Top 10 Tourist Spots in Camarines Sur
As the largest province in the Bicol Region of Luzon, Camarines Sur does not disappoint. The province is blessed with several beaches, waterfalls, and mountains and has a generally relaxing and laid-back atmosphere compared to seaside destinations like Siargao or La Union. It also has historical churches and landmarks that are lesser-known and complete the getaway paradise of Camarines Sur.
The climate here is very tropical. Peak seasons are summertime, and the influx of tourists decreases during the rainy season (usually from July to September) and then gradually increasing again from October onwards. However, regardless of the season, there is plenty to see in this unexploited and quaint province of Camarines Sur. Here are ten of these:
1. Lake Buhi
Lake Buhi is recognized for being the source of the smallest commercially harvested fish in the world, the Sinarapan. A huge portion of the province’s local industry is agricultural and fishing. Although most towns have their own fisheries or plantations, Lake Buhi spotlights the entire province. If you can’t go fishing here, you can always go on a short boat ride and appreciate the fresh air and the not-so-distant mountain of Iriga.
2. Mt. Iriga
Also known as Mt. Asog, Mt. Iriga is an active volcano about a kilometer away from Lake Buhi. It’s already a wonderful sight to behold from afar, and up close, Mt. Iriga proves to be more than just for the eyes. Although it is labeled as an active volcano, the last time it erupted was in 1642, and it has not had any visible volcanic activity since then. This is why its crater is covered with thick layers of trees and vegetation, and hiking along the trail will give you an amazing view of it.
3. Mt. Isarog National Park
This inactive volcano was declared a national park in 1938 by the national government and is the highest rainforest-mountain in Southern Luzon. The way up the summit is not your ordinary ten to a twenty-minute afternoon hike. The way up can take hours, and all hikers are prohibited from hiking up and down within the same day to avoid accidents on the way down. On the way, you will see various types of birds, insects, a few fauna, and lots and lots of grass. Previous hikers do leave trails because it is a protected area, so you will have to make your own!
4. Malabsay Falls
If you’re intimidated by the trek that Mt. Isarog poses, Malabsay Falls, which is just a fairly short hike from Mt. Isarog National Park’s entrance, is a great alternate route. The waters of Malabsay can get very cold because the water comes directly from the inactive volcano’s peak, so be sure to be prepared with the temperature. Note that you need to pay a small fee (Php 20 to 50) before entering. This also applies to Mt. Isarog.
5. Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia
The City of Naga is often called the Pilgrim City of Bicol. This Basilica is the only one of its kind in the whole region, which is why it attracts hundreds of both local and foreign tourists. The construction of the church started in 1976 but was only completed in 1981. Though fairly small compared to other churches in Luzon, it has high ceilings and stained glass windows that have been well-preserved. Inside is the image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia.
6. Lahuy Island
If you’re a fan of nature, beaches, and tranquility, well, you’ll be pleased to know that Lahuy Island has all those three combined. Lahuy Island is about 10 kilometers long and 3 km wide and has crystal clear waters and cream white sands. Bordering the beach are thick forests. Getting here requires a long boat ride either from the neighboring island or from the central Caramoan town.
7. Matukad Island
Aside from being the perfect beach island getaway, Matukad also has rock formations that you can marvel at and climb on. This one of the most famous islands in Caramoan and Camarines Sur’s entirety can get crowded during peak seasons, usually from April to June. The island also owes some of its fame because it is where the local reality TV show “Survivor” was filmed. In 2016, the entire island was temporarily closed for this.
8. Our Lady of Peace Grotto Shrine Park
The Lady of Peace Grotto enshrines a 26-foot tall statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is considered the biggest and tallest one in the Philippines. The statue is pure white and stands in the middle of a piece of a platform with no roof, making it look as if it is glowing under the sun. At night, the statue is lighted to guide the fishermen. Getting to the statue requires you to climb almost 530 steps, so make sure to be prepared. It is said that the monument can grant three wishes.
9. Lahos Island
Hop on a 10-minute boat ride from Paniman Beach in Caramoan and prepare to take a picture of the massive limestone formations on the way. You will probably wonder how the heavy limestone rocks leading to Lahos Island float delicately on the blue waters. While Lahos is not as large as Matuklad, it boasts of very shallow and clear waters, and you can actually swim under some of the protruding karst formations! Snorkeling, swimming, or simply sitting on the sand will make you enjoy this secluded island like it’s your own.
10. Nalalata Falls
What’s a good way to chill after a long hike? Swim in Nalalata Falls’ cool waters, and get a natural massage from the pressured falling water. What’s a better way to chill after a long hike? Rappelling! The rock behind the waterfalls has been smoothened out due to the continuous flow of water, and the flat, 50-feet high surface serves as an excellent spot for rappelling while at the same time getting to bathe. Some guides can assist you and rentable equipment at the entrance. Compared to Malabsay Falls, Nalalata is a fairly easy hike once you drop off at the starting point.
Originally Published on September 20, 2017, this list of Camarines Sur Tourist Spots blog post was last updated in August 2018.
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