Donsol Things to Do

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Most Recent Things to Do in Donsol

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    Whale Shark. Swim but Don't Touch

    by jeryk Updated May 28, 2008

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    A lot has been written about whale shark watching. The tips that the other people shared are still the same (some tips were written back in 2006). I'll also share a few advices.

    There are really no guarantees when you can see them but the best bets are during February to May. Still, during this season, some groups don't encounter whale sharks at all. I suggest that you practice good karma and pray. :)

    Next, if the waters are rough (like when we went there), the boat passengers (7 of us) were divided into two groups. I was a little unlucky since the first swim, the whale shark was only there for 1-2 seconds before going underwater The second group had a longer encounter. If you are confident that you're a good swimmer, you can ask your B.I.O. (Butanding Interaction Officer) to allow you to swim on all encounters.

    And last, don't touch the whale sharks. :)

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    • Beaches

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  • Diving in Donsol, Sorsogon

    by postcolonialtraveler Written May 9, 2008

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    Avoid using Adventure Bound Asia as your dive/travel company. We made our first trip to Donsol in May 2008 and as it was "high-season" we decided to book ahead to ensure we would be guaranteed dives and a whale shark encounter. Adventure Bound was very responsive via email, and we booked our 4-day trip arrangements with them directly. We were pleased to see the driver with our name sign awaiting our arrival at the airport in Legaspi. This was the last pleasing moment of our trip. 1) We were never informed that the only mode of payment was in cash (PHP) and were left to our own devices to gather a large sum of cash to make payment for our trip activities, accommodation and food, 2) the price of our trip seemed to increase by the hour (even though we were quoted with a "total package price" in the email exchanges), 3) when questioning the "extra" charges and asking why we had not been told about these "extra" charges in the more than 20 emails we had exchanged, we were rudely and aggressively told we had not asked the right questions. What should have been a fantastic weekend in Donsol, including 6 dives and half-day with the whale sharks turned into an expensive, hostile holiday that leaves a horrible tastes in our voracious travel appetite. Adventure Bound Asia offers over-priced and challenging holiday experiences requiring anger management and a deep wallet with endless cash-flow (ideally, in Philippine Pesos), not to mention an abundance of virtuous patience.

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Adventure Travel
    • Diving and Snorkeling

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    Whaleshark Interaction

    by SUN_69 Updated Apr 7, 2008

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    The size of mouth is larger than a man
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    Much has been written about Whaleshark Interaction, I would only want to add that the sea of Donsol is getting too crowded with outriggers chasing too few whalesharks. We managed only two sightings, and that was after 2 hours scanning the Donsol sea.

    Boat rental + BIO & Spotter fees of P3,000 only gives you 3 hours now. Simply turn up at the Visitors Info Center ask the receptionist to organise a group of 7 for you. We decided to take-off when we have 5, and split the cost at P600 pax.

    It seems that the sighting is more frequent during late morning as most earlier divers reported that it took them 2 hours before their first sighting. But I get the feeling that there was a Q system where earilier boats get a piece of the action first and later boat takes there turn.

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    • Whale Watching

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    Firefly Watching

    by cherish_pineda Written Mar 28, 2008

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    On our way to firefly watching

    A boat will take you to the mangrove river at dusk, depending on the tide you might be required to walk in areas where the water is too low for the boat to cruise. When you reach the mangrove area, the place will be in total darkness except for the stars in the sky and the fireflies on tree branches. It's really similar to a christmas tree which is full of Christmas lights.
    There are many tourists who are taking this, so there's nothing to fear about being out in the water in the dark.

    Vitton Beach Resort can arrange this trip for you through the boatmen that they know.

    Related to:
    • Romantic Travel and Honeymoons

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    Swim with Whale Sharks

    by bsfreeloader Updated Apr 28, 2007

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    Whale Shark (or Butanding)

    Swimming with Whale Sharks (locally known as Butanding) in the waters off Donsol has to rank as one of the world’s greatest wildlife encounters. The sharks congregate in the area in large numbers every year from November to May to feed in the plankton-rich waters, with peak numbers occurring between February and April. After a shark is spotted, a Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) leads swimmers into the water and directs them toward the shark. Visibility is relatively poor, so you begin by swimming blindly in whatever direction the BIO dictates. Blindness is quickly replaced by temporary paralysis, as from the darkness emerges the wide open mouth of the world’s largest fish, for which you are directly headed. These gentle giants allow you to float directly over top of them and then to turn and swim side by side with them before they get bored or hungry or both and dive for deeper waters. The smaller sharks tend to be a bit shyer and, as a result, dive quicker than the larger sharks, which often will allow you to swim with them for lengthy periods of time. Even though the sharks are cruising along effortlessly, it does take some effort to keep up with them, so a reasonable level of fitness and fair swimming skills are required. When I visited at the end of April, we were fortunate enough to have eleven encounters with sharks over the course of three hours. The largest sharks, estimated at 14-meters (more than 40 feet), allowed us to swim with them for more than ten minutes. This priceless experience cost less than $20 – P800 (registration fee of P300 plus P3500 per boat divided by seven people) plus tips and equipment rental (there are at two stands next to the Visitor Information Center which rent out snorkels, masks, and fins - a complete set costs P300).

