Bicol Region or commonly known as ‘Bicolandia’ is the Philippines’ best destination for outdoor lovers. It is a wonderland for lovers of tremendous adventure, with church-lined historic pathways, active volcanoes, mountains, caverns and cliffs, as well as peaceful hideaway beaches, tranquil whale sharks, coral reefs, perfect diving places, stunning fiestas and festivals, and coconut-rich spicy food. Bicol is indeed the perfect destination for countless itineraries!

Bicol consists of six provinces that evidently differ from each other. These provinces are Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Masbate, and Albay. Each province offers a spectacular eXperience that every traveler will never forget. Let me guide you to what these provinces can offer by providing you with some information about them.

Caramoan in Camarines Sur

Camarines Sur

Camarines Sur, also known as CamSur, is the largest of the Bicol peninsula’s six provinces. The province, which was discovered on March 19, 1919 and was known for centuries as Tierra de Camarines, is a distinctly Spanish-founded settlement. Its name comes from camaronchones or camarines, a Spanish word for kamalig, which refers to the natives’ little nipa or bamboo-made homes.
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From the heritage churches of certain tiny towns to the tiniest commercially produced fish to the pink and black sand beaches of the Partido region, Camarines Sur is rich in nature, history, and culture. It is home to the sinarapan, the world’s tiniest fish, as well as native delicacies such as pili nuts and tarts, masa podrida, tableas, pandecillos, and santan.

CamSur has a lot to offer in terms of outdoor activities! You can go island hopping in the Caramoan Islands, try wakeboarding at Camsur Water Park, go canyoneering and waterfall rappelling, climb or bike up mountain trails, relax on the beaches, soak in hot springs, relax in adventure and nature parks, or embark on an extreme food excursion. In Camarines Sur, you’ll never be bored! Depends on the activity, the best time of the year to visit CamSur is most likely summer. The hottest months are April, May, and June.

The province received the Best PESO Regional Winner Award: Component City/Individual Component City Category from the Department of Labor and Employment, Region V via Zoom awarding ceremonies on September 14, 2020, and a commendation from the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Region V during the 2019 National Absnet Consultation (CSWD) – Vulcan Award on March 6, 2020. It was also featured in the movies Return of Xander Cage (2017), and Supravietuitorul Filipine (2016).

Calaguas Beach, Camarines Norte

Camarines Norte

Camarines Norte shares boundaries with Quezon and Camarines Sur provinces. The Philippine Sea could be seen to its north. The existence of Camarines Norte was influenced by Juan de Salcedo, who was sent by Legazpi to survey the island in 1571. Camarines Norte was established by Act 2809 of the Philippine Legislature on March 3, 1919. The towns of Daet, Talisay, Indan (Vinzons), Labo, Paracale, Mambulao (Jose Panganiban), Capalonga, Ragay, Lupi, and Sipocot were assigned to Camarines Norte when it was divided from Ambos Camarines in 1829.

Camarines Norte is noted for its gold, silver, iron, zinc, and bull quartz mineral reserves, as well as non-metallic minerals such as sand, limestone, clay, and kaolin. Fish and other marine goods abound in the province’s seas. Coconut, banan, corn, palay, rootcrops, and the famous Formosa Pineapple are all grown on the island’s farmlands. It also features a lot of waterfalls, clean rivers, and creeks where you can relax and cool down. Hikes to various waterfalls in the province are also available for nature lovers.

The most cost-effective way to travel from Manila to the Province of Camarines Norte is by bus, which costs between 800 and 1,200 pesos and takes about 9 to 10 hours. Summer is the greatest time to visit the province, especially if you wish to visit their most famous beach, Calaguas.

Sorsogon

Sorsogon

Sorsogon is on the northeastern shore of Sorsogon Bay, near the southernmost tip of the Bicol Peninsula. Republic Act 8806 established Sorsogon City, which was brought into law on August 16, 2000 and ratified in a plebiscite on December 16, 2000. The Cityhood Law, or Republic Act 8806, proposed merging the municipalities of Sorsogon and Bacon into a component city of the province of Sorsogon.

As a tourist destination, Sorsogon is known for its stunning beaches and cultural attractions in the Philippines. Some other things that you can explore here are:

  • Swim with the whale sharks
  • Get in touch with mother nature at Bulusan Volcano National Park
  • Watch fireflies along Donsol River
  • Chase waterfalls
  • Dive with manta rays
  • Get a tan at Subic Beach
  • Take a dip at Paguiriran Island
  • Go underground with Sorsogon’s wartime tunnels

The best time to go to Sorsogon province is also during the summer season or March to May. And the best time to see the whale sharks in Donsol are from November to May.

Sorsogon won BFAR’s environment award for 2020. They also got The Prieto Diaz Mangrove Ecosystem in Diaz, the first prize of the Best Mangrove Award in the Bicol region and won top prize in the Best Online Story category at the PMFTC.

