Life in isolation for over a year now has made us yearn for the outdoors. People especially prefer places where they can experience nature’s wonders.
It’s beneficial not just in releasing pent-up stress, but safer at a time when COVID-19 is still a serious threat.
Such open and green spaces are abundant in CALABARZON. The region has numerous coastal areas and mountainous spots—many of which are accessible attractions that have reopened to tourists seeking an immersive experience with nature.
Here are a few of the region’s must-visit natural attractions by province.
The province, known for being the cradle of the Philippine revolution and the site of the declaration of independence from Spanish colonial rule, is also home to expansive farms open for the public to explore.
In Tagaytay, the Nurture Wellness Village houses the Nurture Farmacy, an organic farm that produces pesticide-free vegetables for their in-house restaurant, Farmer’s Table.
A DOT-accredited farm tourism destination, Farmacy’s most notable attraction is the vegetable plots shaped like different systems of the body, planted with healing herbs and vegetables best for each organ. In addition, guests can also experience farming medical plants themselves.
Farmacy is accessible when guests dine at the restaurant where food and drinks retail for Php 220-Php 1,995 or book a stay at any of the wellness village’s rooms for Php 10,800 and up. Simply inform the staff to see the farm for yourself.
In Maragondon lies another agri-tourism spot called Terra Verde Ecofarm & Resort. Apart from accommodations, the 15-hectare estate also offers the complete farm life experience, including vegetable-picking, farm-to-table dining, and horseback riding.
It is also an agricultural school where safe food production is taught and an integrated, diversified organic farming system is implemented, so ethical practices in running it as a tourist site are guaranteed.
Silang, meanwhile, is the base of The Gourmet Farms’ operations. The 12-hectare facility is open to guests who are curious about the journey of the coffee bean, from germination to brewing.
It has its own roasting machines, Probat 1958 and Probat 2012, considered the Rolls Royce of coffee roasters. It helps the farm roast as much as 124 metric tons of coffee a month.
Their selection of coffee is sold by the bag and served freshly-brewed at their in-house cafe, along with Filipino-Italian fusion breakfast meals as well as herbal teas, lettuce, and sauces.
With 239 Department of Tourism-accredited sites—much of them natural attractions—Laguna is only second to Batangas in tourism in the whole region. The province has been able to offer recreational activities while promoting appreciation for its natural resources.
In San Pablo’s Sampaloc Lake, for instance, tourists are able to enjoy majestic views of one of the seven interconnected crater lakes in the province while on a leisurely stroll, a morning jog, or a bike ride.
These lakes are important resting grounds for migratory birds from China and Japan, along with Bunot, Palakpakin, Mohicap, Yambo, Pandin, and Calibato.
The lake is open to tourists from 5 AM-8 PM. Bikes can be rented for Php 20-Php 50. Inquiries are welcome via San Pablo Tourism Office’s Facebook page.
At Esmeris Farm, guests can also enjoy the lush greenery in Liliw, a municipality situated at the foot of Mount Banahaw, through giant swings, viewing decks, treehouses, and hammocks. Day tours cost Php 50, while guests staying overnight will be charged Php 250.
The farm, which is open from 7 AM-6 PM daily, also rents tents for as low as Php 250 for two people. Glamping tents are also available for Php 2,000. Just make sure to book ahead of time through Daang Hari Camp Grounds on Facebook.
Also at the foot of a mountain—Mount San Cristobal—Rizal Re-creation Center offers spacious green spaces for a variety of recreational activities like soccer, frisbee, relay races, and basketball,
Mount Banahaw is also visible from the seven-hectare property located in the quiet town of Rizal, made more relaxing by a hard-to-miss treehouse, as well as surrounding coconut trees.
It’s open from 8 AM-5 PM and charges an entrance fee of Php 80. Book your visit through [email protected] or contact 0961 062 2667.
No other province in CALABARZON can offer an epic bayside vacation quite like Batangas. That’s because all of the marine waters of the province are part of the Verde Island Passage, the “center of the center” of the world’s marine biodiversity.
In Nasugbu, there are at least three places where guests can enjoy the beauty of its turquoise waters and the marine life that lives in it.
Just as exclusive is Club Punta Fuego, which also offers water skiing, jet skiing, snorkeling, wakeboarding, kayaking, riding a banana boat, and diving. Choose from the club’s 12 beach coves, including the 800-meter stretch at the Terrazas Beach Club for any of these activities.
