Discover the countryside charms of the Bicol region, one of the most breathtaking landscapes in the southeast peninsula of Luzon, the largest island in the northern portion of the Philippine archipelago. Find out some of the best Bicol tourist spots and why it remains a popular travel destination for adventure seekers and even the less daring.
Known for the almost perfectly conical Mount Mayon Volcano and its panoramic views from Legazpi, Albay, Bicol comprises of church-laden historic routes, coconut-rich regional cuisine (with copious amounts of native chilies), spectacular fiestas and festivals, prime diving spots, virgin beaches of Catanduanes, and vibrant marine biodiversity ideal for spotting and snorkeling with the whale sharks of Donsol. That's why it's the perfect destination for countless itineraries – there's always something to do and places to explore!
Bicol opens many doors to memorable activities and experiences in its off-the-beaten tracks that draw thousands of visitors yearly. This guide counts down the top 12 tourist attractions in Bicol with things to do that are guaranteed to get you a good dose of rewarding adventures.
Situated in the sheltered tropical lushness of Sorsogon, the small town of Bulusan serves as home to Mount Bulusan, the fourth most active volcano in the Philippines. The volcanic mountain rises at 5,135ft above sea level on the large expanse of Bulusan National Park in the southernmost portion of Luzon.
Like Mount Bulusan, the lake is also elevated. Its deep green emerald waters sit at the foot of the towering mountain, rich with flora and fauna inhabited by rare specimens from colorful kingfishers to golden-crowned flying foxes. No wonder it's sometimes considered as the 'Switzerland of the Orient'.
One of the highlights covered in many Sorsogon tours, Bulusan Lake provides scenic tranquility best experienced paddling around on a kayak boat. You can enjoy a pleasant nature sightseeing of different plants and birds amidst the soaring mountains. It's worth driving away from Sorsogon City via Irosin if you're coming from a day trip in Legazpi.
Kickstart your island getaway on Subic Beach, Matnog, one of the Philippines' hidden beach attractions solely for its blushing, pinkish-white sands against the clear turquoise waters.
Subic Beach is an idyllic beach spot in Calintaan and one of the pink sand islands in Matnog (others being Tikling and the Juan Lagoon Fish Sanctuary). Offering more than just its stunning waves and finely crushed red corals decorating its beds of sand, Subic Beach is also the gateway to a series of sea caves and rock formations that you can explore from a short sailing distance away.
Whether you're up for a swim near the shore, a boat ride to a small underwater cave, or a quick tan under the sun, this aquamarine paradise promises you a fun time. Experience its beauty in a Sorsogon Matnog Subic Beach day tour from Legazpi with hotel transfers from Legazpi, private boat rentals with fish-feeding activities, and tour guide services, among others.
Ready your trekking shoes for a scenic hiking activity in one of the off-beat destinations in the region: Binurong Point. Located in the meandering terrains along the coast of Baras municipality, this hiking trail is a popular tourist spot among adventure and nature enthusiasts alike.
Reaching the pastoral cliff offers endless views of the wide-open sea and lush, lyrical terrains enveloping the region that's worth a thousand pictures. While it shares striking similarities with the rural scenery in Batanes, this route is known as a beginner hike that only takes less than an hour.
Casual visitors can enjoy a quick morning exercise with a glimpse of the beautiful sunrise before starting the day. You can visit Binurong Point via the East Catanduanes sightseeing tour to witness its picturesque landscapes and admire a different side of Luzon's southernmost area.
Daraga Church sits on top of a hill overlooking Mount Mayon Volcano and is considered a religious landmark in Legazpi, Albay. A must-visit for first-time visitors in Bicol's regional center, walking down its halls feels like a short journey through history, religion, and design.
The church was originally named Nuestra Señora de la Porteria (Our Lady of the Gate) Parish Church and first established as a settlement by people relocating from Cagsawa after a major eruption of the Mayon Volcano. In 1772, the Spanish government granted permission to build the religious structure with the intention of fostering a new community in the south of Cagsawa.
The present church was built in Barangay Santa Maria under the orchestration of Franciscan priests in 1773 as a replacement for the old Cagsawa Church after it was devastated by a series of volcanic eruptions.
