The province of Batangas ticks off all the items on a weekend warrior’s list of travel requirements.
It’s easy to go there since it’s only a two- to three-hour drive from Manila; it has a great variety of natural and manmade wonders; it offers a wide array of activities; and most of all, it has numerous places that serve delicious food. Whether you’re in the mood for some relaxing beach bumming, a rigorous hiking activity, a cultural encounter, or a simple food trip, Batangas has something to satisfy your wanderlust.
WHAT TO DO
1. Explore the beaches.
There are different types of beaches for different types of people. Some want to party the night away with friends and fellow tourists, while others just want to revel in silence. Some want to stay in luxurious resorts, while others prefer to camp out by the water. Either way, you’re bound to find a beach in Batangas to suit your needs.
Located in the northwestern part of Batangas, Nasugbu is one of the largest municipalities in the province and is home to exclusive subdivisions like Hamilo Coast, Punta Fuego, and Tali Beach. But a lot of areas are open to the public too, such as Fortune Island, Calayo Beach, and Pulo Island. Matabungkay and Calatagan are also popular beaches in this area.
Further south, Laiya has a long stretch of sand and a lot of resorts dotting the shoreline. It’s a popular destination because it’s well-developed and easily accessible. For those who want a quieter, more rustic beach, check out Verde Island, which is about 45 minutes away from the mainland ports.
2. Learn how to dive.
The Philippines is filled with natural wonders on land, but wait till you see what it’s got in store for you underwater. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced diver, Anilao has over 20 dive sites for you to explore. Expect to see different species of fish, majestic corals, and other sea creatures. Most resorts offer diving lessons for those who are brave enough to venture into the deep blue sea.
Blue Paradive Center, Camp Netanya’s official dive partner, offers an Introductory Dive Session with complete equipment, a sumptuous set lunch, and use of kayak and snorkeling gear. A trained professional will teach you the basics of scuba diving and accompany you as you explore the dive site. After diving, you can also swim in Camp Netanya’s infinity pool and have some snacks at Crete, the Grecian-inspired resort’s poolside bar.
3. Climb some mountains.
Batangas is home to several mountain ranges and lush forests. If you’re moderately fit and don’t mind hiking for a few hours, you’ll enjoy communing with nature and appreciating the beauty of God’s creations. Mt. Batulao in Nasugbu has a beginner-friendly trail that allows you to reach the summit in less than two hours. Mt. Maculot in Cuenca has a long, rocky trail to the top, but you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Taal Lake. Mt. Gulugod-Baboy in Mabini is another easy hike, with its gently rolling hills. The wind can be quite strong here though, so it’s best to bring a jacket or windbreaker. Mt. Daguldol in San Juan is just a stone’s throw away from the Laiya coastline so you can hit the beach as soon as you’re done with the hike.
4. Go glamping.
If you’re not a fan of sweating it out in the mountains—no worries! You can still enjoy the outdoors by going on a more glamorous camping adventure. Enjoy the cool mountain air while gazing at the night sky in Nayomi Sanctuary Resort, which offers a glamping getaway for six people. Each tent is fully equipped with comfortable beds, an industrial fan, and an electric anti-mosquito machine. The tents are spaced far enough from each other and have their own dining area, allowing you to enjoy your precious bonding time with family and friends.
WHERE TO EAT
1. Kainan sa Dalampasigan
This homey restaurant in Nasugbu serves a whole lot of Filipino comfort food for the whole family or barkada to enjoy, such as kare-kare, sinigang, and a bilao of fresh seafood. They also serve hearty local dishes, such as bulalo and lomi, which Batangas is famous for. For dessert, dig into some leche flan or halo-halo. It’s the perfect pit stop on your way to the beach.
Kainan sa Dalampasigan
R. Martinez Street
Barangay Bucana, Nasugbu
(043) 931 1134
(0927) 756 3162
2. Alive! Restaurant
Nourish yourself with world-class, international vegan cuisine at this restaurant in The Farm at San Benito. Each dish is high in fiber, rich in vitamins and nutrients, and infused with positive energy. A meal at The Farm will not only help improve your digestion and purge you of toxins, it will also make you feel recharged and truly alive!
The Farm at San Benito
119 Barangay Tipakan, Lipa City
(02) 884 8074
(0918) 884 8080
Camp Netanya’s Greeka Restaurant serves Mediterranean, Greek, and Filipino fare. Noteworthy Mediterranean dishes include the Chicken and Beef Souvlaki (grilled skewers) and the Seafood Yiouvetsi (pasta), while Pinoy favorites include crispy pata, bagnet, and daing na bangus. Their fruit shakes and milkshakes are also worth trying. Of course, nothing beats eating delicious food while appreciating the ocean view and watching the sunset.
Greeka at Camp Netanya
Brgy. Ligaya, Anilao, Mabini
(0939) 753 5074
(0927) 895 4092
4. Don Juan Boodle House
Having a “Boodle Fight” with friends is a symbol of camaraderie and equality as everyone shares a variety of food laid out on banana leaves. Order the Taal Specialties set where you can feast on native dishes such as the Tapang Taal, Adobo sa Dilaw, Longganisang Taal, Fried Tawilis, and many more. The best way to eat is using your bare hands—so go and grab as much food as you can while it lasts!
