A lot like the Apo Island day trip you can do the same to go see dolphins and the nearby Manjuyod sandbar. If you’re willing to figure out your own transportation you'll find that it is much more affordable. Private tours will run about 3,000 pesos per person ($60 USD) this includes pick up and drop off at hotel and boat price. However, as with most things we wanted to take the local route and do it ourselves instead of with a private group.
It took us three attempts to do this tour because it requires you to wake up around 4-4:30 in the morning to get ready and be out of your house by 5:30. You see, the dolphins are most active in the early morning so if you want to better your chances at seeing them you need to wake up before the sun rises. So we struggled... and struggled hard but with some coffee and determination we made our way outside and got a tricycle to the bus terminal for 10 pesos per person. ($0.20 USD)
We took the bus towards Bais port. When you feel a little lost don’t be afraid to ask the locals they are all so friendly and willing to help. Just let someone know you want to go dolphin watching and next thing you know you’ll be on the allocated bus.
The bus ride is 68 pesos per person and takes about 45 minutes to get to the town of Bais. From here the bus attendant will signal you when your stop has arrived and as soon as you get off. Before you can even get off the bus you’ll be greeted with a bunch of guys trying to sell you tours for the dolphin watching. Remember though, much like the Apo Island tour you chose to go by bus so you can join another group's boat; so let the guys know you are looking for shared boat not private.
Tip: It is common for sellers to spot a foreigner and charge up to 300% more than they would a local knowing the you won't know the difference. Research the right prices and be stern and direct with the seller so they know you cannot be fooled. Click here to learn more.
The seller we asked originally said 3,000 pesos for the boat. We declined sternly saying we wanted to share a boat so we kept walking towards the pier (knowingly the pier was way too far to walk) he tracked us down and asked how much we’d pay and I said 600 pesos per person and he thought about it only briefly before agreeing. We got in a tricycle towards the pier for 10 pesos each.
Private boat tour 3,000 pesos per person (60 USD) DIY tour 688 pesos per person (14 USD)
Once we got to the pier we realized not only did we get a really good price but the guy also gave us our own private boat for it! Perks of traveling during low season sometimes! We boarded our banca boat and slowly drifted away from the pier and on to the rising sun lit waters. By now we are wide awake with the adrenaline as I’ve (Kirstie) never seen dolphins up close before so I was super excited!
We slowly made our way deeper in to the abyss of the ocean leaving the pier in little sight. We made our way closer and closer to a group of three boats. By now it’s been over an hour and we hadn’t seen any dolphins our excitement was fading but we tried to stay positive and holding on to good vibes. Do you believe in law of attraction? Just then in the distance we see shadows of dolphin fins jumping in and out of the water! Wow this is fantastic! We spent the next 2 hours flying the drone and following the paths of these dolphins as they danced in unison along the surface of the ocean. There was something so remarkable about seeing them in the wild. You can’t swim or touch them only observe them as they move along freely.
After the dolphins we made our way to the sand bar. There were huts perched on high stilts in the middle of the water it was such a bizarre looking sight. Once your captain anchors the boat you can hop off and on to the sandbar. You’ll immediately notice all the starfish and other small fish.
Travel Tip: Do not touch the starfish! There are so many you can see through the crystal water, but they are extremely fragile so leave them be. Especially do not remove them from the water!
By now the sun will be beaming and hot so don’t forget to put on your reef safe sun screen. We played around on the sandbar for about 3 hours. We soaked up the sun and took a nice little nap on the front of the boat. However, even after the sunscreen we woke up extremely red because the sun is so direct on the sandbar.
If you are feeling a bit hungry or parched there will be fishermen walking by with fresh coconuts, fresh oysters, and scallops. You can also flag down the snack lady as she will be cruising around on a boat with your more typical snacks like beer and chips.
All in all it was a fantastic day with perfect weather and seeing the dolphins. If you head to Dumaguete we highly recommend you go check out the sandbar and search for dolphins!