Donsol is located at the very southern part of Luzon in the Bicol Region. Easily, the island is most known as the home of the whale shark in the Philippines. Whale sharks have lived in the area for over 100 years and tourists flock there to have interaction with the huge but gentle creatures.
Donsol boasts the largest annual aggregation of whale sharks in the world between the months of December and May each year.
The boats only bring
Donsol Whale Sharks
Between November and June it is almost a guarantee that tourists who visit Donsol will be able to see whale sharks as the large congregation of these 4 to 12 meter gentle giants show up to to feed on the nutrient rich plankton that flows into the sea from the Donsol River. Tourists are given snorkel gear and life jackets (no need to know how to swim) and can get up close and personal with these friendly creatures.
Unlike in Oslob Cebu where the whale sharks are regularly fed to make sure they stay in one spot, in Donsol, you hop in a boat and go to wherever they are and it makes the experience a bit more authentic.
While snorkeling is allowed with the whale sharks in Donsol Bay, scuba diving is not allowed in the bay for safety reasons. But nearby Ticao Island has amazing dive sites such as those on San Miguel Island and Manta Bowl Shoal.
Manta Bowl Shoal is the habitat of the worlds biggest ray and the Manta Ray capital of the Philippines. On this dive you can sometimes see whale sharks, hammerheads and thresher sharks. At R.A.C. Point, there is a dazzling fusion of stunning corals and schools of reef fish such as surgeons and butterfly fish. You can certainly get some great interaction with manta rays. In the section of the Manta Bowl Shoal known as “Shark Apartment” fully grown white tip sharks swim along the bottom about 20 meters down and in “Tuna Alley” you can sometimes see a thick wall of tuna going by.
San Miguel Island is home to a lot of great coral, moray eels, sharks, eagle rays, tuna, mackeral and manta rays. Featured dive spots around San Miguel Island include Tres Grace, Lapus Lapus East & West, The Classroom, The Point, Parola and Bobby’s Wall; all dive spots bringing some different unique fish or sea creature to see.
Additional Donsol Attractions & Things To Do
Mount Mayon – The Mayon Volcano is known to be the world’s most symmetrical volcano. It stands 2,421 meters tall and is also the most active volcano in the entire country. It is continually monitored and has not had any major activity since 2009 or eruptions since 2003. Day treks and overnight treks are available for the adventurous. Local authorities clear the area as safe before the trek.
Horseback Riding – At Ticao Island Resort, guests can go horseback riding.
Firefly River Tour – This is a pretty cool tour which is just a short trike drive away. The tour only costs 250 pesos (about $5) and takes you out in the evening to watch the fireflies light up in the air. To compound the beauty, you can watch the river glow as the plankton glows.It starts at 5pm and runs through until 9pm.
Transportation To Donsol
By bus, it takes up to 11 or 12 hours to get to Donsol and therefore, flying is preferred. It is a short flight from Manila to Legaspi and then just a 1 hour ride to Donsol from there. You can book a car or take a shuttle van from the airport. You should check with your hotel in advance because they may offer this service or have discounts with a particular service.
Where to Stay in Donsol
Elysia Beach Resort: Found this place to be quite clean and cozy. It’s a little pricier than some of the other options, but the food is great,nice service and the amenities are great. For a foreigner, the price is not at all unreasonable.
Vitton Beach Resort: This resort is right by the visitor center. The staff are accommodating and friendly, the place is nice and if you’re travelling with friends, they have a comfortable backpacker room for only about $10 a day. An excellent base if you’re in Donsol for the ocean activities like whale shark watching or the Manta bowl dive due to proximity to everything.