the view of the calm waters.  

Ambiance at night. 

For Whale Shark interaction, I suggest to go to Donsol instead of Oslob, Cebu.  I'm really against feeding the Whale Sharks.  There are studies already which prove that feeding can do further harm to Whale Sharks.  The Whale Sharks in Oslob have propeller scars because they mistake some fishing boats as the ones in the site where they are being fed.  It's really sad. These creatures are very vulnerable.  Let's promote sustainable Eco-tourism. 

You Might Also Like


  1. Wow! this is great. Whale shark interaction is indeed a nice experience. Great blog.

    Whale Shark Canyoneering Day Tour Package