Things to Do in Donsol: A Comprehensive Guide to the Best Activities in the Area

Donsol, a small town located in the Sorsogon Province of the Philippines, is a popular tourist destination known for its whale shark sightings. Visitors from all over the world come to Donsol to experience swimming alongside the gentle giants of the sea. However, there is much more to do in Donsol than just whale shark watching.

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Apart from the breathtaking whale-shark interaction, Donsol offers a variety of activities for tourists to enjoy. The town has a number of beautiful beaches, such as Vitton Beach and Woodland Beach, where visitors can relax and soak up the sun. For those looking for some adventure, there are opportunities for kayaking, river tubing, and zip-lining. In addition, Donsol has a rich cultural heritage that can be explored through visits to local museums and historical landmarks.

Getting There

Donsol is a small town located in the province of Sorsogon, Bicol Region, Philippines. The town is known for its whale-shark interaction tours and eco-tourism activities. Getting to Donsol is relatively easy and can be done through several modes of transportation.

By Air

The nearest airport to Donsol is the Legazpi Airport, which is about 1.5 hours away by land. The airport has several flights daily from Manila, Cebu, and other major cities in the Philippines. From the airport, travelers can take a taxi or a van to Donsol.

By Land

Travelers can also reach Donsol by land. Buses and vans are available from Manila, Legazpi City, and other major cities in the Bicol Region. The trip from Manila to Donsol takes approximately 12 hours, while the trip from Legazpi City takes around 1.5 hours.

By Sea

Another option is to take a ferry from Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen, Northern Samar, and then take a van or bus to Donsol. The ferry ride takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Local Transportation

Once in Donsol, travelers can easily get around the town through jeepneys and tricycles. Jeepneys are the most common mode of transportation in the town, while tricycles are ideal for short trips around the area.

Where to Stay

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Donsol offers a range of accommodation options for travelers. Whether you’re looking for a budget-friendly homestay or a luxurious beach resort, there’s something for everyone in Donsol.

For budget backpackers, Touristlink Homestay is a great option. It offers clean and comfortable rooms at affordable prices. Another popular choice for budget travelers is Vitton & Woodland Beach Resort. It is located near the whale-shark interaction center and offers easy access to the beach.

If you’re looking for a mid-range option, Giddy’s Place is a popular choice. It is located in Donsol town and offers comfortable rooms with modern amenities. For those who prefer a more luxurious stay, Elysia Beach Resort is a great option. It offers spacious rooms with ocean views and a range of amenities.

For those who want to stay close to the beach, Amor Farm Beach Resort is a great option. It offers beachfront cottages and bungalows with stunning ocean views. Another popular choice for beach lovers is Dancalan Beach Resort. It is located on a secluded beach and offers a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.

Experiences in Donsol

Donsol offers a range of experiences for visitors to enjoy. From swimming with whale sharks to kayaking through mangroves, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this beautiful destination.

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One of the most popular experiences in Donsol is swimming with whale sharks. Visitors can take a boat out to the whale shark feeding grounds and snorkel alongside these gentle giants. It’s an incredible experience that’s sure to leave a lasting impression.

For those who prefer a more relaxed experience, watching the sunset in Donsol is a must. The sunsets here are truly breathtaking, with vibrant colors painting the sky as the sun dips below the horizon. It’s the perfect way to end a day of adventure and exploration.

Another unique experience in Donsol is firefly watching. Visitors can take a boat ride along the Donsol River and watch as thousands of fireflies light up the trees along the riverbank. It’s a magical experience that’s perfect for nature lovers.

For those who want to get a little more active, kayaking through the mangroves is a great option. Visitors can paddle through the calm waters, taking in the stunning scenery and spotting wildlife along the way. It’s a great way to get up close and personal with the natural beauty of Donsol.

Diving and Snorkeling

Donsol is a world-renowned destination for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. The crystal-clear waters of Donsol are home to a diverse range of marine life, including whale sharks, manta rays, sea dragons, and frogfish.

Whale Shark Interaction

One of the most popular activities in Donsol is swimming with whale sharks. Visitors can experience the thrill of swimming alongside these gentle giants in their natural habitat. The whale shark interaction season in Donsol runs from November to June, with the peak season being from February to May. Visitors are required to follow strict guidelines to ensure the safety of both the animals and the visitors.

Manta Bowl Diving

For experienced divers, the Manta Bowl is a must-visit site. This dive site is located in Ticao Pass and is known for its strong currents and diverse marine life. Divers can expect to see a variety of fish, coral, and of course, manta rays. The best time to dive at the Manta Bowl is from December to May.

Scuba Diving

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Donsol is also a great destination for scuba diving. The Bicol Dive Team offers a range of diving courses and experiences for divers of all levels. The team is made up of experienced staff who prioritize safety and provide a high-quality diving experience. Visitors can expect to see a variety of marine life, including sea turtles, reef sharks, and colorful coral.


