Thursday, September 8, 2011

Visit the world-class Taal Lake and Volcano

An hour’s drive south of Manila is an awesome natural attraction - Taal Lake and Volcano. It is the deepest lake in the Philippines, a crater remnant of an immense prehistoric volcano with an estimated elevation of 18, 000 feet.

This caldera lake has an island in its centre containing, in another smaller lake, the smallest active volcano in the world. It is thus an island within a lake within another island within another lake. In the last four centuries, Taal has had 41 eruptions with its most devastating, the great eruption of 1754, lasting close to six months, burying entire towns along the lakeshore.

From Tagaytay ridge, 2,000 feet up on the north side overlooking Taal Lake, the view will take your breath away. Resorts, hotels and retreats dot the ridge for this million-dollar view. The rustic town of Talisay, accessible from the South Luzon Expressway or from straight down the mountainside from Tagaytay Ridge, is the jump-off point for the many adventures to be had in Taal Lake. Several resorts dot the lakeside and most offer boat tours to Volcano Island and hikes to the crater.

There are also horseback tours on Taal Island for the non-hiking fans. The San Roque Beach Resort has cozy, native-style cottages, home-cooked native cuisine, a black sand beach, and of course, a great lake-level view of the Volcano. The Taal Yacht Club has kayaking, sailing lessons, Hobie cats and more elaborate sailing rigs. Then, there’s the simple cruise in an outrigger to soak up the fresh breezes and wonderful views. A nice spot to have a lakeshore picnic is the Spring Lake Resort with its tree houses for a better view of the grand volcano.

No visit here is complete without sampling the fruits of this fertile volcanic land. Pineapples, bananas, mangos, and other exotic varieties of tropical fruit are abundant and inexpensive. Coconut cultivation is big here – we just about overdosed on fresh young coconut juice straight from the tree! Additional crops such as coffee, cocoa and cassava are grown underneath the coconut trees. And whatever you do, do not leave here without sampling the robust and aromatic local-grown coffee….definitely world-class!

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