Swimming With The Whale Sharks

My most memorable travel experience happened today  swimming with the world's biggest fish, the whale sharks!

A day before my flight to Legazpi City, I've been reading travel blogs on Travbuddy and it seems like everyone was very satisfied with their whale sharks encounter in Donsol, Sorsogon, ending their stories as their most memorable and incredible wildlife adventure.

Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines
Filled with excitement, I headed to Donsol at around 7 in the morning. Yes, I woke up that early to make sure that I have enough time for my first whale sharks encounter.

I was a bit nervous at that time, knowing that I don't know how to swim. However, the excitement eased this feeling. I know, it's going to be my most memorable travel experience, so far. 

Donsol, Sorsogon, Philippines

Donsol, known to be the Whale Shark Capital of the World, is a two-hour ride from Legazpi City, either through a jeepney or a van. Donsol is a small municipality situated in the province of Sorsogon, in the south eastern region of Luzon. Once you reached the van terminal, hire a tricycle heading to the local tourism office for registration. Fill up the registration form and wait for your turn, watching a 10-minute video. The short video presentation will educate you about the things you should do and shouldn't do while interacting with the whale sharks. I think the video needs an updated version and yes, it can be improved.

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The whale shark encounters are of good value. You can hire a boat which can be shared by six people for only Php 3,500. The registration fee is around Php 100 for us, Filipinos and Php 200 for foreign visitors allowing them to book a boat for up to five days. Snorkeling gears can be rented on site for Php 300 per day.

I was perfectly on time, joining five foreign visitors. I paid my share for the boat rental and immediately headed to the boat. I introduced myself and admitted to everyone that I don't know how to swim. They laughed at me for a couple of seconds then we started sharing things together. 

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Everyone was so excited for the encounter. I am the only Filipino among the six. I was with two Germans, two Slovenians, and a handsome Costa Rican. After few minutes of sharing things together, our Butanding (whale shark in Filipino) inspector, alerted us to get ready. My heart was thumping too fast! I don't know what was going on my mind. Maybe, I was too scared or afraid. I don't know. One thing I know, for sure, was I don't know how swim. Poor boy!

The Whale Shark Interaction Guidelines

Because my heart was thumping too fast, I almost forgot wearing a life vest. My goodness! Whoa! That was the most importing thing, Noel! 

Then, the inspector shouted, 'diveeeeee". I was too quick. I jumped right away out from the boat and started swimming with the whale sharks. And, my most memorable travel experience happened that moment!

I was just a meter away from the whale shark, following his path. Wow! The world stopped for me and that was my moment. That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life. 

And, my most memorable travel experience happened that moment!

We clambered back on to the boat and everyone were shouting for joy. It was everyone's first encounter with the whale sharks. Such a blessing to swim with the world's biggest fish! Lucky Noel! I wished I had an underwater camera, capturing those priceless moments.

Being with these foreign visitors, on my first solo travel, was so much fun. I've learned a lot  from this experience and until now, I couldn't believed that I made such a decision to go on solo travel at a very young age.

I think, there's no other place on the planet that boasts such predictable whale shark encounters. Only in Donsol. Understandably, Donsol is the holy grail for sea life enthusiasts. I love you, Philippines!