Travels and Festivals

Donsol’s Underwater Wonders: Swim with the Whale Shark


In the Philippines’ Bicol Region, the province of Sorsogon contains the little beach town of Donsol. It is known for its ecotourism industry, particularly whale shark-watching tours.

The world’s largest fish, whale sharks, can be found around Donsol from November to June. Visitors can go on guided tours to swim and snorkel with these gentle giants. However, guests must follow strict regulations to ensure the whale sharks’ safety and preservation.

Donsol’s rich cultural heritage is another attraction tourists can enjoy. The town has several historic churches and landmarks. Moreover, the friendly locals are always eager to share their insights and stories about the place. 

I. A Guide to Finding Whale Sharks: Best Time to Visit Donsol


Donsol is known primarily for whale watching. Tourists can interact with whale sharks (butanding in local parlance) by snorkeling or simply waiting for them in areas where they come right up to the surface. As a result, Donsol is known as the “Whale Shark Capital of the World.”

A. Prime Time to Visit Donsol 

The ideal time to visit Donsol is from November to June.

  • The weather is generally sunny and dry. 
  • During this period, the sea is calm, making it perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. 
  • Moreover, November to June is the peak season for whale shark-watching tours.
  • In Donsol Bay, the whale shark stays there for 6-7 months. And they feast on the abundant nutrients that flow down from the mouth of the Donsol River.

The peak months are from February to May

  • During this period, whale sharks are more abundant and easier to spot.

The low season is from July to October

  • The weather during this period is wetter, with occasional rains and typhoons.
  • Visitors can still enjoy the whale shark watching tours as they are available all year round. 

The off-peak season allows you to have a more intimate experience with the whale sharks as there are fewer visitors.

II. Best Donsol Hotels for Whale Shark Experience

Are you looking for the best Donsol hotels for a whale shark experience? Then, check out these top 5 picks featuring beachfront properties and more. So, book now and enjoy a relaxing stay just a short drive from Donsol town proper.

1. Elysia Beach Resort

  • Features:
    • The beachfront is perfect for sunbathing. 
    • It has comfortable hammocks and lounge chairs with rustic beach umbrellas to shield guests from the harsh sun rays. 
    • The swimming pool is at the center, with more lounge chairs perfect for chilling and relaxing by the poolside. 
  • How to get there: From Donsol town proper, take a tricycle or a private car and drive for about 15 minutes to the resort.

2. Vitton Beach Resort

  • Features: Beachfront property, outdoor pool, restaurant and bar, water sports facilities, garden, terrace
  • Amenities: 
    • Free WiFi
    • air-conditioned rooms with a flat-screen TV
    • safety deposit box, 
    • complimentary toiletries, and a hairdryer
  • How to get there: From Donsol town proper, take a tricycle or a private car and drive for about 20 minutes to the resort.

3. Amor Farm Beach Resort

  • Features:
    • Amor Farm Beach Resort is a popular venue for hosting large gatherings. In addition, it is also famous for special occasions such as weddings, business conferences, or family reunions. 
  • Amenities: 
    • The resort offers 25 rooms to suit every budget and group size. 
    • Other facilities include PWD-friendly grounds and bicycle rental services.  
  • How to get there: Take a tricycle or a car and drive for about 25 minutes to reach Amor Farm Resort.

4. Woodland Beach Resort

  • Features: 
    • A beachfront part of Donsol, this property puts you close to attractions and exciting dining options. 
    • Woodland Beach Resort is a high-quality property providing guests access to the spa and outdoor pool.
  • Amenities:  
    • For guests arriving by car, parking is free of charge. 
    • The laundry service keeps your favorite travel outfits clean and available for extended stays. 
  • How to get there: You can take a tricycle or a private car and drive for about 25 minutes to the resort.

5. Aguluz Homestay

  • Features: 
    • It is along the national road right at the city’s heart and is only a 5-10 minute drive by tricycle to the Butanding Interaction Center. 
  • Amenities:
    • It has homey, comfortable beds.
    • The homestay has a fantastic ambiance and affordable rates.  
    • It has six cozy rooms: 
  1. AC deluxe family room with its bath, hot and cold shower
  2. AC standard room, shared bath, hot and cold shower
  3. A fan room. 
  • How to get there: A 15-minute drive from the town by tricycle.

III. Donsol Whale shark Watching: How to Get There

There are two ways to reach Donsol: 

Step 1: The best way to go to Donsol is to fly with Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific from Manila to Legaspi for a 50 min flight. 

Step 2: From Legaspi Airport, take a public van (around P60) or a private van (P1750) for 1h30min to your accommodation in Donsol.

Arrive at Donsol: 

  • Once you arrive in Donsol, head to the Donsol Tourism Center to register for the whale shark-watching activity. 
  • It is mandatory, as it helps to manage the number of visitors and ensure the safety of the whale sharks.

Board a boat: 

  • After registering, hop to a vessel with a well-trained whale shark interaction officer (WIO). 
  • The boat will take you to the whale shark-watching area, which is about 30 minutes away from the shore.

IV. Responsible Encounters: The Do’s and Don’ts You Need to Know

Observe the following Dos and Don’ts. It is to ensure safe and responsible interaction with the whale sharks during encounters in Donsol, Philippines.


  1. Follow the guidelines and regulations set by the Donsol Tourism Center and the WIOs.
  2. Keep a safe distance of at least 4 meters (13 feet) from the whale sharks.
  3. Always wear a life jacket with you while on the boat.
  4. Swim slowly and calmly when in the water with the whale sharks.
  5. Respect the whale sharks and their natural habitat.


  1. Touch, ride, or chase the whale sharks.
  2. Use flash photography, as this can startle and harm the whale sharks.
  3. Use a sunscreen or other chemicals that can damage the whale sharks and their habitat.
  4. Throw garbage or litter into the water.
  5. Feed or disturb the whale sharks in any way.

Remember: Whale sharks are gentle giants and wild animals that deserve our respect and protection. Therefore, by following these Dos and Don’ts, you can enjoy a memorable and responsible interaction with these magnificent creatures.

V. Beyond Donsol: Must-Visit Adjacent Towns in Sorsogon

Legazpi City: 

  • Discover stunning views of the Mayon Volcano.
  • Explore the Cagsawa Ruins in Legazpi City, just an hour’s drive from Donsol.

Sorsogon City:

  • Relax on beautiful beaches and islands like Paguriran Island and Bacon Beach in Sorsogon City, just 45 minutes from Donsol.


  • Experience the beauty of rock formations and beaches like Juag Lagoon and Subic Beach in Pilar.
  • Pilar is just 30 minutes from Donsol.


  • Explore historic churches like the Barcelona Church and Balay Buhay sa Uma Bee Farm in Barcelona.

Start planning your adventure today! And discover the charm and beauty of Donsol.

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