Dolphin watching at Puerto Princesa Bay

Because I miss home…

Click here for a video of the dolphins

The link is a video taken last May 2010 during our dolphin watching at the Puerto Princesa Bay. I am a local of Puerto Princesa but last May was my first time to see these magnificent creatures out on the waters of our city. My friends and I showed up at the Baywalk at around 6:30 am, just in time to enjoy the sunrise. I walked along the bay and tried to figure out where the boat for the dolphin watching is parked. It wasn’t hard to locate, since the boat was the only place with people milling about at that early hour.

As the tour started (around 7am), I enjoyed basking in the early morning sun during the 30-minute to 1-hour boat ride to where the dolphins are. I took pleasure in the beautiful view of the blue and calm waters, feeling the sea breeze on my face.

The tour guide explained that we would see spinner dolphins (local name lumba lumba), which is very common in Puerto Princesa waters. For a long time, the local fishermen thought of these dolphins as a nuisance, since they usually eat the bait that was intended for catching tuna and other bigger fishes. Dolphins getting trapped in the fishing nets used to be a common problem. Now that there are dolphin-watching tours in the bay, the fisher folk earn a little extra from dolphin spotting. They are the ones who send SMS messages to the tour guides on the locations of the dolphins. Together with the local government and concerned individuals, the fishermen of Puerto Princesa Bay are helping in the conservation efforts for the spinner dolphins.

When we finally saw them, I was taken by surprise. In my mind, when they said “dolphin watching”, I thought I would be seeing five dolphins at a time (like in the dolphin shows). I was really taken aback by the number of dolphins that I saw! There were just so many!

The dolphins were very playful! They ride with the waves that the boat makes. The dolphins are so close I can almost touch them (but of course, I didn’t :p)!

After about two hours of watching the amazing creatures, we headed back.We got back to the Baywalk at around 10.30 am, still full of fascination for the spinner dolphins. 

If you want to see the spinner dolphins swim, play and do somersaults,  just show up at the Baywalk of Puerto Princesa at around 6 am and look for the boats along the bay (we paid Php 700/person at that time). However, this method might not be reliable as you cannot be guaranteed a space in the boat if you did not talk to them ahead of time, so it might be better to contact a travel agency (Tour Package rate: Php 900/person). You can find a list of the travel agents in Puerto Princesa here. They have uniform rates. This tour is ideal on the day of an afternoon return flight, as the tour is usually finished before 11 am.

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17 responses to “Dolphin watching at Puerto Princesa Bay

  1. Pingback: Puerto Princesa on a budget: backpacking advice from a local lakwatsera | The (mis)adventures of a geologist lakwatsera

  2. Good day. Can you suggest a travel agency for Puerto Princesa day tours? Thanks 🙂

  3. Hello!

    Nice posts on PPS, VERY informative. ^_^ Early this year we had our tours in Coron semi-DIY style and it really feels good to know that you’ve saved on your activities. It left us with extra cash to tip more often 😀

    We’ll be going to PPS this June and I have two questions:
    (1) Do you think the rates that you posted here will still be effective by then?
    (2) Have you ever heard of whale shark watching and dolphin watching being combined in one day, or whale shark watching being combined with Honda bay island hopping in one day? I’ve read that dolphins can be seen daily but I don’t think whale shark watching is as established an activity in PPS

    Thanks!

    • Hi!
      Thank you for your comments. I really think tours around the Philippines can be quite cheap if we just plan ahead and prepare 🙂

      To answer your questions:

      1. I think it will still be the same, unless the Puerto Princesa City government adjusts the rate in a few months (the City dictates the tour rates). If I have that information before June, I will update you in this comment thread 🙂

      2. Hmm I have never really tried whale shark watching in Puerto Princesa, sorry! But I know they also start from Puerto Princesa Bay (same as the dolphin watching), so this might be possible. For better information, you can contact the person in charge of the whale shark tours: Mr. Angelo “Toto” Cayabo (+639486641783 or +639169084777 or email totodolphin@yahoo.com)

      I hope that helps!

