Exploring Sorsogon: Luzon’s Amazing Southernmost Province

WOW, SORSOGON!
WOW, SORSOGON! Never thought I’d see a lot of astoundingly pristine beaches in this province! I was wowed the whole time I was here!

Sorsogon is the last province in Bicol that I haven’t visited yet that’s why going here to explore the place has been my goal after visiting Catanduanes. And to my really big surprise, it was very beautiful! I think all of the beaches that we went to here have fine, white sand and clear, aquamarine waters! I was simply awestruck by everything Sorsogon has to offer!

This blog post is the continuation of our Bicolandia trip. We have first traveled to Catanduanes (Manila to Virac via airplane) and after exploring its beauteous rugged cliffs and golden sand beaches (plus, side tripping in Caramoan Islands), we headed to the province of Sorsogon

HOW TO GO TO SORSOGON:

From Catanduanes.  In the port of Virac, we rode a ferry headed to Tabaco, Albay. After about 4 hours, we have reached Tabaco port where we rode a van going to Legazpi, Albay. Our van traveled for about an hour before reaching Legazpi Grand Central Jeep Terminal, where we were expecting to ride a bus going to Matnog, Sorsogon. However, it was already past 6 in the evening, and the last bus going to Matnog has already left.  A friend who’s joining us in our trip to Sorsogon incidentally went to Daraga Van Terminal, and he said there is a van there going straight to Matnog. We headed there and rode the van, and it took us only about 2 hours before reaching Matnog.

From Manila. There are many bus companies that serve passengers from Metro Manila who want to go to Sorsogon. These include Superlines, DLTB, Penafrancia Tours, RSL Bus, Amihan Bus Lines and Philtranco. Travel time from Quezon City (or Pasay) to Matnog is about 16 hours. Other options include riding the airplane from Manila to Legazpi (and/or Naga), then riding the van/bus going to Matnog.

SORSOGON

Sorsogon Map (courtesy of Peanut dela Cruz via insights.looloo.com
The Map of Sorsogon (courtesy of Peanut dela Cruz via insights.looloo.com)

Being the southernmost province in the island of Luzon, Sorsogon serves as the gateway of Luzon to Visayas and Mindanao. It is a transshipment corridor among these regions due to its location in the Bicol peninsula. Occupying a land area of 2,119.01 sq km, the province consists of 14 municipalities and 1 component city (Sorsogon City, its capital). It is bordered by Albay province in the north, the Pacific Ocean in the east, Ticao and Burias Passes in the west and the San Bernardino Strait in the south.

The people of Sorsogon call themselves as Sorsogueños. As of 2015, the number of Sorsogueños is at 792,949. Agriculture and fisheries remain to be the main sectors of work for the people.

Climate in Sorsogon is classified as Type II: no pronounced dry season but with very pronounced maximum rain from November to January. So if I were you, I’d be visiting the province all year round aside from the said months, unless you want to go exploring it even when it’s raining.

WHAT TO EXPLORE IN SORSOGON

Our route in exploring Sorsogon went like this: We started on its southernmost town, Matnog, going the way up to Sorsogon City.

MATNOG

Tikling Island

BEAUTIFUL ISLAND.
BEAUTIFUL ISLAND. Our travel to Sorsogon started with a bang courtesy of the beautiful island of Tikling. I was awed while we were here!

Based on what I hear from people who have been here, Tikling Island is where people who avail the island-hopping experience from the Matnog tourism office spend the least amount of time. Even in some of the write-ups that I have read online, they just mention Tikling in passing. For me, though, this island is stunningly beautiful, but is severely underrated.

STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL but severely underrated.
STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL but severely underrated. That’s what this island is.

It’s the first stop that we had during our tour of Sorsogon and the place has definitely blown my mind! Its fine, white sand is so good to the touch walking along its shore is a must! Its crystal clear water is also inviting for anyone to swim even just for a short time. While privately owned, which means there are no resorts around the island, visitors can still enjoy its pristine beach during the day.

PERFECT PLACE TO ENJOY THE WAVES.
LOW TIDE. Tikling Island can be the perfect place to enjoy the waves during low tide!