Today, this historic icon is a part of many Legazpi City tours for those who wish to get to know more about the Albay capital during their visit.
If you're looking to witness 360-degree views of Mayon Volcano without the hassle of tourist crowds, Sumlang Lake is your safest bet. A calm and relaxing destination to travel around, this enchanting attraction boasts an unobstructed panorama of the world-renowned conically shaped volcano.
However, this atmospheric beauty wasn't always the stunning landmark tourists visit today. The lake was once pervaded by water lilies, volcanic debris, and filthy waters for years until the residents held a bayanihan (communal work) initiative to rehabilitate the 14-hectare body of water. The effort has paid off; it is now a famous rendezvous for couples and small group tours.
Hidden in the outskirts of Legazpi, the lake sits on the Albay Agri Ethno Eco Village in Camalig town and is accessible via jeep from the city center. Don’t forget to try riding on a traditional bamboo raft while enjoying the beautiful scenery Albay has to offer.
Ligñon Hill draws the line between Legazpi and Mount Mayon, a famous tourist spot during your stop in the Albay top tourist spots tour. Known as the 'Protector of Legazpi City', the national park is responsible for keeping the regional center safe from catastrophes.
Towering at 156m with a 360-degree panoramic view of the Mayon Volcano, this scenic landscape also hosts many extreme sports activities like a 320m zip line, hiking, biking, and paintball that even the less adventurous would dare to try. What else does a nature park offer aside from its most sought out viewpoint? It also has a 10-minute hiking trail to the summit and a World War II-like experience at the historic Japanese Tunnel.
This prime destination is another sightseeing spectacle, especially during a relaxing sunrise viewing in the early morning. Witness the golden sun rays stretching towards Legazpi, Daraga, and the Albay Gulf; no filter needed.
Photo by Archdiocese of Caceres
Locals and tourists visit 'Ina' to pray and seek her intercession in the quest for living a better life. 'Ina' here is the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary kept inside the church for devotees and road travelers to pay homage to Our Lady of Peñafrancia, enshrined in the only minor basilica in the whole Bicol Region and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Caceres.
Known for its intricate and elaborate glass mosaic windows depicting stories in the Holy Bible to demonstrate Christian beliefs to the people, this religious sanctuary is also named one of the largest Marian Pilgrimage Sites in Asia. Whether you’re a believer or not, this church is a work of art that's worth the time to explore and learn its intriguing history.
With the hand-painted ceiling, the beautiful shrine at the altar, even the rustic souvenir shop, the basilica offers a peaceful respite for everyone enjoying a quiet Sunday before visiting the hot springs. You can drop by this magnificent church through the Bicol Naga City pilgrimage private tour during your stop in Camarines Sur.
Photo by CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC)
Get ready for an awesome non-stop water fun at the CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC) and learn the basics of watersports ranging from cable skiing, wakeboarding, and other towing activities guided by expert instructors!
Enjoy the clear waters in a series of thrilling sports towed on a buoyant, convex-shaped board or a pair of waterskis at planing speeds behind a motorboat. Get your instructor to show you some tricks to overcome the challenges as a first-time rider. Aside from ramps and obstacles, the park also features a beach volleyball area and a pool for those who want to spend more time basking under the sun.
This 6-hectare world-class water park takes watersports on a whole other level with its top-of-the-line facilities amid the cozy, relaxing environment. Owing to its location in the capital of Pili, Camarines Sur, CWC is a popular spot for traveling families and friends on the lookout for places to chill and have fun. From its Instagram-worthy on-site villas, well-stocked Clubhouse, to the obstacle courses, CWC makes for a worthwhile escape from the bustling city.
Settle down in the picturesque paradise of Calaguas. Best explored on a full-day Calaguas island-hopping tour, this majestic series of islands in Camarines Norte is home to white-sand beaches and rough seas that serve as a nice little getaway from the busy city.
Otherwise known as 'The Concealed White Beach of Bohol', Calaguas is a small group of islands located in the municipality of Vinzons. The island is famous for having unspoiled natural resources that help preserve its pristine beauty. This serene coastline is now a marvel filled with untouched natural wonders, cottages, and DIY tents that city dwellers seek as a temporary refuge.
