Here is a list of my favorite day-trip destinations near Metro Manila. With summer just around the corner, it's time to plan your trips!
1. Beach hop in San Antonio, Zambales
Call them San Antonio's Big Five - Anawangin Cove, Camara Island, Capones Island, Nagsasa Cove, and Pundaquit! And you can reach all these great beaches from the jump-off point in Pundaquit. I most definitely enjoyed the surreal landscape of Anawangin. So remote it is that you need to hike several hours or take a pump boat to get to it. Nagsasa Cove is just as pristine!
2. Taal Volcano trek
You've always seen the Taal Volcano from Tagaytay City. Have you ever tried visiting the island itself and hike or ride a horse to the crater lake? This is a one day-trip option you can do together with a culinary tour of Tagaytay.
3. Mt. Pinatubo trek
All it takes is a drive to Sta. Juliana, Capas, Tarlac to begin that breathtaking journey to Mount Pinatubo's crater lake. A one hour 4x4 ride, plus a one hour trek across some of the most unusual and unbelievable landscapes makes the journey there even more exciting. The crater lake of Mount Pinatubo is perfect for a swim especially when it is baby blue! It's easy to organize a visit through the Pinatubo Spa Town. And don't forget to get a massage after the trek!
4. Corregidor Island day-trip
As I mentioned, this is one of those day-trips taken for granted. Reliving the story of Corregidor is a very enriching experience. The Sun Cruises tour includes round-trip ferry transfers, buffet lunch and a guided tour around the island. You get to visit the various war memorials and the surviving gun batteries which formed part of the Harbor Defenses of Manila and Subic Bays. You can also opt to stay for the night and explore the Malinta Tunnel in the evening and do a morning trek among the less-visited batteries the next day.
5. Road trip around Mount Banahaw
You've all heard about the Viaje del Sol route and the wonderful establishments along the way. But go the extra mile by completing the loop around Mt. Banahaw. Along the way, you can visit the seven lakes of San Pablo, Laguna. You'll pass by the grand Art Deco mansions of Sariaya and the magnificent churches of Tayabas and Majayjay, both National Cultural Treasures. Don't miss the Underground Cemetery in Nagcarlan. Plus you can munch on Lucban's famous longaniza and pancit habhab. Slipper addicts will have a blast in Liliw, Laguna! You can stretch this trip another day by staying a night in Pagsanjan and doing the next suggested day-trip.
6. Shooting the rapids in Pagsanjan
This one you should try at least once in your life. It was exciting and exhilarating. I personally enjoyed the raft ride that takes you right under the falls. So make sure you have extra clothes. The only catch is that the boatmen will pressure you to give hefty tips.
7. Pampanga culinary adventure
You haven't been to Pampanga if you haven't savored its food, both local and international cuisine. San Fernando is home to Everybody's Cafe where everyday Kapampangan food is as exotic as it can get. Angeles City is the birthplace of sisig and make sure you taste the original at Aling Lucing's. At the Camalig, Kapampangan pizza is topped with longaniza, salted duck eggs, and pickle relish. And Fields Avenue near Clark brings you around the world with its international restaurants, my favorites being C' Italian Dining, Zapata's (Mexican), Subdelicious (American), Cottage Kitchen (Cajun/Creole), Red Sea (Lebanese), Hana-mi (Japanese)... the list is endless! Now obviously, you can't eat at all these places in one day since that would be gluttony! So why not stay another day?
8. Road trip around Laguna de Bay
We all know about the visita iglesia route which will take you to Pakil and Paete in Laguna, and Morong, Baras and Tanay in Rizal. But there's more! Make sure you also visit the heritage town of Pila, Laguna and stop over at Lumban to check out their wonderful pina cloth emroidery. Have you ever considered stopping over at Daranak and Batlag Falls in Tanay, Rizal? Well, you should! End the day with a sunset dinner high up on the ridge in Antipolo.
9. Intro dive in Batangas
Even if you don't have a license, you can still experience diving with the help of a dive master through an intro dive. And that's exactly what we did in Bauan, Batangas! It's a different world down there and all I could say is, "Wow!"
10. Plant trees at the Ipo Watershed
Now this is travel with a cause. Just contact the UP Mountaineers to find out if you can join one of their reforestation trips to the Ipo Watershed. Any advocacy to preserve our cultural and natural heritage is close to my heart. Which is why we made a visit to the Ipo Watershed to support the advocacy of the UP Mountaineers to protect it!