The Gentle Giants Encounter (Donsol, Sorsogon PH)

I’m back! And i’m about to write my first official travel post. 🙂

Early this year, my boyfriend and I, along with some friends, booked for flights to Donsol in Sorsogon – the whale shark capital of our country. The “Butangding” (as what locals call the gentle sharks) season is from March to July (I guess!), so we opted to book for April.

I personally wrote our trip itinerary and I picked Vitton Beach Resort for our accommodation.

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Donsol is 2 (or a lil bit more) hours van ride away from Legazpi. Before heading to Donsol, though, we visited first the world-famous Mayon Volcano.

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It was actually one of the most beautiful things I ever saw in my life. I’m amazed by how it perfectly looks like a cone at any angle (insert tears here!). Another amazing thing that I saw are the ruins of the Cagsawa Church. That, which looks like a stone tower, is actually the highest part of what used to be church but now buried under the ground, thanks to the explosion and solidification of lava from the Great Mayon. Thos very scenery was at the back of the old Philippine note.

We even got to see it from above the clouds before landing!

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After filling our hearts with happiness of having seen a beautiful volcano, we had to fill our stomach with some of Bicol Region’s hearty food (unluckily, I wasn’t able to get pictures of what we had, was famished! haha!).

After the hot van ride to Donsol, we were welcomed by the warm resort of Vitton  and Woodland. It looked to be one of the nicest resorts in Sorsogon as it has a swimming pool that not all resorts there offer, and its gates are a little classy! It had a huge cement figure of a whale shark (as shown up) and you can right away see where the reception is to check in.

The cabanas are cool – walls are made of cement but with “sawali” (weaved bamboo skin) as coverings for a cooler ambiance and literally cooler temperature inside the room (as the weather in Donsol seems to be hotter than normal).

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The rooms have air-conditioning units and stand fans (for someone who wants to feel more chill). Beds are made of bamboo and with comfortable, thick mattresses. I think I had a good sleep here. 🙂

We are lucky to have picked this resort, because the Whale Shark Center, where everybody registers, pays and gets oriented for the adventure, is just beside the resort. So yes, even if you’re checked in to another resort 5 kilometers from the center, you will still need to ride to here. So, after taking the much-needed baths and resting for a bit, we headed to the Butanding Centre to register and get out gears (snorkles, etc). We were then set for the next day – our much awaited adventure of meeting the whale sharks!

I don’t remember whether we had dinner that night (hahaha!) but I am sure we did have breakfast, courtesy of the resort, the following morning. The food is good, but they come in not-so-generous servings, just enough to fill up your stomach. They offer Filipino and continental sets with a choice of coffee or juice.

After a few hours, we finally braved coming back to the center to claim our chance to realize one of our dreams – to see a shark, a gentle one. Although it took us about an hour to get to have 3 more people to hop in the boat with us, it was okay. We shared the boat ride with three lovely foreigners – an Israeli guy, and a couple (from US and NZ).

Yes, we're the three ones in those orange lifesuits!

Yes, we’re the three ones in those orange lifesuits!

Not too many Butandings were showing up for our benefit that day, it took us almost the entire booked tour of 3 hours to go around the sea only to find one. More than 5 big boats loaded with passengers feasted to the sight of one whale shark. HAHA! The boatman said that that is normal when there are not a lot of sightings on that day. Well, the view is magnificent. I could only wish I can dive my way through beside the awesome creature.

Its head and wide mouth!

Its head and wide mouth!

I was only seeing this beauty from the surface, sorry for the not-so-competitive shot! But here’s another one. Notice the size and the cutesy dots!

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This pretty much shows a part of the lovely sea creatures body. Hey, it’s such an honor to have met you! 🙂

The great Butandings are visited by tourists and locals seasonally – from March to November I guess? They said this is the time of concentration of the planktons in the murky waters of Donsol, so the gentle sharks go in this area.

What an adventure!! It was particularly special for me, because I conquered the sea. 🙂 I know how to swim and I know a lil bit of diving, but hell no, I would not have jumped off in the middle of the deep, vast sea on a normal occasion. I’ll try to do this more often though. After meeting up with the sharks, we headed back to our resort for a dip in the pool and for eats too! 🙂

It was also Legazpi’s town fiesta that time, so on our 3rd day of vacation and before boarding our plane back to Manila, we went for a bit of shopping in the city hall area, and for some fiesta views too!

There were giant paper maches that looked like horrible mythical figures! Nice!

There were giant paper maches that looked like horrible mythical figures! Nice!

One of the last look at this beauty before going back to reality!

One of the last look at this beauty before going back to reality!

The airport runway offers a great view of the Mayon Volcano. Clearly inviting the visitors to be back soon.

Verdict: This trip costed thousands of bucks for each of us. The food offered by resorts / hotels were a bit costly but surely they are worthy of the price. The Butanding Experience is also worth a few thousands, but needless to say, it is all worth it. All in all, a good trip!

Will I do it again? Yes! And I will be better with my budget, I know now how and where to eat without spending as much as I did in this trip. 🙂

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