Friday, September 16, 2011

Dolphin Watching in Bais, Negros Oriental

Bais City is 45 minutes drive away from Dumaguete, the capital city of Negros Oriental province, and dolphin watching is one of the top tourist attractions, aside from whale watching. For the locals, they even say that Bais is the home of dolphin watching in the Philippines. Naturally, since I'm a sucker for animals and since we were in Bais during the dolphin watching season, it was the first thing on our to do list. Despite the 2 hour boat ride to get to the dolphins and waiting for them to appear, it was definitely worth the wait. They even swam right beside our beat! Nothing beats witnessing these wonderful and magnificent sea mammals in their natural habitat.


1. Plan ahead. We hired our boat the day before because the boatmen suggest heading out early in the morning.

2. To hire a boat, we went to the Tourist Center in Bais but it was closed since we arrived around lunch time. Luckily, we met someone who asked us if we needed a boat to take us around. Since we were pressed for time and couldn't wait for the tourist center to open, we hired him on the spot. Try calling ahead to reserve / set an appointment. 

             Bais City Tourism Office: 63 (35) 402-6629 and 63 (35) 541-5161

3. If budget allows it, hire a bigger boat. We were only a group of 9 people but our boat was actually made for 20 pax.  Since you'll be spending almost the whole day on the boat, you'll want to feel comfortable and not cramped and most importantly, feel safe. Our boat cost PHP4000.00. We used it from 7:30am - 3:00pm.

Our boat for the day.

4. Make the most of your boat. There are so many places to visit in Bais like the Manjuyod White Sandbar (if it's low tide) and the Talabong Mangrove Park. You can also ask the boatmen to take you to a nice snorkeling spot and swim.

5. They say the best time to go for dolphin and whale watching is May as the waters are calmer and the wind is just right.

6. Enjoy and have fun! =)


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Dess said...

thank you!

Enrique D. said...

I and my wife went to Bais City on November 27, 2011 eager to see the dolphins swimming in Tañon Strait.

When we arrived at the wharf around 6:45am some people, supposedly agents of pumpboat owners, started to talk to us and offered us a pumpboat ride for the dolphin watching tour. The options given to us were:

1) join a group in a big pumpboat so that we will have to pay only a small amount. The cost will depend on the number of persons in the pumpboat.
2) hire a pumpboat on an exclusive basis but we will have to pay a bigger amount.

Considering that we want to have control of our time as we were still going to another tour, we decided to go exclusive.

After negotiating, we agreed to pay P3,000. When we were about to board the pumpboat however, a certain JUNIOR CABANAG, who said he was the owner of the pumpboat that we hired, appeared and said that for P3,000 he was going to give us only a smaller pumpboat. He wants us to pay P3,500 or P500 more than the agreed amount.

Of course we cannot agree to the additional cost as the amount of P3,000 has already been negotiated and agreed upon. Eventually he agreed to P3,000. JUNIOR CABANAG asked for the P3,000 up front even as we learned later that another group paid only after the trip. We paid anyway to avoid further delay.

Near the sandbar area, which was only a few minutes from the start of the trip, the rented pumpboat broke down became adrift. We were transferred by the crew to a bigger pumpboat, which had around 20 passengers, and this bigger pumpboat was where we will continue the rest of the 3-hour dolphin watching boatride. We were promised that a rescue boat will pick us up which never came.

We called up JUNIOR CABANAG and informed him about the incident and requested a proportionate refund as we ended up joining a big group. JUNIOR CABANAG said that this was a circumstance beyond his control, that we were able to go dolphin watching anyway and that he will not refund us any amount!

We told him that this is not a circumstance beyond his control as he has the obligation to see to it that his pumpboat is well maintained, that being able to join the dolphin watching is beside the point as what is at issue is the failure to provide as a pumpboat on an exclusive basis for the entire trip, for which we paid P3,000. He remained adamant that he is not going to give any refund. We told him that this is not fair as there was a breach of the agreement, and that we will file a complaint with the tourism office to which he uttered arrogantly “mag file kayo ng complaint kahit saan, hindi mo ako puedeng takutin!”

We arrived at the wharf at around 10:30am and decided to just cancel our other tour because of the delay. We asked to be able to talk to JUNIOR CABANAG, but we were told that he was not around. We asked for his residence but got no answer.

Somebody like JUNIOR CABANAG should not be given any role in any aspect of Bais tourism as he will just be a liability by reason of his attitude. He is not friendly at all to say the least, he is not open to a complaint which he thinks is an affront to his pride, he thinks that a pumpboat breakdown is a circumstance beyond his control, he does not respect agreements as shown in this narration, and he runs away from dispute negotiations.

We have travelled to many parts of this country and the world, and all we can say is that, for the good of Bais tourism and tourism investment, no part of the beautiful dolphin watching/sandbar tourism should be left in the hands of people like JUNIOR CABANAG who will just destroy it. Rather, like in the Underground River tour, the government should organize and standardize the tariff and rates for the tour so that there will be predictability and make negotiations with people like JUNIOR CABANAG unnecessary.

Dess said...

Hi Enrique D.

So sorry to hear about your unfortunate experience with Junior Cabanag. It's such a shame that because of the scam he pulled on you and your wife, you were not able to experience what Bais has to offer. I, too, agree with you that our government should step up and standardize the rates for the tour. Not just in Bais but all over the Philippines. We have so many wonderful, natural attractions and with the proper care, planning, maintenance, Filipinos and our tourists can enjoy what the Philippines has to offer.

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