In the Philippines, Donsol, Sorsogon is still the best place to swim with the whale sharks. Although there are whale shark encounters in Cebu, these are very few as most whale sharks in the Philippines congregate in Donsol to feed on the planktons. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimated that there are about 458 individual whale sharks in the Philippines and 377 of them are found in Donsol. That's a lot!
The whale sharks usually come to Donsol, Sorsogon during the months of December until May. However, as early as October this year, there were already whale shark sightings in Donsol. We did not want to miss the opportunity so during the semestral break in November, we headed off to Donsol in order to swim with the whale sharks.
The first hing you have to do before you can start whale shark watching is to register with the Donsol Tourist Center. You have to fill up forms and pay a registration fee (per person: PhP 100 for Filipinos and PhP 300 for foreigners) and the boat rental package which costs a total of PhP 3500 for 6 persons. If you are a couple or your group has less than 6 persons, inform the tourist center staff that you would want to share a boat with other persons so they can match you up with the right group. After registration, you have to watch a video presentation about the whale sharks and the rules and regulations regarding the whale shark interaction. The best time of the day to do this is early in the morning.
Be ready to bring your proper gears – snorkels and fins if you like, or just swimming goggles will do if you know how to swim. You may also rent from the tourist center at PhP 300 per set. Life vests are provided by the boat crew. Bring your snacks and bottled water/beverages since the trip will take three hours and you may need some refreshments later on. Don’t forget your underwater camera! Just be prepared to swim after the whale sharks because as soon as the spotter sees one, the other boats will also congregate on it so it gets disturbed and swims off. The trip will be tiring and you have to wait patiently to spot the whale sharks but it will be all worth the effort!
We stayed at the AGM Beachfront Resort during our trip to Donsol. The resort was clean and the rooms had classy interiors.
The resort is located along the beach with shallow and warm water so you can swim in it. The sand is grayish black but the water is good for swimming so it was fine with us even if it's not a white beach! In the morning if it is low tide, there are sand bars where you can take your jump shot photos or you can also go beachcombing.
Breaking dawn at Donsol, Sorsogon beach
The sunset of Donsol is awesome! We managed to take a photo right there at the resort. The room rate of AGM Resort starts at PhP 2000 per day for the standard room. The rate is very reasonable for the new and comfortable amenities they provide and the excellent customer service.
Stunning Donsol sunset
Tourists embarking from the boat after island hopping