      Cheers!

  4. It is a great post ! Thank you so much. I am visiting Puerto Princesca in September. I think will spend three and a half days there!

  5. Hello! Thank you for your post. I hope you could answer some of my questions. My friends and I are going to PP this coming September it is a very short trip and we want to make the most of it. There are 3 things that we want to do in PP – visit the Underground River, Island Hopping and Dolphin Watching. I would like to know if it is possible to see dolphin at that time? Is it possible that we could do the dolphin watching on our last day before leaving? How far is Abad Santos St and Malvar St from the airport, port and town where we will go for dolphin trip? I also wonder if it is possible to do the dolphin trip before we leave PP in the morning we can start early so, we could still come back before our flight? I hope you could help us. Thank you so much!!!!

    • Hi! Thanks for dropping by my blog. How many days is your trip? Underground River and island hopping ideally takes one day each. The dolphin watching has a fixed schedule which starts from 7am and end at around 10 am, sometimes earlier but it depends on a lot of factors (unless you can hire the whole boat, though I’m not sure it works that way… It’s a big boat. But try to talk to the travel agent about this, you might be able to work a deal depending on the time of your flight). The tours have to be booked through a travel agent (If you don’t have any contacts, you can try my friend Mars of Travel Portal Duo at +639166151856, but I also provided the link for travel agents in the blog). Dolphins can be seen year round so you don’t have to worry about that, only your flight schedule…
      You can check out my other entry on Puerto Princesa backpacking for itinerary ideas as I’m not sure how long your trip will be (https://geoventurer.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/puerto-princesa-backpacking/)
      Malvar St is a very long stretch of street, but on its other end is the port, which is near Baywalk, where the dolphin watching boats are stationed. Abad Santos St is about 2-3 km away. When in the city proper, everything is within 5 km of each other so it’s just a few minutes by tricycle…
      Hope that helps!

    • in my experience the biggest factor was not the availability of the boat, but the wave forecast. the operator of the dolphin watching checks a wave forecasting website every day to decide if there will be a trip for that day or not. it canbe tricky in the rainy months because even if there’s no rain, the waves can be too big because of the wind. i suggest contacting them ahead of time so you can check the website on your own.

  6. Hello !
    Thank you for your reply. My friends and I will be staying from Sept 21 (8am arrival) -23 (1pm departure) (we haven’t decided yet where to stay) it is very short trip and I was thinking that we go straight from the airport to the underground river tour, then Honda bay island hopping the next day and dolphin watching before leaving since it is only in the morning but as you said we still have to arrange that because of the boat and also check on the wave forecast (Do you think this Itinerary is possible? I hope…keeping my fingers crossed) Thank you also for recommending a travel agent I will get in touch with them soon.

    • Hello again! It would be better to have the island hopping tour on the first day, since it ideally starts around 10 am anyway. The island hopping would be finished in the early afternoon so you have some time for a short city tour. The Underground River Tour would be ideal to have on the 2nd day so you can leave the city proper early morning (it takes about 2 hours to reach Sabang, where Underground River is). If you come back early, then you can have more places to visit in the city. Also, you can book the Underground River tour a day before you arrive (unless you choose a guided tour then they will do that for you). On the third day, you can do the dolphin watching since your flight is at 1pm. Just book this tour early and talk to the travel agent about concerns with the wave forecast.

      I hope you would be able to do all the tours and enjoy!

  7. hi..can you suggest in my 4days and 3nyts..i would like to experience the whale watching or called butanding..can you sched my days adventure…thanks

    • Hello!

      Day 1 If you arrive in the afternoon, you can start with the city tour.

      Day 2 Underground River, Ugong Rock Adventure in Sabang

      Day 3 Butanding watching in the morning, island hopping afterwards

      Day 4 Continue city tour, buy pasalubong

      Please check my blog for the contact person regarding the butanding interaction, you need to talk to the person first to make sure your tour is booked.

      Good luck and enjoy!

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