"Another Life Dream Fulfilled" Donsol by monina_c

Donsol Travel Guide: 114 reviews and 403 photos

Gentle Giants

:) :D Julie Andrews was rumored to have parodied her famous song on her 69th birthday. I don't care if its just one of those urban legends. I loved it and I'm sharing it with you :

Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache,
when the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

:) March 22, 2009 is going to be one of my "favorite things". It is the day when i finally got to fulfill one of the items in my "Must Dos Before I Die" list. It is something that will make my 44th birthday special.

Butandings (aka whale sharks, Rhincodon typus) are fishes that grow up to about 15 ft. to 40 ft. in length. They eat mainly fish and krill. The town of Donsol in Sorsogon have been blessed to be the site where these gentle giants congregate between the months of February to May (peak) and around October and November each year. Its yearly migration to this otherwise sleepy fishing town has made Donsol a mecca for nature lovers who are out to experience the ultimate thrill!

A group of VT friends and I usually take the plane to Legaspi on a Saturday to go around Legaspi, Tabaco and on to Donsol for the ultimate chapter of our travel adventure, Whale shark (Butanding) interaction. In the morning of Sunday, we troop to the lecture hall of the Donsol Butanding Interaction Center ( I forgot the proper name of the center, but you get the idea) early in the morning.... The whole pre-departure process takes about 30minutes. Pay for the boat and the registration, watch the mini-film showing about the whole butanding experience (what to do and where to place ourselves while interacting with these gentle giants).

After the whole rigmarole of filling up the forms, paying the fee, the center staff hands over the voucher/receipt and a number (which one hands over to the BIO later). After making sure that you've taken in the video, the staff then point out to the staging area where the group's designated Butanding Interaction Officer (BIO) is already waiting.

The film showing and all the stories I heard about the whole encounter pales in comparison to the actual experience. It brings home the truth that one cannot understand/appreciate an event/happening unless she/he experiences it him/herself.

Three years on, and it's already 2011, and I still haven't tired of going back to Donsol to swim with these beautiful creatures. I guess I will do it over and over again whenever opportunity opens up to me.


Visitors must register with the Donsol Tourism Office located adjacent to Vitton Resort. If your group is small or you are alone, just tell the tourism officer and they will try and help you get someone to share the cost of the boat with you. Each boat can accommodate up to 7 persons. They do not allow the use of SCUBA equipment during the encounter but they do have a shack where you can rent snorkel equipment for P300/set.

After the lecture/mini-film showing, we collected our snorkeling gear and took our designated boat. We sailed about 15 minutes out to sea with our spotter perched on top of the boat keeping a sharp eye for a sight of butanding. While we waited with beating hearts and weak knees for the signal to jump overboard, most of us tried to imagine the encounter we were about to have and trying to keep in mind the reminders of our BIOMAN. :)

This is it!!!!

Cess and Ed waiting for the signal to jump!

:) One thing to remember is that it is your boat crew's expertise that makes the experience a success, so please cooperate with them fully. From experience, their sharp eyes and years of sailing/fishing gave them the skill to time when the creature will arrive in your area down to the exact minute! So when they say JUMP INTO THE WATER! Just do it!!! Do not hesitate or dawdle! Every second you are in the water is precious moment so do not waste your time. :) Take your courage in hand and jump in for the experience of a lifetime!

It is important to remember that the butandings are the master of the encounter. It is the lookout of the humans to keep the path unempeded for these sea creatures. We must not disturb nor cause any undue stress to them. So keeping proper distance is a must.

Below is the Code of Conduct by which every swimmer must adhere to to the letter! Charing!!!

1. Do not touch or ride the Whale Shark.
2. Do not restrict the movement of the Whale Shark, or impede its natural path.
3. Maintain a distance of 3 meters from the head or body of the Whale Shark, and 4 meters from its tail.
4. Do not use flash photography.
5. Do not use SCUBA gear, scooters, jet skis or any other motorized underwater propulsion machines.
6. A maximum of six (6) swimmers per Whale Shark is allowed, and only one (1) boat per Whale Shark.

For further information please read: Sorsogon Tourism

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Everything is perfect!
  • Cons:Should have stayed longer
  • In a nutshell:The Donsol experience is a MUST for every traveler to the Philippines
  • Last visit to Donsol: Feb 2010
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
  • Add to Trip Planner (?)
  • Report Abuse

Reviews (2)

Comments (13)

  • ukirsari's Profile Photo
    Feb 6, 2012 at 10:03 PM

    indeed correct, i will be back there again and again someday, northern mostly, because not yet complete my himalayan range, need some places after ladakh and darjeeling :) anyway ... very looking forward to be here again in donsol *hugs*

    • ukirsari's Profile Photo
      Mar 5, 2013 at 12:27 AM

      i do this and that, nina. hopefully it will work well. look what i did on my main page: i have my own flag and saying about "barkada" as well :) miss you!!!!

    • monina_c's Profile Photo
      Mar 6, 2013 at 4:55 AM

      come visit!!!

  • giampiero6's Profile Photo
    Jan 14, 2010 at 4:00 PM

    Wow. Wow. and Wow. What a beautiful page ;)

  • pattypoo's Profile Photo
    Aug 30, 2009 at 2:11 AM

    I come back to this page and wonder how you had the nerve to do this xxx

  • airasia's Profile Photo
    Aug 1, 2009 at 4:29 AM

    hey cool experince with sharky. Me still around abnormal desert. So abnormal that i forgot what a beach is ; ((

  • joiwatani's Profile Photo
    May 7, 2009 at 12:56 AM

    What a great experience to swim with the whales! An experience you will never forget!

  • jumpingnorman's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2009 at 7:44 PM

    WOW -- the whaleshark is really amazing! they also have it in the coasts of Mexico! I am so glad this is becoming a tourist destination in the Philippines - wonderful page! Norman :)

  • yellowcab's Profile Photo
    Apr 4, 2009 at 5:08 AM

    Under construction pa din ba ito ? wow super detailed na sa akin ito! panalo! thanks for the trip ha. more to come!

  • lmc2626's Profile Photo
    Apr 3, 2009 at 3:08 AM

    belated hbday sis

  • moonlighting's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2009 at 3:04 AM

    Wow, the rates haven't increased since 3 years ago, good! Who is that with the whaleshark? And how many did you spot?

  • Lensky's Profile Photo
    Mar 25, 2009 at 2:43 AM

    very inspiring...next time sama na ko


“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. - Kahlil Gibran”

Online Now


Top 1,000 Travel Writer
Member Rank:
0 0 6 8 1
Forum Rank:
0 0 5 0 2

Badges & Stats in Donsol

  • 2 Reviews
  • 13 Photos
  • 1 Forum posts
  • 670PageViews

Have you been to Donsol?

  Share Your Travels  

Latest Activity in Donsol

Travel Interests

See All Travel Interests (5)