It doesn’t take a lot of time to find an extraordinary kind of beauty a few hours beyond Manila. While a beach vacation is a staple when you’re in the Philippines, easily accessible in nearby towns from the metro like Batangas, Zambales, or Bataan, going on a waterfall-hopping adventure is an enchanting attraction that travellers can also enjoy.
For a day or two, momentarily leave the idea of lounging by the beach while sipping fresh coconut juice. Just a short road trip south of the metro, you’ll find the province of Laguna and its bounty of marvellous waterfalls that welcome visitors looking for both a thrilling and exciting time. Easy to moderate trails will challenge one’s brave soul and, at the end of the trek, lead you to the rewarding finish line—astounding scenes of powerful water bodies that you can only experience in this province.
Located at barangay (brgy.) Bunga in the town of Nagcarlan, this spot features two identical waterfalls separated by a protruding rock—thus, its name. You have to trek a good 10 minutes from the jump-off point before the beautiful surroundings get in the view. The “twin” falls measure around 10 metres, but the pool’s depth is said to be about 40 metres deep. There are “kubos” or cottages you can rent. You can enjoy the afternoon or the whole day testing your swimming skills in the seemingly abysmal pool or frolicking in the shallow areas around it.
Deciding to traverse to Hulugan Falls instantly offers you the option to see not just these 230-feet waterfalls, but two smaller falls, namely Talay Falls and Hidden Falls, that you can pass by along the way. Each route takes about 30 minutes of trekking, but the journey is worth it. The challenging trail is energising, with the natural sounds and scents of the rainforest enveloping your surroundings. Once you get to Hulugan Falls, its jaw-dropping magnificence will leave you in awe. Bring out your picnic and have your lunch in the nearby cave with the view of the falls, then reward yourself with a dip in its cool waters. There’s also a natural spring where you can refill your tumbler and rehydrate your weary body—refreshing!
If you have time left after your Hulugan Falls adventure, drop by the nearby Aliw Falls, too! You can hail a tricycle that will bring you to the waterfalls’ jump-off, then everything gets easy from there. With a muddy but easy trail to follow, you’ll reach it in no time—with a mesmerising scene to lure you in. Multi-cascading streams fall down 25 meters from the top. It is advisable for visitors to climb up a trail to the top of the falls, where you’ll find several natural “mini rock pools” you can submerge yourself in.
Majayjay Falls or Bukal Falls has become a favourite weekend getaway by city dwellers looking for a quick escape from the metro’s hustle and bustle. It’s dubbed as the “Enchanted Falls,” mainly because of the spot’s clear blue water and cold, almost-freezing temperature. There are two trails you can choose from, the laidback Majayjay trail or the more difficult Liliw trail. It takes around an hour from the jump-off point to get to the falls, but dipping your toes in will revitalise your body and soul. It’s not called enchanted for nothing, after all!
There are two ways to enjoy the journey to Pagsanjan Falls, which is also called Cavinti or Magdapio Falls by the locals. Options are to journey through the rapids by boat in the popular jump-off point in Pagsanjan or try a hike-and-rappel adventure via the Cavinti route. Whichever way you choose, you’ll reach the astounding falls with more quests to conquer. Hop on a bamboo raft that brings you across the natural pool and towards the cascading waterfall and finally, to the hidden Devil’s Cave right behind it.