Calaguas houses three main islands: Tinaga, Guintinua, and Maculabo, plus a few other islets nearby. People recount their Calaguas experience during their time in Mahabang Buhangin Beach – a long stretch of white sand beach in Tinaga Island.
A must-visit solely for its unspoiled beauty and immersive nature, visitors are greeted with the sunny weather and calming sound of the waves, all of which are enjoyable even when you’re just camping in your tent.
Guintinua Island and Maculabo Island
While there are no commercial offers of island hopping tours in Calaguas, you can always hire a private boat that will take you around the area for the day. But you can always negotiate with the locals depending on your budget.
Aside from Tinaga, the deserted islands of Guintinua and Maculabo are also worth the visit to truly experience the serenity of Calaguas. You can also do some fun activities like snorkeling, diving, or even hiking to kill time. Buy a coconut from the locals to take with you and keep you refreshed on your day out.
If you want to go off-the-grid and escape the crowds, Caramoan’s host of secret beaches remain unknown to most tourists, making this isolated group of small islands a distinct castaway paradise.
With its powdery white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, mystic lagoons, and stalactite-rich caves, this should be a top priority in your itinerary. In fact, you can go on a Caramoan Island hopping tour with a private transfer from Virac, Catanduanes, if you're already in Bicol.
Caramoan is considered the Philippines’ last frontier in terms of uncharted islands. This secluded area sets the new standard for ideal tropical destinations with its well-preserved marine life and incredible rock formations.
Caramoan Island offers plenty of opportunities for kayaking, diving, snorkeling, rock climbing, and exploring lagoons and caves. You can experience all of these via island hopping and visit a few or all attractions in the main islands: Bag-ing, Cagbanilad, Catanhawan, Cotivas, Lahos, Matukad, Minalahos, Pitogo, and Sabitang-Laya. So explore as much as you can!
Meet the adorable whale sharks at the Donsol Whale Shark Interaction Center tour!
Situated in the province of Sorsogon, Donsol is now a popular hub of tourism that houses the Whale Shark Interaction Eco-Tourism Project initiative of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Like many other touristy locations in the Bicol Region, the municipality is leading the way for sustainable tourism by involving the general public to discover and meet the gentle giants of the Philippine sea.
Fondly called butanding in Tagalog, whale sharks come to Donsol Bay for 6-7 months to feed on the small fishing villages around the Donsol River. Around this time, tourists flock to Donsol for a chance to interact with these adorable sea creatures while in the coastal town.
Donsol is one of the few places in the world that guarantees a fun (and responsible) whale shark sighting in the country. To compare this experience to the same wildlife activity in Oslob, Donsol whale sharks are in their natural environment where boats do not overcrowd nor force-feed them. They are also closely monitored by the local government and only allow seasonal sightings and interactions from November to July to ensure its long-term sustainability.
In 1814, Mayon Volcano recorded its most violent eruption, completely burying the entire town of Cagsawa by fast-flowing volcanic matter, except for the belfry. But unlike any other beautiful place in the Philippines, this once lively town had to go through such tragedy for it to be one of the most popular tourist attractions in Daraga, Albay today.
Set against the magnificent backdrop of its creator, Cagsawa Ruins Park is declared a national cultural treasure that brings visitors closer to the volcano. The site is just a short drive away from Daraga proper, and once you’ve arrived, several exhilarating Mayon Volcano tours await you, including the ATV tour around the foothills of Mount Mayon as well as awe-inspiring landscapes in the area.
Treat yourself afterward with a delectable feast of Bicolano cuisine before cooling down with a pleasant stroll inside the Cagsawa National Museum.
Experience the Beauty of the Bicol Region
Backpackers, campers, and even the average tourist will never run out of things to do in Bicol. This region is more than just its spicy food, whale sharks, and active volcanoes. Bicol is beautiful and beyond basic, with a host of less-traveled islands, deserted beaches, and many natural wonders waiting to be discovered. If you’re up for a real adventure with a dash of culture and history on the side, Bicol is the place to be.
So start crafting your itinerary for your Bicol tours and activities for an unforgettable stay in this underrated paradise! Surely, this almost uncharted territory will be one of your favorite travel destinations in no time. To ease your travel planning and budgeting, make sure to read our travel guides and check out our collection of Philippine tours and activities for your next trip.