Have you been wanting to escape the perpetually busy streets and traffic infested roads of the metropolis? Are you itching to get away from the concrete jungle, explore the countryside, experience fresh and relaxing air in a serene and tranquil ambiance?
Well, if you have been looking for a momentary break from the city life, the impressive and enchanting Sorsogon province is definitely for you. Albeit obscure to most travelers and tourists, Sorsogon actually has quite a lot to offer in terms of tourist spots and places to visit. It is located at the southernmost province in Luzon and is part of the Bicol Region which makes it an ideal additional stop if you were planning to head to Bicol anyway. Bordering the province of Albay to the north is the province’s capital, Sorsogon City.
While Sorsogon has proved to be an exciting and diverse destination, it is often overshadowed by other more popular and touristy places–an inevitability considering that the province is set in a geographical location where some of the best tourist destinations in the country lies. For many backpackers and local travelers, the appeal of Sorsogon lies in its obscurity and the undeniable fact that it is not riddled with as many tourists as other more popular local destinations. In this regard, Sorsogon is the perfect destination for those who have been seeking for a more relaxed pace, a different and fresher ambiance and an atmosphere that readily offers you an insight of the unassuming life in the countryside. With a little bit of keen attention and the right know-how of where to look, you will find that the most rustic locale of Sorsogon is a haven for nature’s untouched, albeit bizarre beauty as seen through its majestic and panoramic views.
Sorsogon’s diverse and incredible topography makes this offbeat bucolic region a must-visit for travelers who have a penchant for gorgeous beaches, pastoral lands, majestic peaks, verdant lush jungles and sleepy fishing towns. If any of those appeal to you, Sorsogon should be in your next bucket list. Below is a 3 day itinerary that includes a curated list of the must-visit places you should see if you ever find yourself in this part of the country.
HOW TO GET THERE:
There are two ways to travel to Sorsogon. If you do not mind an extended trip which is cheaper, you can travel by land which is the more affordable route. However, if you wish to maximize your time in Sorsogon, you might want to take the plane which costs a little more than a bus trip but would get you to the province in an hour.
Several bus companies travel from Manila to Sorsogon. Check for their individual schedules and fares. Travel time takes approximately anywhere from 12 to 15 hours.
The nearest airport in Sorsogon is the one in Legazpi, Albay. Once you have landed in Albay, you can then take a bus bound for Sorsogon. Travel time is approximately an hour and a half.
Subic Matnog Beach
The shores of Subic Matnog Beach may not be as popular as the other beaches known in the Philippines, but once you reach this beach on Calintaan Island, you will be enthralled by its pinkish-white powdery sands which is something a little different than what most beaches in the country have. You can spend hours lazing under the sun and enchanted and mesmerized by the uniquely-colored sand of the coast. When the sun is low, you may even want to snorkel in its water and if you are up to it, you may even choose to build a camp in the place.
Tikling Island is named after a kind of bird that used to inhabit the place. Back in the day, it was said that quite a lot of Tikling birds can be seen on the island, hence the name. Like Subic Matnog Beach, Tikling Island’s sand is pinkish white owing to the powdered red corals that are scattered all throughout the beach. To reach Tikling Island, you need to take a twenty minute boat ride from Matnog Port. This privately owned island has no resorts nor cottages but visitors are allowed to go on a day tour.
Juag Fish Sanctuary
From Tikling, travel to the inner parts of the smaller islands until you find a small lagoon. In there, you can find a small house which is owned by the guide to the place. Juag Marine Sanctuary has a rich and diverse marine life which visitors are allowed to swim with. The fishes come in many species and in different colors and sizes. Juag Marine Sanctuary was initiated as a way to preserve and propagate different species of fishes in the area.
Calintaan Cave is part of the Island Hopping Tour in Matnog. To reach it, you need to take a fifteen minute boat ride from Subic Beach. Typically, this is the next stop after spending the day in Subic Beach. Once you reach Calintaan Island, you will immediately notice the rock formations but as you get nearer to the cave, you will observe how the rock formations are something you do not typically see in other islands. A few meters away is Calintaan Beach which like Subic Beach, has a stretch of pinkish white sands. While there are no cottages in the area, guests are free to spend the night at the beach with pitched tents.
While designated as Barcelona Church, the name is actually a misnomer as the actual name of the parish is St. Joseph Church. However, people have designated it as Barcelona Church owing to its architectural value and historical merits. The church was constructed in 1875 in the town proper of Barcelona. The ancient church is one of the most well-preserved churches in the region and used to have an underground tunnel which is now unfortunately closed. Whether you are a practicing Catholic or not, you should never miss a visit to this church as the aged majestic stone walls of the church alone and the intact bell tower are enough to make you wonder in awe. Travelers who have a penchant for peppering their social media feeds with photos would find the ruins outside the church (which include a schoolhouse and a stone fort) will make for picture perfect photo opportunities.
San Benon Hot Spring
After spending a day island hopping, you might want to unwind in a Hot Spring. Located in Irosin Sorsogon, taking a dip at San Benon Hot Spring is the perfect way to start your day. San Benon Hot Spring is located at the foot of an active volcano which explains the water’s hot temperature. If you are looking to relax and soothe your body after a day of island hopping then you should definitely visit San Benon Hot Springs.
Mt. Bulusan National Park
Bicol region has three active volcanoes and Bulusan is one of them. While the volcano is already a majestic sight to behold from afar, visiting it at its heart where both the national park and the Bulusan lake are located, is an entirely different experience in itself and a venture worth taking. However, for intrepid travelers who wish to elevate the experience even further, conquering the dormant volcano and making it all the way to the top is definitely a rewarding experience and poses a different kind of thrill.
A true sight to behold, The Church of Nuestra Senora de la Porteria (Our Lady of the Gate) or more commonly known as Daraga Church is an 18th century baroque structure overlooking the sea and majestic Mayon Volcano. What makes Daraga Church an interesting church to visit is its history as well as its distinct type of architecture. The architecture is mostly Baroque but there are several aspects that make it a mixture of Mexican baroque and renaissance gothic. Its facade is mostly volcanic stones making it a truly unique place of worship back in the day.
If you bought a postcard from Albay, the Casagwa Ruins would probably be the picture that graces it. In fact, Casagwa Ruins is one of the well-known tourist spots of Albay making it a must-visit stop for travelers visiting Sorsogon. Owing to its fame and popularity, Casagwa Ruins has stores and stalls surrounding the place. The place is also filled with trees and plants that populate the area. Casagwa Ruins is truly a sight to behold and would definitely make an interesting backdrop for a photo. What was once a church is now buried underneath lahar after the deadliest eruption of Mayon Volcano happened in February 1, 1814. Today, only the belfry and some remnants can be seen as the witness of such a devastating tragedy.
With the 3 day itinerary above, you are sure to experience the best of what Sorsogon has to offer. So, if you have a predilection for exploring places riddled with history, a proclivity for the island life or simply want to unwind in a peaceful place, Sorsogon should definitely be in your travel bucket list.