My toes tingled as I dipped it into the chilly water. I hesitated for a bit but my excitement persisted. The sea was relatively calm that day compared to the previous days. I heard a splash a few meters away from where I stood and I saw my friend Jay already in the water. I waded forward slowly, resisting the urge to run back to the warm embrace of the white sand covering the shore. Behind me, my friend Rocky suggested I dive in the water just before he did so.
The sun was a few minutes shy from kissing the horizon. I took a deep breath and plunged into the cold water. I swam and swam thinking I needed to produce energy to keep myself warm. After a couple of minutes, I was tired and breathless but I felt warm. I closed my eyes, laid on my back, spread my arms wide and floated. As soon as my heartbeat calmed down, I opened my eyes and saw the dark blue sky above. A faint orange glow decorated my peripheral vision and I knew that the sun has finally set. A star slowly came into view above the horizon where the sun had set. I swam towards the shore until I could stand upright and only my head was out of the water. I stood there silently, hypnotized by the sight before me. The sea gleamed of iridescence, an evidence left behind by fisher folks that have gone out to sea. Before the night claimed the sky, I got out of the water, took a few pictures of the last traces of the New Year’s Day sun and headed home.
Summer is here! At least for me and my travel mates. And what better way to kick-off this summer than with a trip to Donsol, Sorsogon to swim with the Butandings (Whale Sharks)!
Donsol Bay is one of the few areas here in the Philippines where Butandings are regularly seen (There are also sightings in Bohol, Palawan, Batangas, Leyte and Mindanao). Accordingly, the peak season for Butanding sightings is February to April. Our scheduled trip was just in time!
Armed with a backpack full of summer clothes for our 5-day trip, I was ready to forget about work and school and just enjoy the sun and the beach!
Day 1. The Arrival
To get to Donsol, you can either: a) take a plane to Legazpi City, then ride a van to Donsol; or b) take a bus straight to Donsol. Good thing we got a Cebu Pacific promo fare from Manila to Legazpi about a month ago so we didn’t have to endure to grueling 12-hour bus ride. We took the first flight at 6:05 am since we wanted to maximize our first day. It was a bit difficult to wake up that early considering I barely slept that night ( barely, meaning 30 minutes). I made it a point to finish my paper for school because I didn’t want to have to think about it or do it while I was on vacation.
Thankfully, our flight didn’t get delayed so we arrived there before 7 am. Sleep deprived that I was the night before, I slept throughout the flight and missed seeing Mt. Mayon from above (which I also missed in my previous travels to Legazpi). But, as I stepped out of the plane, I was refreshed just seeing the majestic Mayon volcano.
One of our travel companions booked for the next flight at 7:55 am so we decided to have breakfast first while waiting for her. The tricycle driver took us to Kim’s Bowl where we had breakfast and coffee.
Sadly, the next flight got delayed by an hour. Finally, after three hours of waiting, we were all set for the 1.5-hour travel to Donsol, Sorsogon. You can take a taxi to Donsol but it’ll cost you a few thousand pesos so best take a van since it only costs P75 each. At about 1pm, we arrived in Donsol. The van even brought the six of us to our resort for only P100. I was so exhausted from the trip that I decided to take a short nap before we started our 1st day activities.
At 3pm, we went to the Donsol Tourism Center to register for our Whaleshark Interaction the next day. A BIO (Butanding Interaction Officer) showed us a video orientation about Butandings and the rules in interacting with them.
As always, I find it super awesome to watch the sun go down by the sea. So, here are some of my sunset shots at Donsol.
We stayed at AGM Beachfront Resort. They have really nice and attentive staff and clean rooms. If you’re looking for a quiet place to stay, this is the right place for you. There’s no TV, no WIFI, no videokes. It’s just you and the beach. Plus, they also organize tours for their guests. I give a thumbs up for Ate Mae and all the staff of AGM.
By 6pm, we headed to the Firefly Watching Tourism Center in Ogod River for our date with the fireflies. Check out my next post to know more about firefly watching in Donsol.
Overall, our first day in Donsol was great! That night, I went to bed looking forward to swimming with the Butandings.