I love sharks. The bigger they are, the closer I can get, the more awesome the experience. I knew I had to go to the Philippines to swim with the whale sharks in Donsol.
After a flight from Ho Chi Minh to Manila and an internal one to Legaspi and a few hours ride in a shared van, we arrived to the quaint seaside village of Donsol in April 2012.
We chatted to a British guy who stayed at the same B&B we were at. He told us that he has tried swimming with them twice already (on the day and previous day) but never saw one. I freaked out. We had only one chance as we were only there for 1 full day and 2 nights. In hindsight we should have stayed longer!
I prayed that night that we’d be a lot luckier and at least get to see one whale shark in the 3 hours we’d be out at sea the next day.
The boats we used were basic wooden ones. The lookout guy stood high up to scan the water surface for the shadow of a whale shark. Not long after, we were told to get our fins and snorkels ready and we’d be jumping into the water soon as a shark had been sighted.
We jumped in and I saw my first ever whale shark! It took a while for my eyes to adjust in the plankton-filled sea water. The shark wasn’t too close to the surface, but it was remarkable nevertheless.
Round 2: we jumped in but we weren’t the first boat to get there. There were too many people already in the water. I saw nothing. I was frustrated and told the guide exactly that. He said he would make sure I saw it the next time.
Round 3: we jumped in and he kept pointing forward in the blue. I kept gesturing with my hands and shoulders asking where? where? Suddenly out of nowhere I saw the whale shark swimming towards me with its mouth wide open. It was HUGE! Its mouth from right to left was definitely my entire height if not bigger and I could see the water just going into its mouth being filtered. I saw the little fish swimming on the sides of its mouth.
I started getting worried as the shark was quickly approaching me and I had to swim away to the side. I then swam alongside it for a while and couldn’t believe I was swimming right next to this 8m long London bus sized giant!! My prayers were more than answered.
We jumped into the water 4 more times and I saw a whale shark each time. We were extremely lucky. If only the Philippines wasn’t so far away from Switzerland, I’d go back every year.