Ticao Island is on the western edge of the Visayan group of islands. Until recently it has been little visited but this little gem is a great place for diving and slowly but surely more international visitors are finding their way to Ticao. The main draw here is the opportunity to dive with Manta rays and other large pelagics but there is much more on offer in and around Ticao.
Ticao is quite a large but sedate island that has four small towns, a few resorts and a quite simple infrastructure. Transport is usually by motorbike or on horseback. Set amongst limestone cliffs and hills Ticao has some lovely sandy beaches and the interior of the island has a gentle rural feel with a mix of subsistence farming and larger ranch style developments.
Our featured Resort is set on a sandy beach which is ideal for diving, swimming, snorkeling and general relaxation. Away from the diving many guests like to explore the island to see the fresh water springs, high waterfalls and absorb this view of traditional Philippines life. Horse-back riding is a popular activity arranged for guests.
The closest airport and main gateway into the whole Bicol area is Legazpi. This is also the start point for travel down to Donsol and the globally recognized Whale Shark interaction programmes.
Donsol is one of the few places in the World where you can regularly see Whale Sharks. This endangered species include Donsol on their migratory routes and they are generally present between December and June with March -May considered to be the peak time for sightings.
The Whale Shark interaction programmes are carefully managed by Conservationists and Eco-tourism experts. Snorkeling only is allowed in the waters and visitors are not permitted to handle or feed these beautiful animals. Each boat is accompanied by a registered guide and all guests are required to sign in for the event.
Swimming with the Whale Sharks is a truly memorable and unique experience and we recommend a package that includes the trip to Donsol and the additional excitement of diving with the Manta Rays of Ticao!
Ticao takes a little longer to reach than other destinations but the effort equals reward. Our transfers include a flight to Legazpi City (currently five flights each day) and then a road and boat transfer over to Ticao. During the Whale Shark season we recommend arriving or departing via Donsol so that you include Whale Shark interaction days in your package.
Although Ticao is a year round diving destination the period February - October is generally the best time to visit with best sightings of Whale Sharks in Donsol from March to June and Mantas at Ticao from March through to October.
There are approximately 20 dive sites within easy reach of the Ticao island Dive Center so there is plenty to keep divers occupied for several days. Broadly the dive sites in the area are in two main locations; Manta Bowl Shoal and San Miguel island.
Manta Bowl Shoal is the main attraction. Located approx. 30 minutes off Ticao it is an underwater atoll lying in the middle of the San Bernardino Strait. The waters passing through, often pulled by very fast moving currents, attract vast amounts of plankton and other microscopic organisms. In turn this attracts Manta rays which use the area as both a feeding and cleaning station and other large pelagic species including Whale sharks, Hammerhead sharks and Thresher sharks. With little protection on the surface from inclement weather and with strong currents down below (reef hooks are often used) this is generally a location for more experienced and confident divers.
By contrast the dives sites at San Miguel, located at the northern end of Ticao Island are more sheltered and hug the coastline. Here there are several dive sites each with its own appeal asnd though some of the bigger marine-life is often present this area is also especially good for macro-life and photography. The Point and Parola are often washed by currents making these exciting drift dives - sharks and rays are often present as well as huge amounts of reef species. Classroom is an ideal spot for training dives and for beginners - the sandy bottom is home to lots of smaller species. Lapus Lapus East and West are popular spots to see smaller critters including nudibranch, frogfish, leaf fish, cuttlefish and Spanish dancers.