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“Exceeded our expectations! Definitely worth the trip...”

Donsol Whale Shark Interaction
Ranked #1 of 8 things to do in Donsol
Certificate of Excellence
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Attraction details
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed February 25, 2015 via mobile

We weren't quite sure what to expect coming in, whether we would be guaranteed to swim with the gentle creatures, the butanding or whaleshark.
What we got was more than we imagined. In 1 morning session, we were able to swim with 3 different whalesharks (10m, 4m and 5m) over 6 times! We could've gone more times but lunch beckoned.
It was an awesome experience to day the least and something that we plan to come back and do again in the future.
Note that Donsol is one of the few places that strictly follow eco friendly whale shark interactions - no feeding, scuba diving, keeping the environment as natural to the butanding as possible.
2 thums up to the people of Donsol for this commitment!

1  Thank Chugamos13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"amazing experience"
in 28 reviews
"whale shark interaction"
in 32 reviews
"bucket list"
in 15 reviews
"gentle giants"
in 10 reviews
"eco tour"
in 9 reviews
"good luck"
in 9 reviews
"wild animals"
in 9 reviews
"early morning"
in 8 reviews
"other places"
in 7 reviews
"few seconds"
in 11 reviews
"their natural habitat"
in 7 reviews
"registration fee"
in 7 reviews
"tourist center"
in 8 reviews
"once in a lifetime"
in 10 reviews
"murky water"
in 6 reviews
"boat fee"
in 5 reviews
"got lucky"
in 5 reviews
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173 - 177 of 383 reviews

Reviewed February 23, 2015

Absolutely wonderful and magical experience to be swimming with whalesharks. More than that, the boatmen were so very sweet in their earnest desire to make sure their "guests" are satisfied.

I asked our BIOman "Are you not tired of seeing the butandings". His reply: "Our joy is when the guests have a satisfying experience. On days when we have no sightings, the sadness is deep. We are all quiet going back to the center. I love how they refer to us as "guests" and not "clients". I love how our joy is their joy

2  Thank ACYSantos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 22, 2015 via mobile

One of the most amazing experiences of my life. We did 4 whale shark interactions. 2 at the beginning February and first day saw 1 whale shark fleetingly. Second day wet and raining none. As not yet peak season for sightings we went off to do some scuba diving off Ticao Island and booked our remaining interactions 10 and 11 February. On our 2nd last day we swam with one whale shark for ages. On our second last day we swam with 6 whale sharks for long periods of time. Exceeded all our expectations and so privileged to be able to experience these gentle giants of the sea.The boat operators and guides are so professional and respectful of the butanding and it is so well organized and a credit to the Donsol Bay community. We arranged everything with Donsol Eco Tours and they gave us the most personalised and friendly service you could want.
Christine and Mike, Tasmania, Australia

2  Thank Chtistine S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 18, 2015

Amazing experience, we were unbelievably lucky within the first 30 minutes our spotter excitedly told us to get our flippers and snorkels on and get in quickly and quietly (a very difficult thing to do when you're excited about the prospect and you've been told to be quick). Unfortunately our luck ran out because after that first sighting we saw nothing but a glimpse for 3 hours but it was fine the initial rush of seeing one will never leave us! One thing to be careful of, you pay at the beginning and are told to get your change after the 3 hour boat trip. Its easy to forget your change and nearly everyone does!

Thank Kierane26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 18, 2015 via mobile

This is one to add to the bucket list!

If you are lucky enough to swim with these gentle giants, it is truly an unforgettable experienced that would be difficult to match.

We left Naga at 4am to be at Donsol at 7am for the registration ($300PHP for tourists and $100PHP for citizens) and briefing. You can either share a boat with others or have your own private one for around $3000P. Snorkel gear will set you back $300P. Your crew consists of two spotters a diver and a driver. Your boat will depart between 8am to 8:30am and will be out on the water for 3 hours.

Once you are on the water your crew kick into gear and when they spot a Whale Shark, they will tell you to get your equipment on and get ready to jump. If you are one of the lucky ones, a few seconds after you hit the water, you will soon see a great mass of white spots heading your way in what I can only describe as an breathtaking experience.

Our crew were fantastic and they spotted 10 whale sharks for us. We jumped in the water 10 times and were able to swim with 9 whale sharks. The one that got away was just too quick!

If you are terrible with disappointment and handle it like a sulky cry baby, then this experience may be too risky for you. There are no guarantees that you will be able to swim with them. If you are adamant about swimming with them, then stay a few nights in Donsol and head out for a couple of days. We were willing to take our chances and it exceeded all our expectations.

Tips:
- If you can afford it, get a private boat. You can decide what you want to do and can extend your time if you want. You also don't have to be 'polite' about getting in and catching a glimpse or swimming with the whale sharks. No "after you, please", just get in and swim then get back on board and boast about who got the best footage! Having a private boat means you can get familiar with your crew and the good ones will offer to take videos and photos of you with the whale shark - No need for awkward underwater selfies while you struggle to breathe!
- If you must share, get familiar with your fellow tourists and gather a group of 6 before you register. This way, it isn't left up to the office staff to put you in a group and this means you are on the boat and water sooner. Plus you can make some new buddies.
- Having a good crew is important. I know this is out of your control and is simply luck. We had an excellent crew and were stunned to hear that groups that went out during the same time we did, only saw 3 whale sharks compared to our 9.
- Invest in a quality underwater camera. The GoPro worked a treat!
- If you're not a great swimmer, use the life jackets they provide. You will have to tread water A LOT! And you will need to be fast to keep up with your diver and obviously the whale shark. Once you are in the water, you're on your own, though the divers will have float devices you can cling onto as they drag you along.

Overall, a wonderfully awesome experience!

5  Thank milana_mk5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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