Yes you heard it right- we are talking about world’s smallest active volcano and perhaps the most complex one too. And to top it all it is a geological wonder! Imagine a volcano within a lake within a volcano within a lake! Complex YES…… Beautiful? Stunningly SO!!
Facts that would make your eyes pop!
The volcano we are talking about is called Mount Taal, located on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Don’t go by its small size- this is the second most active volcano in Philippines and has a history of 33 violent eruptions like what they say about “small packages”!
So why do we call it complex? Consider this: Luzon is an island in the Pacific Ocean, the most populous island in the Philippines archipelago. Located on Luzon is the large Taal Lake. Within Taal Lake is the Volcano Island. Within Volcano Island is yet another Crater Lake. Finally, within Crater Lake is Vulcan Point which is a volcano outcropping.
Confused hah? We understand if you are: let us simplify it for you:
Now some more amazing facts about this amazing place. The Crater Lake on Volcano Island is the largest lake on an island in the world! Moreover, Vulcan Point is often cited as the largest third-order island (island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island) in the world.
Phew! So how do you get there?
There are two ways and you can take your pick. One is you take a full day tour from Manila straight to the Taal Volcano. This would include a 2-3 hours drive depending on traffic and then a thirty minutes boat ride to the volcano island. Check out the various tour options here. It is an eight hour trip and you need to start early morning and to be back by evening
The other option is to reach the beautiful town of Tagaytay and stay over for a few days and visit the volcano from there. We highly recommend the second option as Tagaytay is an attractive little town offering breathtaking views of the Taal lake and the volcano. Tagaytay also offers a load of activities to keep you entertained.
Once you reach the small village by boat you will have a choice between hiking up the trail or taking a horse to reach the summit. Read our blog on essential trekking tips to make your treks enjoyable
The rustic surroundings are extremely alluring with a reminiscence of the era gone by owing to absence of motorised vehicles and horses being the only mode of transport available. There are huts and small shops selling T- shirts and souvenirs with the trail leading you through a small village frozen in time.
While on your way up the trail you will be able to enjoy awesome sceneries of the Taal lake behind you and the summit at the top.
As you draw closer to the summit, you will find smoke coming out of a few rocks giving impression for the first time that you are approaching a live volcano.
Once at the top you will be amazed at the sight of this geological wonder. Small rock jutting out of a shimmering lake within a crater of another volcano that itself is surrounded by Taal lake ....this is a unique sight you will never get to see anywhere else.
Provisions for light refreshments like noodles , chips and cold drinks are available at the top. Make sure you get down well in time as the last boat leaves the island by around 5 pm
Situated just 55 kms from Manila and at a height of 650 meters (2200 ft) above sea level, Tagaytay town is a haven for locals and tourists alike because of its cooler climate and panoramic views of the Taal lake. It is situated on a ridge stretching about 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Mount Batulao in the west to Mount Sungay in the east.
Situated on the mountain top, Tagaytay City is a splendid place for vacation and dining hangouts. Fabulous food is one thing that you can enjoy here! Apart from visiting the Taal Volcano there are a host of other things to do in this city. The most notable are as follows:
- Sky Ranch: A leisure park that boasts of Country’s tallest Ferris wheel and a mini amusement park spread over five hectares;
- Casino Filipino: For those who like to try their luck!
- Farm tours: There is a huge flower farm and vegetable farm open for visitors here.
- Museum: Indulge in some glass gazing with glass sculptures exhibited at Museo Ornlina that are creations of the famous Ramon Orlina.
- Zoo: There are two here – Paradizoo, a garden zoo and Residence Inn where you can enjoy the view of Taal Lake from ziplines!
- Churches: Tagaytay has quite a few churches for its size. Our Lady of Lourdes parish, Caleruega, little souls chapel, Tierra De Maria and pink sisters are the do-not-miss-kind!
- Bike Taxi: Have a joy ride in one of those bike taxis. It's quite an experience!
Where to Stay
We highly recommend Taal Vista Hotel. It is a 5 star property and it's location is right on the ridge offering amazing views of the Taal lake. There are mainly two options of stay there: Lake view rooms and Mountain View rooms. It is highly recommended to choose the lake view rooms despite slightly heftier price tag because is totally worth it. You will get to see the Taal Lake from your balcony and the clouds coming right inside your room.
The resort has a small play area for kids and a deck to enjoy the view of the lake and volcano. While at the hotel do checkout Café Veranda restaurant and enjoy delicious continental and Filipino cuisine along with light afternoon breeze and panoramic view of the Taal lake. The hotel also arranges visits to the volcano but the charges are much higher.
Our five Valuable tips for Taal Lake
- Be prepared for a bumpy ride on the boat. Taal Lake is quite big and has huge waves. If you are on a low speed boat be ready to get wet. Do take a raincoat with you. Raincoats are also available for 100 pesos apiece at the point of embarkation
- Carry waterproof bags for your belongings and make sure your mobiles are in waterproof cases.
- Trekking shoes are a must if you decide to climb up the volcano and not take a horse ride
- Bargain hard!!! Whether it is a taxi ride from Manila to Tagaytay or a horse ride from the village to the summit , the prices initially quoted are at least 50% more than what they will ultimately settle for.Manila to Tagaytay shouldn't cost you more than 3000 pesos inclusive of toll charges.The prices initially quoted are at least 50% more than what they will ultimately settle for.
- Carry a windcheater with you as it gets really windy in the evenings at Tagaytay.
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Hope you liked this post on the geological wonder - Taal Volcano. If you have any other unique destination in mind that you would like us to cover, do comment and let us know. So book your flights to Manila and see this geological wonder !