Those of us looking for a quick escape from Metro Manila have favored Quezon, with its quaint towns lined with Spanish-era houses to serene beaches and captivating views of the Sierra Madre. It makes for a fun summer getaway, thanks to its colorful festivals, mouth-watering delicacies, and accessible attractions.

What most people don’t know, however, is that this coconut-rich province is also filled with exhilarating adventure spots.

Quezon has tons of under-the-radar destinations packed with activities that can give you an adrenaline rush as well as more leisurely pursuits after. And now that tourist activities are picking up pace again, it’s time to put all our excess energy to use, and check these sites out.

White Water Rafting at Tanauan-Tignoan River

Your adventure begins as soon as you hear the gushing water from the Tanauan-Tignoan River, which includes about a 15-minute trek down a tree-lined stair path at the Sierra Madre foothills. During the high water season, which is from early November until late February, the fast-flowing river offers a gut-churning experience—but in a good way.

Unlike most white water runs you’ve probably tried before, here you’ll have two rescue-trained balsahero (or boat guides/lifeguards) stationed at each end of the raft, navigating the streams and rapids for you. While safe, that doesn’t make it any less of an adrenaline-fueled ride.

Armed in full safety gear, you will sit and hold tight as you’ll brave the five-kilometer stretch on a bamboo-framed balsa made up of used tire tubes. Interesting story: this group of balsahero used to be illegal loggers, who have since turned over a new leaf. They have repurposed the transportation they used in their former lives into the reliable rafts used at Tanauan-Tignoan.

The Tanauan-Tignoan river boat guides complete a safety check before the whitewater ride. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Don’t be fooled by the calm waters at the start of your journey. As soon as the current speeds up, brace yourself for a rollercoaster ride down what looks like a flooded rock stairway. Expect to cascade down three more rocky encounters of varying difficulty throughout this one-and-a-half-hour river ride.

The Tanauan-Tignoan river offers a variety of rapids appropriate for all skill levels. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

In summer, the river takes on a different personality. It will take you through a meditative ride, past wooded areas home to incredible wildlife unique to the province. It’s a great time to bring the family, because the waters are a lot friendlier, and you’ll have opportunities to stop and have a nice picnic along the banks.

The scenery also invites you to soak up its glorious mountain views, eavesdrop on the early morning chat of the birds around you, or even wave at friendly locals fishing or doing their laundry at the riverside.

Expect a relaxed ride during the first few minutes of the whitewater experience. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

The Tanauan-Tignoan whitewater river activity is excellent for groups of friends, families, and nature lovers. Anyone of 10 years and above can sign up. A thorough safety briefing is provided as well as all the necessary safety equipment.

Riding the Waves at Real Surf and Coast

Whether you are a seasoned surfer or just learning to befriend the waves, you will experience the thrill of riding the incredible Pacific swells at this laid-back surf camp in Real. About a three-hour drive from Manila, Real Surf and Coast lures a variety of surfers because of its less crowded beach and fast-breaking waves of up to four feet high.

This spot has playful right and left reef breaks and a sandy base great for first-time surfers. A licensed local instructor will cost a flat Php 500 for an hour of surf coaching inclusive of the board.

Learn water safety, paddling skills, and basic wave riding techniques from a licensed local instructor. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Waves are ideal for beginners during the summer months and considerably more adrenaline-pumping from October to February. But pro surfers will want to head to the Barracuda—a spot a few minutes away from the camp—for more challenging reef breaks and tube rides.

Riding enjoyable beginner-level waves at Real Surf and Coast. Photos by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

After a day of surfing, put your feet up and settle down at one of its thatched-roof cabanas for a front-row seat to a magnificent sunset. With candy-colored murals, low tables, and cozy beach bean bags, this tiny surf camp transforms into a chill hangout after hours.

Colorful cabanas line the Real Surf and Coast beach. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Cliff Diving at Balagbag Waterfalls

Roaring, breathtaking, and 20-feet-tall, Balagbag Waterfalls promise a heart-soaring adventure you wouldn’t want to miss.

Still in Real, these towering three-tier waterfalls cascade into a deep natural pool ideal for diving. A quick climb up a rocky staircase leads to a shallow, lagoon-like catch basin good for an enchanting bath and a soothing water massage.

But save that for later because what you might want to do right away is to walk over the edge, and, at the count of three, dive deep into its cool, mist-cloaked, emerald pool.

As soon as you emerge, you will be greeted with a refreshing view of a lush tropical paradise. Fancy a little more adventure? Get permission from the Real Municipal Tourism Office and have more fun climbing even higher for a panoramic view of this natural masterpiece.

Balagbag Waterfalls is just a five-minute walk from the Real-Mauban main road. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

If you’re traveling with family, Balagbag Falls is also a great spot for picnics. There are a couple of bamboo cottages available for an unforgettable meal overlooking the waterfalls. Kids will enjoy playing with the cold, clear stream as well as the mini water slides. There are also small rock pools that can be your own natural private tub.

  • Address: Barangay Malapad, Real, Quezon
  • Contact Number: (042) 0331 1777 / 0905 364 1041 (Real Tourism Office)
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Operating Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Entrance Fees: Php 30 per person

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/realtourismph/

Kayaking at Cagbalete Island

Home to an impressive stretch of champagne-colored sand and turquoise-blue waters, Cagbalete Island is a paradise escape for those wanting a tranquil retreat. At least, that’s the impression you get when you arrive early in the morning after the leisurely 40-minute boat ride you have to catch from the town of Mauban.

Cagbalete Island is located off the coast of Mauban, known for its diverse bird population, abundant marine life, and notably low tides. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism

But when the tide rises and the sound of the crashing waves grows louder in the afternoon, the island bursts with life and offers thrilling adventures for adrenaline junkies. This includes kayaking, which allows you to view the striking Agoho-lined Cagbalete shores while paddling on top of the waves. It’s a great total-body workout, especially on a windy day.

Riding a horse gallantly along a sandy coastline is a scene straight out of a movie, but nothing is impossible on this secluded island. This horseback adventure, which can be both thrilling and relaxing, is available at several resorts here.

Looking for another incredible underwater excursion? A great dive is just a short boat ride away. The island is teeming with rich marine life and plunging deep into its waters gives you close encounters with graceful schools of fish and colorful coral formations. You just have to bring your own diving or snorkeling equipment.

Sea kayaking at Dona Choleng Camping Resort, Cagbalete Island. Photo by SinoPinas courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

After dark, there are a variety of laid-back activities to look forward to. On a cold night, camping with a beautiful fire is always a delight. Almost everywhere on the island is suitable for observing fireflies and the starry night sky.

Travel safely! 

All tourist destinations in Quezon have health and safety regulations in place to protect locals and visitors. Everyone is encouraged to wear face masks and shields, wash their hands often, and maintain proper physical distance.

Visit www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app on app.philippines.travel or on Google Playstore for the most up-to-date information about re-opened local destinations as well as the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location.