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The Perfect Cone and the Big Spots (DIY Donsol & Legazpi Bicol)

Updated on March 24, 2012

Bicol, Philippines

The trip to Bicol was what inspired me to make itineraries for groups. It was a labor day holiday and I wanted to see the whale sharks in Donsol. I asked my officemates if they wanted to come and boom... I was making an itinerary for 9 people!

Bicol can be reached from Manila either via an 11 hours bus ride or about an hour flight.

Other than the whale sharks in Donsol, other things one can do in Bicol are wake boarding in Camarines Sur, island hopping in the beautiful Caramoan, and visiting the perfect cone shape Mayon Volcano.

We just had enough time to do the Legazpi City Tour (which included visiting Mayon Volcano) and to swim with the whale sharks at Donsol.

At the Boulevard
At the Boulevard | Source
Madame Cross
Madame Cross | Source
Inside Lignon Hill Tunnel
Inside Lignon Hill Tunnel | Source
Under the Cagsawa Ruins
Under the Cagsawa Ruins | Source
The painted white Daraga Church
The painted white Daraga Church | Source
DJC Halo-halo
DJC Halo-halo | Source

Legazpi, Albay Bicol

Upon arriving via the long bus trip from Manila, we immediately rented a van at the bus terminal for a City Tour of Legazpi.

We started the City Tour at the Boulevard and Embarcadero. We just took a quick picture with the view of the sea and Mayon Volcano at the Boulevard. There were locals exercising there and having a morning stroll. After the picture we headed back to the rented van and just passed by Embarcadero. It was early morning and everything was closed. Embarcadero is actually a mall and according to their website they also already opened a zipline and kart racing.

Next stop was at Madame Cross. While we were taking pictures there our van driver/tour guide was telling us about the history of the place. He said it was built in memory of a lot of people who died in that area during a flash flood in 2006 (typhoon Reming). After knowing that fact it started to get dark then rain suddenly poured on us - creepy.

By the time we reached Lignon Hill which was our next destination, the rain had stopped. We had to walk up the hill for 20 minutes to get a wonderful view of the perfect cone of the Mayon Volcano. There was also a zipline located at the top and they would take a picture of the person zipping with the view of the volcano for 250P. We were already satisfied with just looking at the volcano and taking pictures while drinking a bottle of soda from the cafeteria by the view deck.

On our way down the hill we also tried going inside the Japanese Tunnel. Inside were Japanese soldier mannequins and antique objects. Not much to do in the tunnel except scare each other.

Then we saw the Cagsawa Ruins. It is what remains of a Baroque Church that was built in the 18th century but was buried during the 1814 Mayon Volcano eruption. It is one of the most popular destinations in Legazpi.

Another popular destination we went to is the Daraga Church which is also an 18th century church. When we went there a mass was on-going. The church's facade is painted white which was a disappointment since it interferes with the classic baroque look. Although it says in the official Legazpi website that the color will be back after a year's time and it is just for protection.

Our last destination was - lunch! Bicol is well known for their wonderful dishes. We were supposed to eat at the recommended Small Talk Café but it was still closed. As per our driver's recommendation we ate instead at Boklan Food Center which had a Chinese restaurant setting. Afterwards was dessert at DJC Halo-halo ('halo' is a FIlipino term for mix - hence, mixture of several ingredients). We loved the DJC Halo-halo. It had lots of purple yam and leche flan (Filipino milk custard) and topped with shredded cheese.

Trip Tip: We paid 1700P, we are 9 in the group. The standard rate for a half day tour is 1500P, but one should go directly to the vans for hire, else like us the tricycle driver who offered to find a van got an additional 200P.

Mayon Volcano

Random tourist zipping with the view of Mayon Volcano - Unfortunately there was fog at the tip when we visited, but still a great view
Random tourist zipping with the view of Mayon Volcano - Unfortunately there was fog at the tip when we visited, but still a great view | Source
Banca(s) or trigger boats ready to be boarded for the firefly tour
Banca(s) or trigger boats ready to be boarded for the firefly tour | Source
looking for the twinkling firefly trees
looking for the twinkling firefly trees | Source
post card bought after the Whale Shark Interaction tour
post card bought after the Whale Shark Interaction tour | Source

Donsol, Sorsogon

Donsol was just 1.5 hours away from Legazpi. We hired our own van going to our rented place since anyway we were 9 people in the group. There is also an option to take a commuter van or a jeep in Daraga if traveling in a less numbered group.

Our hotel of choice was Amor Beach Resort since it was the number one bed and breakfast in Trip Advisor. Their food there was to rave about - everything was yummy! While we were there we had Bicolano dishes such as Adobadong Chicken, Sweet Potato Leaves in Coconut Milk (locally called as Laing), and Ray fish or Pagi with Coconut Milk (locally called as Kinunot).