Here are the movies or TV shows that featured Sorsogon province:

  • I Left My Heart in Sorsogon (2021)
  • Ikaw (2021)
  • Kailangan Kita (2002)
  • Donsol (2006)
Catanduanes

Catanduanes

Catanduanes is the Philippines’ 12th largest island, located east of Camarines Sur and across the Maqueda Channel. When Juan de Salcedo landed in Catanduanes in search of pirates in 1573, he conquered the inhabitants. House Bill No. 301, introduced by Congressman Francisco Perfecto, split the province from Albay on September 26, 1945, and was signed into law by President Sergio Osmeña on October 24, 1945.

Because of its stunning sights and nice inhabitants, Catanduanes is progressively becoming known as “The Happy Island.” Apart from its outstanding surfing waves, Catanduanes, also known as “An Eco-Adventure Paradise,” is a haven for environment lovers. This pearly Pacific island’s entire strip is virtually unspoilt, untamed, and unexplored. It features a lengthy stretch of palm-fringed beaches, which are backed by jungle-covered mountains and crowned with jewel-like islets. Abaca, coconut, rice, peanuts, and lowland vegetables are among the province’s products.

Recreational options that Catanduanes can offer:

  • Hike Up to Binurong Point
  • Enjoy the White Sand at Marilima Beach
  • Take a Break at Batag Beach
  • Contemplate at Bato Church
  • Marvel at the Beauty of Nahulugan Falls
  • Swim in the Tranquil Waters of Mamangal Beach
  • Take a Leisurely Walk Along Amenia Beach
  • Find Solitude in Balite Beach
  • Pray at Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
  • Fall in Love with Maribina Falls

The cheapest way to get from Manila to Catanduanes is to bus which costs ₱1,800 – ₱2,100 and takes 15h 28m and the best time to visit the province is surf season, from the month of July to October. March to June is good for beginner surfers though.

In terms of recognition, Catanduanes bags 2017 Magayagaya Award.

Fact: The island is battered by typhoons that roll in from July to November, which are in part responsible for the world-class waves.

Rodeo in Masbate

Masbate

Masbate is located at the intersection of two island groups: Visayas and Luzon, but is politically part of the latter’s Bicol Region. It was constituted a distinct province from Albay in 1846 and became a separate politico-military command province. Masbate was annexed to the province of Sorsogon after a catastrophic storm in 1908. By virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 2934, it was eventually recognized as a separate province on December 15, 1920. Masbate, Ticao, and Burias are the three primary islands that make up the province.

Masbate is a must-visit destination because of its spectacular hills, unique islands, sandbars, and spotless white sandy beaches. It is the Rodeo Capital of the Southeast. You can buy dried fish, crabs, fish, prawn, bangus, and livestock here and bring home as a ‘pasalubong’.

Recreational Activities to be considered:

  • Enjoy the sandbar of Buntod Reef Marine Sanctuary
  • Discover a hidden paradise at Palani White Beach
  • Wander around the city
  • Wild wild west with Rodeo Festival
  • Be amazed with the Aroroy Lighthouse
  • Feel like a castaway at Burias Island
  • Relish the solitude at Ticao Island
  • Have the best adventure at Halea Nature Park
  • Be amazed by Catandayagan Falls
  • Taste local cuisines

The cheapest way to get from Manila to Masbate is to bus and ferry which costs ₱1,300 – ₱1,500 and takes 21h 16m. The best months for good weather are from February to May.

Albay's Mayon Volcano

Albay

Albay is mostly on the southeastern part of the island of Luzon composed of 15 municipalities and 3 cities where the famous perfect-cone-shaped Mayon Volcano is situated. The province is mostly mountainous, with lush plains and valleys strewn about. It has two other major peaks: Mount Masaraga and Mount Malinao, in addition to Mayon Volcano. It now includes a variety of new tourist attractions, including both man-made and natural beauties.

Albay is famed for its lush volcanic terrain, sun-drenched beaches, and fiery cuisine. Albay’s people, on the other hand, are extremely welcoming. Albayanos is known for welcoming travelers with the greatest accommodations available. Albay’s land and marine ecosystems are both diverse.

Pili nut candies and munchies, mazapan, butternuts, caramelitos, pastillas, and putos are just a few of the delicacies Albay can offer to every traveler who visits Albay. When it comes to outdoor adventures, the province promises various activities such as hiking, swimming, interacting with wildlife animals, exploration of underground river and caves, ATV riding, tasting spicy Albay cuisines, and more!

The cheapest way to get from Manila to Legazpi, Albay is to bus via Superlines Cubao which costs ₱600 – ₱950 and takes 14h 16m. The best time to visit Albay is from January until November, when you will have a warm temperature and limited till mediocre rainfall.

Albay is also featured in the movies Ikaw, Kailangan Kita, and She’s Dating the Gangster and was awarded 3rd placer by Galing Pook Award 2015.