Pilar - Disembark

Masbate – Philippines – To Donsol


 

JUNE 2016:

 



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OVERVIEW:

Masbate - Greenview - Room Entry Masbate - Greenview - Ensuite Entry I made my way from Ticao Island to Masbate City and I stayed in the Greenview Hotel & Restobar for 3 nights.

The Greenview Hotel was OK for the price but it is a bit isolated.

I would advise GRANDPAckers to look for a different hotel located in the ‘north east corner’ of the city peninsular.

It was time to move on to Donsol.

12Go Logo

Donsol is where you SCUBA dive for Whale Sharks and Manta Rays.Masbate - Greenview - Bed


HOTEL TO MASBATE FERRY PORT:

I walked to the port the previous day and enquired about ferry times.

Ticao - Lagundi Port Ticao - Bangka to MasbateThere are ferries going to Pilar almost hourly – but the fast ferries only leave at 4:30am, 8:00am, and 12 noon. The fast ferries take 3 hours. That was long enough for me … I didn’t want to catch a slow one.

It is always advisable to travel early in The Philippines. It is also advisable not to target the last ferry (just in case it is delayed or cancelled). I targeted the 8:00am.

You are advised to get to the ferry 1 hour before departure; I needed to be at the ferry port by 7:00am.

As it happens, I woke at 5:00am anyway – 1 hour before my alarm clock. I had a very relaxed prep and even fitted in time for a morning shower. I was on the road at 6:50am. I intended to catch a Trike.

But, nowadays, I prefer to walk if I can. It was only about 1.5kms away … so I hit the road. I was at the ferry port in about 15-20 minutes.


FERRY TO PILAR:

I paid my PHP30 Terminal Fee and entered the terminal. There are no ticket counters as you enter. This is not normal in The Philippines … the ticket counters are, usually, next to where you pay your Terminal Fee.

Masbate - Ferry to Pilar Seating Masbate - Ferry to PilarA security guard told me where to buy my ticket … it was outside of the terminal (within the port grounds) on the other side of the exit road.

By the time that I purchased my ticket, it was 7:15am. It was not a problem. The ticket costs PHP396. They called us to board at 7:30am.

A boat boy took my suitcase as I boarded and stowed it safely at the front of the boat.

It was quite a small boat (compared to the ROROs that I have been on) but there was plenty of seating inside. The seating was comfortable. They had aircon. And they had the aircon on full bore! I was freezing … bring something warm to wear on the boat.

They played a movie in Filipino. The crossing was calm and uneventful. We landed at 10:50am.Pilar - Disembark


PILAR FERRY PORT TO DONSOL:

Donsol - The Tourist Area Donsol - Road to DancalanAs usual, as you disembark there are Minivan and Trike touts waiting for you.

As usual, ignore them.

Walk out of the terminal.

About 20m up the road you will find a bus station.

Here you will find an array of Buses, Minivans, and Jeepneys going to different locations.

I was quoted PHP150 for a Trike to my hotel.

This was, actually, a reasonable price … as my hotel was about 12kms away … so the price matched my Rule Of Thumb.Donsol - Bridge to Dancalan

Keep walking past the Bus Terminal to the road junction.

Donsol - Amor - Roadfront Donsol - Countryside Stop there and wait for a passing Jeepney to Donsol Town.

I only had to wait 10 minutes. The Jeepney that takes you the 10km to Donsol costs PHP20 … which, again, matched my Rule Of Thumb.

The Jeepney dropped me off on the Donsol Main Road. I flagged down a Trike. From there to my hotel was 2kms (in Tourist Area – Dancalan) … I should pay PHP30. He asked for PHP50. I felt generous, we agreed PHP40.Donsol - Local Farms


WHERE TO STAY:

Whilst I was in Donsol, a man offered me a room in a local hotel for PHP300 … so, cheap options are available for backpackers.

However, the place to stay is near the Donsol Whale Shark Interaction Center (the “Center”).

There are several resort options within 400m walk of the Center. Just search the normal sites and see which resort is offering the best deal.

Agoda Logo

I got onto the hotel search engines … I started with AGODA.COM … then moved on to AsiaTravel.com … then moved on to TravelBook.PH.

I went to TRIPADVISOR.COM to see which hotels had the best reviews.Trip Advisor Logo

I chose the Amor Farm Beach Resort.


MY HOTEL – THE AMOR FARM BEACH RESORT:

Donsol - Amor - Room Entry Donsol - Amor - Ensuite EntryI found the Amor Farm Beach Resort on AGODA.COM.

They were offering a Fan Double duplex with cold water shower for PHP930 / night.

No in-room wifi. No breakfast.

It was about 300m from the Center. Resorts nearer the Center were asking PHP200-300 more for the same (or lesser) thing.

I booked 3 nights.Donsol - Amor - Double Bed

My Trike dropped me off at the Amor at noon.

Donsol - Amor - Vanity Donsol - Amor - BalconyThey checked me straight into my room.

The room was a reasonable size with a Double and a Single bed.

There was no wardrobe, but they provided a floor standing clothes rack.

The ceiling fan was quiet and efficient.

The ensuite was a good size and clean.Donsol - Amor - Chalet Donsol - Amor - Room Donsol - Amor - Balcony View

The grounds are pleasant and they have a nice open air restaurant.

That evening, I tried their Kinunot fish dish – their ‘House Speciality’ for PHP150. Tasty.

Donsol - Amor - Filipino Breakfast PHP100Donsol - Amor - Filipino Breakfast PHP100Donsol - Amor - Kinunot PHP150Their menu prices are mid range.

The cheapest breakfast will cost you PHP100; something filling PHP150.

Mains average PHP200. Their ‘House Speciality’ is Kinunot – a spicy fish dish for PHP150.

As usual, I tried their Chicken Adobo for PHP200. One of the nicest that I have had in The Philippines … but, also, one of the most expensive. Shantal’s on Boracay and Haven Of Fun on San Antonio were better value for money.Donsol - Amor - Chicken Adobo PHP200


CONCLUSION:

The trip is an easy one.

It took me 5 hours door-to-door and cost PHP486. Two GRANDPAckers should budget PHP980.

Donsol - Amor - Grounds Donsol - Amor - BeachI had time that afternoon to walk down the road to the Center.

There are a number of Dive Shops along the way – almost all of them were closed.

I went into the only Dive Shop still open to ask about diving options and prices. They were expensive. The cheapest dive price was PHP4,500 for 3 dives in 1 day – if you could get a group of 5+ people together. In addition, they wanted PHP800 for equipment.

As per my Rule Of Thumb, I told them that my max price was PHP1,200 / dive including all equipment (except for the Dive Computer – which I have). This is what I paid in Malapascua just 2 weeks earlier. She didn’t flinch … but suggested that I return at 5:00pm to see how many divers they had on their books for the following day.

On returning to the Amor, I was told that there aren’t any Whale Sharks around at the moment … the boat has to go to Manta Shoal in Ticao … this is the end of the season … deals should be available … let’s see what tomorrow brings.

TTFNDonsol - Amor - 1st Sunset


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