Explore Legazpi, Matnog and Donsol in three days

*Update: Importance of booking with Matnog Tourism Office for island hopping in the area.

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Is Legazpi your next travel destination?  If yes, did you know that you can visit Legaspi’s top tourist destinations in one day? Assuming that you are on a three or four-day vacation, that leaves you a few more days to wander and experience what the neighboring cities and towns of Legazpi like Matnog and Donsol have to offer.

So let’s start with your ultimate goal: see the iconic Mt. Mayon in person. You might add seeing it from different perspectives. How? Include the following places in your itinerary.

SUGGESTED ITINERARY

Day 1 – Legazpi

1:00 – 1:10pm – Hotel Check-in

1:10 – 1:15 – To Legazpi City by tricycle from your inn or hotel

1:15 – 1:30 – To Cagsawa Ruins

1:30 – 2:00 – Cagsawa Ruins

2:00 – 2:10 – To Daraga Church

2:10 – 2:40 – Daraga Church

2:40 – 2:50 – To Embarcadero de Legazpi from Daraga Church

2:50 – 3: 20 – Embarcadero de Legazpi

3:20 – 3: 30 – To Gaisano Mall in Legazpi City

3:30 – 4:00 – Try DJC Halo-Halo

4:00 – 4:05 – To Legazpi Terminal

4:05 – 4:20 – Wait until the Tabaco-bound jeep is filled with passengers

4: 20 – 4: 40 – To Bgy. Pawa

4:40 – 4:50 – Registration for ATV Tours

4: 50 – 6: 20 – ATV Tours c/o Your Brother and Tours

6:20 – 6: 3o – Rest

6:30 – 6:45 pm – Back to Legazpi City

6:45 – 7:00 pm – Back to your inn

7:00 – 7:15 pm – Rest and freshen up

7:15 – 7:55 pm – Dinner

DIRECTION

Cagsawa Ruins

cagsawa-ruins

To get to Cagsawa Ruins from Legazpi City, ride a jeepney bound for Camalig, Guinobatan or Polangui. When you pay the fare, tell Cagsawa Ruins. It will stop at the junction with Cagsawa landmark. From there you can walk or ride a tricycle to reach the historical site.

Daraga Church

When going to Daraga Church from Cagsawa, go back to the main road where the intersection is found. Cross the road and wait for a jeepney bound for Daraga or Legazpi and transfer to a jeep with Legazpi-Daraga signage.

Daraga-Church

Tell the driver to drop you off in front of the municipal hall of Daraga. Then you can hike up the stairs beside the hall to reach the church.

Embarcadero de Legazpi

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It is a mall and a recreational hub built in front of Albay pier. This gives you a view of Albay gulf, with the Volcano receding in the backdrop.

To get to Embarcadero de Legazpi, look for jeepneys bound for Legazpi. Take jeepneys with any of these routes (Legazpi-Camalig, Legazpi-Guinobatan) and ask the driver to drop you off there.

DJC Halo-Halo and Snack Inn

djc halo-halo legazpi branch

Ride a jeepney bound for Legazpi Terminal. Alight at Gaisano Mall. The eatery is located across the mall especially side of McDo.

Bgy. Pawa for ATV Tours

 Contact to make a reservation: 09175958859 / 09053636330

Lignon Hill

Loop 1 and Loop 2. These two routes pass by the road going to Tagas, Daraga, where the Albay Park and Wildlife, Japanese Tunnel, and Lignon Hill are located. The Loop 1 jeeps come from Legazpi City while the Loop 2 from Daraga.

A and B jeep. Both of these pass by Washington Drive, the road that leads to Legazpi Airport Terminal and Gaisano/Pacific Mall. The A jeeps come from Legazpi and the B jeeps from Daraga.