Juag Fish Sanctuary

SOOTHING.
A PLACE TO ENJOY. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this fish sanctuary that much but I did! Even though we were not able to snorkel among the fishes (as we used sunblock before going here), we were still awed by what we witnessed even not in the water!

One of the atrractions in Matnog is this fish sanctuary in the middle of a lagoon in Joag where a large number of lapu-lapu (grouper), bangus (milkfish), maya-maya (snapper), talakitok (cavalla), samaral (spinefoot) and other fishes can be found. We also found a few lobsters here! Going here would be a delight especially to those who love observing fishes.

JUAG FISH SANCTUARY
JUAG FISH SANCTUARY. Now this is what the fish sanctuary looks like. In its clear waters, people can see various fishes of varying sizes!
ON THE WAY.
ON THE WAY to the feeding platform. People take turns in feeding the fish of the sanctuary.

Once you land in the sanctuary, you will be settling first in the reception area which is a sari-sari store. You’ll be asked here if you’re going to snorkel and swim along with the fishes (though they have a strict rule not to allow visitors to snorkel if they have already put sunblock on their skin) or just feed them with fish food (worth P100). Actually, you also have the option to just observe the fishes while other tourists are feeding them.  Once you have decided on what to do, you will be boarding a bamboo raft towards the feeding area: a bamboo platform on stilts.

LOOK AT THEM FISHES!
LOOK AT THEM FISHES! It may not look like it with this picture, but they’re quite big! And just look at the water. That’s how clear it is!
SOOTHING.
SOOTHING. I don’t know about you, but I find looking at the fishes really soothing.

Once you’re in the feeding area, you will enjoy being close to the fishes! Warning, the fishes here are huge! And once you throw them the fish food, you might be surprised as to how fast they devour their food regardless of their size!

Isla de Blas

ISLA DE BLAS.
ISLA DE BLAS. Who would have thought that there’s this place in the middle of lagoon here in Juag?

Not far from Juag Fish Sanctuary is Isla de Blas, a resort made up of wooden houses on stilts in the middle of Juag lagoon. It is actually an events place, perfect for people celebrating their birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions. Not to worry, though. Should you want to go here just to spend the night while you’re here in Matnog, you can. Contact and look for Miraquel Geneblazo Garil in this number: 0977-395-0443. As of August 2018, this is their room rates: P5,300 for family room (4-6 pax, with aircon), P3,500 for (2-4 pax, with aircon), P3,500 for duplex room (2-4 pax, with aircon), P3,000 for couple room (2-3 pax, with aircon) and P2,500 for open cottage (2-4 pax, without aircon).

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The whole Isla de Blas as captured by the drone of my good friend, Manuel (IG: @theweekendvoyager). Here’s our group of five as we were enjoying the place!
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It’s quite nice and nifty here in Isla de Blas.
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AIR-CONDITIONED. This picture shows the rooms that have air-conditioning.

Anyway, here are some more of the snapshots me and my friends were able to capture in Isla de Blas. Imagine staying here to witness the sunset as well as the sunrise early in the morning. I can just feel the air of romance for lovers and the atmosphere of fun for family and friends should they decide to stay here overnight!

 

PRETTY, isn't it?
THE PLACE IS PRETTY, isn’t it?
The whole Isla de Blas!
The whole Isla de Blas! Picture is again courtesy of my good friend, Manuel, the Weekend Voyager!

Subic Beach

LOOK AT THOSE BLUES AND GREENS!
LOOK AT THOSE BLUES AND GREENS! Here’s my good friend, Will, as he welcomes the Subic Island with his arms wide open!

One of the most popular destinations in Sorsogon, Subic Beach is home to some of the country’s only pink beaches. Similar to the pink beach of Zamboanga City and also that of Palawan, Subic Beach is delightfully pinkish in color! FYI, the sand in pink beaches gets its pink hues from red corals that are crushed by waves then eventually mixed with the sand.

 

PINKISH SAND.
PINKISH SAND. That’s how pinkish the sand is here in Subic Beach!
CALM AND SERENE.
CALM AND SERENE. That’s how I feel every time I think of Subic Beach. That’s not a wonder because we had it all by ourselves when we visited!

