Saturday, March 30, 2013

Snorkeling day with the whale sharks in Donsol, Philippines

Whale shark - the biggest fish in the world. All the bigger creatures in the oceans are mammals. That´s the fact. I have swum and snorkeled with whale shark 4-5 time before in Philippines near Puerto Princesa in Palawan. Those days were very special. There are also some other places in Philippines where it´s possible to see whale sharks. The most famous one is Donsol near Legazpi City. Anyway like this map shows it´s possible to see whale sharks almost everywhere in the Philippines, if you are lucky.
Easiest way to go Donsol is to take a flight to Legazpi from Manila or Cebu. After flight by van or bus to Dolsol. Travel time is about 1h 20min. 

We went to Donsol on Friday 25th of March and our hotel was Vitton Beach Resort. Already on the hotel it was easy to see whale sharks are big thing in Donsol. 
Just in the neighbor of Vitton is Donsol tourist information center. That´s also the place where the whale shark trips have to book. There are three trips every day and each trip is three hours. First trip for everybody is 885PHP/16,90€. Next trips are 585PHP/11,10€. On the first trip everybody have pay permit for the area and that´s the reason why first trip is more expensive. Permit is valid about 1 week. We booked the trip for the next day.
I heard already before our trip to Donsol, that there has not been so many whale shark on this year. There has been several days that people haven´t seen any whale shark. Here you can check the calendar markings for January, February and March 2013. March and April is usually the peak season for the whale sharks in Donsol. 

January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
Our boat trip was on Saturday 26th of March. Morning was perfect. Blue sky and no wind. Sea was also very calm. We came to the tourist information center just little bit before 7am. Every boat take max 6 customers. In our boat was me and my girl friend, our friend Peter from Japan, couple from Germany and one guy from Spain. Everything was ready about 7:30am and jumped to the boat.
One of the best point in Donsol is that there is no need to ride on the boat first hour or two. Boats are immediately on the same area where the whale shark are also. Starting from the first minutes.

We joked with Peter that we will see whale shark in Saturday. Question is only how many and how long we have to wait the first one. 15min or even 30min. In fact our last evening plan worked very well. We were on the boat only about 20min was the first alert. Quickly mask, snorkel, fins and camera ready and then we sat on the edge of the boat. Then our boat man just rode us to correct place and our guide said: Everybody ready…? Yes! Jump NOW!!

Very soon we saw our giant underwater friend.
This whale shark was about 8m long. 
Huge pectoral fin.
Finally I was three times on the water and every time I could swim long time just beside the whale shark. Visibility in Donsol is usually not the best possible. Also in this time it was only few meter and it was impossible to take as good photos I wanted. Compared to Palawan there is huge difference in visibility.
Anyway it was great to see those majestic creatures again. It´s always something very special to see whale sharks close.

Regards from Manila,

No comments:

Post a Comment