Sorsogon diving is the Whale Shark Capital of the Philippines!
When you first see these magnificent creatures off the coast at Donsol Sorsogon, you will be breathless, I guarantee it. The sheer size of the largest fish in the ocean will start your adrenalin pumping and drive you to such a high, that it will be days before you come back down.
Diving Sorsogon is all about the Whale Shark Rhincodon Typus or Butanding as it is locally known. It can grow up to 18m length and feeds on the krill and plankton rich currents that flow through the San Bernardino Strait and into the Visayas. The whale shark is not the type of shark most people envisage, the movie Jaws has a lot of explaining to do. It is a placid gentle giant that feeds on the surface, which makes it perfect for viewing in snorkeling equipment.
Where is Donsol, Sorsogon
Donsol is a small town on the coast, 66 kilometres west of the capital of Sorsogon province, of the same name, Sorsogon City. It will take you about an hour to travel there. You will find Sorsogon in the Region of Bicol,
have a look here for information on Bicol Region,
which is the southern most part of the main island of Luzon south of Manila
There are no direct flights from Manila to Sorsogon, but you can fly to Legaspi City in Albay Province, which will take you about 45 minutes,
have a look here for airline flights and schedules.
From Legaspi City to Sorsogon City you can catch a bus or hire a minivan, the road trip will take another 45 odd minutes.
There are direct air conditioned buses from Manila to Sorsogon City, the travel time is about 12 hours.
Donsol Whale Sharks
Sorsogon diving centres around these gentle giants of the ocean. It is common to see up to 20 whale sharks whilst you are on your two hour trip. Where else in the world can you be guaranteed such big fish action! The best time to view these giants is the beginning of March through to May which is during there peak, they do however start arriving in the months of October and November.
Thankfully rules and regulations have been put in place control tourists man-handling of the whale shark, prior to being given permission to dive with them you undertake a thorough briefing on the correct etiquette. A code of conduct has been produced and you must adhere to them at all times
Code of Conduct
- Do not touch or ride the Whale Shark.
- Do not restrict the movement of the Whale Shark, or impede its natural path.
- Maintain a distance of 3 metres from the head or body of the Whale Shark and 4 metres from its tail.
- Do not use flash photography.
- Do not use scuba gear, scooters, jet skis or any other motorised underwater propulsion machine.
- A maximum of six (6) swimmers per Whale Shark is allowed and only one (1) boat per Whale Shark.
When you sight a whale shark from your banca the idea is that you are already kitted up with your snorkeling equipment, the banca boat will move some distance in front of the whale shark and everyone jumps out and views the spectacular fish in his natural environment. Even though they may appear big and ungainly they move startlingly fast and gracefully glide past you before you know it.
There are some other good dive sites off Sorsogon, beside the whale sharks. Off the coast of Bulan in the Ticao Pass is a dive site called Manta Bowl. Here the Manta Rays gather to feed on the rich plankton waters, the same waters that attracted the Whale Sharks. Some of thee manta Rays have a wingspan in excess of 4 metres.