Bicol Region, six provinces, two of them islands. Untouched and Unspoilt.
Bicol region is located at the southern most end of the main island of Luzon. Bicol has six provinces, four on Luzon and two island provinces. The two island provinces lie on either side of Luzon
Masbate province or island is on the western side of Luzon and is protected from the fierce Pacific Ocean. On the eastern side of Luzon sitting in the Pacific Ocean is the island province of Catanduanes, which is wind swept and unspoilt.
Bicol is most famous and well know for Mount Mayon, which is an every ready, volcano. Mount Mayon litereally engulfs the skyline, towering over the landscape, quite spectacular.
The six Bicol provinces are
2. Camarines Norte
3. Camarines Sur
Traveling to the Bicol region will take you about twelve hours by road on one of the air conditioned busses or if you were to fly it would take about 45 minutes from Manila.
Lets have a look at the provinces
1. Albay Province
Where is Albay Province? Albay is wedged in the middle of Bicol Region, it has as its neighbours Sorsogon Province to the South and Camarines Norte to the north. On the east is the Pacific Ocean and on the opposite coast to the west is the Burias Pass, dissecting Albay and Burias Island.
Included in the province are the islands of San Miguel, Cagraray, Bata and Rapu Rapu. These four islands are on the Pacific Ocean side and separate the island province of Catanduanes and Albay.
What to do? By far and away the biggest attraction in Albay is the perfectly cone shaped Mayon Volcano. It dominates the sky overlooking the city of Legazpi, which is the capital of Bicol Region.
Dubbed the worlds most perfectly shaped cone, the Mayon Volcano rises 2,242 metres above sea level and is quite spectacular. It is easy to understand how Mayon Volcano got it’s name, from the Bikol word Magayon or beautiful. This is exactly what it is, beautiful.
The Mayon Volcano also produces a taste of danger, it has been known to erupt without any warning. Blowing it’s top and shooting molten larva five kilometers into the sky. At night the fireworks show can be a sight to behold. The last severe eruption was in 1993, maybe Mayon is due another blow?
If you have the time seek out the tourist office and enquire about a guided trip to the crater. It will take a couple of days but the view is said to be truly amazing. If you do not have time to reach the summit, ensure you make it to the Cagsawa Ruins. Cagsawa was a village which was completely engulfed by lava in the worst erruption ever in 1814. You will have so great photo opportunities here of the volcano, don’t forget your camera.
There are also numerous waterfalls to explore, but if just sitting back and relaxing is more your thing, then there are plenty of unique black sand beaches to be found. They are black due to the furry of Mayon Volcano.
How do I get here? Like everything in the Philippines, it depends on your time availability. A bus trip from Manila to Legazpi will take you roughly nine hours. The trip is done daily and you will have the benefit of air conditioning.
You can also get here by train, which is about a 10 hour train ride.
If you what to make a quick trip, then a plane trip is for you. The daily flights to and from Legazpi and Manila is serviced by Philippine Airlines. This is one perfect way to see the Mayon Volcano by air.
2. Camarines Norte Province
Where is Camarines Norte Province? Camarines Norte is the northern province in Bicol region. To the north lies the Rumbling Pacific Ocean, and to the south it shares borders with Camarines Sur and Quezon Province. To the east is San Miguel Bay and the Pacific Ocean and to the west is Lamon Bay.
What to do? Camarines Norte has surging hills and a mountainous interior that lends itself to quality waterfalls, clear fresh rivers and creeks and a coast line with fine white sand beaches.
Camarines Norte has a burgeoning pineapple and coconut industry it provides a good proportion of the countries pineapples and coconuts. The Queen variety of pineapple is quite unique to Camarines Norte and make sure you taste this deliciously sweet fruit.
Being adjacent to the Pacific Ocean and having safe harbours has given this province great fishing opportunities and is considered one of the major fish producing regions in the Philippine Islands.
How do I get here? A seven hour bus trip will get you to Camarines Norte from Manila. The main drop off city is Daet and a number of bus companies ply the route in air conditioned busses.
Flying can be a little harder as the commercial carriers come and go on this route so you should check before making any time allowances for your trip.
