Since swimming with the whale sharks was too crowded, we decided to dive instead. No, sadly we cannot dive on the Donsol Bay where the whale sharks are feeding, but people do spot them occasionally diving in other areas (spoiler alert: we didn’t see them diving).
Our first stop was San Miguel Island, which has a lot of macro life, but not much more than that. I saw the largest number of worms here, ever.
Sadly, my camera was fogging up like crazy so most of my pictures didn’t come out (a new order of silica gel packs are on their way to Manila now!). We saw a bunch of different types of nudibranch like this huge one…
I also had my scariest dive experience to date. I’m swimming along minding my own business, then I see something out of the corner of my right eye which made me immediately stop and throw my head/body back: a sea snake, the biggest I’ve seen to date (at least 5 feet long and as thick as my fist!) almost bumped into my face. Did I mention they’re poisonous? (Not that a bite from them is ever fun!) Luckily, I moved out of the way right on time and could stare at it in awe while it crossed my path.
Also saw a giant starfish, and the picture doesn’t do it justice, but it was about 3 feet wide.
The views in between dives were gorgeous…
I got no pictures from the other two dives, at the manta bowl. Visibility was not the greatest, but my camera was way too foggy for anything to come out anyway, but it was exciting!
It was our first (and second) real drift dive! The current was super-strong once you went underwater, and after the first couple of scary minutes where you have no control of it, it was actually a lot of fun, as if you are flying!
We all had hooks we’d use to attach ourselves to rocks and corrals once we stopped to wait for sea life.
Suddenly the dive master points to the side and this GIANT (it was at least as wide as I’m long) manta ray comes swimming by, super gracefully. Sadly, we didn’t spot any other manta rays on this dive or the next dive.
But as we’re drifting what do we see the following dive? A full size whitetip reef shark! It was gorgeous! A couple of minutes later the divemaster spots a baby shark under a coral leaf. Nothing like looking under a coral and seeing a shark 6 inches from your head (I don’t care how small it was – only about 2 feet – I didn’t expect for it to be so close!).
At the very end of the dive I spotted a mantis shrimp, and got a couple of other divers from our crew to fight against the current to see it too. Since I’ve only seen it once before, it was super cool!
Overall we had fun on our dives, but it wasn’t our best dives (I think Moalboal, Cebu, wins the prize so far). I wouldn’t go to Donsol just for diving (the visibility wasn’t the greatest), but if you’re in the area and tired of the crowds around the whale sharks, I’d totally recommend it as an alternative activity!