Life in Manila, Philippines is exhausting. With all the traffic and the fuss daily, taking a break is much needed by everybody. For us to escape the busy lifestyle in the capital city, we are so used to driving to Batangas, Zambales, Bataan and Pangasinan to enjoy the sun and the beaches. We go to Tagaytay or Bulacan for greeneries in the mountains. Pansol and Los Banos are always on top of the list if we want to just dip and relax in pool resorts. But most of us have not explored the southern part of Laguna where all of these can be experienced in just one place- Lake Caliraya.
Lake Caliraya that cover parts of Lumban, Cavinti and Kalayaan is man-made. Believe it or not, it is. This beautiful creation was made after the development of Caliraya Dam in the early 1900’s. The Caliraya River was dammed at its outlet from a large plateau area providing water reservoir to generate hydroelectric power.
In the late 1960’s, Lake Caliraya became retreat place for the rich people of Manila and expatriate communities because of its close proximity to the capital. Then residential resort subdivisions and clubs started to pop up.
Lake Caliraya or just Caliraya that refers to the overall surroundings of the lake is a haven for different water activities and sports such as kiteboarding, wakeboarding, windsurfing, water skiing, jet skiing, fishing and boating, golf, camping and other recreational outdoor activities.
Whether you are a water sports enthusiast or just simply into relaxation, Caliraya has something to offer for you. For first timers, below are the things that can be done and places to visit:
- Japanese Garden, place of Yamashita Shrine and was built to honor the Filipinos and Japanese who died during World War II. It is an enormous park in terms of land area, covered with old towering trees. You’ll also find here ponds with lotus and lilies. The park is perfect for family picnics or if you just want to be close to nature.
- The Tatlong Krus, for religious folks. These are at the peak of mount Humarap, part of the Sierra Madre. It is overlooking the town of Paete.
- Caliraya Spillway, a ruin left by the Cavinti Town Boundary Market. Perfect spot to take pictures.
- Lumot Lake, smaller lake with less visitors and/or tourists.
- Day tour in Caliraya Resort Club- Enjoy activities for the adults that will raise your adrenaline with Slip n ‘Slide, Sky Bicycle and the Giant Water slide. These are just a few of the activities in the resort.
- Enjoy lunch at the many hillside restaurants along the road in Caliraya. View of the mountains and Laguna de Bay is superb.
- Eat fish balls and other street food in roadside stalls before the spillway (if you are taking the road going up)- I really don’t know why, but I am hooked. The fish balls, kikiam, squid balls and etc., have this freshness that makes the taste so different!
- Shop fresh produce from stores along the road.
There are many accommodations available, from budget friendly inns to luxurious resorts. Just check out Trivago to compare prices. There are also plenty of accommodations offered in Airbnb. I have stayed in Aquascape Lake Caliraya, a resort that offers inland and floating cottages with stunning interiors, different water activities plus staffs are very accommodating. Landscape is perfect for pictorials too. You can check out their Facebook page, here.
Getting to Caliraya is best if you drive your own car. If you commute, take a bus going to Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Then ride a jeep going to Siniloan. Alight in the Lumban Market. Trikes going up to Caliraya are stationed here. Just make sure you haggle with the driver for the price because they tend to charge that much. There are jeepney rides going up but I am not really sure of the exact route. You can find the terminals in Pagsanjan Town proper. You can also check out this website with details on how to get to Lake Caliraya.