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On a trip to the Bicol Region, discover the natural and cultural wonders of Sorsogon province. While the province has long been overshadowed by neighboring Albay, today, this once-hidden gem of Bicolandia is now coming to light.
Sorsogon is the southernmost province of Luzon. It is often considered the jump-off point to the Visayas for travelers going by Ro-Ro. Yet today, it is fast becoming a tourist stop in its own right. After all, it has a good number of attractions and activities for both nature lovers and culture vultures. These range from exploring Mount Bulusan, an active volcano that’s also the province’s tallest peak; or visiting Barcelona Church, the oldest still-extant church in the Bicol Region.
And with the province almost completely surrounded by water, there’s also a good number of pristine beaches with white or even pink sand. So even if it may not yet offer a wider range of luxury accommodation as neighboring Albay, Sorsogon is the perfect destination for adventurous travelers who want to explore something off the beaten path.
The nearest airport to Sorsogon is the Legazpi Airport in neighboring Albay. Flights arriving at this airport come from a number of domestic destinations, including Manila and Cebu. From Legazpi, FX shuttles or buses to Sorsogon City are readily available.
Another option, especially for those coming from Eastern Visayas, is by Ro-Ro. Trips by ship depart from Allen, Samar Island and dock at the Matnog port.
A number of bus lines also offer trips direct to Sorsogon from Manila. These include DBTL, RSL/Penafrancia, CUL, and Philtranco. Catch one of these trips from either their Cubao or Pasay bus terminals.
Jeepneys, vans, and tricycles are the main mode of public transportation around the island. The main jump-off point for jeepney trips is in Sorsogon City; from here you can reach Matnog, Gubat, and even Magallanes.
Alternatively, if you’re traveling in a large group, you can rent an entire jeepney for the entire day of touring the island.
With the entire province almost completely surrounded by water, Sorsogon offers a number of beaches and watersports. Arguably the most popular is Subic Beach in Matnog, which boasts of pink-white sand and crystal-clear waters. Nearby is the Juag Fish Sanctuary, which offers snorkeling; and Tikling Island, which has another pink-sand beach. Meanwhile, the town of Bulusan has Dancalan Beach, which boasts of cream-colored sands.
If you want a taste of culture, then head to the town of Barcelona. It is known for the Saint Joseph Parish Church (Barcelona Church), which was built in 1874 and is the oldest church in the Bicol Region. You can also explore the municipality of Juban, which is known for its numerous heritage houses.
A wide range of activities are also available for travelers in the province. For starters, you can go for a scenic lake ride or a hike at the Mount Bulusan National Park. If you’re looking for more of the sea, then you can go surfing at Rizal Beach in Gubat town. And of course, you shouldn’t miss swimming with the whale sharks at Donsol—arguably the province’s biggest tourist draw.
Being bounded by water from all sides, seafood is good, fresh, and cheap in Sorsogon. If you’re going on a trip to Subic Beach, you can simply buy fresh seafood from the Matnog wet market and have it grilled by your boatman—it is included in the package.
But if you’re looking for a restaurant to eat at, most options are in Sorsogon City. You can choose from Filipino food at Mango Grill or Casa Dominga; or go for Italian food at Una Pizzeria or Leonardo’s. There are also many coffee shops in the city, such as the Bookshack Café and Café Amore. These establishments not only serve great coffee and desserts, but usually offer Wi-Fi as well.
Many accommodation options are scattered around the province. You opt to stay in Sorsogon City for convenience; choose to stay either at the high-end Siama Hotel or the reasonably-priced Santa Clara Park Hotel. There are also a good number of beach resorts in the province, such as Amor Farm Beach Resort or Elysia Beach Resort in Donsol. If you’re a surfer, you can check the Lola Sayong Surf Camp or the Rizal Beach Resort (also known as Duana’s Resort) in Gubat.
Camping is even an option on Subic Beach. However, you’d have to bring your own tents and arrange it with the local tourism office of Matnog beforehand.
Schedule your trips during the summer months of March to early June. Sorsogon’s location on the Philippines’ eastern seaboard means that it’s in the direct path of typhoons during the monsoon season.
No language barriers! While most locals speak the Bikol language and its many dialects, they can understand Tagalog (Filipino) and English easily.
Going snorkeling or diving? Best to bring your own equipment. Not all resorts or hotels in Sorsogon offer equipment for rent; even if they do, available gear may be limited.