What makes this year an awesome year for me is that I was able to cross out one item on my very long bucket list, and that is to visit and trek up to the crater lake of TAAL VOLCANO.
Located in the province of Batangas, Taal is considered as the second most active volcano in the Philippines and one of the most beautiful in the world.
It is situated in the island of Luzon just a couple of clicks down south of the National Capital Region and accessible from Mega Manila via different provincial buses traversing CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) with a travel time of two (2) to three (3) hours depending on traffic conditions and your point of entry.
If you’re planning to go to Taal Volcano, book a hotel in Talisay ahead of time and make your trip easier.
The closest provincial town that provides an easy access to Taal Volcano is a third-class municipality called TALISAY.
Located just below the town of Silang and Tagaytay, Talisay is also called as ‘the’ gateway to Taal Lake and of course the wonderful adventure that awaits local and foreign tourists visiting Taal Volcano. You can actually see the town of Talisay and Taal Volcano at an angle when you’re inside the Tagaytay Picnic Grove.
Talisay being a lakeshore town is home to a number of great resorts and hotels that offers a wonderful view of Taal Lake and Taal Volcano. It is actually one of the most visited location for various milestone events like weddings, debut, anniversaries, company R&R and other activities. Its picturesque view of the lake and the volcano makes it a top choice for prenup pictorials, as well as television and movie shoots.
One of the most popular resort in Talisay is CLUB BALAI ISABEL, a semi-private resort that is located along the Talisay-Tanauan Road near Banga Elementary School. This is where my Taal Volcano adventure kicked-off this year.
People always mistook that small cratered elevation at the far corner of the island inside Taal Lake as the volcano’s crater. The big revelation is that the whole island is the actual volcano and the crater is located in the middle of that island all filled with water. So technically speaking, the Taal Crater Lake is a lake inside an island that is inside a lake (Taal Lake) that is inside a bigger island (Luzon).
That small elevation we believe as the volcano is called Binintiang Malaki (Big Leg) or the Fake Taal Volcano with a dormant crater.
Another thing that’s worth remembering is that although the lake and volcano is named after Taal, the town of Taal in Batangas is nowhere near its lake. Lakeshore towns other than Talisay are Tanauan, Balete, Mataas Na Kahoy, Lipa, Cuenca, Alitagtag, Sta. Teresita, San Nicolas, Agoncillo and Laurel.
Taal Volcano Trek
After getting our fill of a very relaxing weekend at Club Balai Isabel with its wonderful resort facilities and water sport activities, we decided to get us some awesome piece of real adventure by enlisting on a Taal Crater Lake Tour that the resort offers to all its visitors. The fee is set at 4,500 Pesos for a group six (6) people – this includes the boat ride to and from the volcano, Docking Fees, Tour Guide and Entrance Fees.
Our adventure started with a 30-minute boat ride across Taal Lake – which is in itself is already a really awesome experience.
After docking, we are then asked to register and are provided with native hats that we can use for the trek – a 45 to 60-minute walk up a mostly narrow rocky trail that leads to the volcano’s crater lake. For those who are up for a different challenge, you may choose to ride a horse to the crater lake. It’s faster but it will cost you around 450 Pesos per ride.
Don’t forget to travel light and bring lots of water with you. Or, you can just buy your drinks from the merchants at the Crater Lake area – one bottle of water or softdrinks is priced at 50 to 100 Pesos.
Along the way, steamy vents welcome trekkers, a constant reminder that the volcano is indeed active and breathing.
Taal Crater Lake
The trek was exhausting but it’s all worth it when you get to the Crater Lake (If… you get to the Crater Lake). The view is so stupendous! The write-ups are correct – Taal Volcano is one of the most beautiful volcano in the world! The destination is worth more than the journey when it comes to Taal. 🙂
At the crater lake, there is a view deck (similar to the one in Tagaytay Picnic Grove) and a sturdy wooden plank at the edge of one area of the crater where visitors can choose to have their photos or selfies taken with the majestic emerald green crater lake as your background.
Another activity there that the locals are offering tourists is golf. I’m not so sure how it works, but they have golf clubs and golf balls that you can rent for a price. I think the idea is to swing and hit the ball and see if it goes to the other side of the crater? Or maybe, to hit the ball and let it fall to the Crater Lake? I just don’t really get the purpose of this activity. 🙂
The only souvenir that I got for this trek is a bracelet sold also at the Crater Lake just below the view deck.
If you’re Catholic, you may also choose to do your Lenten Way of the Cross activity at Taal Volcano. The trail that leads to the Crater Lake is also marked with the 14 Stations of the Cross.
We went back the same way, only it’s faster going down than going up. And then what better way to end a tour like that but with fresh buko juice and a long dip at the pool of Club Balai Isabel before going home.
How To Get To TALISAY and CLUB BALAI ISABEL?
SLEX via Sta. Rosa – Tagaytay
- Take the Sta. Rosa Exit and turn right.
- Follow the main road leading to Tagaytay. When you reach Tagaytay, you will come to an intersection.
- Turn left at the intersection.
- Go straight until you see a public elementary school on your left and a road named Ligaya Drive on your right.
- Turn right at Ligaya Drive. Follow the road down to Talisay. Please exercise caution: this is a steep road.
- When you reach the bottom of the road you will come to an intersection. Turn left at this intersection.
- You will pass a bridge. Club Balai Isabel is 200 meters from this bridge on the right side. If you see a second bridge, then you have gone past the resort.
SLEX via STAR Tollway
- On South Luzon Expressway, simply go straight past the end of the highway and straight to the STAR Tollway.
- Go up the ramp at the Tanauan City exit and turn right. You are now on the National Highway
- Follow the road going to Talisay.
- When you reach the town proper of Talisay, go straight ahead.
- Club Balai Isabel is 500 meters from the town proper on your left side. If you see the second bridge, then you have gone past the resort.
Commute (Manila to Talisay by Bus)
- Go to the bus terminal in Buendia-Taft, take the bus with the sign board Lipa, Tanauan, Batangas City. It will cost you around P70 – P80 pesos per person.
- Get off at Tanauan town proper bus terminal. Once you get off, you will see the tricycles beside the bus terminal.
- Take the tricycle and ask the driver to bring you to the Talisay jeepney terminal besides Mc Donalds Tanauan. It will cost you P8 per person.
- When you have reached the jeepney terminal, take the ride with the signboard TALISAY. It will cost you P 20 per person.
- You will reach the town proper of Talisay, the jeep will stop near the church of Talisay (San Guillermo).
- Take the tricycle at the terminal near the church where you get off. Ask the driver to bring you to Cub Balai Isabel. It will cost you P8.00 per person, if you wish to take the trip alone and not wait for other passengers, be prepared to pay P 24.00.
- The tricycle will bring you to Club Balai Isabel.