Sorsogon province lies in the Bicol Region of the Philippines and Luzon island’s southernmost province. The provincial capital, Sorsogon City, is a center of trade and commerce in the region. As a tourist destination, Sorsogon is lesser known than other neighboring Luzon tourist spots and provinces. However, people who explore it are amazed by its gorgeous attractions, natural sceneries, and laidback vibe.
Sorsogon is located around 60KM from Legazpi City in Albay, which is home to the famous Mount Mayon and other Legazpi tourist spots. A look at a Sorsogon map will tell you that this province is mostly surrounded by water. This geographical location is the reason why Sorsogon is blessed with numerous beaches, coves, and lagoons. There are also beautiful islands just off the province’s coast.
If you venture inland, you will discover plenty of natural attractions like Mount Bulusan, Manual Falls, Bayugin Waterfalls, as well as a collection of hot and cold spring resorts. The province also hosts several colorful Philippine festivals that celebrate its strong culture and heritage. Some of the prominent Sorsogon festivals worth experiencing are the Pili Festival and Kasanggayahan Festival.
To help you start planning a memorable trip, here are the top tourist spots in Sorsogon to check out:
During World War 2, the Japanese soldiers forced Filipinos to dig up tunnels and air-raid shelters in Bulan, Sorsogon. These tunnels were assigned as places of safety and ammunition storage areas for the Japanese forces. Today, these tunnels are still intact and well-preserved. You will find elevated sections and a chapel inside. The entrance is so small that only one person can enter at a given time. You also need to bend and crawl to reach the main areas of this cave system.
The Bulan tunnels are now important historical sites that remind people of how much the Philippines had to endure to fight for freedom. You can find the tunnels in Barangay San Francisco and Sta Remedios Bulan, Sorsogon. Visiting them is free of charge. Visiting hours are from 9 AM to 8 PM daily.
Just like its name suggests, Pili Haven is a pili farm with lots of trees and other plants. But unlike most farms, in Pili Haven, not only will you be surrounded by nature, but you’ll also find bamboo bridges, a restaurant that serves delicious local food, and several photo spots specially created to brighten up your feed.
You’ll see giant man-made nests, colorful flower gardens, and even a windmill made out of bamboo. Don’t miss the chance to take a photo with the red jeepney! More than just a photo nook, the jeepney was actually used in the 1990s to deliver pili nuts to different areas in the province.
Apart from touring the property, visitors can also hold special events like birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries or take part in workshops about how to turn pili nut shells into furniture, accessories, and decorations. Of course, you can also buy and take home different kinds of pili delicacies from the farm.
Photo by Museo Sorsogon
Museo Sorsogon was once an Old Provincial Jail but it was restored by the local government to become a place that showcases the history and culture of Sorsogon. The Sorsogon Provincial Tourism Culture and Arts Office manages this museum and the office aims to make it a prominent Sorsogon tourist spot.
The building has two floors and ten galleries, which are converted jail cells. The galleries feature exhibitions that tell the origins of Sorsogon, the province’s participation in the Philippine Revolution, and the state of the region during the American occupation. Paintings made by jail inmates are also on display.
Museo Sorsogon also has a large amphitheater in its yard alongside two coffee shops where visitors can relax and have snacks. The museum is tucked within the Provincial Capitol grounds in Alegre, Sorsogon City.
Located in Barangay Talisay in Prieto Diaz, Bigaho Ecopark is named after a grass family that locals use to create handicrafts. To get to the ecopark, visitors must cross a 750-meter long bamboo bridge that leads to an islet. It’s not a short walk, but the journey is made easier with the several species of mangroves along the bridge. These protected species help keep the path to the ecopark cool.
Once you reach Bigaho Ecopark, you will be rewarded with fresh air, calming lagoons, rocky caves, and beautiful views of Mayon Volcano and Albay Gulf. Apart from taking in the gorgeous scenery, a visit here will also allow you to hike, trek, camp, and commune with nature. If you can’t stay overnight, at least stay until late afternoon as the ecopark also boasts stunning sunset views. Don’t worry if you suddenly feel hungry during your visit, as the park offers meals that are cooked with fresh local ingredients.
Photo by @gojunfew on Instagram
Botong Twin Falls is situated in Osiao, Bacon District of Sorsogon City. The falls are considered one of the top eco-tourism spots in the city area. The site is considered a natural wonder as it features two waterfalls standing close to each other but they give out two different watercolors.
The first waterfall has green-colored water while the other one reflects blue. This phenomenon is the reason why the Botong Twin Falls are fondly called Blue and Green Falls.
