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responsible whale and dolphin watching

It is a moving experience to see whales and dolphins in their natural environment and for most people it is an experience that they will never forget. A properly run whale and dolphin watching trip inspires respect for these animals as well as action to protect them, and in so doing also ensures the sustainability of the enterprise that some local communities depend on.

We work hard to promote responsible whale and dolphin watching around the country. The Philippines has national guidelines on cetacean-human interaction and we train local tour operators in the proper conduct of whale and dolphin watching trips in accordance with these guidelines.

A brochure was developed to guide boaters, paddlers and viewers on how to interact with whales and dolphins. These guidelines are designed to help people enjoy their encounter with these wildlife and to reduce the risk of disturbing them.

Cetacean Interaction Guidelines for Boaters, Paddlers and Viewers

Watching Whales & Dolphins

We are fortunate to live in an archipelago surrounded by a wide diversity of marine life. Whales and dolphins are found almost virtually in every sea and coast of the Philippines. Opportunities to watch and learn about cetaceans in the wild are offered in key areas of the country, from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi. The areas we feature here are places where you can reliably see whales and dolphins. We present the species you are likely to encounter complemented with other useful information as well as tips on how best to watch these magnificent creatures. Also included are names of whale & dolphin watching tour operators in respective areas. There may not be an organized tour in some areas you are interested in. Please patronize only accredited and trained tour operators.

We encourage everyone to be responsible whale and dolphin watchers. Please refer to the Be Whale Wise brochure for the guidelines on responsible cetacean watching.

We would greatly appreciate it if you tell us about your cetacean watching experience and report any irresponsible tour operators. Email us.

Where to go Whale & Dolphin Watching

There are many areas around the archipelago where you can see whales and dolphins. For organized dolphin and whale watching tours please visit the following sites:

Bais, Negros Oriental
Contact the Bais City Tourism Office: +63(35) 402 6629 or 541 5161
Species to look out for: spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, shortfinned pilot whales.

Pamilacan Island, Baclayon, Bohol
Contact the Baclayon Municipal Tourism Office: +63(38) 540 9474/9373
OR contact Pamilacan Island Dolphin and Whale Watching Organization (PIDWWO): mobile no. +63(0)928 3600639
Species to look out for: spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, melonheaded whales, Risso’s dolphins, short-finned pilot whales, Bryde’s whales, Blue whales.

Participants at a workshop on the cetacean-human interaction guidelines.

PASEO members undergoing training on proper dolphin & whale watching in Panglao.

Post-training discussion of participants of a dolphin & whale watching training at Balicasag.

Bowriding spotted dolphins off Calayan Island.

Other areas (*NOTE: these sites may not have organized tour operators):

Batangas – Batangas Bay
Species to look out for: spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, shortfinned pilot whales.

Occidental Mindoro – Lubang Islands
Species to look out for: spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, melon-headed whales.

Palawan – Honda Bay and Puerto Princesa Bay
Species to look out for: spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, short-finned pilot whales, Bryde’s whales.

Cagayan Province – Babuyan channel
Species to look out for: spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins, shortfinned pilot whales, melon-headed whales, dwarf sperm whales, humpback whales.
Inquire at Jotay Resort, Centro Sta. Ana, Cagayan Valley, Northern Luzon.
Email:; telephone: +63(0)78 372 0560

Bohol – Panglao Island
Contact: Mr. Cirilo Iman, PASEO President
Mobile no.: 0918 2406262
Species to look out for: spinner dolphins, spotted dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, dwarf sperm whales, melonheaded whales.

Sarangani Bay
Species to look out for: Risso’s dolphins, dwarf sperm whales.

Remember, patronize only accredited dolphin & whale watching tours and boat operators.
Please do not go to parks/facilities that keep dolphins in captivity.

Tips when going whale or dolphin watching

Whale and dolphin watching can be an exciting and rewarding experience. It requires minimal equipment and depending on the kind of experience you want, can be done from shore or from boats.
Here are a few basic tips when going whale or dolphin watching from boats:

  1. The chances of seeing a whale or dolphin decreases as the sea conditions become rough. It is usually best to go early in the morning when seas are generally calmer and the sun is not too hot.
  2. Having a pair of binoculars will help bring you closer to the whales and dolphins. It will allow you to see more detailed behaviour of the animals when they are from a distance from the boat. A basic 7x50 wide angle pair of binoculars is usually sufficient.
  3. A camera is definitely an essential if you want to capture exciting moments. The general rule with taking a photograph is to hold your camera steady. This can be tricky to do when on a boat but all it takes is a bit of practice. Never follow the dolphin or whale through its movements while taking a photo because this will blur the image. More photo tips HERE.
  4. When taking a video of whales and dolphins, the same general rule apply for taking still photos. Avoid excessive zooming in and out on the animals because this will only emphasize the movement of the boat and your video will turn out very shaky.
  5. Make sure to protect yourself from the sun. A hat and a pair of sunglasses are essential. Putting on sunscreen with the appropriate SPF before going out is a must. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.
  6. Seasickness can ruin your entire trip so don’t take your chances even if you think the seas will be flat calm. Take medication before the trip. This should be taken at least 30 minutes before you get onboard the boat. It also helps if you are well rested and relaxed before your trip. Have a light meal an hour or two beforehand and avoid eating greasy food onboard. Crackers and fruits are good snack items. If you get thirsty, drink water or carbonated drink; avoid alcohol. Stand near the center of the boat and keep your eyes trained on the horizon. Stay out in the open air but avoid too much sunshine.
  7. Be prepared for the possibility of getting wet, either from a splash or the rain. Make sure to water-proof your equipment because ‘salt kills’. If you don’t have a water-proof case for your camera, you can improvise with a Ziploc or plastic bag.