Tag Archives: Calatagan

Beach Camping in Calatagan

Beach Camping in Calatagan
by Danny Tariman

My family had not been camping for many months now – I mean, really “camping”, that is pitching a tent, setting up the picnic table, setting firewood or charcoal to cook. I personally missed this kind of activity.

Until one day, we stumbled upon on the internet a beach in Calatagan, Batangas which is solely devoted for camping. No resort facilities like restaurant nor coffee shop, not even a decent bathroom nor toilet. Haha! After reading a number of pertinent blogs, comments and reviews on the internet, my family agreed to try this out.

The long stretch of beach of Manuel Uy camping grounds

And so one Saturday, we headed for Manuel Uy Beach in Calatagan, Batangas. It is located between two well-developed resorts – Aquaria Beach Resort on the left, and Stilts Resort on the right. My family had been to these two resorts where we had wonderful family moments. I have separate blogs on these 2 resorts.

We left the city at 4:30am, with the objective of arriving at the beach at about 7 in the morning. Yeah, that early, as we planned to have our breakfast on the beach! Our estimate didn’t fail us; we arrived at the beach at about 6:50am.

The beachfront where we pitched our tent. Really good spot for a relaxing day.

It was a 2 1/2-hour drive passing through Tagaytay, going down to Nasugbu, left turn to Lian, and finally reaching the Calatagan town proper. From the town, it was just about a 10-minute drive.

At the road corner heading to the beach, there was a Tourism desk that asked us to pay the 30-peso per person “Environmental Fee”, which is quite normal in Batangas. This is supposed to be for the upkeep of the environment.

The beach camp entrance is just a very short distance from the main road. We paid 50 pesos per person as entrance fee. Parking fee was Php100.

We were not expecting facilities which are common in the more developed resorts. We were really ready for camping!

As we drove to the beach, we found a good spot where only few people camped, and we pulled our vehicle. It was good location: away from the crowd, we had a lone tree cover, a space for our car and a good flat area to pitch our tent and set-up our camping table and chair, and just the right beach front! We are indeed blessed!

As soon as we settled down, we prepared our packed breakfast, and set it up on our portable folding table with bench. Oh, it was really an amazing experience. Our table was just about 5 meters from the shore where the sea and the sand meets. It was quite windy too! Really relaxing and refreshing environment for breakfast! Haha!

Our breakfast by the beach; just a few meters from the shoreline.

Soon, we just enjoyed the beach and the sea! My son explored the seabed for his usual search for sea creatures he can use for his saltwater aquarium. I also had a good swim on the almost flat seabed – very safe for families with kids.

The beach has fine, light-brown sand. Since the sea was quite rough because of a weather disturbance, the water was not very clear. We couldn’t see the underwater view. But it was very safe, because it was almost flat up to a good distance from the shore. During the low tide, I observed that there was not much live sea weeds nor sea urchins which could be annoying when you swim when the water is deep enough.

Another view of the beach. Beyond the cove is Aquaria Beach Resort

The wind and rough seas washed plenty of dead sea weeds and assorted debris onto the shore while the tide was rising. The good thing is that every 30-45 minutes, beach cleaners rakes the debris on the beach and dump it into a pit.

It was a “beach camping site”. We were not expecting nice facilities. We were ready for a true outdoor experience. We took “shower” in a make-shift bathroom, with a water supply that is manually pumped by the house-owner. We used a reasonably clean rural toilet to respond to the call of nature. We have no complain.

The water in front of our beachcamp.

We thank the very hospitable homeowners who opened their house for campers. I befriended them, and when we are about to leave, we were given 2 bunches of cooking banana direct from their backyard! A bonus treat indeed!

Truly a relaxing and refreshing beach camping experience for the family!

This is me in the middle of the sea!
My ladies just relaxing in the freshness of sea breeze.
My family at our beach camp.

Family Fun in Calatagan

Family Fun in Calatagan
by Danny Tariman

Batangas province in the Philippines is one of the provinces blessed with many scenic coves and wonderful beaches. My family had been to most of these, but the province does not stop surprising me with new and “unexplored” beautiful places to go for family bonding.

The quiet beach we 'discovered' along the Calatagan coastline.
The quiet beach we ‘discovered’ along the Calatagan coastline.

After searching for new destinations, we decided that this weekend, we will go to another beach front resort we have not visited yet – the Aquaria Beach Resort in Calatagan, Batangas.

A view from the top of the Aquaria Beach Resort
A view from the top of the Aquaria Beach Resort

We left the city at about 5 o’clock in the morning to beat the traffic, and also to have more time in the beach. We drove through South Luzon Expressway, and turned right for Tagaytay. It was an easy morning weekend drive. (I had been disappointed to drive in Tagaytay lately, because on weekends, traffic is just unbearable!)

From Tagaytay, we drove further down towards Nasugbu and turning left at the last junction going to Calatagan. I always wanted these kind of drive: out-of-town, country driving. It refreshes my soul as I see the beauty of nature on both sides of the road.

Upon our arrival at the resort, we were greeted by this grand pavilion which houses the front desk. From all angles, you will know that this resort is out of the ordinary: well-appointed guest couches, impressive check-in counter, well-organized staff, and really stunning entrance with well-trimmed greens.

The entrance of the beach resort
The entrance of the beach resort

Past the pavilion is a stunning beauty of its swimming pool complex! Kiddie pool with fountains, arching foot bridge over the pool (good for photo shots!), a giant slide, and more! I was really surprised of the beautifully designed swimming area!

But our first priority was the beach. And so we walked for about 50 meters past the pool and wow, an expansive length of beach cove and placid ocean greeted us. We thank the Lord for the good weather: the sea was so calm, no rain, and with overcast skies.

