Last Holy Week, our entire family decided to visit Bicol and travel by land. I have been to Albay 9 years ago and traveled there by air. It was a smooth flight of less than 45minutes. My brother decided to be adventurous and came up with the idea of traveling to Bicol by land during Holy Week. Wow.
Our journey started Wednesday night, with us thinking to avoid the traffic and the onslaught of people traveling by Thursday. We were so wrong. The traffic during Holy Wednesday evening from Cavite to Quezon alone was intense. We left Cavite around eight in the evening and arrived at Calauag, Quezon at five in the morning. We encountered very minimal traffic from Calauag, Quezon to Legazpi, Albay – but we still arrived around two in the afternoon. Our overall travel time from Cavite to Albay by land was a total of 21 hours! To be fair, we traveled by a convoy of 2 cars and had 2 senior citizens with us, and so bathroom and food break was inevitable.
Our accommodation was the same hotel I stayed at 9 years ago, Ninong Hotel. It is a no-frills hotel that is clean, with sufficient space, and offers breakfast. Cost around Php2,500 per standard room good for two people and honors senior citizen discount.
We traveled as a group of eight, with 2 senior citizen and a minor, and all of us were tired by the long land trip that we decided not to have any activity on the first day of our arrival. We just had dinner at Embarkadero de Legazpi (which looked sad with only one restaurant serving few customers), and slept the night away.
Our second day was the highlight of our Bicol Adventure. We woke up early, requested Ninong Hotel to pack our breakfast, and drive our way to Donsol, Sorsogon. It was a 2-hour drive from Legazpi, Albay to Donsol, Sorsogon and along the way, the view of Mayon Volcano was one of the best.
We arrived at Donsol around past nine in the morning. Donsol is famous for whale shark watching. You will need to rent a boat (which cost Php5,000 for 5 people) and pay the environmental fee costing Php100 for locals (and Php300 for foreigners). Whale watching is divided into batches with only 30 boats allowed at sea so as not to overwhelm the whale sharks. First batch left at 6am and lasted until 10am. Since we arrived around 9am, we waited for an hour for the next batch. We rented snorkeling equipment for Php150 each and lathered ourselves with sunscreen while waiting. Almost 2 months since and I am still reeling the experience.
At around 10am, we boarded our boat. The Tourism Office allowed us to board the boat as 5 adults and 1 child (ideally, the boat should only have 5 tourists). The boat has a total of 5 boatmen including the lifeguard and whale watchers which are called BIO (Butanding Information Officers). To manage expectations, there are instances where you will not see the whale sharks. Donsol Tourism do not feed these whale sharks and thus, they will only show themselves on whim haha. Paying Php5,000 for a chance to see the whale shark might be absurd for some, but I tell you, once you see and swim with the whale shark, the experience is surreal. My son managed to see the whale shark quite a number of times as he was very eager and really follows the instructions of the lifeguard. After five tries, I was fortunate to see the whale shark once. It was surreal and really an encounter you would definitely want to experience.
After the whale shark watching, we then decided to get to see Mayon Volcano up close and drive the ATV Adventure to the Mayon Volcano trails. I also did this 9 years ago, but doing this with my family was another joyful experience. We chose the Mayon SkyDrive ATV Adventure and rode our ATVs for almost an hour. We had a wonderful view of the Mayon Volcano closer than ever.
We did not have anything planned for the evening and Legazpi Albay streets are closed from 2pm to the evening during Good Friday to accommodate the procession of saints.
We did not have anything planned for our third day and thus we visited Cagsawa Ruins, which is located on the same place we had our ATV. We were not able to visit it the day before as it closed at 6PM and we finished our ATV drive past that time. Entrance is at Php20. We also tried the famous Sili Ice Cream. Level 1 is good, but you have to eat it while it is still cold and frozen since eating it once it’s melted heightens the flavor of the sili. We had dinner at Sumlang Lake after.
We left Albay around nine in the evening at arrived at Naga Bus Terminal around 12midnight. We bought pasalubong at Naga Bus Terminal and drove home to Cavite after. We had some stop overs at Quezon to meet some people, and arrived at Cavite by noon.
Our Bicol Adventure was not planned as good as our other travels, but it is definitely something memorable. Here is our detailed itinerary.
8pm – left Cavite
5am – Arrived at Calauag, Quezon
5am – 2pm – Calauag, Quezon to Legazpi, Albay
2pm – Check-in at Ninong’s Hotel
6pm – Dinner at Embarkadero de Legazpi
6am – 9am – Legazpi, Albay to Donsol, Sorsogon
9am – Register at Donsol Tourism and wait for our batch for Whale Watching
10am – 1pm – Whale Shark Watching
1pm – 2pm – Lunch at Donsol
2pm – 4pm – Donsol, Sorsogon to Daraga Albay (Cagsawa)
5pm – 6pm – Mayon ATV drive
Rested in the morning
12pm – Check-out at Ninong’s Hotel
2pm – Seafood lunch
4pm – Cagsawa Ruins
6pm – Sumlang Lake where we had dinner
9pm – Left Albay, Legazpi
I love traveling. But land travels really gives my body the lethargic energy afterwards. My brother was proposing another land travel the week following our Bicol adventure, but I had to beg off. I am sure, my old body needed another year to rest and relax before I embark on another land trip! Ahahaha 😀