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Bicol

The Bicol Region forms the southeast peninsula of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago. The almost perfectly conical Mount Mayon volcano is Bicol's most iconic sight, though there are increasingly more with the development of tourism in the region. Still an active volcano, Mayon draws adventurers who trek to its bubbling crater. For the less daring, there are many crater lakes and hot springs in the area as well.

Beneath the surface, one can find Bicol's most famous residents, the whalesharks of Donsol. These gentle giants can be seen between February and May, when they linger in the plankton-rich bay for feeding. Add to that charming colonial churches, pretty beaches, limestone cliffs and a long, Pacific coastline spanning the region, and Bicol is arguably one of the Philippines' best destinations.

On your visit, make sure to feast on the regional cuisine, notable for its generous use of fiery chilies and coconut milk.

The Bicol Region forms the southeast peninsula of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago. The almost perfectly conical Mount Mayon volcano is Bicol's most iconic sight, though there are increasingly more with the development of tourism in the region. Still an active volcano, Mayon draws adventurers who trek to its bubbling crater. For the less daring, there are many crater lakes and hot springs in the area as well.

Beneath the surface, one can find Bicol's most famous residents, the whalesharks of Donsol. These gentle giants can be seen between February and May, when they linger in the plankton-rich bay for feeding. Add to that charming colonial churches, pretty beaches, limestone cliffs and a long, Pacific coastline spanning the region, and Bicol is arguably one of the Philippines' best destinations.

On your visit, make sure to feast on the regional cuisine, notable for its generous use of fiery chilies and coconut milk.

EXPERIENCES

EXPERIENCES

Beach Life

Owing to its location on the Pacific coast, Bicol's white-sand beaches are popular with surfers and sun worshippers. Daet and Catanduanes are popular destinations for surfers, as is Bagasbas Beach.

Diving

One of the country's underrated dive destinations, Bicol has fantastic marine life. Most of the prime dive spots are located in the southwest of Sorsogon, at Ticao Pass and Manta Bowl, where whalesharks and manta rays congregate. Wreck diving is also an option, as many Spanish galleons were sunk here.

Festivals

If you are traveling in early September, make a pilgrimage to the amazing Peñafrancia Festival in Naga. Our Lady of Peñafrancia Festival is celebrated for nine days and honors the Virgin Mary, who is known as “The Patroness of Bicol.”If you can't make it to the main affair, chances are there will be some sort of festival going on, whether in small barrios, or throughout an entire diocese. Bicol has among the most devout Roman Catholic followers in the the country.

Island Hopping

Board a local banca (motored outrigger) and cruise off the east coast of Bicol. Visit the picturesque islands of Caramoan, with their verdant seaside cliffs, white-sand beaches and wealth of marine life.

Music & Food

At night, wind down with some live traditional music and local cuisine. Bicolano cuisine is known for its spicy dishes, as well as meats and vegetables cooked in coconut milk.

Old Churches

Roman Catholic churches dating back to Spanish colonial times can be found throughout Bicol. Although some of the original structures were burned, many churches still stand with 200 to 300-year old remnants of this adopted faith. The most famous site is the Cagsawa Ruins, located at the foot of Mt. Mayon. A massive eruption in 1814 destroyed most of the church, though the bell tower remains standing.

Volcanoes

There are over 20 volcanoes in all of the Bicol Region, all of them scaleable. Mount Mayon is the most famous, but other highlights include Mount Isarog, Mount Iriga (which is almost 4,000 feet high, topped with a collapsed crater and not far from Lake Buhi), Mount Malinao and Mount Masaraga.

Watersports

Spend a day wakeboarding or waterskiing,, or take a short bus ride to the town of Caramoan, the take-off point for island hopping. Guests can have a fresh seafood lunch on their private outrigger, or on a secluded beach.

Whale Sharks

Discover the seasonal whalesharks in the Donsol Bay by Naga City. Whalesharks are the world’s biggest fish, known as the “gentle giants” of the sea. Head into the bay via private outrigger, so you can swim up-close with these amazing creatures when they surface. There are more confirmed whale shark sightings here than anywhere else on Earth.

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TRAVELOGUES

TRAVELOGUES

Mount Mayon: In the Shadow of the Most Active Volcano in the Philippines

Mount Mayon: In the Shadow of the Most Active Volcano in the Philippines

Author : Richard Collett
The full version of Richard Collett's ATV adventure up the conical volcano of Mount Mayon from our Hot and Cold Winter Issue, featuring lava, ziplines, history, and more.
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Remote Lands Hot Winter Pick: Palawan for the Beaches

Remote Lands Hot Winter Pick: Palawan for the Beaches

Author : Tyler Roney
If you’re watching the latest season of Naked and Afraid XL, you probably think Palawan is a lot tougher than it is. Check out this Remote Lands pick for your winter holiday in 2020.
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Shopping on the Streets of Manila

Shopping on the Streets of Manila

Author : Ronan O'Connell
Manila is a whirlwind, and nowhere is this more apparent that the swirling markets of the capital, from the bustling streets of Chinatown to the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene.
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Sharks and Exclusive Underwater Adventures in Tubbataha

Sharks and Exclusive Underwater Adventures in Tubbataha

Author : Juanita Pienaar
Found almost a hundred miles from the nearest port, the diving hotspot of Tubbataha in the Philippines is under-traveled and teaming with life.
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Coron: Island Hopping and Instagramming

Coron: Island Hopping and Instagramming

Author : Jordan Hammond
Photographer Jordan Hammond takes his camera to the tropical paradise of Coron for a look at sunken ships, pristine white beaches, tourist favorites and off-the-beaten-track gems.
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Tribal Tagbanua: The Guardians of Coron

Tribal Tagbanua: The Guardians of Coron

Author : Richard Collett
Richard Collett travels to a beach with no name to visit with the Tagbanua tribe to shoot a courtship ritual, the people of the Tagbanua, and the pristine beaches of this forgotten tribal island.
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