Another view from the top. Note the beach front at the upper side of the photo.
Another view from the top. Note the beach front at the upper side of the photo.

We had a good time frolicking on the beach, and the almost flat seabed. We can walk at a distance without the danger of drowning. However, sea urchins abound during the time of our visit. If you plan to go, wear beach footwear to avoid being stung by this urchins.

And oh yes, we enjoyed the ride on giant slides at the pool area. Rides goes in tandem – 2 persons in one big-sized “rubber boat”. So I had many rides: first with my wife, next with my son, then my daughter. It was really exhilarating. Haha!

Me and my son gliding through the giant slide
Me and my son gliding through the giant slide

The pool complex is an awesome attraction from any angle you look at it: the snaking “river” pool with arched foot bridges, the nature-like waterfalls in the middle, the kiddie pool with many fountains and rides, and of course a small lap pool for swimming. With well-appointed cabanas and greens the place is indeed a cut-above-the-rest. Don’t forget to take a photo from the top of the slide: the view is fantastic, truly awesome!

The beach-front restaurant offers delectable Filipino dishes. In this visit, we just ordered the “family package” which includes many of our favorites: grilled fish, grilled squid, fried chicken, grilled pork belly, and many more. It also has the famous halo-halo, and other deserts.

Will surely come back for another weekend retreat for my family!

A family photo at the swimming pool complex.
A family photo at the swimming pool complex.
A view from another angle of the swimming pools.
A view from another angle of the swimming pools.
My family at the beach-front cabana.
My family at the beach-front cabana.
At the beach-side restaurant with our family friends from Papua New Guinea.
At the beach-side restaurant with our family friends from Papua New Guinea.

Family Trip: Burot Beach and Cape Santiago

Family Trip: Burot Beach and Cape Santiago
by Danny Tariman

We never run out of beaches to go!

This time, our next destination is an undeveloped beach in Batangas, the Burot Beach, and the nearby Santiago Lighthouse. Both destinations are in the municipality of Calatagan, Batangas, just a couple of hours from Metro Manila via Tagaytay City.

We set out early in the morning for our drive to Calatagan. Our objective was to be at the beach by about 8am to catch the morning sun. It was an easy drive, as we had passed this road few times already. But I didn’t know that there is this undeveloped beach in Catalagan!

The welcome arch of Catalagan, Batangas
The welcome arch of Catalagan, Batangas

We arrived at about 8:30 in the morning. The place had a few people. We immediately set up our tent and our picnic table, and tried to settle down.

It was low tide, and we could not swim. We waited until about 2pm but still the water was low. This was because when we arrived, the tide has just started to go down. [Poor us, we couldn’t swim!].

My family after setting up of camping gear: a good family bonding time.
My family after setting up of camping gear: a good family bonding time.

But was good enough for my son, as he can explore the seabed for creatures that he can take home for his aquarium. True enough, we saw a murray eel, and in fact, I was able to catch it using our fishing net! I was so excited to get it! But it was so slippery; it was able to manage to get out of the net! Tsk tsk!

Anyway, my son was able to get a few other sea creatures: “live” rock, a couple of small fishes, and others.

A bamboo raft resting on a low-tide seabed.
A bamboo raft resting on a low-tide seabed.

I had a great bonding time with my son, as we explored the seabed together. I saw some sea urchins, few ‘worms’ – I like how it looks like, some rare shrimp for aquarium, and many others.

My wife and our daughter just stayed within our ‘camp’. Our daughter continued her reading while waiting for the water to rise. But it didn’t rise to a level for swimming.

Although we were not able to swim, still we enjoyed our company. We had a packed lunch of binalot – adobo (pork stew in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic) with salted egg, wrapped in banana leaves – truly food for picnic!

The Burot beach: a nice place for beach- & sea-scape photography.
The Burot beach: a nice place for beach- & sea-scape photography.

The place is good for those who want picnic in a beach, without hurting the pocket! But it has no presentable facilities – only a makeshift shower and toilet – good enough to do your thing with privacy. There are no huts nor cottages that you can rent, so you better bring your own camping or picnic gear.

We left the beach at about 2pm and headed towards our next destination: the Cape Santiago where a 125-year old lighthouse still stands and is operational up to now. I was a good 20-minute drive from Burot. When driving from Burot, note that the road to the lighthouse is on the right side, but the signage at the left side of the road.

The Santiago Cape lighthouse: over-a-century old but still operating
The Santiago Cape lighthouse: over-a-century old but still operating

Our visit to the lighthouse was earlier arranged with Kuya Junior (mobile number 0919-841-6486), the caretaker of the place. You need to contact him to make sure he is there when you come, otherwise the gate is normally closed. Entrance is free but at your option, you may give a ‘tip’ to the caretaker.

According to the caretaker, the tower is 51 feet tall and has a total of 65 steps to reach the top. We tried going up. We noticed that the stairs is truly antique – wrought iron with intricate design similar to that in Capones’ island lighthouse.

The 65-step spiral stairs: a work of art in wrought iron.
The 65-step spiral stairs: a work of art in wrought iron.

At the top, you will have a commanding view of the vast ocean fronting Batangas and the beach lining the seas. I noticed too that the lights are operated by solar cells! And we were told that the light can reach a distance 15km! (I hope I remember it right). An old structure that runs in modern technology!

We left the place at about 5pm, and we headed back to Tagaytay where we stayed for the night.

More photos:

My family atop the light house: a scenic view of the bay.
My family atop the light house: a scenic view of the bay.
Our simple setup at the beacj
Our simple setup at the beach
The entrance to the "lighthouse" house.
The entrance to the “lighthouse” house.
One of the trees in the lighthouse yard where branches grow horizontally.
One of the trees in the lighthouse yard where branches grow horizontally.