SCUBA DIVING DONSOL
Donsol is a rural town part of a coastal village near Legazpi in Sorsogon, Philippines. It first became famous because of tourists who come to Oslob wanting to swim with whale sharks. But aside from swimming with whale sharks, Donsol is emerging as one of the top destinations in the Philippines, especially for those seeking a unique scuba diving experience.
Donsol is gifted with many glorious diving spots that are frequented by tourists from all over the world. In fact, diving is the main attraction for many of its visitors.
The diving spots in Donsol are known for the whale shark sightings – in fact, this is what has helped Donsol earn its recognition worldwide. The rich abundance of marine life and fish species are also other reasons that you might want to add this to your diving destinations. There are some wrecks in the area but they are only reserved for those with experience in technical diving.
There are many dive tour operators in Donsol that you can choose to book a dive trip with. They can also point you to the best dive sites that you need to explore during your tour to ensure that you can maximize your dive experience.
BEST DIVE SITES
RAC Point is a perennial favorite among diving enthusiasts who come to Donsol. This dive site boasts of an impressive mix of corals, rock, and sandy bottom formations. Another thing that makes this dive site popular is the fact that you can find certain areas within the dive site to hide from the current and relish the view of the reef. You will also encounter a wide range of marine species like schools of reef fish, butterfly fish, damsels, and fusiliers, among others. It serves as a playground for manta rays wherein they tend to hide behind rocks.
San Miguel Island
The San Miguel Island in Donsol is another must-go if you are going diving in the area. It situated north of the main Ticao Island, which is approximately 45 minutes by boat from Manta Bowl (another dive site in Donsol). One of the reasons why divers flock here is because it is surrounded by several other dive sites so you will have many to explore in a single trip.
This dive site is best left to experienced and advanced divers. Expect a wild ride during your dive as it is considered as one of the most thrilling drift dive in the area. If you like to tackle strong currents, that can sometimes be wild, this is definitely the dive site for you.
This sheltered area located west of Ticao Island is another dive site worth exploring in Donsol. The name of the dive site is derived from the fact that it is recommended for beginners or those who are new to diving. This site offers a mixture of hard and soft corals. While you won’t find any big fish in the area, you will find a vast collection of small schools of reef fish. There is also a big sandy area that is home to sole fish, gobis, and many other smaller marine species.
This dive site is located near a pristine white sand beach. This is one of the most impressive dive sites in Donsol because of the rich soft coral environment and a pathway that looks like a flower garden. This dive site is comparable to San Miguel Island as it also boasts of awe-inspiring limestone formations. There are also swim throughs and caves that you can explore underwater.
Located at the tip of San Miguel Island, The Point is another must-see dive site in Donsol. It is known for its rushing currents that experienced divers brave through for a chance to encounter manta rays, eagle rays, and sharks. There are also caves that divers that can go to wherein you will find more species like lobsters, groupers, lion fish, and banded boxer shrimps.
BEST TIME TO DIVE
For ideal diving conditions, you need to visit Donsol during the whale shark season (as it is the main attraction for diving enthusiasts). The whale sharks are visible on the dive sites near Donsol from November to June.
But in terms of peak season, it runs from February to May. These months represent the summer season in the Philippines, which means that you can expect warm water temperature and higher water visibility.
If you are looking to spot manta rays, you need to plan your visit from December to June.
HOW TO GET TO DONSOL
The Legazpi Airport is the closest airport to get to Donsol. There are daily flights from Manila or other points in the Philippines. The airport is roughly 45 kilometer from the center of Donsol.
There are bus trips that travel from Manila (or other points in the Philippines) directly to Donsol. There are many overnight buses that operate trips to Donsol. Or, if you are flying from Manila to Donsol via Legazpi Airport, you can ride the taxi to the center.
HIGHLIGHTS OF DONSOL
Donsol is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Sorsogon. It is best known for its diving opportunities but there is plenty more for it to offer. If you are interested in immersing yourself in nature, this is definitely a place you need to add to your bucket list.
Donsol is teeming with natural beauty so you will be spoilt for options during your visit. Whale sharks are no doubt the main attraction in Donsol. If you find swimming with whale sharks an enticing activity, you should add this to your itinerary. You will have the unique opportunity to swim with these gentle giants in their natural environment. Spotting whale sharks is not guaranteed though so it is recommended you know the best season for spotting them and time your visit accordingly.
Another famous activity in Donsol is firely watching at Donsol River. This is a unique night activity that will leave you in awe. The tour will start during sunset and then you will ride a small boat navigating the river wherein you can get up-close with the magical view of fireflies at night.
The Pagurian Island is another highlight of Donsol, especially those seeking a quiet place to swim that is away from other tourists. This small islet has a lagoon that is hidden in between rock formations. You will enjoy the momentary escape that this isolated lagoon has to offer.
WHERE TO STAY
Donsol is a coastal town located in the northwestern portion of Sorsogon. It has a total land area of approximately 153 square kilometers. Meanwhile, the population of Donsol is less than 50,000 (as of 2015).
The town of Donsol is divided into two main areas. The first one is the town center wherein you can find shops, food stalls, accommodations, and more. The other area is Dancalan, which is about 2 kilometers from the town center and is much closer to the beach.
Donsol earned worldwide recognition for its whale shark swimming opportunities. But as of late, it is also emerging as one of the top diving destinations in Asia, not just in the Philippines.