My hometown Naga City, the capital of Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region is commonly associated with religious pilgrimage sites. Most people who stop by Naga usually do a Visita Iglesia tour of the historic churches or come to witness the festivities in September during the Penafrancia Fiesta, one of the biggest and most popular religious events in the Philippines.
But for adventure-seekers, it’s good to know that there’s a lot more to do any time of the year. From scaling down waterfalls to biking down mountain trails, adventure-packed activities await. Here’s a look at some of the fun and exciting activities that you can do around Naga City and the rest of Camarines Sur.
1. Go Island-hopping around the Caramoan Islands
Caramoan is a rugged getaway best known for being the filming location of several seasons of the hit reality show Survivor. Located in the lower eastern part of Camarines Sur, Caramoan is surrounded by the waters of the Maqueda Channel on the north and east and Lagonoy Gulf on the south. Caramoan is home to secluded beaches and coves, stunning islands, white sand and pebble beaches, and hills you can hike up to.
For those who have limited time to visit Caramoan, other nearby island destinations include Aguirangan Island (30 minutes away from Sabang port in San Jose) and Atulayan Island (1 hour drive from Naga + 15 minute boat ride).
2. Try Wakeboarding at Camsur Water Park
One of the first spots that put the province on the tourist radar was Camsur Watersports Complex or CWC, a watersports park designed for wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing. Located within the Provincial Capitol Complex in Cadlan, Pili, Camarines Sur, just 15 minutes away from Naga City, this complex has been the site to numerous international wakeboarding events, drawing in local and foreign athletes. Other facilities like swimming pools, massage huts, cabanas and a restaurant are open for families and regular tourists.
3. Go Canyoneering & Waterfalls Rappelling
Canyoneering is already a big hit in other places like Cebu. But that’s not the only place you can try it. Kaddlagan Outdoor Tours, the premiere outdoor group in Camarines Sur has pioneered canyoneering and waterfall rappelling tours where visitors get to descend down the surface of a waterfall supported by harnesses and ropes. Some of the waterfalls where they offer tours including Nalalata Falls in Bula, Slide waterfalls in Pili and Itbog Falls in Buhi are still relatively unknown destinations even to residents of the province.
4. Chase Waterfalls
If scaling down waterfalls sounds too extreme to you, than hiking to and swimming in waterfalls might be more your thing. The town of Curry in the Pili section of Mt. Isarog is home to a waterfall circuit with eight pristine waterfalls shrouded in a triple-canopy forest where you can hike and picnic. The various picturesque and scenic waterfalls include Twin Falls, Slide Falls and Shower Falls.
You can also get another unique waterfall experience by hiking upstream to Enkanto Falls in Bikal, Libmanan. Getting here is part of the fun, as you have to traverse the stony multi-tiered surface of the waterfall.
5. Hike or bike up mountain trails
With an elevation of 1,966 meters above sea level, Mt. Isarog is an ideal destination for mountain climbing and biking. The trails around Mt. Isarog offer riders a unique mountain biking experience with a spectacular view. From the city proper, bikers can head to Malabsay Falls or Panicuason Hot Spring for a dip in either icy cold natural pools or a relaxing soak in the hot springs. Another area in Calabanga requires bikers to trek and hike up with bikes, cross streams and rivers and descend down technical dirt roads.
Several mountain biking events like eco-tourism duathlons and Enduro mountain bike challenges have been held in the area to showcase the trails of Mt. Isarog to bikers from all over the Bicol region and Manila. So if you’re planning a road trip to Bicol anytime soon, you may want to bring your mountain bike along. Many Manila-based bikers drive to Bicol with their bikes mounted on their cars. It’s also possible to pack your bike and stash it in the luggage compartment of major bus lines that ply the Manila-Naga route daily.
READ MORE: Outside Slacker: Biking in Mt. Isarog
6. Get stoned at the beach
For those who don’t have time to visit the stunning white sand beaches in Caramoan, the nearby Bagolatao Beach in Minalabac also offers visitors a unique beach experience. This beach, roughly an hour away from the Naga City proper, is covered in rocks and pebbles of all. While the road is accessible to sturdy 4 x 4 vehicles and jeeps, foreign tourists usually opt to rent motorbikes to get here on their own.
There are several simple resorts along the stretch of this beach, but one of the best is White Pebble Beach Resort, which has huts and facilities for overnight stays, as well as a large parking space for all types of vehicles. Right across the resort is the Bicol Shell Museum, which houses a wide collection from tiny cowrie shells used in playing sungka to large conch shells.
7. Soak in the hot springs at Panicuason
Situated at the bottom of one of Mt. Isarog’s river ravines in Naga’s East Highland Tourism
Zone, Panicuason Hot Springs Resort offers several natural pools with temperatures ranging from a refreshing 20 to a relaxing 39 degrees Celsius. This is a good option for rainy days when you want to swim, but the water in swimming pools and waterfalls are just too cold.
8. Get High at Panicuason Adventure Park
Aside from the hot springs in Panicuason, there are a lot of new and exciting attractions you can do including the ziplines, rappelling, wall-climbing, Tyrolean Traverse, bike zip, Tarzan swing and the hammock swing zipline (which I have yet to try).
9. Chill out at Haciendas de Naga Adventure Park
For those traveling with extended families including small children, elderly guests or those who want a mix of adventure activities with all the creature comforts, Haciendas de Naga in Barangay Panicuason offers the best of both worlds. Kids can have loads of fun in the artificial wave pool, while the rest of the family can kick back with a round of golf at the driving range, relax in the cabanas, ride a kalesa or go pili nut picking.
For the more adventurous, the park also contains wall climbing facilities, a zipline and ATVs for rent.
10. Go on an Extreme Food Trip
One of my favorite extreme sports is extreme eating and Naga City is a great foodie destination! There are lots of restaurants lining the strip of Magsaysay Avenue that foodies can choose from. From regular homegrown haunts like Bigg’s, Geewan and Bob Marlin to streetside snacks like kinalas and toasted siopao, to new restaurants serving Bicolano fusion cuisine like Que Pasa, Woodstone Kitchen, White Bean Cafe and Flavours Gastronomica, there’s no shortage of dining options to choose from. You’ll only wish you had more time to try all the restaurants.
READ MORE: Food Trip: Naga City
Hopefully these suggestions will help you plan your itinerary the next time you visit Naga City. You can get here by bus or direct flights from Manila to Naga or via Legazpi.
This is my entry to the Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for November 2016 with the theme ‘Stories from my Hometown‘ hosted by Celine Reyes of Celineisms.