Day 2/Half-Day: Matnog, Sorsogon

4:30am – Wake up

4:30 – 4:35 – Trip to Legazpi City

4:35 – 4:45 – Trip to the foot of Lignon Hill

4:45 – 5:15 – Hike

5:15 – 6:00 – Hilltop/Breakfast

6:00- 6:15 – Go down the hill

6:15- 6:35 – Travel back to your inn

6:35 – 7:00 – Rest and freshen up

7:30 – Hotel check-out

7:30 – 7:45 – Travel to Legazpi Grand Central Terminal

7:45 – 8:00  – Wait for filcab (van) to get filled with passengers

8:00 – 10:00 – Trip to Sorsogon City

10:00 – 11:30  – Travel to Matnog (consider having an early lunch at Sorsogon City)

11:30 – 11:45 pm – Buy fresh food in the market, meet with your boatman

11:45 – 12: 30 pm – Registration and Lunch (c/o boatman)

12: 30 – 1:15 trip to Subic beach

Spend the rest of the day island hopping, fish feeding and swimming with cultured fish, snorkeling and sunset watching.

How to get to Matnog

1. Ride a van bound for Bulan at Shell station and asked to be dropped at Trese. Fare is P150 and travel time is 2 hours.

2. Go down at Trese and ride a jeep bound for Sta. Magdalena and asked to be dropped at Crossing in Matnog. Fare is P20.

3. Ride a tricycle to Matnog port. Fare is P10 per head.

Alternatively, ride UV Express bound for Sorsogon City at Legazpi Terminal. From Sorsogon proper, ride a jeepeney to Matnog. Travel time from Legazpi is 2 hours and another 1 1/2 hours to reach Matnog. The fares are P85 and P90 respectively.

You may contact their boatman Mang Masi through this number 09082182256. Travel time to the island from Matnog port is 30-45 minutes.

Important: Book at the tourism office of Matnog for island hopping

1. Register and pay the necessary fees at the Tourism Office and ask questions. They are very helpful. Tourism Officer Weng Salvador number is 09206148466.
2. Ride only a boat with a life vest and with a roof. Never ride a fisherman’s boat because it is not authorized and the Tourism Office strictly discourages it.
3. Better bring your tent.
4. Make sure to contact the Matnog Tourism Office if you are coming late at night in Matnog. The office will wait to gladly assist you.

General Fees

Boat Rental: P1,500-2,000

Environmental Fee: P50.00 (foreign tourist: P300.00)

(Info courtesy of Backpackers Adventures)

 

The clear, blue water of Matnog are also a habitat for different marine organisms. This makes snorkelling an ideal activity on these islands.

For recreational swimmers, snorkelling would be more fun when it’s done in Juag Fish Marine Sanctuary. Its owner cultivates marine species for export. It is open to public for education and fun.

swimming with a school of fish at juag fish sanctuary
Photo credit to Dennis Ruiz

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Departure

  1. Tricycle Matnog to Irosin PhP200.00 tricycle ride (If you’re not able to catch the jeepney bound for Sorsogon City)
  2. Jeep Irosin to Sorsogon City PhP50.00/ person
  3. Van Sorsogon to Donsol

Day 3 – Donsol, Sorsogon

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5:00 – 5:30 Breakfast Leave Subic Beach

5:30- 6:15 – Travel back to mainland

6:15- Wait for tricycle to Irosin

6:20- 7:26 – Irosin

7:26-  8:46 – To Sorsogon City

8:46 – 9: 20 – To Donsol

9:20 – 9: 30 – To Dancalan where Toursim Office and inns are located

9:30 – 9:45 – Check in

9:45- 9:50 – Toursim Office/Registration

9:50 -10:10 – Briefing

10:10 – 1:00 – Whaleshark Encounter

1:00- 1:30 – Lunch

1:30 – 3:30 – Tour around

3:30 – 3:40 – Back to Inn

3:40 – 5:00 – Freshen up and Rest

5:00 – 5:30 – Early dinner

5:30 – 8:00 – Firefly watching

 

Donsol’s ultimate attraction is the whale shark interaction tour, which is expected because Donsol is considered as the whale shark capital of the world.

