Biking bucket list: 5 scenic destinations around the Philippines for your next family vacation
"Four wheels move the body, but two wheels move the soul."
Exploring destinations by bicycle always brings a sense of wonder and freedom even in places you may already be familiar with. No two rides are ever the same and traveling on pure pedal power allows you to soak in the sights and scenery of a place at a slower pace.
In the early days of the lockdowns, bikes were an essential form of transportation and one of the few allowable outdoor exercises. Since destinations were limited because of checkpoints and travel restrictions, biking opened up a whole new world for many people who discovered the simple joys of urban rides and weekend coffee rides with friends.
Now that leisure travel has opened up again, cyclists may want to combine their newfound passion for biking with long-awaited family vacations.
Here are five coastal lakeside and beach destinations around the Philippines where you'll want to bring your own bicycles (or rent bikes) to go around for half-day to whole day rides during your trips.
Since not everyone is into biking, the rest of the family can just chill out at chosen resorts and enjoy other activities, so everyone can enjoy trips on their own terms.
Caliraya Lake, Laguna
Caliraya Lake is a man-made lake situated within the towns of Lumban, Cavinti and Kalayaan in the province of Laguna. The lakeside has long-been a popular spot for water sports and outdoor recreation activities, as well as retreats because of the serene environment.
For bikers, Caliraya Lake provides a refreshing area to explore on two wheels because of the higher elevation, cooler climate and refreshing views not so far from Manila. If you’re staying in the area for the weekend, a great bike route you can do is the Caliraya Lake - Lumot Lake - Pagsanjan Loop that will have you riding along lakeside spots, with easy side-trips to the iconic Pagsanjan Arch before getting a wokrout heading back uphill back through the mountain pass.
The Caliraya bike loop itself is roughly just about 35 km, ideal for a morning or half day ride before you regroup with your family for quality bonding time. You can also extend your bike ride to over 60+ km by exploring the new road being built leading to the Cavinti Underground Caves Complex, a new eco-tourism destination in the area.
Where to stay in Caliraya:
There are numerous hotels, resorts and vacation homes near Caliraya Lake catering to all types of tourists. In recent years, the area of Cavinti has evolved as the “the glamping capital of the Philippines”, offering luxurious, yet nature-inspired dwellings like Dome Glamping and Floating Cottages ideal for bikepacking or bike touring.
Caliraya EcoVille Recreation and Farm Resort offers a secure resort ideal for families, couples, and groups of friends who just want to chill out, relax and enjoy nature for the weekend. Aside from air-conditioned hotel rooms, the resort also has simple lakeside cottages and grounds where you can pitch tents, For newbie bikers who don't want to ride far, the resort also offers bike rentals and contains a short nature trail within the sprawling farm resort complex.
Lakeside Nipa Hut Cottages start at P2,500/a night, while air-conditioned hotel rooms cost P2,999/night. Tent pitching is also available for P500/night. For inquiries, visit www.calirayaecoville.com/
Laiya, San Juan, Batangas
When it comes to weekend getaways, Laiya Beach in the town of San Juan in Batangas, is one of the most popular go-to spots within driving distance of Manila. Laiya’ boasts of a white sand beach and family-friendly resorts where guests can stay comfortably while getting easy access to beach-based activities like banana boating, kayaking, and island-hopping.
If you’re driving from Manila, you may want to load your bikes up on the car, because Laiya offers a great jump-off point for bike exploration. From the beach resorts in Laiya, you can bike all the way to the historic Malabrigo Lighthouse in the neighboring town of Lobo through a newly built road that cuts across hills and offers stunning coastal views.
The remoteness, unspoiled nature, and coastal views are the main draw for bikers. Since not a lot of vehicles pass here, this road offers a great "off-the-grid" route for bikers. The 40km ride going from Laiya to Malabrigo Lighthouse and back is an equal mix of good paved and rough roads, so mountain bikes or gravel bikes are recommended instead of road bikes or foldies.
Where to stay in Laiya:
Sabangan Beach Resort offers clean and modern beachfront villas with a native feel that will appeal mostly to families who want a bit of privacy and luxury comforts. Stays here are inclusive of buffet breakfast, afternoon snacks, and dinner for all checked-in guests. The resort is pet-friendly as well, so you can bring your furbabies along with the whole fam and let them enjoy the beach while you bike around.