Botong Twin Falls is a great place to swim and have a picnic with family and friends. There are picnic huts and tables set up around the falls for visitors to use. These waterfalls stand within the compounds of the PNOC-BACMAN Geothermal Plant. Although the site is open to the public, you need to coordinate with the PNOC before visiting the falls.
Palogtoc Falls (Palogtok Falls) resides in San Roque, Bulusan Municipality, and is one of the more low-key Bicol tourist spots you can find. Palogtoc Falls is a natural grotto that features a small cascade that falls into an artificial pool. Visitors tend to love the spring water in this pool because it is clean, clear, and refreshing.
The Palagtok area exudes a tranquil atmosphere. It has a lush landscape, surrounded by coconut and pili nut trees. There is a nearby river and some nipa and bamboo huts where visitors can enjoy some shade.
You can access Palogtoc Falls from the Mount Bulusan trailhead between the Bulusan park entrance and San Roque. You need to walk about 500 meters from this trailhead to reach the falls.
Dancalan Beach is nestled on the shoreline of Bulusan Municipality. This beach is clean, wide, and has gray/off-white colored sand. Dancalan can easily get overlooked by tourists, but it is popular among locals.
Dancalan has a rustic look and feel. It features pleasant countryside scenery. Just right in front of this Sorsogon beach lies a vast rice field. Towering mountains in the distance serve as a picturesque backdrop to Dancalan.
Dancalan Beach is an excellent swimming beach for children as it remains shallow (1-2 feet) even at about 40 meters from the shoreline. There is a minimal entrance fee to the beach, and you can also rent open-air nipa huts for a reasonable price. It is also quite common for visitors to pitch a tent on the beach.
Photo by Sorsogon Provincial Tourism Culture and the Arts Office
San Bernardino Island lies off the coast of Bulusan, Sorsogon, and across the San Bernardino Strait. The island is mostly undeveloped and has maintained its natural beauty.
San Bernardino has beautiful hills, a lush landscape, and ocean panoramas. Its other main attraction is an old lighthouse built more than a century ago. This structure ( El Faro De Islote De San Bernardino in Spanish) was one of the most important lighthouses in the Spanish colonial era. It used to guide boats into the Philippine capital, Manila, from the Pacific Ocean and vice versa. The San Bernardino Strait is well-known for its treacherous waters.
Most visitors to the island sign up for a pre-arranged guided tour to truly understand San Bernardino’s history and heritage. Tourists have the option to stay overnight as there are a few homestays on the island. Even though these accommodations are not 4-star, they are operated by local families known to be friendly and hospitable.
The St. Joseph Parish Church sits at the heart of Barcelona town, Sorsogon. According to local stories, homesick Spanish soldiers named this town after the renowned Barcelona in Spain. Thus, St. Joseph Parish is also commonly referred to as Barcelona Church.
St. Joseph was built in 1874 by the Franciscan priests. It is the oldest of all churches in the Bicol region and is considered to be one of the most beautiful. Some of St Joseph Church's original structures like the facade, walls, and bell tower have remained intact. However, administrators needed to renovate the church interiors and reinforce the windows with glass and steel. If you walk from the church and across the streets, you will find some century-old building ruins.
Photo by Sorsogon Provincial Tourism Office
The gorgeous Panumbagan Sandbar stands off the shoreline of Barangay Bantayan Pilar, Sorsogon. For a sandbar, Panumbagan is big and long and can pass off as an islet. It stretches to more than 5-kilometers and features white pebbly sand. Aside from having ocean views, the sandbar also offers panoramas of the Mayon and Bulusan Volcanoes.
The surrounding waters Panumbagan Sandbar is a marine sanctuary, so this area is a great spot to snorkel. Even if you decide not to go underwater, you can still find sea urchins, sea grapes, and starfish close to shore. To reach Panumbagan Sandbar, you need to take a 50-minute boat ride from Pilar port. The sandbar is a popular stop for boat tours exploring the area.
Mt. Pulog stands high in the municipality of Bacon, Sorsogon. It is a different mountain from Mt. Pulag in North Luzon, which is the highest peak in Luzon and one of the best hiking spots in the Philippines. Although Mt. Pulog is the lesser-known peak, it is an excellent mountaineering destination for compelling reasons.
Mt. Pulog features lush scenery and offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. It is a relatively easy hike that most people can finish in less than a day. Thus, you don’t have to be an expert hiker to take on Mt. Pulog. The mountain trail begins with hiking through the rural woodlands, where you will encounter native plants and trees like pili and abaca. The steeper part of the trail brings you through a thick forest and green fields. At the summit sits a scenic round-shaped lake.
