Swimming with the Butandings Plus More Fun in Sorsogon


Whenever one thinks of Sorsogon, the gentle giant whale sharks of Donsol first comes to mind. However, upon further exploration, you will learn that the province offers a plethora of delights that include beautiful beaches, heritage towns and other natural gems comprising of waterfalls, quaint lakes, firefly-laden rivers and sleepy volcanoes. From the rich flora and fauna, colorful culture and traditions, plateful of delicious local cuisines, and to everything that ticks every intrepid traveler's check list, it’s no wonder each time a visitor departs Sorsogon, heaps of memorable experiences are left behind.

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Channeling Chris McCandless at Pili Haven - a farm and accommodation property in Irosin, Sorsogon

The province's things to do list is full of exciting adventures.

Swimming with the "butandings" in Donsol will introduce visitors to the mesmerizing world of the underwater especially where one can experience the thrill of chasing the gentle giants of Sorsogon. 

Milet Miranda
The Butanding Lookout crew

Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t fast enough on my fins to catch up with them. I saw a whale shark from our boat for a moment or two, but lost sight of it when we dove into the water because they swim fast but not so furiously though, as fellow travel writers from the other boat was lucky enough to swim with a playful baby whale shark. 

Anne Gumiran
Photo credit: Ferdz Decena of En Route

The white sandy beaches lapped with turquoise colored waters in Matnog lures beachgoers to a day of beach fix and chill at the long shores of the pinkish Subic Beach in Calintaan Island. It is also here where a variety of sea creatures can be seen up close at Juag Fish Sanctuary.

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For heritage and history enthusiasts, the Spanish colonial houses in Juban provides a dash of throwback vibe to a simpler life more than a century ago. Lined up charmingly on a short part of Maharlika Highway are four "bahay na bato” (Stone House) that are still immaculately preserved. The foundation of these houses built way back in 1890s, are made of stone bricks and where the wooden second floor stands.

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One of the houses was even converted into a bed and breakfast called "Casa Feliz" where guests can stay for only 200 pesos per bed/night. These houses came under threat of demolition a couple of years ago due to a planned road widening project. Thankfully, an online petition managed to halt it. A few towns away in Barcelona, additional history can be found on the ruins of the old Spanish Governadorcillo.

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But wait, there’s more history to uncover at Sorsogon Museum. The site of a former provincial jail and justice hall, it was transformed by the provincial government into a museum in 2019.

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Retaining its original early 1900s architecture, the museum features 10 galleries showcasing historical items related to the province of Sorsogon that are curated by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the Sorsogon Provincial Tourism, Culture and Arts Office.

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Where to Stay in Sorsogon? Check out Siama Hotel. It's a nature-inspired showroom for its owner, designer Milo Naval's aesthetic creations

It also showcase artworks done by former inmates, such as the painting of the Lady of Justice found on the second floor, and a mural of revolutionary hero Che Guevara. The museum also converted the old exercise yard of prisoners into an amphitheater.

Milet Miranda
Juag Fish Sanctuary as viewed from the air. Photo by Milet of Project Gora

For the wave-riding buccaneers, the swell they are seeking can be found on the waters of Rizal beach in Gubat town. This underrated surfing spot facing the Pacific Ocean is now becoming a favorite even among surfers from different parts of the globe.

Milet Miranda
Drone shot of Subic Beach in Matnog, Sorsogon. Clicked by Milet of Project Gora

Kambal Busay Falls in Bulusan, Sorsogon had me stripping down to my boxer shorts for a therapeutic dip while the others were busy hiking to the other falls because it totally exceeded my expectation.

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Another best thing about this is the waterfalls' 5-minute accessibility from Zoe's Resort & Eco Adventure Park. The park has done a fine job keeping the place in great condition by minimizing man-made structures and managing visitors' capacity.

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Snack on pili nuts while you enjoy a tranquil cruise over the greenish waters of Buhatan River. A community-led Cooperative group organized by the late Gina Lopez in 2014, manages this Eco-Adventure tour that takes visitors along a narrow tributary flanked by mangrove forests snaking its way until it meets the waters of Sorsogon Bay. A local musician serenades tourist on the floating cabanas with acoustic melodies accompanied by the background chirping hymns of several bird species.

Sara Abdollahi

One cannot leave Sorsogon without experiencing the tranquility of Lake Bulusan. Kayaking in the middle of the lake with only the chirruping sounds of nature provides the perfect moment to listen to your own thoughts. 

Milet Miranda

Given that there’s no existing PHIVOLCS alert level, a trek to Bulusan volcano may be in order for mountaineers on the lookout for a forested peak to conquer as well as spot numerous colorful bird species.

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All of these and more can be experienced in Sorsogon.

The Bicol region isn’t hash-tagged #ExcitingBicol for nothing because the provinces it covers such as Sorsogon fully lives up to its billing — offering travelers nothing but exhilarating and pleasant destinations.