Bulusan Lake

THE BULUSAN LAKE.
THE BULUSAN LAKE. The lake near Sorsogon’s highest peak is a rippling beauty of greens.
KAYAKING.
KAYAKING. Kayaking is such a worthwhile activity while you visit the Bulusan Lake. Make sure you do try this while you are already here, okay?

Found at the heart of Bulusan Volcano National Park, this lake has been a go-to place when visiting the province of Sorsogon. Not only does it give a good view of Mt. Bulusan, one of the three active volcanoes in the Bicol Region.

QUITE NEAR.
QUITE NEAR. Mt. Bulusan can be clearly seen from the lake, though clouds occasionally cover it while we were there.

Bulusan Lake is accessible via Maharlika Highway. From Irosin, it would require 10 kilometers before going to the site. Another route would be passing through the towns of Gubat, Barcelona as well as Bulusan. The roads going here are paved, though they are winding and steep so better hold on to your vehicle while going here.

THE START of our kayaking adventure!
THE START of our kayaking adventure! Btw, guides will make sure you do know what you should be doing while kayaking the Bulusan Lake.
Photo 18-08-2018, 3 19 08 PM
SORSOGON FIVE. With me in this picture are Denmark (IG: @denmarkisthename), Will (IG: @willianism09), Gary (IG: @dudeinorange) and Manuel (IG: @theweekendvoyager)!

The lake’s water is green in color, while it is reported that its waterbed is both rocky and sandy.

SUCH A BEAUTY.
SUCH A BEAUTY. Going here in Bulusan Lake is totally worth it while visiting Sorsogon!

BARCELONA

Barcelona Church

SORSOGON CHURCH
SORSOGON CHURCH. Apparently, the church is about to celebrate its 150th year soon!

Also called St. Joseph Church, Barcelona Church is the main tourist spot in this town of Sorsogon. Built in 1874 with use of mainly corals and egg whites, the church still stands firmly today. It has undergone restorations, and this is expected as the church is already a century and a half year old.

RECONSTRUCTION. You can just see in the picture how old the church is and how important it is to be reconstructed.
THE HOLY FAMILY.
THE HOLY FAMILY. This stained glass of the Holy Family in Barcelona Church is beautiful.

The Old Ruins of Barcelona

MARQUEE
MARQUEE. Beside the old ruins is this huge marquee of the town.

Just on the opposite side of the church is the Barcelona Park where the old ruins of the Presidencia are located. The Presidencia served as the seat of the then municipal government headed by the gobenadorcillo. It was a fortress used to monitor pirates coming from the Pacific Ocean, and it has an underground tunnel leading to the church, probably used for retrieval purposes.

Barcelona Park

HUGE.
HUGE. Here’s another picture of the marquee.

The Barcelona Park has this huge lettering of the town’s name that lure visitors to take pictures of. Named after the capital of Spain, Barcelona in Sorsogon is just one of the seven towns in the Philippines that are named as such. Theories abound that it is named as Barcelona because the Spanish settlers here may have reminded them of home.

GUBAT

Lola Sayong’s Beach Camp

LOLA SAYONG'S.
LOLA SAYONG’S ECO-SURF CAMP. This resort is located along the national highway so it won’t be too hard to locate it when you visit Gubat.

I was instantly drawn to this resort’s campy atmosphere and charm once I’ve set foot on it. It has these wooden structures meant for various activities while people stay in their place. The beach is also a big draw, as it is a perfect place for beginner surfers due to its hollow and relatively gentle waves.

CAMP RULES.
CAMP RULES. The resort has its own rules that visitors should follow.
TAKE A BREAK.
TAKE A BREAK. The perfect time to go here is when you really do want to take a break!
LOOK AT THOSE WAVES.
LOOK AT THOSE WAVES! Such perfect for beginning surfers.
BLUES.
BLUES. That’s how bluish the surfing camp appears to be during sunset.

