Oh My My My Mayon!
Hey Guys! The last six months have been a whirlwind with me enrolling in school so posts have gotten back logged. I’d love to share about my visit to Legazpi last November because the Philippines, sorry for the late post but thanks for indulging me.
Oh may may may, Mayon! A few months back I had the lovely opportunity of traveling with my incredibly cool cousin to the Bicol region. She’s a free diver and wanted to swim with whale sharks in Donsol and I had never been to the south of Luzon, so off we went. We spent a weekend in Donsol hoping to swim with whale sharks and half a day in Legazpi riding ATV’s to Mayon Volcano. The weekend was packed with unforgettable firsts and a renewed love of discovering the Philippines.
Our plans were a bit last minute but everything was still affordable. We flew into Legazpi from Manila on Cebu Pacific with a super affordable rate for a round trip tickets. My impression was that Cebu Pacific was the more budget airline but they were consistently late or canceled flights often. My opinion changed on this trip because not only were both of our flights on time but we even left early when all passengers were on board, how unique! The descent of our arrival flight to Legazpi was terrifying due to weather, I actually have never been that scared on a flight but thankfully it was short lived and we landed safely.
While in Donsol we stayed at a quaint and fair priced resort called Vitton Beach Resort. They arranged an airport shuttle for us and it cost more than I would want to spend for a shuttle but it was easy to coordinate and timely. Vitton Beach Resort was clean, affordable and came with breakfast, I can’t stop raving about the food. The food was the best beach resort food I have had in the Philippines. It was healthy and delicious! My cousin and I ordered the pineapple cucumber salad 3 times! I had tuna one night that was to die for. The rooms were simple, clean and had just been repainted (this actually caused my cousin to get a headache and they immediately changed our rooms). The resort is located right on the beach and has a nice pool that would be perfect for kids. It’s also just a short walk down from the tourism center of Donsol where you hop a boat to swim with whale sharks.
the most addictive and refreshing cucumber and mango salad
ginger tea+malunggay eggs every morning
Swimming With Whale Sharks|
Donsol prides itself on being the most eco conscience whale shark encounter location in the Philippines. I have been warned multiple times not to swim with whale sharks in Oslob as they are attracting the whale sharks with food and causing harm to their migratory patterns. Read more about that here.
Our experience in Donsol whale shark encounter was overall underwhelming. I knew our chances of swimming with a whale shark was purely by chance and could in the end never happen. What I was most disappointed in was the process of it all. Upon arrival at the tourism office and before you board a boat you must watch an instructional video. This is to ensure proper etiquette and safety precautions are taught and observed. This was very helpful and positive for the experience, they are very respectful of the budong and want tourists to uphold the same values and practices.
*One of the few photos I got out on the boat. Sorry guys…
The cost of a boat is split between a group so depending on how many are in the group depends on how much each individual pays. I believe the cost for a boat was 3,500. There is NO incentive for the boat guides to find a whale shark as you pay the same price no matter what. There is no incentive or motivation to work harder for the whale shark encounter. My cousin had just recently swam with whale sharks in the Maldives where they used drones to locate the whale sharks. In Donsol you drive around the bay for 3 hours and hope you come into contact with a whale shark. I wish there was a better way in Donsol to locate whale sharks as this would ensure cost for boats, patrons and put less gas and boats in the ocean! On the contrary, it would also ensure that more individuals do make contact and swim with the peaceful creatures.
Luck would have us see the complete top of a whale shark including both of it’s fins within the first 30 minutes of our first boat ride. However, something was lost between the time we jumped in the water and the whale shark speed and we did not end up swimming with the whale shark, it was hugely disappointing. We went on another boat ride the next day and didn’t see anything, as in nothing.
If you are visiting Donsol you absolutely must go on the firefly tour. It is one of my favorite experiences in the Philippines. It isn’t glamorous and it isn’t long but the firefly tour is absolutely mesmerizing. It blew my mind to see thousands of fireflies light it up mangroves like a Christmas tree, it was truly incredible.
We pulled over to a small shop ti pick up ice cream and definitely got luke warm cream. Ha! It’s a good story though.
You can also arrange the tour through Vitton Beach Resort. I recommend paying for a private trike to take you on a 20 minute ride out of town to a launch point on the river. A small boat and tour guide will be waiting for you and within 10 minutes on the river you will see the mangroves. The tour is short but worth it.
Mayon was majestic and is an absolute must in my opinion. We rode ATV’s around Mayon with a company called Your Brother ATV Group. We started at their base location and then took a trail up to an eco look-out point and then walked a short way on dirt trail to volcanic rocks at the base of Mayon. You will ride through water, up and down slight hills but it is all very safe. Our tour guide was PHENOMENAL! He took videos and photos galore of us all with his own directing skills. I loved this activity so much I dream about taking a day trip down to Bicol just to do this activity once more.
Pilipinas, I am always grateful to see the beauty you have to offer. I don’t get to do a lot of exploring via airplane and this trip convinced me that it is worth it. I love you poreburrr!