Donsol & Ticao Island (Philippines)

After 2 years being Pacific-absent, we finally made it to Philippines for some land cruise, diving and snorkeling with whale sharks; March to May is apparently the main season for whale sharks around the Philippines, especially around Donsol. So we booked a trip from Manila to Legaspi, from here we went with Donsol Eco Tour to Donsol first (South of Legaspi) for whale shark snorkeling and then further to Ticao Island (a 2h boat ride from Donsol) for diving at Manta Bowl and San Miguel. This place is seriously given less credit than it is advertised for. The soft corals are amazing and look like massive tropical rainforests under water. I would compare it to the “White Wall” in Taveuni (Fiji) but here the coral walls have all sorts of colors (pink stands out though). You will see lots of frog fish and types of nudibranchs you have never seen before – a photographers heaven. But in all seriousness, pollution is a big problem in the Philippines and you won’t be able to avoid seeing plastic floating around, particularly around the metropoles such as Manila and Cebu. However, the water around Ticao Island is surprisingly untouched and clean. Due to fishing, you won’t see much big fish but coral-wise this place is a divers heaven. Of course, seeing whale sharks while diving at Manta Bowl is second to none experience. Having a 18m long and 30t heavy whale shark taking a turn just a few meters over your head – mesmerising. This is a must do – but be careful to avoid the mass tourism around around Manila and Cebu (they feed whale sharks – not a big fan). Summarising, this place has honestly surprised us and was worth all the travelling. Fantastic diving.

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