The gateway to Mt. Pulog is Barangay San Cruz, which is about 9KM away from Sorsogon City. Once you arrive in Sta. Cruz, it’s easy to find a guide to take you to the peak.
Photo by Juban Provincial Police Office
Bahay na Bato refers to the collection of Spanish colonial houses nestled in the town of Juban, Sorsogon. Constructed in 1898, the centuries-old houses are called “Bahay na Bato” (house of stone) because of their stone brick foundation.
These stone bricks formed the base of the houses while the upper structure is made of wood. Another striking feature of the houses is their large sliding windows that are made of hardwood and embellished with capiz shells. The "Bahay na Bato" structures have collectively become the pride of Juban and a major Sorsogon tourist spot.
Because they are unique, well-preserved and a reminder of the Spanish colonial period. Most of these stone homes stand alongside the Maharlika Highway in the town proper of Juban.
Photo by Juag Lagoon Marine Sanctuary
The Geneblazo family established the Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary to become a safe and healthy habitat for aquatic animals and plants to thrive. Today, this privately owned sanctuary is open to the public who wish to learn about marine biodiversity and conservation.
The fish sanctuary is set up like a fish farm, as it is enclosed with bamboo structures to protect the marine life in it. However, the owners do not harvest these sea creatures and make money from them.
While here, visitors can swim/snorkel underwater and enter the bamboo enclosures to view sea creatures, reefs, and plants up close. Examples of marine species in the sanctuary include giant clams, marine turtles, lobsters, sea cucumbers, and oysters.
The Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary lies off the coast of the Matnog town port. It is one of the usual stops of a standard Matnog island hopping tour itinerary.
Photo by Tropical Hot Spring Paradise
Sitting at the foothills of Bulusan Volcano, Irosin is a town blessed with geothermally heated groundwater. It is also a valley town that has access to an abundant supply of cold spring water. Because of these properties, Irosin became home to several cold and spring resorts. Today, people refer to this town as the springs resort capital of Sorsogon and the Bicol Region.
Some of the prominent resorts in the area include Tropical Hot Spring Paradise, Nature Hot Spring Resort, Aramaru Resort, and 401K Resort. Locals believe that the cold and hot springs in Irosin have healing qualities. Whether this claim is accurate or not, the spring resorts still attract a lot of people. Guests find it relaxing and refreshing to dip in the resorts' natural spring pools.
Photo by @mohannaaah on Instagram
Prieto Diaz Mangrove Ecopark is the ultimate eco-tourism destination in Sorsogon. As its name suggests, this eco-park consists of over 300 hectares of extensive mangrove forest and mangrove plantation. It is home to 19 species of mangrove, fish sanctuaries, and protected coral reefs.
The social welfare group Semancor, manages the activities in this eco-park. This group is composed of women, the elderly, out-of-school youth, and fishermen.
Visitors to Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon can engage in many outdoor activities such as bird watching, river cruising along the mangrove forest, and planting mangrove propagules. Another highlight within the park is the Halabang Lapis sandbar, visible during low tide and is admired for its powder white sand. While hiking Halabang Lapis, visitors can get views of the Albay Gulf and Mayon Volcano.
Aside from fun outdoor adventures, Prieto Diaz Park also serves freshly cooked Filippino food and sells products made from homegrown ingredients.
Paguriran Island and Lagoon is one of the natural wonders of Sorsogon. Travel guides best describe it as a lagoon in the middle of the ocean. Strictly speaking, Paguriran is not an island but more like a large rocky formation out in the sea. Despite being surrounded by water, Paguriran is within walking distance from a sandy shore. You can walk to it during low tide or even high tide when the water level is usually waist-high.
The tourism highlight of Paguriran is its lagoon that occupies the hollow middle portion of the rocky islet. The water in this lagoon reflects a clear aquamarine color, which is considered world-class. The jumping point to Paguriran Island is Barangay Sawangga, Bacon. From Sorsogon City, you can ride a jeepney or a tricycle to the town of Bacon.
Ogod River is one of the natural attractions found in Donsol, Sorsogon. Tourists make their way to Ogod for a special type of river cruising. This cruising happens at night so passengers can view hundreds of magical fireflies light up the dark skies.
This firefly watching tour consists of riding on a small boat that will sail through the Donsol River and its main artery, the Ogod River. These scenic rivers are surrounded by forests and mangroves. The firefly watching tour comes with an expert guide who will give you insights into the fireflies and surroundings.