SORSOGON CITY

Paguriran Island and Lagoon

PAGURIRAN ISLAND AND LAGOON.
PAGURIRAN ISLAND AND LAGOON. I hope this picture gives justice to how beautiful this place is.

This is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve seen in the whole of Sorsogon. Even though we went here on a Sunday when people really flocked to visit, we have still enjoyed it. Aside from its alluringly clear waters, Paguriran has beautiful rock formations that can be reached by walking from the beach. I promise you, Paguriran’s white sand is comparable to other more popular white sand beaches in our country! Aside from that, the views are amazing!

AMAZING VIEW.
AMAZING VIEW. Paguriran has that!

By the way, you can go the island/ lagoon of Paguriran just by walking across the beach at low tide. If not, you might have to hire a boatman to paddle you across.

LOOK AT THE WATER!
LOOK AT THE WATER and see how tempting it is for a swim!

Mangrove Beach Resort

MANGROVE BEACH RESORT.
MANGROVE BEACH RESORT. A good place to stay when visiting Paguriran!

True to its name, Mangrove Beach Resort has a handful of mangroves along its part of the Paguriran Beach. Watching the waves as they hit the mangroves is calming and you can experience that and more while staying here. Besides, it’s still not crowded, so you can definitely relax and just chill.

The resort is on its soft opening that’s why construction is still ongoing. Not to worry, though, because their amenities are already open to the public. Beautiful beach huts are already in place, along with easy access to shower/ comfort rooms. Should you decide to go to Paguriran Island/Lagoon, you just have to walk for a few minutes to reach it.

Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral

MOST BEAUTIFUL STRUCTURE IN SORSOGON CITY
MOST BEAUTIFUL STRUCTURE IN SORSOGON CITY. I guess it’s pretty safe to say that because of how remarkable this church is!

Founded in 1628, Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral is close to 400 years of age. But did you know that the site of the cathedral today isn’t the original site of the parish? According to the Deices of Sorsogon, its original site was a small fishing village somewhere between the barangays of Bulabog and Capuy. In 1680, a ravishing flood has destroyed the place, including all the images of saints except those of Sts. Peter and Paul. This has compelled the then Bishop of Nueva Caceres, Msgr. Andres Gonzales, to issue a decree giving titularship to the two saints. It was also in 1680 when the parish was church was transferred to its present site.

BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT.
STILL BEAUTIFUL INSIDE. The church emanates this sense of safety and security, aside from the beauty that it still exudes inside its perimeter.

Imposing in its large size and impressive in its structure, the cathedral also features a huge dome-shaped tower that closely resembles that of St. Peter Basilica in Vatican City.  The church easily dominates the skyline of Sorsogon City, making it as the main landmark of Sorsogon’s capital.

IMPOSING.
IMPOSING AND STRIKING. That’s what this cathedral is, aside from a lot of other things.

Trivia: The feast of Sts. Peter and Paul is celebrated during June 29. On this day, Sorsogon City celebrates the annual Pili Festival showcasing the pili nut (one of the most popular products of the Bicol region) through street dance competitions and trade fairs.

Rompeolas

ROMPEOPLAS.
ROMPEOPLAS. Sorsogon City’s baywalk has these marquees for picture-taking.

Also known as Sorsogon City’s Baywalk, Rompeolas is a popular destination of the locals. Similar to other baywalks around the country, it is a place for strolling, people-watching and viewing the sunset, which is said to be particularly beautiful in this place. These are good reasons why families, friends and lovers like to stay here after school or work and also during weekends.

While visiting, we encountered a group of kids who wanted us to take pictures of them. We gladly did – they were all smiles while we were taking their pictures. They added us on Facebook so we could give them their copies of their pictures. Haha, smart kids.

SORSOGON CITY KIDS.
SORSOGON CITY KIDS. It’s cool how these kids approached us while we were in Rompeolas and asked us to take their pictures. We asked if they’re studying and they said yes, they do. We told them to study hard! You gotta impart these kids nuggets of wisdom as best as you can, you know.

Rompeolas got its name from the Spanish word, rompir, which means “where the waves cohort.” Simply put, rompeolas means breakwater, an offshore structure protecting the harbor from waves. 