We signed-up for the firefly tour as soon as we checked-in. After which we walked for about less than 10 minutes to sign up for the next day's Whale Shark Interaction at the tourist center. After payment we were asked to watch a video with the Do's and Dont's of Whale Shark Interaction.

Before dusk we were off to the firefly tour which was a very romantic activity. We rode a small trigger boat locally called as bangka while cruising the Ogod river. Then we saw the fireflies twinkling like Christmas lights around a big tree at the pitch darkness. Once in a while we also see stray fireflies pass us by. Our boatman told us that there was once a couple that actually proposed during the firefly tour - sweet!

Early the next day we went back to the tourist center where we signed up the previous day for the Whale Shark Interaction. We had to wait for almost an hour even if we signed up earlier then the others, as to why I didn't know. Even those who just signed up just early the same day got on a boat before us. I was already about to go back inside the center to complain when we were called to our boat.

We had two staff with us along with the boatmen - a BIO or Butanding Interaction Officer and a Whale Shark Spotter. The Whale Shark Spotter as named spots a whale shark and tells the boatman to go in that direction. Once there the BIO jumps in the water and checks the exact location of the whale shark then shouts for us to jump in the blue grey water. He then pulls us (only if one wants to) as close as possible near the whale shark. But not too near for the whale shark to be hurt by our fins or for us to bump on the whale shark.

For someone who was not comfortable with water it was quite nerve wrecking at first even if I had a life jacket and the required mask, snorkel and fins. However, when I saw the magnificent creature so near me I was awestruck. Immediately during the first jump, a whale shark as big as a bus passed just a feet below me. After ten jumps in the water, 2 of which were unsuccessful, I was able to see six whale sharks - enough to have me dazed for a long time :)

Donsol Whale Shark Interaction

Whale sharks are locally called as 'Butanding'. They are the biggest fish in the world and NO, they do not eat humans. Instead they are filter feeders and eat only species such as krill and plankton.
Whale sharks are locally called as 'Butanding'. They are the biggest fish in the world and NO, they do not eat humans. Instead they are filter feeders and eat only species such as krill and plankton. | Source

Budget in Phil Peso and Itinerary (Legazpi & Donsol)

Day and Time
Day 0 - 9PM
Philtranco, Cubao
Lazy Boy a/c with restroom. Manila to Legaspi
Day 1 - 6:30AM
Arrival at Legaspi
Rented a van at the bus terminal
7:30AM - 2PM
Legaspi City Tour
1700P/9 pax. # of Van Driver: Jimmy 09265739496 / 09301817033
Boulevard and Embarcadero
City Tour Location 1
Madame Cross
City Tour Location 2
Lignon Hill and Japanese Tunnel
City Tour Location 3
Cagsawa Ruins
City Tour Location 4
Daraga Church
City Tour Location 5
Boklan Food Center for lunch
City Tour Location 61200P. Chicken and pancit/noodles
DJC Halo-halo
City Tour Location 7
2:30 - 4PM
Van to Donsol
1000P / 9 pax. # of Van Driver: Nonoy 09214568677
Check-in at Amor Beach and Farm Resort
3 people fan room. 3600P / 9 people. # of Amor Beach Resort: 09095181150 / 09278328359
Firefly Tour Sign-up
Arranged by the resort
Sign-up for Whale Shark Interaction
3500P for a boat good for 5 people and 100P for local registration fee
6PM - 8PM
Firefly Tour
1250P boat for 5 people
Dinner at Amor Beach Resort
1116P / 9 people for yummy Bicolano Dishes
Day 2 - 7AM
Lined up at tourist center for Whale Shark Interaction
7:30 - 9:40AM
Actual Whale Shark Interaction
Souvenir Buying at the Tourist Center
Whale Shark/ Butanding Shirts - 200P for a white shirt; Keychains and magnets - 3 for 100P
Back at Resort - brunch, fix-up, pictures
1116P / 9 people for sharing food - Bicolano Dishes.
2:30 - 4PM
Van to Legaspi
Same driver Nonoy
4PM - 5PM
Snacks at DJC
80P for the halo-halo; 25P for toasted siopao. Walking distance to the bus station back to Manila
5PM - 6PM
Shopping at Bus Station
320P for a Bicol-made sabutan bag; pili nut jars for 75P
6:30PM - 4AM
Philtranco, Legaspi
Legaspi to Pasay/ Manila
Note: Price already includes souvenir, food, and transport

Google Tour Map

Bicol Tour Google map by munchwaffle
Bicol Tour Google map by munchwaffle | Source


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    • munchwaffle profile image

      munchwaffle 6 years ago from Philippines

      thanks angela and pipmistress :D indeed it's fun to be in the Philippines ;)

    • pipmistress profile image

      pipmistress 6 years ago from Qatar

      Nice hub, thanks for sharing.

    • angela martinez67 profile image

      Angela Martinez 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      good hub :) it makes us feel more proud knowing, yay! it's more fun to be in the philippines! thanks for sharing.^^