Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A weekend in Donsol

Donsol, the WhaleShark capital of the world. (Now losing its "fame" as another upcoming place for sightings of Whalesharks is in Oslob)

The whalesharks are known as Butandings locally and they have been a centre of attraction to many tourists in Donsol.
The beach area is about an hour walk from Donsol town, 10 minutes tricycle ride which you can easily hop on for Peso 20 per pax.
Tricycles to/from town

What do you do?
Basically, everyone will have to register at the Tourist Centre for a swim with the Butandings. Once you have registered, you will need to watch a video where it says the dos and don'ts when one swims with the whalesharks. (However, it is tough to observe all the rules as the sightings are not guaranteed, and once there is a sighting, it is almost natural that the boats will converge into the same area - so everyone will have an opportunity to see and swim with the gentle giant)
- You swim 3m away from the whaleshark and 4m away from the tail
- One boat per whaleshark
- 6 person in a boat, interaction 10 minutes
- No touching
- Maximum 3 hours out in the sea, 30 boats at any one time

The boats will take you (maximum 6 to a boat) out to look for the Butandings and once spotted, you will be allowed to jump into the sea for a swim with the Gentle Giant. In each boat there is a Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO), the captain, 2 spotters....
The BIO is the one who takes you down and once he say jump, all of us jump into the sea. Best is to follow your BIO who will lead you to the whaleshark.
My BIO is Bong who has been on the job for 11 years, needless to say, experienced and takes effort to make sure that you get to see what you came out for. I went on 2 swims and both with him.

This is the boat we took

Other things to do in Donsol
- Visit the Catadayagan Falls - my very first waterfall view that falls into the sea..... where fresh water meets the sea water

- Snorkeling at San Miguel (rich with corals, lots of sea urchins even saw razor fish) - however the water is not so clean and has lots of jelly fish

- Snorkeling at Halea Island and Nature Park (rich with marine life and corals) - nice and clean!

- Diving - San Miguel, Ticao Island/Pass as there is a "famed" Manta Bowl but the sightings apparently are quite by chance

We spent 4 days, 3 nights in Donsol for this adventure which one should not miss..... a once a lifetime experience that you will not regret..... 
For any further information needed, let me know! :)

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