As the summer heat sizzles in Manila, everyone’s thoughts turn to waterscapes—beaches, rivers, waterfalls, streams, swimming pools, and just about any body of water to cool down.
The province of Camarines Norte in the Bicol region, roughly eight to nine hours by land from Manila, is rising as one of the hip new destinations for beach-goers and weekend warriors. If you’re heading that way, here are a few water-based activities that you can jump right into this summer.
1. Camp out on Calaguas Islands.
With its beaches of powdery white sand, azure blue waters and postcard-perfect surroundings, few leave Calaguas without being captivated. If you want a real island escape, head to Mahabang Buhangin (Long Beach). It’s reachable by a two-hour boat ride from the port of Paracale or Vinzons, and the thrill is in the back-to-basics adventure, camping out overnight under the stars in tents, and dining on freshly caught seafood. The ideal time to visit is between the months of February and September, when the waves are not too rough.
2. Get stoked on Bagasbas Beach.
Bagasbas Beach has a long and wide expanse of gray sand and soft sandy seabed, generally uncrowded shores, and consistent waves that roll in from the Pacific Ocean, making it an ideal surfing spot for beginners and experts alike. The province hosts an annual Summer Surf Festival, where visitors can take lessons during a surfing clinic and enjoy other activities like beach volleyball, wall climbing, frisbee and dodgeball along Bagasbas Beach in Daet. Head to Bagasbas Lighthouse for a hearty meal after your surfing session.
3. Go fly a kite on the water.
Kiteboarding or kitesurfing is a surface watersport that harnesses the power of the wind
to propel a rider across the
water on a small surfboard or kiteboard (similar to a wakeboard). Establishments along Bagasbas Beach offer kiteboarding lessons and rent out gear. However, because of its extreme nature, this sport is best left to expert surfers or wakeboarders. Extreme kiteboarders prefer the northeast monsoon season from November to March, when the waves are rough, though novice kiteboarders can still be seen flying on the water during summer.
Rivers and creeks
4. Take a dip in Malatap Waterfalls.
Camarines Norte has a number of waterfalls, clear rivers and creeks that offer soothing spots to cool down in. Nature lovers can enjoy adventure-filled hikes to several waterfalls in the province. One of the most accessible is Malatap Wateralls in the town of Labo, a short hike roughly 100 meters away from the main road and Malatap Bridge. The multitiered cascades have provided locals and students with a natural swimming spot. On any given weekend, you can join locals picnicking and cooling down at the basin of the falls and watch the kids jumping off the rocks into the deeper parts of the water.
5. Kayak against the waves in Baybay Beach.
While normal kayaking on calm rivers and oceans can be relaxing, surfing against the waves offers a more thrilling experience. Kayak surfing (also known as surf kayaking) is surfing the ocean waves aboard kayaks while using paddles to maneuver the watercraft. Because of its shallow and soft seabed, good wind conditions and strong currents, Baybay Beach in the Mercedes group of islands in Camarines Norte is ideal for this water sport. Kayakers will have to paddle straight out to sea against the oncoming waves, turn the kayak around, and then try to catch a big wave to ride all the way to the shore. Kayak surfing lessons and kayak rental costs P200 per hour.
6. Get a hydromassage in Mampurog River.
Located in the town of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the rocky riverbed and clean waters of Mampurog River offer a relaxing alternative to beaches and pools. The river is a popular spot for picnics and summer outings. Locals bring packed food or meals and chow down at the nipa huts for rent on the shores of the riverbed before cooling down for a dip in the river amidst lush, natural surroundings. For an entrance fee of only P2 per person and a parking fee of P15 (no time limit), visitors can enjoy a natural hydromassage from the river’s cascades.
7. Relax at Pineapple Island Resort.
For those looking for a fun water experience with all the creature comforts and amenities close by, Pineapple Island Resort in the town of Calasagan, Daet, is the ideal spot. The resort has a huge 720- square meter swimming pool with water slides and a 200- square meter kiddie pool with a turtle slide and play station for kids. The resort also has a greenhouse, butterfly garden, bamboo huts, various fishing and boating lagoons, and villas for rent for those who want to stay overnight. The resort’s in-house restaurant Chef Mama serves delicious dishes including ginataang bilo-bilo, crispy ube turon, and delicious chocolate cake—a perfect snack after an afternoon of splashing around in the pool.