Things To Do In Bicol
Bicol or the Bicol Region is fit for the extremely adventurous traveler. It is blessed with a perfect cone shaped volcano (Mount Mayon), paradise like beaches, hidden coves, mystic lakes, calming waterfalls, and natural parks. It is situated at the southern tip of the Luzon island. Bicol is the perfect holiday destination for foreigners and locals alike who wants to discover the interesting islands and provinces in the Philippines. Along its rich shorelines is where you can find the famous and endangered Butanding whale sharks (in Donsol). Its premier attraction is the Mayon Volcano and the wakeboard surfers’ haven called the Cam Sur Watersports Complex. It's ideal to get physically fit before taking an excursion to the Bicolandia region because you can never discern what challenging adventure waits in every attraction.
Another noteworthy feature of the island is the hospitable and charming Bicolanos. They are a fascinating blend of laid back, vocal, and straightforward character. They appreciate holding brilliant fluvial parades (in honor of Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia), beam with pride about their century old cathedrals and religious beliefs, and can heat up your palate with their array of spicy homemade traditional dishes like; laing, Bicol express, and tinumok or pinangat. The region is also prominent for its hemp (abaca) which is commonly used in making export quality wicker furniture and handicraft.
When To Go:
The mountainous and volcanic area of the Bicol Region has scattered ripe fields, hills, and has 3 sorts of atmosphere. Its weather is affected by the winds and water movements coming from the Philippine Sea. The eastern part of the region encounter no dry season with extremely professed huge downpour period from November to January. The western regions have pretty much vigorously circulated precipitation during the time and the focal zones have no proclaimed greatest downpour period with a short dry season from March until April. The watersports activities entice tourists from all over the world, but the ideal time to explore it is during the summer months of February until June where you can beyond any doubt enjoy wake boarding or kite-surfing on its majestic waters. This is the perfect time to tour around the region without getting hassled by its extreme climate qualities.
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For a memorable and wonderful vacation, these are the popular things to do in the Bicol Region…
Mayon Volcano (Legazpi City)
Mayon Volcano is the perfect conical volcano that made Bicol famous. It is always wonderful to see these majestic giant ruling its skyline whenever you marvel at the stunning views and beautiful environment. It is so captivating that it can be seen and admired even from afar and visible from every part of Legazpi City and its surrounding towns. It is a must see the minute you land at the Legazpi airport and by cons get up early to see it well so you can be able to make beautiful pictures if its not covered by clouds in the day. It is really impressive, graceful and very easy to photograph unless there are clouds as it rises to over 2462 meters; it looks truly imposing and enchanting in its natural beauty!
The nearest observation deck or complex to this active volcano can be accessed after 2 hours of hiking and climbing through an easy path that provides a gorgeous view of the bay from the Legazpi lava field. You can rent and ride a quad (ATV –all terrain vehicles) at camp 1 Mount Mayon, drive your quad at the foot of the volcano and dried lava flows and try the Zip Line adventure which is very rustic. You can also visit the Old Cagsawa Ruins which was a former church near the Mayon Volcano but got all covered in lava when it erupted, what remains and visible now is its tower or belfry. You can climb on it at least until the middle (this is the allowed point and when it is spewing out lava, climbing and any activity is discouraged and permits are not granted by the DENR) where there are excellent views of Legazpi and the Bicol peninsula (Sibuyan Sea).
Cagsawa Ruins Park
The Cagsawa Ruins Park is a great reminder of a past tragedy. A visit here is highly recommended not so much for being a “fun” place. But more as paying respect to this space that is reminiscent of a disaster and of the people who used the church as a sanctuary but got destroyed by an eruption of Mayon Volcano. This preserved site also has the most wonderful view of the volcano and the surrounding farmland. The old ruin of Cagsawa is easily accessible by Jeepney, a short walk (400m) from "Mainline street". The area has good people, do not worry for your safety here, you can trust them with your camera or iPads to take wacky and optical/perspective illusion shots (without any fee and if you try to give them they will politely decline it) beside the church tower with the beautiful Mayon Volcano in the background.
