OK, the big day came. A was excited for swimming with the biggest fish of the world 🙂
The best time to visit the island is from December to May to see the whale sharks feasting on the plankton rich waters.
We got up early and quickly walked to the visitor center to join any group for whale shark tour. We were there before 7am and met a couple fr germany. We made a group of 5 people included a french man. Registration fee is 300peso, a 3,500peso rental boat divided into 5 people. If you want to rent a whole set of snorkling, it would be 300peso. A rented only a pair of pins. After around 15mins waiting for the guide and boat, we were all ready to sail off and see the quiet giant fish, butanding as the local call them.
Whale Sharks. Whale sharks, locally known as butanding, gather in the area six to nine months a year (November – June), with the numbers peaking from February to April. The largest fish in the world can grow up to 12 meters in length, and weigh many tons. They’re considered a vulnerable species, and are protected in the Philippines. The first recorded sightings of baby whalesharks (under 24 inches) worldwide were recorded in 2009 in Donsol.
- You cannot ride or touch the whale shark
- Maintain a distance of at least 3 meters from the head (the big fish suck water big time, so common sense)
- Don’t block the path of the butanding
- You cannot use SCUBA gear, jet skis, scooters, or any underwater propulsion gadget
- A max of 6 swimmers can follow one whale shark
Our guide named andrey and he gave us a quick introduction and all stuff. Each boat has a well-trained Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) who will serve as your guide in the water, plus a spotter who will look for these gentle creatures for your group. Although there is no guarantee you’ll see butandings, the crew members are expert spotters. Sunny and windy. I really liked the weather. All group members were set and excited to jump into the water to see the fish by themselves. For my personal reasons, I couldn’t join them. I was sad. I had good time with the crew on board and observed people from the boat. The group jumped into the water around 4-5times. They saw the fish around 3 times. They told me that it was not that clear. A really had a good time. He saw the fish and he was very close to it incidentally. He also got some pix of the fish with his waterproof case camera while on board i made some video clips and took a lot of pix.
There were around 20 boats in that morning. All were eager to reach the fish with the limit. All tourists went to the water and followd their guides to see and follow the fish. They were in the sea for around 5 mins. The boat ride was about 3hrs. At the end of the trip, it rained too hard and it was very cool. We didn’t expect it. I just wore a short and my haft bikini. Fucking cool. Luckily A lent me his rain jacket while he used the beach towel. It was a good trip. Everyone was glad to see and swim with the great nature’s creature.
We went back shore around midmorning. We met the tourist pulis man, paid him 35peso for paper fee and got the report at around 1pm. We shopped a bit and were not able to find any postcard in Donsol. They told me the closest po was around 15 min tricycle ride. After arranging payment and money exchange, we were out and catched a tricycle 15peso per person to go to donsol bus terminal where we took a mini van to Legazpi city. We sat at the back seat. I was too tired and hungry to feel car sick.
We arrived at Legazpi at 3pm-ish. We got a fastfood lunch at savemore supermarket. I failed again when trying to buy tampons. Then we headed to legazpi city tourist office by tricycle, costed 20peso per person. There, we asked for free maps and the direction to go to Sambaguita tourist inn, 300peso person per night with a single bed for two people. Ladies at the tourist center asked us to write down our name and nationalities on the guestbooks and how many map we got by the way. I thought Sambaguita Tourist Inn looked like a for-rent-hourly guesthouse in vn. We met pearl for dinner. She and A were so nice, waiting for me to finish my internet thing for around 30mins. We had dinner at a local chinese restaurant, pearl’s fav place. We got veggie fried rice and bokon chicken. It’s not bad… Day ended with good and bad emails. I did not want anything to affect my trip. Things happening in vn will get done when im back. Its useless if I keep thinking about them during my trip.