The wind blows on the dead coral beach of Sogod Bay Scuba Resort. (Leyte, Philippines, February 2008)
The wind blows on the dead coral beach of Sogod Bay Scuba Resort. (Leyte, Philippines, February 2008)

Sogod Bay, the Whale Shark Bay

#Leyte #Philippines

  Philippines: Visayas - February 2008

Dear English-speaking readers, this page is an automatic translation of an article originally written in French. I apologise for any strange sentences and funny mistakes that may have resulted. If you read French, click on the French flag below to access the original, correct text: 

First step of my Philippine trip: the southern tip of Leyte Island. For dives in Sogod Bay, in the hope of crossing the road of a whale shark

The few tourists in the area are there for that too. Sogod Bay is known for being frequented by these nice giants of the seas.

Diving in Sogod Bay

I dream to meet again this huge shark (that I saw once in Thailand, in 2006). It is the largest fish in the world (it can exceed 10 meters, I refer you on Wikipedia) and it is totally harmless to humans (it has no teeth and feeds on plankton).

But for the moment, nothing! I have been diving in Sogod Bay for three days already, without having seen the shadow of a whale shark's tail. At the same time, it is not very serious. The coral is superb here, remarkably preserved. And the tropical underwater fauna abounds.

I am enjoying new nudibranchs (sea slugs), toadfish (or frogs) and other critters, including a very nice "striped knit" snake. We even found today a tiny pink seahorse-pygmy.

Snuggled against the reef, a "knit-striped" snake. (Sogod Bay, Leyte, Philippines, January 2008)
Snuggled up against the reef, a "tricot-rayed" snake. (Sogod Bay, Leyte, Philippines, January 2008)
A beautiful nudibranch, a beautiful pink-mauve, photographed today, on the site of Napantao, on the other side of Sogod Bay. (Leyte, Philippines, January 2008)
A nice size nudibranch, of a beautiful pink-purple color, photographed today, on the site of Napantao, on the other side of Sogod Bay (Leyte, Philippines, January 2008)
It's not easy to photograph a pygmy seahorse... It's no bigger than the nail on my little finger. (Sogod Bay, Leyte, January-February 2008)
Not easy to photograph a seahorse-pygmy... It is not bigger than the nail of my little finger (Sogod Bay, Leyte, January-February 2008)
This scorpion fish is watching me bubble, impassive. (Sogod Bay, Leyte, Philippines, February 2008)
This scorpion fish is watching me bubble, impassive. (Sogod Bay, Leyte, Philippines, February 2008)

Philippine Ferries

There are not many divers on the sites. Only two-three resorts operate in the area. And this part of the island, away from the tourist circuits, is not so easy to reach. The ferry schedules from Cebu, the central island of the Visayas, where there is the airport, are more than random.

Mine, the 6pm Cebu-Bato ferry that I thought I would take when I got off the plane, was conveniently replaced by another one... at 1:30pm. So I missed it. Bad luck. No boat to Bato...

The Cebu-Bato ferry is at 13:30 (Philippines, January 2008)
The Cebu-Bato ferry is at 13:30 (Philippines, January 2008)

I settled for the 9pm flight, with bunks on the deck for the cheapest tickets. But I travelled with the rich, in a tiny cabin called First Class, with four berths, TV (!) and air conditioning like a fridge. Arrival in Bato at... 4am!

Fortunately, I was able to call the Sogod Bay Scuba Resort (SBSR) with whom I had contacted by e-mail before the departure, and they sent a guy to pick me up before dawn by car at the exit of the boat. Then, about an hour drive from Bato to Lungsodaan, a tiny town at the crossroads of two roads, belonging to the municipality of Padre Burgos, where the resort is located.

Dead Coral Beach and Sunday Mass

In this season, the wind blows hard every day on Sogod Bay. On the beach of dead corals, big sound waves crash non-stop and rock my sleep.

My room is facing the sea, at a nice lady who welcomes tourists for the resort when they are full, just next door. I like being there as much. My terrace is more intimate than the side-by-side rooms at SBSR.

The wind blows on the dead coral beach of Sogod Bay Scuba Resort. (Leyte, Philippines, February 2008)
The wind blows on the dead coral beach of Sogod Bay Scuba Resort. (Leyte, Philippines, February 2008)

On my right, I discern in the mist the blue shadow of Limasawathe island where Magellan landed. It was there that the very first Spanish mass was celebrated in the Philippines, in 1521... First step of the Christianization of the country.