For those who prefer to stay closer to the surface, snorkeling is a great option. Visitors can rent snorkeling gear and explore the shallow waters around Donsol. Snorkelers can expect to see a variety of fish, coral, and other marine life.

Overall, Donsol offers a unique and unforgettable diving and snorkeling experience. Visitors can expect to see a diverse range of marine life in their natural habitat, while also prioritizing the safety of both the animals and the visitors.

Wildlife Tours

Donsol is known for its diverse wildlife, and there are many wildlife tours available for visitors to experience the natural wonders of the area. Here are some of the top wildlife tours in Donsol:

  • Donsol Whale Shark Interaction – One of the most popular wildlife tours in Donsol is the whale shark interaction tour. Visitors can swim with these gentle giants in their natural habitat and observe them up close. The tour is conducted by trained guides who prioritize the safety and well-being of both the visitors and the whale sharks.
  • Donsol Firefly Tour – Another popular wildlife tour is the firefly tour, which takes visitors on a boat ride along the Donsol River at night to see the fireflies in their natural habitat. The tour also includes a visit to a mangrove forest, where visitors can learn about the importance of mangroves as a habitat for various wildlife species.
  • Butanding (Whale Shark) Watching and Interaction – This tour takes visitors on a boat ride to observe the whale sharks from a safe distance. Visitors can also opt for an interaction with the whale sharks, where they can swim alongside these gentle giants.
  • Bird-Watching Tour – Donsol is home to a wide variety of bird species, and visitors can take a bird-watching tour to observe them in their natural habitat. The tour is conducted by trained guides who can identify the different bird species and provide interesting information about their behavior and habitat.
  • Island Hopping Tour – Visitors can take an island hopping tour to explore the different islands around Donsol and observe the various marine and wildlife species that inhabit them. The tour includes stops at different beaches and snorkeling spots, where visitors can see colorful fish, sea turtles, and other marine creatures.

Overall, Donsol offers a wide range of wildlife tours that allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of the area. Whether you prefer land, sea, or island tours, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Local Cuisine

Donsol is a paradise for seafood lovers, with a variety of fresh catches from the sea available at local restaurants. The most popular local seafood dish is the grilled tuna belly, which is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, calamansi juice, and spices before being grilled to perfection. Other seafood dishes that are worth trying include grilled squid, shrimp sinigang, and kinunot, a spicy dish made with shark meat.

For those who prefer vegetarian or vegan options, Elysia restaurant is a great option. Located in the heart of Donsol, this restaurant offers a range of Filipino and Asian dishes that cater to different dietary requirements. The menu includes vegetarian spring rolls, vegetable curry, and tofu sisig, a vegan version of the popular Filipino dish made with tofu instead of meat.

If you’re looking for a quick bite, Roberto’s Restobar offers fast food options such as burgers, fries, and fried chicken. This restaurant is located a bit further away from the town center, but it’s worth the trip if you’re craving some comfort food.

Shopping in Donsol

Donsol is a small town that offers limited shopping options, but visitors can still find unique souvenirs and local products to bring back home. Most of the stores in Donsol are small, locally-owned shops that offer a variety of items ranging from handicrafts to clothing.

One of the most popular shopping destinations in Donsol is the Donsol Souvenir Shop, located in the town center. The shop offers a wide range of souvenirs, including t-shirts, keychains, and handicrafts made by local artisans. Visitors can also find a variety of local products such as dried fish and shrimp paste.

Another popular shopping spot in Donsol is the Donsol Public Market, located near the bus terminal. The market offers a variety of fresh produce, seafood, and meat, as well as local delicacies such as pili nuts and coconut jam. Visitors can also find a variety of handmade crafts and souvenirs sold by local vendors.

For those looking for unique and handmade products, the Donsol Handicraft Store is a must-visit. The store offers a variety of handicrafts made by local artisans, including woven bags, baskets, and mats. Visitors can also find handmade jewelry and accessories, as well as traditional clothing such as barongs and malongs.

Safety and Regulations

When visiting Donsol, it is important to be aware of the safety regulations in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before embarking on any activities, visitors are encouraged to attend an audiovisual presentation that covers the guidelines for whale shark interaction. This presentation covers frequently asked questions, such as:

  • What is the minimum distance to maintain between the whale sharks and humans?
  • What is the maximum number of swimmers allowed per boat?
  • What are the prohibited activities during the interaction?

Security and Protection

To ensure the safety of both visitors and whale sharks, boats are required to have a spotter to locate the whale sharks and ensure that no harm comes to them. Visitors are also required to wear life jackets at all times during the interaction.


The local government of Donsol has established regulations to protect the whale sharks and their habitat. These regulations include:

  • Limiting the number of boats allowed to operate during the day to prevent overcrowding and disturbance to the whale sharks.
  • Prohibiting the use of flash photography and touching of the whale sharks.
  • Limiting the interaction time to 30 minutes per group to prevent exhaustion and stress to the whale sharks.

Overall, visitors to Donsol can be confident in the knowledge that the local government is committed to protecting the whale sharks and ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all.