Swimming alongside whale sharks is perhaps one of the most magical experiences you could have on holiday, and definitely high up on our bucket list. There are only a few places in the world where you can find these gentle giants of the sea and Donsol Bay in Sorsogon is one of them. It is estimated that the bay is home to over a hundred whale sharks the size of a bus, anywhere from 4m to 12m. Sightings are not guaranteed, but most people are happy to know that whale shark tours in this area try to follow ethical standards.
All of Donsol's whale shark interaction tours are organized so that each tour boat has a butanding (whale shark) interaction officer (BIO). The BIOs see to it that tours do not disrupt the whale sharks’ feeding time. Before the tour starts, you will be asked to register and watch a short audio visual presentation about whale sharks. The tour itself lasts for about three hours. Once whale sharks are sighted, you are allowed to jump in the water with only snorkeling gear. Scuba diving is not permitted within the tour area.
Donsol Bay is a one-and-half-hour drive from Legazpit City in Albay. The best time to go whale shark watching is from December to May. Book a tour with Donsol EcoTour. Fees include a registration fee of P100 (about US$2) for locals and P300 for foreigners plus P3,500 for rental of a boat for up to six people. The tour is open from 7:30am with the last tour at 2pm.
By Monica de Leon
Originally published in InFlight Traveller March-May 2016. Updated May 2016.