Numerous travelers are still trying to find a one-stop travel destination where they can enjoy the sun, get closer to nature, do some exercises, soak into the water, relax at a world-class hotel, or try extreme sports. Search no more, for you need not fly any farther than Camarines Sur to squeeze all of the activities mentioned above in one unforgettable vacation.
Camarines Sur, the biggest among the six provinces in Bicol Region, has cemented its position in the list of underrated travel destinations in the Philippines, thanks to the adventure junkies hooked to extreme water sports. The region was not incorporated in most Philippine travel guides until the Camarines Sur Watersports Complex reopened to the public. Since then, this active park, which has facilities for wakeskating, wakeboarding, waterskiing, and kneeboarding, has buoyed the local tourism industry.
Politically divided into 35 municipalities and two towns, Camarines Sur is also a refuge for beach lovers. One of the popular natural attractions in the region is the beaches of Caramoan, a second-class town ideally made for island hopping. Its crystal-clear waters and fine white sand beaches are excellent for snorkeling, kayaking, and scuba diving. Other exciting activities popular for tourists are caving, rock climbing, trekking, camping, and mountain biking.
Camarines Sur, which is about an eight-hour drive from Manila or 45 minutes by plane, is also an attraction for Catholics. The region is home to Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga City. Come September, religious partisans flock to the town for a religious festival wherein the image of the Nuestra Señora de Peñafrancia is paraded on a float. Old churches are also a staple fare in the territory. Some of them are the Quipayo Church, Naga Metropolitan Cathedral, and Nabua Ladrillo Church.
Like any area in the archipelago, Camarines Sur also has its own share of festivals and colorful events. In San Jose town, young artists and local talents take the central stage for the Harana Festival. The February event aims to elevate cultural awareness through music and other forms of arts. Other famous occasions in Camarines Sur include Iriga City’s Bato’s Karanowan Festival, Tinagba Festival, Nabua’s Boa-Boahan Festival, and Minabalac’s Tumatarok Festival.
Locals in Camarines Sur are noted for their gastronomic appetite in chili-hot or fiery dishes. Unlike people from other neighborhoods in the entire country, a Bicolano can savor every meal which has for its recipe anything spicy.
Top places to see in Camarines Sur
- Mt Isarog National Park: The famous Malabsay Falls is just within the Mount Isarog National Park; after taking the trail to the right after passing the entrance, you will drop down into a dramatic gully where the 20-meter falls are situated. The bright, crystal clear waters offer opportunities for relaxing in nature and rock jumping.
- Itbog Falls: Itbog Falls is a twin waterfall cascading amidst flourishing vegetation situated in Sta. Cruz, Buhi. It could be reached employing a Banca ride from the town proper, then a 40-minute trek.
- Atulayan Island: Atulayan Island is a cinema-like utopia of an island. You can simply pull your heart down and develop your collection of rare stones and shells here.
- Culapnitan Cave: Culapnitan Cave is located in Libmanan. It comprises countless stalactites and pillars ranging from extremely delicate to massive.
A few meals native to Camarines Sur include
- Gulay Na Natong (Laing), a dish prepared from small shrimps or crabs,
- Langkang Palusag (Breadfruit), a dish in which bangut, Langka, onion, garlic are placed in the coconut milk and boiled.
- Ginaring, a delicious dish, which is a roast skewered fish of dalag (talusog).