Bamboo Cottage (good for 2 pax) starts at P6,000, Dao Suites with balcony are P7,500/night, while Deluxe Bungalows with veranda (good for 4 pax) start at P15,000/night. Sabangan Beach Resprt currently has a Two is Better Than One Promo for the rainy season where guests get 30% off on their second night if they book two consecutive nights for stays from July 1 to September 30, 2022. For more information and rates, visit: www.sabangan.com/
Baler and Dipaculao, Aurora
Baler is a charming town in the province of Aurora that’s best known for its surf scene and wide gray sand beach. The laid-back town is known as the birthplace of surfing in the Phliippines. But in case surfing is not your thing, Baler also offers a great base for bikers to explore.
If you’re biking in Baler, you can ride through the long, traffic-free road that stretches on to the less explored towns of Dipaculao, Dinadiawan, Dinalugan, Casiguran, Dilasag, and camp out there. Those with limited time can also enjoy scenic rides to top tourists spots nearer the town like the historic houses, Museo de Baler, Ditumabo Mother Falls, the Millenium Balete Tree, Diguisit Beach, Dicasalarin Cove area or just bike along the main boulevard to enjoy the beach and coastal views.
Where to stay in Baler:
With its modern and deluxe beachfront cottages ideal for barkadas and families, Nalu Surf Camp offers a great place to stay in Baler where you can get a mix of luxury and island living. The beachfront resort has its own swimming pool, a small skate park, and its own kitchen and bar with a wide array of meals and even live music at night.
Traditional Nipa Huts with garden views start at P1,500/night while air-conditioned deluxe Nipa Huts (villas) can cost about Php 5,500/night. For full rates and more information, visit https://nalusurfcamp.ph/
Boracay is one of the the most popular destinations in the Philippines and probably at the top of most people’s post-pandemic bucketlists. Aside from just chilling out at the beach and going food-tripping at the many restaurants here, tourists can actually circle the entire island by bike on DIY bike tours. Boracay is small enough to bike from end to end and several establishments on the island including Isla Siklista Bike Rental offer bikes for rent for as little as P150 an hour of P500 for half-day use. They can also arrange guided bike tours for those who don't want to do DIY tours.
From your chosen resort, you can easily bike to uncrowded beaches and tourist spots like Boracay Newcoast, Ilig-Iligan Beach and Tambisaan Beach at your own pace. You can also explore the lesser-visited mangrove areas, hunt down local eateries, and find your own secret spots away from the tourist crowd on a chill 30 km or so Boracay Bike Loop.
Where to stay in Boracay:
For luxury family travel, book your stay at a top hotel like Discovery Shores Boracay.This 99-suite luxury resort located in Station 1 of White Beach, is just right in front of the powder-soft white sand beach. The hotel has its own spa and several outdoor pools throughout the property, including one with a sunken bar and a rooftop pool. The rooms at Discovery Shores Boracay feature views of the pool or the man-made waterfalls.
For updated rates and bookings at Discovery Shores Boracay, visit www.discoveryshoresboracay.com/.
Panglao Island, Bohol
Headed to Bohol anytime soon? Aside from all the water-based activities like scuba diving, island-hopping and snorkeling you can enjoy here, the whole island offers an amazing playground for cyclists, with natural attractions like white-sand beaches and historic landmarks worth bking to wherever you’re based. The island province is quite large, so you might want to plan your bike rides strategically if you're just on a short vacation.
In case you’re booked in one of the resorts along Alona Beach, an easy, yet satisfying ride would be the Panglao Island Loop where you circle the circumferential road of the tourist island. On this 40km route, you can visit places like White Beach, Bohol Bee Farm, the two bridges crossing over to Tagbilaran, Hinagdanan Cave, and explore other lesser-known spots off the main tourist trail usually covered by van tours before chilling out at the beach.
Where to stay in Bohol:
For luxurious accommodations with high-quality service, book your stay at Amorita Resort. This boutique resort secluded on a limestone cliff on the southern edge of Bohol’s Panglao Island offers a tranquil retreat for families and leisure travelers. As a bonus for bikers, Amorita Resort offers complimentary use of their casual city bikes within the resort as well as a few mountain bikes for rent.
For inquiries and rates, visit https://www.amoritaresort.com/