Bicol Express Chronicles: Appetizer

May 01 is Labor Day in the Philippines.  It is quite fortunate that this year, it fell on a Friday so it was perfect for a getaway.  While many chose the beach because of the extreme summer heat, we chose to spice things up and visit the land of chilies, the Bicol Region.  And what an extremely fun weekend that was!  Here’s a glimpse of my awesome Labor Day weekend in Bicol.

Driving an ATV at the trails of Mayon

Bicol Region is just so underrated.  When it comes to long weekends, most of us from Manila could think of a bunch of places but chances are Bicol is not one of them.  Sure there are a lot of various reasons, but now that I know better I could really say that Bicol is one of the most well-rounded tourist destinations in the Philippines.  They’ve got just about everything!  They have beaches, mountains, and everything in between!

My first time to step into the region was years ago during the now defunct CamSur Marathon.  It’s one of my most fun marathon experiences ever, but I was hardly able to cover anything.  We restricted by resources primarily just in the vicinity of Naga City and CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC).  This time though I got to see much more, not just of Camarines Sur, but the region overall.  And our first stop, Caramoan.

View from Guijalo Port, Caramoan


Prior to actually arriving in the area, I actually thought Caramoan is an island!  It turns out that Caramoan is a first-class municipality of Camarines Sur (CamSur) located at the tip of the peninsula bearing the same name, and this municipality has numerous surrounding islands.  You can actually drive from Manila all the way to the town proper of Caramoan if you prefer, but we chose the slightly faster option using the sea.  We parked our vehicles in Sabang Port and from there we rode a boat to Guijalo Port where our pickup service awaited.

You’d normally get into this type of boat to get to and from Caramoan

From Guijalo Port, we set off to do some island hopping.  Perhaps the highlight of this leg for me would be that barefoot rock climbing at Matukad Island to see that “legendary” milkfish (bangus).  You may read my more in-depth account of this leg of the trip here.

Island hopping starts here!

CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC)

From nature’s wonder to manmade playground: the following day we were back to the mainland in the town of Pili to do some wakeboarding inside CamSur Watersports Complex.  It’s not my first time here, but it sure is my first time to do wakeboarding!  I admit I’m anything but good, but it was really, really fun!  Read more about it here.

The big lagoon of CWC

Mayon Volcano

Perhaps my overall favorite part of this trip is seeing the majestic Mayon Volcano.  At 2,463 meters above sea level (MASL), you’re surely to see her for kilometers around but the way we saw her made it so much more special.  We drove the beautiful trails towards her using All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) just as Zach Efron did when he visited Mayon.  More details about this ATV tour here.

One of the “trick” shots your guide may take of you at the lava front of Mayon
(I’m supposed to be lying on the side of the volcano, but somehow I don’t really see it that way) o_O

Cagsawa Ruins

On our fourth and final day in Bicol, we visited the iconic ruins of Cagsawa Church.  It was just so hot and bright when we arrived so the photos we took were a bit overexposed.  Read more about it here.

Self-timer testing…


Bicol is not only renowned for their natural wonders; they’re also famous for their spicy food!  On top of the list would be the Bicol Express, named after the passenger train service that used to ply from Manila to Bicol.  Their version is quite different from what we have in Manila as theirs is closer to our Binagoongan.  But one of the more exotic ones we’ve tried on this trip is the Sili (chili) Ice Cream.  A really good Crispy Pata is an accidental discovery from Bob Marlin and the original Sili Ice Cream can be found in 1st Colonial Grill.

Sili Ice Cream, level 3 😈

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Bicol Express Chronicles:


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