Aside from its famous butterfly and pen knives, flavorful barako coffee, and the Taal Lake, Batangas is known for its beautiful beaches—some of the best are said to be in the municipality of Calatagan.
Approximately 125 kilometers away from Metro Manila, Calatagan is the southwesternmost area of the Batangas province. It is the perfect vacation spot where you can escape the stressful and fast-paced lifestyle in the city since it is only a two-hour drive away from Manila. And because of its remarkable beaches, Calatagan has numerous resorts you can choose from and other establishments where you can let off steam.
A famous resort in Calatagan is Puesto del Sol, where you can enjoy the beautiful sunset view by the beach or relax in their huge infinity pool. Another is Cortijo del Charro, a Moorish, Mediterranean and Mexican-style resort where the family can enjoy boating, sightseeing and touring its nearby areas. But if you want a more extreme vacation, you can try wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing at Lago de Oro Ski Park and Resort.
Nature-lovers or those who want to have a "Castaway-Tom Hanks" kind of experience can visit the remote Burot Beach. There is no electricity, accommodations, and restaurants available in the area. Just bring your own supplies and tent, pay the small fee, and the immaculate white sand and water are all yours.
Apart from being frequented by weekend getaway lovers, Calatagan is also visited both by the local and international elite when it hosts golf and polo tournaments.
To get to Calatagan from Metro Manila, you need to travel by land. To date, Celyrosa Bus Lines has buses, both air conditioned and ordinary types, that offer direct trips from Manila to this peninsula on the western side of Batangas. They are found in Coastal Mall in Pasay City, and travel time takes roughly about three to four hours.
Alternatively, you can also choose to ride a bus bound for Nasugbu, which is about 33 kilometers north of Calatagan. Ask the bus driver or the conductor to drop you off at Lian Market. From there, you can ride a public jeepney headed to Calatagan town proper.
There are also public utility vans that can take you to Calatagan. They are found near the EDSA–Taft MRT Station, alongside the bus terminals in the area.
How to Get Around
When in Calatagan, the tricycle is your best friend. It is the most popular public transportation in the area and can efficiently take you from one place to another.
What to See
Calatagan is laden with beach resorts where you can enjoy that much-needed break from the metro’s hustle and bustle. The town boasts white sand beaches that are pleasing to the eye and can entice anyone to just sit down and admire the view. The town was also once referred to as the “Forbes Park of the South,” given the multitude of privately-owned estates by some of the Philippines’ elite.
Start off your adventure in this peninsular town with a visit to its century-old landmark, the Cape Santiago Lighthouse. Also known as the Calatagan Lighthouse, Punta de Santiago, or Faro de Punta Santiago, this 51-foot structure is responsible for guiding seafarers as they pass through Verde Island, San Bernardino Strait, and Manila Bay. And from high above the lighthouse, a spectacular aerial view of Calatagan will surely dazzle you.
In the midst of Barangay Quilitisan lies Ang Pulo—the Calatagan Mangrove Forest and Conservation Park. The park boasts a lush mangrove area and fascinating flocks of birds that nature lovers will simply fall in love with. Depending on the tide conditions, guests can even use a kayak or a stand-up paddle board to traverse the length of the mangrove.
There’s no better way to enjoy a getaway in Calatagan than by staying in one of the many beach resorts found in the area. There’s the Banak House Calatagan on Calatagan Beach and the Ronco Beach Resort in Barangay Bagong Silang. There is also Sunrise Cove, Puesto del Sol, Cortijo del Charro, and Lago de Oro Hotel Wake Park and Resort. These establishments, some of which are beachside properties, feature a variety of recreational facilities where you can have a fun and refreshing holiday with your friends and families.
Another favorite attraction in Calatagan is the Aquaria Water Park. It has a long stretch of beach with fine sands as well as a water park that the kids and the kids-at-heart will surely enjoy. The highlight of the water park is the three-story giant slide, where guests will ride on a water tube that circles its way down to a six-feet pool below.
If you are into history, then a visit to the Museo de Enrique Zobel is highly recommended for you. The museum gives you a glimpse into the life and the legacy of Don Enrique Zobel, one of Manila’s most celebrated businessman, polo player, and philanthropist. The museum also displays the town’s artifacts and memorabilia, providing visitors a glimpse of Calatagan’s local history and arts.
If you love gold, you can check out Calatagan Golf and Country Club. It has a world-class golf course, where players and visitors are also treated to a stunning view of lush greens and the nearby bay.
Where to Eat
Calatagan is located in Batangas, a province known for its distinct culinary offerings. While in town, you can have the famous loming Batangas and, of course, bulalo. There is also kapeng barako, the iconic brew of the province to jumpstart your morning.
In Calatagan, most resorts have their own restaurants where you can enjoy mouthwatering dishes. However, beyond the restaurants is Mama Mia Pizzeria, which offers delightful brick oven pizzas that will bring you to Italy with its incredible flavors.
If you have more time, drop by Kainan sa Dalampasigan near Nasugbu where you can enjoy tasty Filipino dishes made with the freshest ingredients.
Fare: PHP 150.00 to PHP 200.00
The fare for a trip from Manila to Calatagan in an ordinary bus costs about PHP 140.00 to PHP 150.00. For air conditioned buses, the fare is roughly around PHP 200.00. If you prefer to ride a van, it costs about PHP 180.00 per person.
Once you’ve arrived in Calatagan, the best way to get around is by tricycle. A trip costs about PHP 60.00 per person. You can haggle with the driver so you can score discounts.
Food: PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00 per meal
For the restaurants around Calatagan, allot a budget of about PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00 per meal.
Shopping: PHP 20.00 to PHP 300.00
Souvenir stalls and vendors are around Calatagan. Key chains, ref magnets, and coin purses are popular souvenir items, which cost about PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 apiece. Souvenir shirts are also sold. Depending on the design and on the shirt quality, a shirt can cost anywhere between PHP 200.00 to PHP 300.00.
Panucha is a favorite pasalubong item from Batangas, sold for PHP 100.00 for three packs. Balisong, the local version of a Swiss knife, is a popular product of the province which starts at PHP 250.00. For the coffee lovers, bring home a pack of kapeng barako beans that you can brew at home. Price starts at PHP 280.00 for 500 grams.
Accommodations: PHP 2,000.00 to PHP 4,500.00
With the multitude of beach resorts available in Calatagan, you are bound to find one that will fit your requirements and, of course, your budget. On average, the more affordable rooms are priced at about PHP 2,000.00 for an overnight stay. Hotel rooms with more complete amenities and full services cost higher at around PHP 4,500.00 a night.
Activities: PHP 400.00 to PHP 600.00
Most of the attractions in Calatagan like the lighthouse and the museum don’t charge entrance fees. They will simply ask you to donate whatever amount you can.
For beach activities, snorkeling or riding a banana boat are priced at about PHP 200.00 to PHP 400.00 per head.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00
When dining, leaving tips is no longer necessary since most restaurants already include a service in your bill. But if you insist, PHP 20.00 to PHP 50.00 should be ok.