The ideal time to visit Donsol and encounter a Butanding (local term for the animal) is from January to May, but numbers peak between March and April.

Firefly-watching is also a famous attraction in Donsol.

a. Whale Watching Interaction Package

Boat Rental  Package – P3500 (maximum of 7 passengers)

Breakdown of Fees
Boat rental – P2,500
BIO fee –  650
Spotter/Guide fee  – 350
Total – P3,500

b. Registration Fee
Local -P100
Foreigner – P300

c. Equipment Rental (optional)
Includes mask, snorkel and fins -P300

Day 4 – Departure

5:00 – 5:30 a.m. – Prepare for departure

5:30 – 5:40 – Check out

5:40 – 5: 50 – To Donsol proper/ Van terminal

5:50 – 6:20 – To Putiao

6:20 – 7:05 – To Sorsogon City by Bus

7:05 – 7:40 -Breakfast at Mango Grill

7:40 – 9:10 – To Legazpi City

9:10 – 9: 25 – Airport
From your inn, take a tricycle to van terminal in Donsol. From there, get off at Putiao (drivers know this) and wait for a bus going to Sorsogon City.

Ride a UV Express bound for Legazpi.

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Subic beach: a rare find in Matnog, Sorsogon

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There are travel destinations worth sharing with others, but there are also places we wish only very few people know they exist. The latter may be a selfish act but we can’t really blame people for doing so especially when the place is a rare find. Among the places that can be ranked alongside this category are the beaches in Matnog, Sorsogon.

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Via a 30-minute boat ride, you can reach Subic beach– an unexplored, virgin island with pinkish sand, clear, bluish water, cool breeze air, and a very tranquil atmosphere. This beach is also a haven for marine biodiversity thanks to its unexploited natural environment.

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The beach can’t promise much in terms of activities that visitors can do aside from swimming, lazing, and taking a few photo souvenirs. Maybe it’s the reason Subic beach is so accessible—to allow people to get back to town proper before it gets dark.

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But if you have the chance to stay overnight, then grab it. Crowds these days seem to be everywhere— at the malls, supermarkets, movie houses, concert halls, on the streets, and even on beaches. So if there’s a gift the beach can offer to its visitors like you, I think, it’s the chance to enjoy the island all to yourselves and share precious memories with people who are important to you. You can do all these as long as you have brought with you a tent, clean water, food, and other camping necessities.

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Camping may be a bit uncomfortable but doing a “nomadic lifestyle” at least for a day also has its rewards. You get to experience making fire out of twigs and branches that scatter on the island. You cook and prepare your food with your family and friends, though most often it’s the bangkero who volunteers to do the cooking. You get to enjoy the company of people you are with even without using modern gadgets through honest and (often not-so-sensible) conversations, sharing of experiences, and endless laughter while eating, or simply watching the stars.

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When leaving the island, don’t forget to collect your garbage and bring it with you. The island already has an owner (according to our bangkero and development is already underway) but it’s not an excuse to leave trash on the beach. Even if there’s already a fee, it’s still your responsibility not to throw garbage anywhere.

the beach on a bright sunny day

Also, don’t forget to drop by at Juag fish Sanctuary and Tikling beach. This fish sanctuary is near the coast of Matnog and it is a haven of different species of marine life. Most of the marine species in this sanctuary are not meant for human consumption. The owner rather wants them to grow and breed, live in longevity, and multiply as many as they can. To do this, the owner allows studies so he’ll know how they can be properly nurtured.

swimming with a school of fish at juag fish sanctuary

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Visitors can feed the fish by throwing fish pallets to the water. It is also allowed to swim in the area to give tourists a chance to see different types of fish up close and experience in an hour the joys of being this close with some of the nature’s marine organisms.

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photo credit: travel buddies. Thank you ate tessie for allowing me to use some of your friend’s pictures of the Subic beach and Juag fish sanctuary. =)