    Related to:
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    • Beaches
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Stop in at the Visitor Information Center

    by bsfreeloader Written Apr 28, 2007

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    If you plan to swim with Whale Sharks, you will need to register at the Visitor Information Center where you pay a one-time registration fee of P300 (good for five days) and watch a short video on the sharks and other native wildlife. This is also the place to meet other travelers and arrange for a boat hire (boats cost P3500 and can take up to seven passengers, who split the cost of the boat).

    Related to:
    • Eco-Tourism

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    Swiming with Whale Sharks

    by Biggafigga Written May 17, 2006

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    Looking for the Butanding
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    Donsol is the Whale Shark watching capital of the world. The locals have know that for hundreds of years but it is only in recent times that the rest of the world has had a chance to see these amazing creatures. They are known Locally as Butanding. Not only can you watch them you can swim along side them which is a very exciting experience that i am postive you will never forget when you have done it.

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    • Eco-Tourism

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    Day is Done. - Relax!

    by bike_packer Written Apr 21, 2006

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    Downing a couple of ice cold San Miguel Beer after the whaleshark-watching could not have been any better than having it on these floating cottages while watching the sea horizon and the sky slowly dimming as the sun sets. Nothing could have been more relaxing and soothing before calling it a day.

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    Register first at the Visitors Center.

    by bike_packer Written Apr 21, 2006

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    Tourism Visitors Center
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    The Tourism Visitors Center which overlooks and have control of the Butanding Interaction Activity is located at the jump-off point where the boats are docked. It opens at 730AM. First Come-First Served basis. P100/person registration fee after filling out forms and waivers. A 15-minute video orientation and you are ready to go. The first boat leaves just before 8AM.

    It could have been better if the Center opens earlier (just like 2 years ago) so that the whale watching activity could start when it is not yet hot out in the open sea. Anyway, the Butandings show up as soon as the sun rises. One thing more I observed, at early morning when the sea is calmer, spotting the Butandings is easier - meaning, more dives. The sea tends to become choppy as afternoon approaches.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • Whale Watching

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    Get a FULL Charge to Get Near that Butanding!

    by bike_packer Updated Apr 20, 2006

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    Turbo-Charged Swimming

    Once the Spotter sees a Butanding (a black shadow thingy just below the water surface plus a protruding dorsal fin), the boat would slowly get near by about 5meters so as not to scare it away. Waiting for the "jump" signal of the BIOman, then every diver would jump at a lightning speed towards the Big Thing. The kids (and the not so fit) are helped by the hand by the BIOman to keep in pace.

    Once the Butanding bottoms down in a few seconds, everybody back to the boat. It is only then that you realize your heart beating so fast. Maybe because of the excitement but I guess more on the power-draining chase pace. Believe me, the activity is for the strong and fit. "Lo-Batt!!!!" While looking for another sighting, time to share the excitement of what you saw while resting and recharging for that next dive.

    Tip: Head first to the head of the Butanding and watch it pass by up to its tail. Or swim side by side as long as your "charge" can.

    Related to:
    • Beaches
    • Diving and Snorkeling
    • Whale Watching

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    Swim With Whale Sharks >> "Butandings"

    by bike_packer Updated Apr 20, 2006

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    Butanding - Friendly Whale Shark
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    We did this thing on the month of April. We arrived at the place 6:30 AM (the sea was very calm) considering to get over before the scorching heat of the sun gets intolerable. We booked a BIOman (Butanding Interaction Officer) with his corresponding boat and a partner-Spotter (the guy that stands at an elevated platform on the boat for a better view to scan the waters for that protruding shark's dorsal fin in the water surface) at the Visitor Center. Boarding the boat, Mang Ute, the BIOman right away lectured us the basic rules of engagement. Within 15 minutes into the bay, we got the first alarm by the spotter. We got nearer at a slow quieter-motor speed up to about 2m away to the big black figure slightly submerged in the water >> now, the butanding resting on the side of the boat, then Mang Ute signaled us to jump into the water with our snorkel gears on. The animal was surprisingly not afraid of our presence as we get near just short of touching. My 12-year old daughter was as amazed as I am. "Wow!" The "big thing" swam slowly and we kept pace with it for about 30 seconds enjoying the very thrilling rare encounter. Then, it dived down.

    Same encounters with other whale sharks happened in the next 2 hours around the bay. To my count, a total of 12 encounters. The thrill and enjoyment left me no time taking pictures from the boat because I was always wet and in the water. It's good we bought a disposable underwater camera at the souvenir store and let Mg Ute did some of the best shots. I'd rather be swimming with the BUTANDINGS! What a great day it was. Btw, March to May is the Best time for these whale sharks to show up in numbers here.

    Related to:
    • Whale Watching
    • Diving and Snorkeling

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  • jeryk's Profile Photo

    Town Fiesta (festival) on May 17-18!

    by jeryk Written May 28, 2008

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    May 17-18 is Donsol's town fiesta. You might want to go to the town center to witness a procession, see santacruzan, local beauty contests etc.

    It is also a best way to people watch. :)

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    • Religious Travel
    • Festivals
    • Road Trip

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    Visit the Donsol Market

    by bsfreeloader Written Apr 28, 2007

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    The diminutive Donsol Market is the place to go to buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and other sundries and people watch.

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Donsol Things to Do

Reviews and photos of Donsol things to do posted by real travelers and locals. The best tips for Donsol sightseeing.

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