There’s also a nine-hole golf course with a stunning view of the Nasugbu coast.
Rates start at Php 7,036 per night, while water activities are charged separately. Bookings can be made through their website.
Tourists can also try these water activities at Pico De Loro’s Pico De Loro’s Hamilo Coast. Part of a 107-hectare protected area, this Nasugbu destination is especially teeming with marine life.
Scuba diving lessons and refresher courses are available for ages 12 and up. Visitors only need to be official guests of the club or Pico Sands Hotel to sign up. Rates start at Php 4,606, depending on the type of accommodation. Rooms can be reserved through the website.
Along Calatagan South Beach’s 525-meter beach stretch, Aquaria Water Park’s swimming pools, splash pads, and water playgrounds add to the fun.
Its three-story giant slide is likely the most heart-pumping feature to try at the water park.
Day tour passes for adults are at Php 370 during weekdays and Php 510 during weekends. For children, weekday passes are at Php 185, while weekend passes are at Php 255. Book a visit through their website.
Mostly hilly and mountainous in terrain, Rizal is a mountaineer favorite, regardless if beginner or professional. With locals as guides, visitors flock to the many hiking trails of the province and the breathtaking views it offers.
One of these trails is the almost six-kilometer hike to reach the summit of Mount Kulis and Mount Sambong in Camp A of Tanay’s Fresno Agro Forestry and Eco Tourist Campsite. Here, hikers can take advantage of photo spots like the Heart Peak and Noah’s Ark, where the mountain ranges of Sierra Madre serve as the background.
Camp B, meanwhile, is where the Lion’s House Falls, hanging bridge, river pool, and the Malinaw falls are located.
Trekking fee for day trips is Php 250, which allows the exploration of spots from either camp from 4 AM-4 PM. Visitors who will stay overnight—from 4 PM-11 AM, to be specific—need to pay Php 300. An additional Php 500 is for the tour guide fee.
Nagpatong Rock Formation, also in Tanay, is another hiker favorite. The attraction features two separate limestone towers facing each other. The cliffs are made of stacked blocks, hence the name.
The trek is an hour long and involves relatively easy trails. What’s challenging is climbing up through a steep ladder, and later, the natural footholds in the rock while holding onto a rope, to reach the top of the rock formation.
Atop Nagpatong is a 360-degree view of surrounding mountains. All this can be experienced for only Php 100 registration fee per person and a guide fee of Php 500 for up to five people. Coordinate your hike with the Tanay Tourism Office first through landline, (02) 8942-7174
Bounded to the east by the Pacific Ocean, to the south by Tayabas Bay, Quezon has natural attractions and activities in and around the ocean.
Real, through its many rural beach resorts, has established the area as a surfing hotspot. The coastal town is home to water waves and swells that surfers love to ride.
Surf season here starts every October and ends in May. For beginners, however, the rest of the year is a better time to try the water sport.
At Real Surf and Coast, surfing lessons with a licensed local instructor costs Php 500 for an hour of coaching, inclusive of the board. If surfing alone, a surfboard can be rented for Php 200 per hour. Booking is available via the surf camp’s Facebook or email [email protected].
The Tulaog Cave and Beach in General Nakar is also a must-see when in Quezon. The cave is named after the loud sound it produces when hit by waves.
It is a sacred area for the area’s Dumagat residents, so make sure to secure permission from the tribe before attempting to visit the area. The entrance is buried in sand, too, and only locals can locate it. Guests are not allowed to go past the tiny opening, as it’s a place of prayer to their god Makedepet.
Working with the area’s seagrass bed and coral reefs as a single system to keep coastal zones healthy is the mangrove forest at BIPCO Mangrove ECO Park in Infanta.
A quick day tour at the park via a boat ride reveals the marine organisms and endemic wildlife living there.
It’s open from 8 AM-5 PM and charges an entrance fee of Php 50. A boating trip with a maximum of five people in the area is also available for Php 350, while an open cottage can be rented out for Php 150 for the first three hours and an additional Php 50 per excess hour.
With this guide, go and experience the fun CALABARZON’s natural attractions have to offer.
All of these establishments require strict adherence to health and safety protocols to help prevent the spread of the virus in these localities. Wearing face masks and face shields, and constant hand disinfection and washing are a must.
To check out up-to-date information regarding local destinations that are open and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at app.philippines.travel or the Google Playstore.