When you come to the site there are several vending stalls of various goods and Bicol delicacies (Pili Nuts, Pili Jam, tarts, etc.) to choose from. There are also ticket counters where they sell tickets to enter the site (small fee to maintain it). You ca buy some abaca crafts there (bags, hats, mats, rugs, baskets, etc.). There are also clothes made out of banana and abaca fibers. If the call of nature beckons, there are simple toilets in place. Here you can take a buggy rents - ATV - all sorts of routes to the slope of the volcano (not cheap) and stalls that have a large selection of souvenirs. To learn more about the history of its tragic eruption, visit the nearby Cagsawa National Museum.
Daraga Church is an ancient religious structure that is made up of volcanic rocks, limestone, and situated in Lignon Hill with a great view of the Mayon Volcano. Its old structures, walls, and iconostasis speak volumes about the age and history of this church. Even during the day it is kept open and even without mass tourists can come and see its simple interiors. This old church has an interesting architecture and collection of bas reliefs that are worth seeing while in Bicol.
Basilica of the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia (Naga)
If you’re in Naga City bear in mind to visit the Basilica of the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia, it is mandatory to see this site while you’re in Bicol. This is one of the phenomenal churches that are widely visited by the Roman Catholic devotees here in Naga City. You can make a wish or write your petitions, make prayer request or healing for sick people, wish to mother or the “Ina” as she is fondly called by her faithful followers and believers. This church is just right across Magsaysay road and near the business hub and commercial centers of Naga City. The church is wide, has high ceilings, and frescoes that were patterned after a chapel in Florence, Italy.
This renowned basilica is a favorite church for weddings because it can accommodate so many guests and looks more elegant when fully decorated or when the main altar is all covered in white flowers. There is a passageway on the side of the church leading to the actual site of the image on top of the altar. Every third week of September, the image is carried out to the streets of Naga City and also to a fluvial procession to celebrate the founding and creation of this sacred basilica. Be sure to hear mass on Sundays and wipe a hanky on her feet or offer flowers if you’re a devoted Catholic.
Mt. Isarog National Park
The Mt. Isarog National Park is definitely justified even despite a short visit on the off chance that you are in the Bicol region. On the path up, you will be compensated with a great perspective of the valley between two mountains beside the waterfall at the recreation center. Individuals do go to have an outing by the first falls even if the trial is a bit treacherous.
The bad side is that they didn't clear up the bumpy road starting from the entrance path up to the main gates of the recreation center. The last portion consists of rough roads and a bit dusty. The best part is you can shop for organic produce inside the complex at a much lower price than what the market offers.
Malabsay Falls is accessible via Jeepney ride from the town center, then you can take a ride on a motorbike that transport guests up to the entrance to the national park. From that point it’s all legwork and pit stops up to the mountain slants on tough trails that passes through tropical rainforest until you reach the waterfall.
These falls can be found inside the premises of the Mt. Isarog National Park and yes, you still need to pass on the rough roads that you have encountered when climbing the mountain. There are fallen tree debris that sometimes obliterates your way and where most guides will make extra effort to set aside. Hiring a local guide is essential because they know the ins and outs of the tricky forest. The best reward after the challenging trail, you get to swim in the refreshing pool just beneath the falls.
Our Lady Of Peace Grotto (Caramoan)
The visit to the statue called the Our Lady of Peace Grotto is quite an adventure. The journey usually starts with a ride that will take you to the island of Caramoan in an outrigger boat for 1 1/2 hours. From there you need to walk for about half hour up through the village to the "Lady of Peace" and from that point you will have a breathtaking view of the area around Caramoan and the island landscape. Up the stairs it is worth to enjoy the views and the magical tranquility of the site. You can also do something different from the boat like’ snorkeling and swimming in the beach.
