Just a week ago, I found myself stoked at the sight of Pantropical Spotted Dolphins during our Dolphin Watching Tour at Bais City, Negros Oriental. But wait, there’s more: The serene mangrove area at the Bais boulevard is a sight to behold too. And to complete the trio- Manjuyod White Sandbar before we finally say its a day.
After watching The Cove (you should watch it too) a year ago, my fascination with dolphins have increased. I wanted to interact with them in a gentle way, not in ocean parks but in the wild. I want to learn from them, experience bliss and share in their liquid paradise. Can I be a dolphin just for a day?
So I cancelled my trip to Siquijor to join Jacq, Jane and Harold at Bais City hoping to see some dolphins in action at Tañon Strait. Tañon Strait is the a narrow navigable channel of water that lies in between Negros Oriental and Cebu, a breeding ground for at least 11 marine mammals (dolphins and whales) in the Philippines.
DOLPHINS AND WHALES
I kept my expectations low as I don’t want to get home frustrated with zero dolphin visibility. But after about 30 minutes of searching for these friendly sea creatures, we found them in their element. Pods play around our small outrigger boat as if signaling their welcome to us. It was A-W-E-S-O-M-E! To see them freely playing in the ocean, unscared of us. They were graceful, playing in groups, lovely, heavenly and peaceful.
The Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) can be found as the name suggest in tropical areas like the Philippines. They are also the most abundant dolphins in the world. These dolphins are ”without spots when born, accumulating them as they age until they are almost completely covered with overlapping patterns. They are also distinguished by a dark “cape” or coloration on their backs stretching from their head to almost mid-way between the dorsal fin and the tail flukes and by a white-tipped beak.” (see source)
They have this sound– eeeewkk eeeewk, like a hum or a sea song and when I heard it, I felt like I was transported to a different world. For a moment I closed my eyes and tried to record that single moment in my mind.
At one time I saw a tail from a far. I’m very much sure that it is a whale- maybe a Pygmy Sperm Whale. And another whale that shoots up water to the air while breathing but I can’t identify them properly (a blue whale maybe?).
I was trigger happy too and found myself mostly standing up at the edge of the boat to take some shots of these adorable creatures. I wanted to get down and join them, swim with them to tick off an item form my bucket list but the guide said I can’t because they will be fined. Anyway, I will tick this off some other time in a different place.
After more than an hour of exhilaration and more camera ticks we said good-bye to the dolphins. And they said good-bye too:
Ohh yes, these marine mammals are better experienced in the wild, freely swimming not in an Ocean Park or in a big man-made pool. Watch “The Cove” please.
BAIS CITY BOULEVARD & MANGROVE AREA
After seeing lots and lots of the Pantropical Spotted Dolphins we went to Bais Boulevard and Mangrove Area where bliss is different- the sight of green was relaxing and serene. Those healthy and green mangroves abound in the area. I also see some seedlings that are ready to be transplanted. The place is a perfect spot for pre-nup photo sesh. So heads up to those who are planning to get married soon.
Then to complete the tour, we stopped for a while at the Manjuyod Sandbar. This 7-kilometer stretch of white sand is a perfect place to beach bum, swim, snorkle and have lunch. Here you can see houses on stilts that can be rented overnight (Php3,500/night). The sandbar is scenic when its low-tide, when high-tide the houses looks like they are floating on the sea. Ask your boatman to dock on the sandbar, its free.
- Do you know that out of the 40 species of dolphins, at least 9 can be found in the Philippines? These includes Irrawaddy dolphin (the pink cute ones), Fraser’s, Rough-toothed, Indo-Pacific Bottlenose, Common Bottlenose, Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, Striped, Spinners (the most common we see in the movies because they are the most playful), and Risso’s Dolphin.
- Do you know that a group of dolphins are called “school” or “pod.” Male dolphins are called “bulls”, female “cows” and the young “calves.”
- There are at least 30 Marine Mammals that can be found in the Philippines seas. At least 11 can be found in Tañon Strait (I said this earlier already). You can check (or correct) my list: 30 Philippine Marine Mammals
How to get to Bais City Wharf?
Bais City is less than 45minutes drive from Dumaguete City, less than an hour if by public transpo. You can take the public buses or vans from Dumaguete City to Bais (less than Php25) or hire a private van (Php 1,500). The Capiñahan Wharf in South Bais Bay is the most convenient point of take off to Tañon Strait. The wharf can be reached by renting a tricycle or habal-habal (less than Php50) from Bais City center. The rental boat that will take you out to the Strait costs between P2,500 to P3,000 (4-8pax), much higher for bigger groups.
Contact Persons: Jesus Pancho Jr. 0920-253-8099 (Dolphin guide, boatman) or the Bais City Tourism Office: (035)541-5161 / (035) 402-8174
I might start to offer a Negros Oriental tour packages in the future so keep posted.
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This trip is courtesy of GoHotels Dumaguete and Cebu Pacific Air. You can read the rest of the series by visiting the links below:
- Zipline at Tierra Alta, Valencia, Negros Oriental
- Dolphin Watching at Bais City + Mangoves and Manjuyod Sandbar
- Southern Negros Oriental Tour
- 10 Food Destinations in Dumaguete City
Where to Sleep in Dumaguete City?
Go Hotels Dumaguete. Its new, clean and affordable. Located near Robinsons Mall and Bus terminal for your convenience. Just a 20-minute drive from the airport.
Cebu Pacific Air flies to Dumaguete from Manila thrice daily and from Cebu daily for as low as P488. For bookings and inquiries, go to www.cebupacificair.com or call (02)7020-888. The latest seat sales and promos can be found on Cebu Pacific Air’s official Twitter and Facebook pages.