I was part of a larger group of divers travelling to Ticao Island Resort in February. We boarded a Cebu Pacific flight just after midnight from Singapore to Manila and waited at the airport for about 3 hours before boarding the domestic flight to Legazpi. The baggage transfer from Manila to Legazpi was seamless and I would recommend using services of Cebu Pacific. However, during the flight from Singapore to Manila, I would recommend bringing an eye mask if you intend to sleep. When we arrived in Legazpi, we were met by Jessica and her team. We drove for about 1 hour to Donsol, had lunch at Miraya Restaurant before starting our whaleshark interaction (WSI).
During the WSI, the boat would travel up and down the coast with one of the WSI staff trying to spot for whalesharks. This is very different to the tour in the Ningaloo reef in Australia where a light plane spots the whalesharks and sends the GPS location to the captain of the boat. After 3 hours, we still could not find any whaleshark. When I did my internet search, I came to a view that whalesharks in that area is more prevalent in Mar and Apr; perhaps, it might be better to do this activity in these months. Therefore, if the weather is overcast or the sea is choppy, I would not recommend this activity to tourist because the whalesharks would be harder to find. Because motor boats are used, I would recommend bringing ear plugs both for the WSI and for the 2 hours boat journey to Ticao. And if you are on an itinerary, I would suggest travelling first to Ticao and do the WSI on the return journey. We were all exhausted with the overnight flight to Legazpi.
At Ticao Island, the weather was windy most of the days when we were there. The prevailing winds were apparently from south-east; they were not blocked by the terrain on mainland. The waters along the eastern coast of Ticao were therefore choppy and many divers were sea sick during the journey to San Miguel Island, located at the end of Ticao Island. A boat journey that would normally take 45 mins was prolonged to 1.5 hr. I learnt later that the south-east winds become weaker from Jun – Aug; perhaps these would be good months to dive Ticao. The main dive sites in Ticao are Manta Bowl; a 30 mins boat ride in front of the resort and San Miguel Island. Because of the long travelling time, I would not recommend diving either of these 2 sites as a day trip from Donsol. Manta Bowl is situated in a channel that is ripped by current. Because the south-east winds were prevailing, we had choppy surface conditions making it difficult to get into the boat after diving. Therefore, if you plan to dive Manta Bowl frequently, I would recommend doing this in the later months such as Apr onwards for the south-east winds to weaken. It is important for the group to descend together, use the reef hooks provided to stay at the bottom. The current is about 4-5 knots. I would not recommend this dive to beginners or those with less than 50 dives. I recommend wearing a dive hood over the mask to ensure that your mask does not get ripped off by the current. I did 2 dives at Manta Bowl but did not see mantas or whalesharks. I learnt later that if you do see mantas, they would just travel through the channel instead of staying around the spot. Thus, only fleeting moments with the devil fish; instead of sites elsewhere where the mantas stay on a site to be cleaned eg Lady Elliot Island in Australia. Another notable feature which I have observed was the very clear blue waters in the channel after about 5 meters from the surface. The rest of my dives were at San Miguel island which I thoroughly enjoyed because of the abundance of macro life eg nudibranches (a great variety), scorpionfishes and frogfish (my favourites). The visibility here is about 10-15 meters with lots of zooplankton which unfortunately also stings. Thus, if you are diving or snorkelling here, you should fully cover yourself. I wore hood, gloves, 2 mm titanium-lined wetsuit layered on a 1 mm long-sleeved vest. I was stung only on one cheek. During the dive, I heard dynamite fishing and this activity could explain why there were no middle-sized fish in the reef eg snappers, groupers or sharks. The fishes at San Miguel west were small like aquarium fish. Because of the south-east winds, we could not dive San Miguel east. When diving at San Miguel, the boat typically does 3 dives out with lunch on the boat. The dive operation is very good. There were 5 staff members on each boat to help divers gear up.
Similarly, the staff at the resort was all very good, hospitable and friendly. I arranged my trip with Jessica and she is very systematic and communicates well. The food was delicious and I particularly enjoyed the congee cooked in chicken broth in the morning. Although my cabana is air-conditioned, there was no need to turn it on because of the wind. The resort also provides mosquito repellent in the room, in the form of a mat that produces a scent when heated.
We decided to spend 1 night in Donsol staying at Dancalan Resort, hoping to do a WSI the following day. Unfortunately, the weather turned bad due to a typhoon hitting Mindanao/Palawan and no boats could go out. At Donsol, we went to Giddy’s place for a massage and I would recommend that. It costs 20 Peso per person for a trishaw ride to Giddy’s. At Legazpi, we stayed at Hotel Venezia which is also very nice.
Overall, I would recommend staying at Ticao Island resort and Donsol Ecotours but to do this during the months when the sea is calm (Mar-Apr).
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Travel Book Philippines, Inc. so you can book your Ticao Island Resort reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Ticao Island Hotel Masbate