This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Donsol.
Come to Donsol, Philippines, for the whale sharks, and stay for diving with giant mantas; floating on a bamboo raft through an underground river; hiking to a waterfall; riding on a nighttime firefly boat on the Ogod River; seeing a local cockfight; eating the incredible, fresh seafood; and meeting friendly locals who want to know your name. An hour van ride from Legazpi City will find you in a little slice of paradise. Vans leave from Legazpi to Donsol once they are full and aren't too expensive.
Donsol is a small fishing town that has seen a shift from simple farming and fishing life to a growing tourism trade centered around snorkeling with whale sharks. Since these are wild animals, there is no guarantee to see them, however most people have luck and see at least half a dozen or more. The whale shark, or "butandung," can be seen from November to June, with peak viewing possibility from February to May. Boats go out in the morning, around 7 a.m., and they try to fill them with seven people. There is a price for the entire boats, so the more people you have, the better. You can also rent fins and snorkels.
While there are a few guesthouses in the town center, at this time your options for Donsol, Philippines hostels in town are extremely limited; the majority of resorts and hostel accommodations are three kilometers out of town in the area of Dancalan. There are trikes available for rent to take you to your hostel or resort -- the price will depend on your bargaining skills. Presently there are only a few facilities that offer Donsol, Philippines hostel accommodations, and their online presence is extremely limited. There are many places to stay that aren't listed online and it is an easy and pleasant walk towards town to scout out the small family resorts.
The friendly tourism center is not in Donsol town, rather on the beach next to Bicol Dive Center. There the knowledgeable ladies and gentlemen can offer you advise on the many more activities you can do after snorkeling with whale sharks. Or maybe you want to indulge in a cocktail or beer during the many happy hours offered and enjoy a wonderful sunset and listen to the surf while walking on the beach -- this is absolutely possible here.
There are no major stores in Donsol, but all resorts have restaurants that offer meals. While there are a few roadside stands out of town, you will have to take a trike or walk to town if you want to try a local eatery. You can pick up snacks, drinks, and toiletries at a few different mom-and-pop stores in town. There are also a handful of bakeries selling a variety of cakes, cookies, and halo-halo (a type of sweet-potato-filled pastry). If you need more pesos, there are two banks with ATMs, but get there before 5 p.m., as the ATM is inside and locked after hours and on weekends.
Written by local enthusiast for Donsol hostelsGrace