Don Juan Boodle House
Calle Jose W. Diokno, Taal
(043) 740 1828
(0917) 113 0393
5. Abadi Restaurant
Have a meal amidst a lush tropical setting at this restaurant in Cintai Corito’s Garden. The Balinese-inspired interiors, including a colorful Indonesian chandelier, will make you feel like you’re dining in the island paradise of Bali. However, you get to enjoy local favorites such as the pork sisig, nilasing na hipon, and the beloved Batangas lomi.
Abadi Restaurant at Cintai Corito’s Garden
Sitio Pandayan, Malabanan, Balete
(0917) 833 1508
6. OMG! Olvida and Myra’s Grill
Nestled in Mabini, this unassuming eatery is one of Anilao’s best-kept secrets. Guests rave about the Liempo with Tableya, which is pork belly marinated in chocolate for a contrast of flavors that is just as complex and delicious as it sounds. Their other grilled and sizzling offerings are a hit among hungry beachgoers, and they serve all kinds of lomi—a mouthwatering staple you need to tuck into if you haven’t yet. Best of all, the prices are pretty affordable if your wallet needs a break.
OMG! Olvida and Myra’s Grill
Brgy. Solo, Mabini
(043) 425 3066
7. Café de Lipa Origins
Batangas is famous for its barako coffee, a strong brew that will ignite your senses. Aside from barako, the café also makes coffee with beans from different parts of the country. They believe that each person has a distinct palette, so the perfect cup of coffee for one person may be different from another’s. You can schedule a Coffee Cupping session at the café to find your perfect match.
Café de Lipa Origins
32 San Carlos Drive
Mataasnalupa, Lipa City
(043) 756 1716
WHERE TO STAY
For those who want to relax while marveling at the view of Taal Lake, Club Balai Isabel is a serene paradise that’s ideal for weddings, team-building sessions, and family vacations. Nayomi Sanctuary Resort is another excellent option—actors John Prats and Isabel Oli had their wedding here, so the place is celebrity-approved!
For those who’ve always wanted to visit Bali, Indonesia, the Balinese-inspired sanctuary, Cintai Corito’s Garden, is the ideal getaway. You’ll find solitude and inspiration amidst the intricately painted stone walls and sprawling greenery. Villas by Eco Hotel is also designed in contemporary Balinese interiors. The place is conducive to quiet reflection and has great views of the world-famous Taal Volcano.
In need of a serious mind-body-spirit detox? Head to the The Farm at San Benito is one of the most globally-recognized, sought-after holistic medical wellness destinations.
For those who have Greece on their travel bucket list, the Santorini-inspired Camp Netanya is a good place to visit. When you walk into the resort, you’ll be impressed with the grand lobby and staircase, the iconic architecture, and the beautiful ocean views.
For those who want to explore Anilao, AniSiam House is a haven for both divers and non-divers. This beachside resort offers panoramic views of Balayan Bay and comfortable accommodations. Bauan Plaza Hotel is another great jump-off point for Anilao and is located right across the Immaculate Conception Parish, a century-old church. Along the coast of Anilao, you’ll also find Paradiso Rito, a waterfront oasis featuring the artworks of renowned artist Fil Delacruz.
For those who want to see the beaches of Laiya, Casa Amara is a private beach house where you can wake up to a glorious sunrise and sweeping views of the sea and the mountains. Casa Laiya is also a worthwhile choice. This one-hectare property is a beautiful vacation home where quiant old-world charm meets modern, functional architecture.
Amara Residences, nestled within Terrazas de Punta Fuego, is a beachside haven that allows guests to unwind in cozy, condominium-style serviced residences.
For those who want to visit Matabungkay beach, Matabungkay Beach Hotel has spacious villas, newly renovated amenities, spa services, and a wide range of activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Travelers who wish to explore Batangas beyond its beaches may head to Lipa City where you can find Hotel 1925. This luxury boutique hotel showcases Spanish colonial architecture and allows you to experience the rich heritage of Batangas.
DG TRAVELER TIPS
• Before you embark on your Batangas adventure, check the local weather. It’s often best to visit the beaches from November to May, when there is little chance of rain. If you’re going hiking, the ideal months are October to February when the weather is cool and dry.
• Always keep your surroundings clean. Whether you’re hiking up the mountains or lounging by the beach, make sure to throw your trash in the proper areas. As the old adage goes, “Leave nothing but footprints, take nothing but pictures, and keep nothing but memories.” Allow others to enjoy this beautiful place by leaving it as clean and pristine as you found it.
• Check deals online. Going on a trip doesn’t have to be expensive. Before you book a place, see if they’re offering any deals or discounts. This will save you a lot of money, but make sure to read the fine print so that you’ll know exactly what’s included in the discounted package.
• Turn off your gadgets. When you’re at home or at work, you’re probably plugged into your computer or phone 24/7. But when you’re going on a trip, make an effort to minimize your use of gadgets. They’re perfectly handy when navigating or searching for good places to eat, but once you’ve arrived at your destination, put your gadgets away and take the time to appreciate your surroundings and bond with your family and friends instead.
HOW TO GET THERE
Batangas is easily accessible from Manila via the South Luzon Expressway. Depending on where you’re going, you may need to drive for two to four hours. Nasugbu is about two hours away, while it can take you three to four hours to get to Laiya and Anilao.
You can also take a public bus to the different areas of Batangas. A bus trip may take longer than a car ride though, since buses usually make several stops before arriving at their destination. From the bus terminal, you can ride jeepneys and tricycles to get to your chosen resort. If you plan to visit some islands, you will need to take a public boat or charter a private one from accredited providers.
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