Sorsogon Provincial Capitol Park

SORSOGON PROVINCIAL CAPITOL
SORSOGON PROVINCIAL CAPITOL. One of the things I like to do while visiting a province is checking our their provincial capitols. Sorsogon’s capital did not disappoint! Its structure reminded me of the Manila Post Office.

We visited Sorsogon Provincial Capitol just for a short time. The provincial capitol building, which is the province’s seat of government, was built in 1916. Its façade is reminiscent of the Manila Post Office, which is designed in neoclassical style of architecture. In front of the capitol building is a freedom park, which features a statue of Dr. Jose Rizal.

WHERE TO STAY

Homestay (Fragas Hotel) – This is where we stayed when we had an overnight in Matnog. They have an air-conditioned room that can accommodate 4 people. Extra beds are available if you are more than 4 in the group.

Lola Sayong’s Beach Camp – This is highly recommend when you’re in Gubat, Sorsogon. The place is said to be a great place to be during sunrise.

Asia Novo Hotel – This is where we stayed while in Sorsogon City. Spacious and quite inexpensive, the hotel is near many establishments in the city. I highly recommend this place while you’re visiting Sorsogon City.

WHERE TO EAT

Kapihan ni Tya Tina

SUMPTUOUS BREAKFAST.
SUMPTUOUS BREAKFAST. Yummy mami, sintang kutsinta and wow na wow palitaw: my breakfast that day in Sorsogon City!

Probably one of the oldest culinary destinations in Sorsogon City, Kapihan ni Tya Tinay is a diner popular for serving a variety of delicious kakanin, and these include puto, kutsinta, among others. Already open since 1925, Kapihan ni Tya Tinay is now being run by the 4th generation of its owners, the Hayag Family.

WHO TO CONTACT

Jun Evangelista – Kuya Jun served as our tour guide/ driver in Sorsogon City. For about P600, we have toured Paguriran and the whole city of Sorsogon. His contact number is 09486388782.

LIST OF EXPENSES IN SORSOGON (not including expenses for food):

JEEPNEY RIDE
JEEPNEY RIDE. This is the jeepney that we rode in from Matnog to Irosin. It was in Irosin where we looked for a tricycle that we’d be renting for the whole afternoon.

P200 – ferry ticket from Virac to Tabaco

P50 – van from Tabaco to Legazpi

P8 – jeep from Legazpi Jeep Terminal to Daraga Van Terminal

P250 – van from Daraga to Matnog

P1,500 – Fragas Hotel (our homestay in Matnog, which is good for a group of 4 to 5)

P50 – Matnog tourist registration

P20 – Matnog’s environmental fee

P100 – fish food in Juag Fish Terminal

P1,600 – Boat rental for island hopping in Matnog (good for a group of 5)

P30 – Jeep from Matnog to Irosin

P20 – Entrance fee in Bulusan Lake

P1,200 – Tricycle rental (Irosin-Barcelona-Gubat-Sorsogon City) for a group of 4

P30 – Lola Sayong Beach Camp entrance fee

P1,500 – Asia Novo Hotel (good for a group of 5)

P250 – Discounted price in Mangrove Beach Resort in Paguriran

P10 – Entrance fee

P600 (originally, P500) – Tricycle rental (tour around Sorsogon City and Paguriran)

P120 – Van from Sorsogon City to Legazpi

TOTAL EXPENSES IN SORSOGON: P2,326.33

***

It’s actually inexpensive exploring Sorsogon especially when you’re traveling in a group. And I must say, you really have to travel going here along with your family or friends! Enjoy Sorsogon’s pristine beaches (that I can honestly say are some of the most beautiful that I’ve seen), lakes, along with the province’s amazing churches. Not to forget its people who I deem are some of the friendliest.

I hope you get to enjoy reading this Sorsogon travel guide, guys! Watch out for more of my blog posts here in KO the Explorer!

THANK YOU, SORSOGON!
THANK YOU, SORSOGON! We really had a great time exploring you! How I wish I can get back soon and visit more of your beautiful places! Here’s the group while kayaking in Bulusan Lake.
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