Firefly watching in Ogod River is a relaxing and rewarding experience. After all, it is not easy to find a large congregation of fireflies just anywhere. These elusive creatures tend to stay in forests and around bodies of water where the air is clean and clear.
Situated in the municipality of Gubat, Rizal is one of the gorgeous Sorsogon beach sites that have remained underdeveloped. This beach is admired for its clear blue waters and golden-colored sand.
Rizal Beach is nestled right at the center of a cove, about 5 kilometers from the main town of Gubat. It is a wide beach with a long shoreline. Rizal is often clean and well-maintained. During your visit, you can rent out wooden cottages or stay under the surrounding trees for some shade.
Many people consider Rizal Beach Sorsogon one of the best beaches in the Bicol region because of its raw beauty. Locals love to swim and hang out on this beach, especially in the afternoon.
Subic Beach is a gorgeous and unspoiled 300-meter sandy stretch on Calintaan Island, Sorsogon. The beach is known for its powdery sand, which features a pinkish-white color. This rare color is due to the presence of tiny red corals around the shoreline. Complementing the unique sand color is the clear turquoise waters, which make Subic Beach very photogenic.
Subic Beach gives off a laid-back vibe and is seldom busy with crowds. It is not ideal for beginner swimmers because the tides are often high, and the water level near the shore is deep. However, it is an excellent place to relax, sunbathe, and read a book. If you like a shaded spot to have a picnic, the beach has small huts available for rent at an affordable fee.
You can also explore other spots in Calintaan Island, including the Calintaan Cave, which can be found on the other side of the island.
Matnog Municipality is the gateway to Subic Beach, Sorsogon. You need to take a 15 to 20-minute boat ride from Matnog to reach Calintaan Island or join a Sorsogon Subic Beach tour.
Tikling Island is located off the coast of the town of Matnog, Sorsogon. It is named after a bird species that frequent the area. The privately owned island exudes a serene ambiance as it does not have a resort or any commercial structure on it.
Visitors come to Tikling Island Sorsogon to enjoy its powdery sand beach, which features a white and pinkish color. Pink beaches are rare to find, and Tikling has managed to maintain the raw beauty. Forests and lush vegetation fringe Tikling Island. The surrounding water here reflects an aquamarine color. It remains clear even if you go several meters from the shoreline. Another outstanding feature of Tikling is its rock formations located at the other end of the island.
Donsol is Sorsogon’s most popular destination as it is world-famous for whale shark viewing. Several whale sharks (locally called butanding) naturally congregate around Donsol waters from December to May. Donsol practices responsible eco-tourism that does not alter the behavior of whale sharks. The local guides do not feed these animals for the sake of attracting them to the shore.
Usually, tourists need to sign up for a snorkeling boat tour to view the whale sharks in action. This tour boat will take passengers to the whale shark interaction area. The tour guide will teach you how to jump into the water and interact with the whale sharks. Swimming with Donsol whale sharks is considered a safe activity as these sea animals are known to be friendly and gentle.
Bulusan Volcano Natural Park is a treasured natural wonder and one of the most recognized Bicol tourist spots. This protected natural park covers rainforests, grassland, hot springs gardens, and farmland. The park is also home to the famous Bulusan Volcano, a popular trekking destination in Luzon.
Aside from the Bulusan Volcano, the park consists of other mountains like Sharp Peak Mountain and Hormahan Mountain. Within the park, you will also find the beautiful Lake Aguinay and Bulusan Lake. Bulusan Lake is a well-known kayaking spot because of its relaxing atmosphere, fresh air, and gorgeous views of the lush landscapes and mountains in the distance.
You can find the Bulusan Natural Park entrance just off the Pan-Philippine Highway, between Bulusan and Irosin town.
Plan Your Trip to Sorsogon in Bicol
Sorsogon is quite accessible from Manila via public transport. Several companies operate buses traveling between the metropolis and this province daily. Legazpi City in Albay is also a popular gateway to Sorsogon.
As an emerging tourist destination, more and more Sorsogon hotels and resorts are now opening up for travelers. The coastal areas have beachfront resorts, the inland areas have mountain resorts, while Sorsogon City has many hotels and guesthouses, which are popular among those traveling on a tighter budget.
Sorsogon City is a transport hub in the region and home to an adequate number of commercial facilities like supermarkets, banks, and restaurants. This city is a convenient base for exploring the attractions in the province.
Like other Philippine provinces, Sorsogon can offer the traveler pristine beaches, lush scenery, and natural attractions. But what makes Sorsogon appealing is its off-the-beaten-path characteristic. It is a great place to get away from the crowd and enjoy Filipino beauty without the bells and whistles.