Donsol, in the province of Sorsogon, is popular among local and foreign tourists in the Philippines for being one of the places where one can swim with whale sharks in an eco friendly way (as opposed to the infamous Oslob in the island of Cebu).
Its proximity to Legaspi, and the neighbouring islands, make Donsol the ideal location for those looking for something a little different from your regular tourist destinations. Mayon Volcano, Cagsawa Ruins, Vera Falls and diving with Mantas off the coast of Ticao Island are only some of the things one can do while in and around Donsol.
Swimming with whale sharks in Donsol
If you are in the area to swim and interact with whale sharks, you will need to head down to the Whale Shark Interaction Centre and book the boat outing from them directly. Once you have made the necessary payments, you will be required to watch an orientation video explaining all the dos and don’ts.
Season goes from December/January to April/May.
There are 3 trips daily (excluding the private boat charters which can leave at any time) and a maximum of 30 boats are allowed every day.
The price is as follows. Note that there is a maximum of 6 persons allowed on each boat.
php 3,500.00 per boat
php 300.00 registration fee (per person, valid for 5 days)
Island hopping in Donsol
Island hopping tours in Donsol will take you to San Miguel Island, Haleya Beach resort where you will most likely have a chance to swim with small black tip sharks, and visit the most amazing waterfall in Ticao Island which cascades from the top of the island right into the sea. The price of the island hopping tours will vary depending on how many people are in the group. There is a maximum of 6 allowed in each boat.
Php 7500 per boat
Php 500 per boat docking fee
Php 200 per boat docking fee at Haleya Beach
Php 25/person entrance fee to Haleya Beach Resort
Php 100/person registration fee
Php 300/person for snorkelling gear rental
Scuba Diving in Donsol
Some times this may be the better option to see and swim with whale sharks. During the 2018 eruption of Mayon Volcano, there were few sightings of the whale sharks in the Donsol area, while they were seen almost every day by visitors who went diving in Manta Bowl, some while diving and others during the surface interval.
There are a number of dive centres in the area that organise these dive trips, packing a minimum of 3 divers and a maximum of 6 to 10, depending on the bangka (boat). These trips can seem disorganised, the boats are small and it appears as if one is told maximum of 6 to 10 divers per boat depending on the boat, but it is usually as many (up to 10) as possible regardless of the boat.
Visibility is not great and currents can get strong, so if one returns without seeing mantas or whale sharks, it might end up being a little disappointing. However, if one is successful, the experience can be quite an unforgettable one.
Php 4500 per diver for 3 dives (1 in San Miguel Island and 2 in Manta Bowl)
Php 1500 per snorkeler (you can only jump in the water in Manta Bowl if there are whale shark sightings. Otherwise the snorkelling is done in San Miguel Island only).
In and around Donsol
Wile in Donsol, one can opt to go fire fly watching at night, about 7km away from town. A loud bangka will take you down the river mangroves to see the spectacle of these insects that populate a number of trees along the way.
The ridse to Legazpi to see Mayon Volcano takes roughly 1 and a half hours (57km) through a beautiful twisting road. Once there, one can head over to the geothermal plant in Tiwi, Vera Falls in Tabaco City, ATV tours to the Volcano from Cagsawa Ruins or dine around the Embarcadero de Legazpi.
If you are chasing waves and feel like having a go at surfing, Gubat, on the eastern coast of Sorsogon may be what you are looking for.
To and From Donsol
Donsol is accessible by road from Manila in a 12 hour ride (518km). The port of Matnog is roughly 2.5 – 3 hours south (133km) and connects the island of Luzon with the ports of Allen and San Isidro in Northern Samar through the PanPhilippine Highway (AH26). The Port of Pilar connects the Bicol Region to Masbate, another beautiful and underrated tourist destination from which one can then go to Cebu.
Where to stay in Donsol
There are a number of resorts lined up along the coast of Donsol. Vitton and Woodlands offer a great value for money, close to the Donsol Butanding Interaction Centre and a number of dive centres with whom you can head over to Ticao Island.
Some of the resorts in Donsol close during the northern hemisphere summer months, so check before you show up unannounced.
Where to eat in Donsol
While most resorts have restaurants, if you find yourself in Donsol and are looking for something unique and very tasty, head over to Bar Acuda. This classic of the area has been serving fresh fish, cooked to perfection for a more than reasonable price and the owner Juliet will definitely add to the entertainment value of your dining experience.
Note that Bar Acuda only opens for dinner (5pm onwards).
Book a ride with us to Donsol.