3 Camarines Sur
Where is Camarines Sur Province? Camarines Sur is geographically located in the centre of the Bicol Region. To the North lies the provinces of Quezon and Camarines Norte, San Miguel Bay and the Pacific Ocean to the east is the Lagonoy Gulf and the province of Alba to the southeast. Due west is the Ragay Gulf.
What to do? The Camarines Sur has one “small” claim to fame, it is home to the smallest freshwater fish in the world, the Sinarapan, which can be found in Lake Buhi. It measures no larger than 10mm long and has been entered into the Guinness Book of Records.
The province has numerous natural wonders, if you enjoy quiet, powder white sandy beaches with no waves or lush free flowing waterfalls or volcanoes then Camarines Sur is ideal for you.
It has well established Mountain Biking, Trekking and Sea Kayaking facilities the area has been designed by nature to provide you with these opportunities.
How do I get here? The quickest and easiest way to get to the province of Camarines Sur is by plane. There are daily flights from Manila to Naga City. Have a look here for various flights to and from Manila. Flight time is 45 minutes.
By road, either by bus or mini van from Manila is a lengthy way to arrive, however the trip is scenic, ensure if you travel by bus that you choose one that is air conditioned.
The Philippine National Railway extends to Naga and will take about ten (10) hours.
Where is Catanduanes Province? This island province, the twelth (12) largest in the Philippines, Catanduanes is the first island to take the brunt of the mighty Pacific Ocean. They don’t call it “the land of the howling winds“ for nothing!
Catanduanes is separated from Luzon by the Maqueda Channel is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean to the north and east and on the south is the Lagonoy Gulf and Cabugao Bay.
What to do? This island is at worst unspoiled, at best an untouched paradise.
Being pounded by the ferocious Pacific Ocean brings clean smooth surf that tourist will travel the world to find. Catanduanes has surf and lots of it, it is not for the faint hearted, with a sucky reef break just busting to dump you on it’s jagged coral reefs.
Water activities abound including scuba diving, snorkeling and spear fishing or if you just want to enjoy the unspoiled beaches by yourself then you can indulge, or you need is a good book.
How do I get here? By air there a direct daily flights from Manila to Virac. Flights will take you about an hour.
By air conditioned bus from Manila you can travel daily to the Port of Tabaco. From the Port of Tabaco you can jump on a ferry to Virac. The ferry will take you anywhere from 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours depending on your ferry choice.
Where is Masbate Province? Masbate is also an island province in the Bicol Region. It is geographically located in the absolute centre of the Philippine Islands.
To the north it is separated from Luzon by the Vurias and Ticao Pass. To the south you will find the Visayan Sea and to the west by the Sibuyan Sea and the east is the Burias Pass and Samar Sea.
What to do? Masbate island is cattle county. It is well known for its week long rodeo competition held each year in the last week in June.
Beside cattle Masbate also is beautiful beaches lined with coral reefs, just the shot for snorkeling and scuba diving. There are some great waterfalls to visit and the province also has some of the best spring water around.
How do I get here? Air travel from Manila will take you about ten (10) hours, there are daily flights.
Road travel is best from Legazpi City, to get to Legazpi you will need to take a air conditioned bus from Manila which will take about nine (9) hours then swap buses in Legazpi City and travel to Port of Pilar in Sorsogon Province. From here jump on a ferry which will take you to Masbate.
There is a ferry service from Manila which will take you to Port of Pilar, then you will need to catch a ferry to Masbate.
Where is Sorsogon Province? Sorsogon is the last province on the island of Luzon.
To the north lies the province of Albay, to the northeast and east is the Pacific Ocean, to the south it is separated from the island of Samar by the San Bernardino Strait and to the west by Burias island.
What to do? One of the major attractions that Sorsogon has to offer is the Whale Shark. Scuba Divers the world over treat a sighting with one of these majestic creatures as the ultimate in diving, me included.
The natural wonders of this province have been thrilling tourists for some time, what with amazing beaches, crystal clear water ideal for scuba diving, snorkeling, game fishing, mountain lakes and volcanoes just waiting to be explored, why wouldn’t tourists be thrilled.
How do I get here? By air you cannot fly directly to the province of Sorsogon, you will need to fly from Manila to Legazpi and then catch a bus into Sorsogon.
Air conditioned buses ply the Manila – Legazpi City, then change to a Jeepney for the daily trips to Sorsogon. You can also arrange for private mini vans or cars.