The religious icon’s site has good views of the area and complemented by a nice looking beach. The ascent starts from the town of Tabgon if you come from the pier and 500 meters is the first set of stairs that will take you to the top of Caglao with a height of 125 m. It is extremely expensive to climb the top of Our Lady of Peace Grotto where you can have panoramic views over the islands of Haponan, Batibagan and the far islets of Lahuy. The small church is not always open but you can leave candles and prayers. There is an information marker about the site on marble and made available in 3 languages Bicolano, Tagalog, and English. The visit must be done with a local guide, without options, and costs about 40 pesos, 20 for the guide, and 20 for the conservation of the place.
The Matukad Island has very much and not least to offer because of the wonderful eroded limestone cliffs. Above all, it is the perfect resort island for the children because the beach is very shallow and the water is crystal clear. The coconut milk, which are sold by hawkers here is a real hit especially during the summer season.
In the southern part of the island is where you will find Matukad one of the most visited beaches of Caramoan, given the short distance from Paniman, but no less beautiful, a rock separates a small cove on the main beach 90 meters of white sand. Most visitors go to this island for a picnic and it is not strange to see waste in the trees. This island and its surrounding coves and beaches were once used as the venue for the hit TV series "Survivor".
Calaguas Island (Vinzons)
Calaguas Island is a lovely attraction and it’s unquestionably one of the best islands to visit in the Bicol Region. The crystal clear water, soft and fine white sand, and its encompassing views make it a paradise like destination. It's a segregated spot, and not much crowded. It has an extremely laid-back, straightforward, back to basics, and anxiety free charm about it. It's the place where you can appreciate the simple life and delight on its all natural surroundings. The journey of about two and a half hours by a bumpy motorized boat ride is all worth the relaxing sights and scenes you will discover on the pristine beach called the Mahabang Buhangin. It is more captivating than the crowded and commercialized Boracay Island.
The presence of the blue sky, the all green vegetation, and the tranquil atmosphere, will melt all your worries away. This island is truly amazing, a relaxing haven for a tired mind and body.
Keep in mind to bring your own tent, packed food or ready to eat meals, clean drinking water and mosquito repellent and verify your things are secured with plastic pack or a Ziploc to abstain from getting wet amid the thrilling boat ride. It’s best to take watercraft rides at a young hour in the morning to maintain a strategic distance from the unpleasant ocean condition that occurs amid the evening. Furthermore make it a point to wear a life vest during the course of the ride.
CWC – Cam Sur Watersports Complex (Pili)
The CWC- Cam Sur Watersports Complex can be found within premises of the Provincial Capitol Complex in Cadian, Pili. If you’re in the Bicol Region, it is a must to visit the six hectare water sports complex. It is imperative that you try the various wake boarding activities offered in this world class attraction. Don’t just take photographs of the foreigners who are engage in wake boarding, knee skating, and wave skating; get yourself into the heat of the adrenaline action too!
The watersports exercises here are priced at 170 pesos per hour. The cost includes free use of the basic gears and equipments required for amateur wake boarding. You can also book or make an advance reservation for an overnight stay in their hotel and use of the recreation center. The peak season is during summer in the Philippines; when the water waves and weather are more agreeable.
Subic and Tikling Beach
The Subic and Tikling Beach is a nice place that deserves attention, if not to focus exclusively on a beach holiday or to visit the surrounding neighborhood. Hotels, diving centers, bungalow, comfortable cabins with air conditioning on the beach - all available for every taste and budget of 600 pesos per day. The beach is a beautiful bay on the other side where you can see the mountains, clean water, sand, and there is a good restaurant with local cuisine. The entrance to the beach cost 300 pesos.
Legazpi City is the major capital or center of business, transportation, tourism, and general services of the Bicol Region. If you plan to make a holiday vacation, make Legazpi City your travel base because going around to the other islands or towns is easily accessible aside from finding a much cheaper place to stay while in Bicol. It is the best jump off point when you need to hop around the attractions on the grounds that most of the Jeepney, van, and bus terminals that will take you to all of the attractions are conveniently located along its city center.
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