Bicol Region boasts some of the country’s most popular tucked away beach destinations such as Calaguas Island in Vinzons, Camarines Norte and Caramoan Islands in Camarines Sur. But for different reasons, both islands are not always viable. We discovered Rizal Beach in Gubat, Sorsogon; a long stretch of fine white sand facing the Pacific Ocean, idyllic for any type of weather and for all types of travelers.
HOW TO GET THERE
- Ride a bus bound for Sorsogon City or Gubat, Sorsogon. Bus lines like DLTB, PhilTransco, Isarog and Amihan have daily trips to Sorsogon. Another option is to ride a bus to Legazpi City, Albay where there are more frequent trips from more bus operators. A faster alternative is flying via Cebu Pacific to Naga or Legazpi.
- From Naga or Legazpi, ride the UV Express vans to Sorsogon from the city’s van terminal.
By private transportation: From SLEX, take Sto. Tomas Exit. Go straight to San Pablo City and enter Quezon Province via Tiaong. Go straight to Lucena then turn right to Pan Philippine Highway or AH26, passing by Pagbilao, Atimonan, Gumaca and Calauag. After Calauag, turn right towards the municipalities of Del Gallego and Ragay. Go straight to Naga, Iriga and Legazpi. You may opt to stop over these towns. Sorsogon City is less than two hours from Legazpi City by car. From Sorsogon City, follow the Pan Philippine Highway until you reach the town of Gubat.
WHERE TO STAY
If you’re a budget traveler like us, you will love Lola Sayong Eco-Surf Camp for all the right reasons.
1) Their accommodations are cheap, basic and unpretentious. The two-storey bahay kubo costs P500 for solo, P650 for 2-3 pax and P800 for 4-8 pax. This includes a spacious first level that can be used as a day bed, mattresses on the 2nd floor and an electric fan. Tent rental costs P75/day + pitching fee of P150. They have a spacious camping area, too.
2) Lola Sayong’s Eco-Surf Camp offers a beach-front ‘detox area’, where smoking, drinking and playing loud music are prohibited. Around 10 hammocks are scattered in the area, tied on to coconut trees that provide ample shade during the day.
3) They have a restaurant called Kana Kaon Tabi (please eat here in Bikol, if we’re not mistaken), surrounded by trees and tables and chairs made of bamboo. Kana Kaon Tabi menu varies but flavorful staples are seasig or seafood sisig and smoked fish or tinapa. Their shakes are also perfect during the summer season. Prices vary from P75 to 150 per meal.
4) Lola Sayong’s Eco-Surf Camp is in the middle of Rizal Beach, and its beach front is an ideal spot for surfing. Best part is surfing is inexpensive! Surf lessons is P350/hour for beginners and P700/half day board rental for regular to pro surfers.
To sum it up, your stay in Lola Sayong’s Eco-Surf Camp is an experience in itself. The place is modest and raw, created by a group of grateful surfers in 2009. Book it through Airbnb where you can get a discount if you’re a Smart subscriber. Or you may contact Noli directly at 0999 406 1497.
If you’re planning a trip to the area the nearest main city is Sorsogon. You may check out Sorsogon City hotels here.
We were contemplating if we’re going to bring our own car or ride the bus. It was a Friday night before a long weekend and all the bus operators in Pasay are fully-booked (even a day prior). We could also try our luck in Cubao but we can’t guarantee slots. We could also ride a bus to Legazpi and find our way to Sorsogon and then Gubat, Sorsogon but that would mean three modes of transportation just to get to Rizal Beach. Driving, on the other hand, meant 10 hours on the road – driving from Friday night ’til sunrise.
After weighing the pros and cons, we decided to bring a car because it would mean less travel time (9-10 hours vs 12-14 hours), stopovers in nearby towns of Legazpi and Naga and more flexibility in our itinerary.
The drive started in SLEX, exiting in Sto. Tomas just before reaching Star Tollway. We passed by San Pablo City and continued to Lucena. After Pagbilao, we passed by Bituka ng Manok Diversion Road to Atimonan. Gumaca was our last major town – with ATM, fastfood and a 711 store – before the long stretch to Calauag, the town the separates the road to Daet and the shorter route to Camarines Sur. After Calauag, it’s a long drive of town after town, taking around 2 hours at least, to Sipocot. We chose to drop by Naga for a quick break, then Legazpi for breakfast. Sorsogon is 2 hours at most from Legazpi, and Gubat is around 20-30 minutes from Sorsogon City.
Rizal Beach is easy to locate from Gubat Town Proper, just follow the main road and turn right once you see the signs to “Gubat” or “Buenavista”. Lola Sayong is around five minutes from the fork, passing by the cemetery, the huge GUBAT sign and the school on your right. The surf camp is right in front of the Barangay Hall of Buenavista.
Lola Sayong’s Eco-Surf Camp is in the center of Rizal Beach. Owned by friendly local surfers, the place is simple and welcoming. After checking-in our kubo, we walked towards the beach and were surprised. Rizal Beach is long and wide, and the sand is fine, from light beige to white, arrayed from the dense green forest of Gubat to the cobalt seas of the Pacific Ocean. And the best part is it’s empty! No tourists or big resorts in sight.
The wide empty beach is ideal for beach volleyball, soccer or ultimate frisbee. The beach break is perfect for surfing for beginners. The waves are constant; surfing season starts during -ber months until first quarter of the year. In the shallow parts, locals gather around to enjoy the waves or wade at the beach.
For those hiding from the sun, there are shaded spots decked with chairs and hammocks along the beach front area of Lola Sayong. Their fruit shakes, available at Kaon Kana Tabi, are your perfect companion.
- Transportation: buses from Cubao or Pasay going to Sorsogon cost around P700-P1,100 one way, depending on the type of bus you’re taking. Book your tickets days prior the trip. For peak season, book your tickets a week prior to your departure date. For private transportation, P1,500 each for gas, P300 each for toll.
- Accommodations: P650/night for 2-3 people
- Food: P150/meal
- If you’re planning to go straight to Gubat without stopovers, we recommend riding the bus instead. Book, however, at least a week before specially during peak season.
- There are different types of buses from different bus operators in Cubao and Pasay. There are regular/non-airconditioned, standard air-conditioned and lazy boy buses with CR.
- Call or reserve in Lola Sayong Eco-Surf Camp prior to your trip. There are only six bahay kubos available. Though it’s rarely full, it’s better to be safe.
- There’s a sari-sari store outside the resort where you can buy cold drinks. Aside from the restaurant inside Lola Sayong, there are no other restaurants near the resort.
- Don’t expect too much. It’s a backpacker camp with huts and common bathrooms. It’s like a small neighborhood where you can live like a local.
- There are plenty of towns where you can stop-over along the way:
- Legazpi/Cagsawa is the best vantage point for perfect shape of Mayon Volcano.
- Naga arguably offers the most delicious spicy food in the country.
- Stopover Pili (in the outskirts of Naga) for Camsur Watersports Complex.
- Gumaca to Atimonan, Quezon has restaurants facing Lamon Bay.