An island in an island in an island – islandception, it is. . 🙂
In my younger years, every time I go to Tagaytay in Cavite, I’ve used to wonder if people could actually go to Taal volcano – coined as the smallest volcano in the world seated in the middle of a lake which view from the highlands of Tagaytay City made locals and tourists alike to visit Tagaytay. The iconic view is most photographed across all post cards and travel guides of Tagaytay City.
Then I realised I have been misinformed all my life. The famed geographical landmark seen on photos in magazines, post cards and even history and culture related books in my grade-school years was just a tiny part of the actual Taal volcano. The crater that can be seen from the photo is not the main crater of Taal. It is just a tiny part of an even broader body of land. With my curiosity, I asked one of my most trusted best friends to trek the Taal Volcano. The trail to the crater lake was already open for tourists for quite a while, even before I realised the post cards are misleading. . Just never had the willingness to go on a hike since I have more of a beach bum personality rather than mountain climber. We, with Bing, still did it though in early 2016.
How we got there
We took the commute route from Santa Rosa City, Laguna to Taal, Batangas via Tagaytay, Cavite. From Tagaytay (we jumped off at Olivarez Plaza), we hired a tricycle to drive us down to town of Talisay, Batangas for P300. Upon reaching Talisay, we hired a motorised boat to cross Taal Lake and get to the volcano for P2000. I’m sure you could spend a lot cheaper when you haggle more. There are also other routes to get to Taal Crater Lake from Manila like via Tanauan, Batangas.
Where to Eat
The Taal Volcano is a village itself. The community has a number of family-owned small eateries and retail stores. If you’re not picky, you can eat on the local carinderia and spend around P70 for a complete meal. If you prefer a fancier dish, then I suggest you get a good meal at Tagaytay firstly then take away some food to bring on your hike.
There is P100 admission fee to the crater lake which you have to pay before starting the trail. You can also get a tour guide for P500 for the whole group regardless of number of pax in the group. Bing and I had one since getting a guide is also helping these locals financially. For lazy climbers like me, you can ride a horse for an easy way up to the crater lake for P500 (if I remember the price correctly). But Bing and I decided, we should just walk since the trail is not difficult at all. One does not need to be a mountain climber to reach the crater.
The best time to traverse the trail is from early morning to before noontime. We did ours from noontime to early afternoon and regretted it. The trail is dusty and is not covered by shades of trees like what you usually have when you climb mountain forests. The heat of the sun got us more dehydrated than we’re supposed to be, sunburn, a bad headache and dizziness. Just a piece of advice, remember to bring lots of water with you, wear the right apparel, and wear sunscreen and a face mask. The view of the crater lake is all worth the headache though. To see an island within a lake in an island within a lake in an island is something amazing.