I live right across the street from a chapel, which I didn't notice at the time when I arrived at dawn on Sunday morning. I collapsed on my bed, exhausted, and a few hours later, joyful singing woke me up. It was Sunday mass. I went to see.

In front of the chapel, a big blackboard, with "Welcome visitors 2008" written on it. Inside, karaoke atmosphere, with a guy at the microphone to make the faithful sing on a catchy tune, everybody standing up and arms raised, with lyrics to follow written in the background on a white board.

Those in the back rows turned around with smiles and nods to watch me approach the door. A small gentleman came to shake my hand and offer me entry... But I was hungry. I didn't stay. I waved to everyone like the Queen of England, and headed back to the resort for breakfast.

See all articles on this trip → Philippines: Visayas - February 2008

PS. I will realize my dream of meeting whale sharks during other trips, years after that first trip to the Philippines... First in Mexico in 2014, then in the Philippines in 2018. See below these two posts :
→ Mexican whale sharks have mouths
→ In the Philippines, let the whale shark come to you

  Philippines: Visayas - February 2008

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  1. Glad to hear from you, too bad we don't have a focus on e, probably Filipino computers are devoid of them or difficult to access. No nudists here, with or without branches. Biz.


  2. That's right! No accents on these damn QWERTY keyboards, which are actually more American than Filipino... Of course, every other time I type a Q instead of an A, and vice-versa.

    The connection on the resort's computer is ultra-slow, so I had a hell of a time sending this first article. Tomorrow, I'm off to the more touristy island of Bohol, where I should be able to find decent high-speed Internet access...

    Thank you for this little message, it's really fun (sorry, no C cedilla either).


  3. 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈
    : Mrgreen: 😐 ➡ ❓ 😉 🙄 😳 😛 😆 😡 8) 😕 😯 😮 🙁 🙂 😀

  4. ❓ M'enfin??? c'est toi qui a demandé à voir dans une autre discussion! 😉
    and what's more... the photos aren't great, I've got some nicer little videos!

  5. @Manta: Enough!!! Pi first, I too have one, of whale shark video, na. 😛

    [flash w = 400 h = 300 f = {image = http: // Shark}]

    The pathetic thing is that I've been copying and pasting this unfortunate video on my blogs and websites for three years now. I haven't come across a whale shark since. (Sigh...) 😳

    Well, well, now, I can't wait to see yours!!! 😉

  6. Hi Corinne,

    Too bad about the whale shark, but I've got a golden tip for you if you're still interested.
    For dream dives with big fish, sharks, including whale sharks, and unspoilt flora, head for northern AFS and Mozambique. In AFS, around Sodwana bay, you'll practically always come across some fine specimens.
    I swam with 4 whale sharks in 3 days of diving, including the biggest at 13 m...on the surface and at 2km/h!!! Dreamlike, magical.
    For Mozambique, my destination for this winter along with Zimbabwe, I was told of a site that is busy but great for manta rays and whales...
    Well, don't hesitate to contact me, I did sipadan last winter, and for the moment the AFS remains a must in terms of preservation.



  7. @Rod: Ah là là, yes, I know... I've dealt with several South African dive-masters who have all told me the same thing as you: it's incomparable, I hear. I also have a friend who opened a dive center in Vilanculos in Mozambique, and regularly encounters all the big bugs you can dream of. I'm going to have to dip my flippers in the area one day...

  8. Hi Corinne.
    I've become a big fan of your blog and it was a great surprise to see that you too are interested in the whale sharks that can be seen in Sogod Bay.
    We would like to make this trip the first 15 days of January, hoping to see at least one.

    Do you have addresses, advice to give? Finally did you see / see one of these giants during this trip?

    Thank you in advance.

    1. @ mido1w: Thanks for taking the time to leave a note 🙂 This trip I took to the Philippines dates back to 2008 and I haven't been back since. So I don't really have any fresh information or recommendations of places to go (in five years, many things must have changed). And I didn't encounter any whale sharks on this trip.

      It seems that I had come to Sogod Bay a little too early (late January - early February). Unfortunately, I didn't see a single one. The season that year must have started late. I'm not sure how things have evolved since then, or whether whale sharks still frequent the bay regularly or not.

      The other famous whale shark spot in the Philippines is Donsol. I've never been there, so I can't really talk about it...

      Good preparations!