This gritty provincial capital is situated right at the foot of Mt Mayon (2462m), justifiably dubbed the world’s most perfect volcano. It’s a friendly enough place, clogged with traffic and Jollibee fast-food restaurants, but oddly charming nonetheless. Legazpi is divided into Albay District and Legazpi City.
Masbate possesses a gentle kind of beauty. An Irish or a Welsh traveller might feel at home here, at least as long as they could suspend disbelief and convert the climate of their green and hilly homelands into the tropics. There’s a laidback vibe in the air, especially evident in the locals, but there’s a sense of change about as well.
Like a ramshackle finger clawing at the ocean, Masbate Town beckons you to the island it governs. Arrival at the pier involves the usual sense of chaos and busyness common to most Filipino towns, and there’s nothing much to recommend the crowded area immediately around the port.
Bulusan Volcano National Park & Around
South of Sorsogon is Bulusan Volcano National Park Just inside the park, Bulusan Lake is a popular picnic spot, and there’s a 1.8km walking trail around the crater lake. When the mist is lying low over the surrounding forest and the birds are singing, it’s a lovely, peaceful spot and the clear, still water makes for an inviting swim or a relaxed hour’s fishing for tilapia.
Until the ‘discovery’ of whale sharks off the coast here in 1998, Donsol, about 45km southwest of Legazpi, was an obscure, sleepy fishing village in one of Sorsogon’s more remote areas. In 1998 a local diver shot a video of the whale sharks and a newspaper carried a story about Donsol’s gentle butanding.
Daet & Bagasbas
There’s little to hold travellers in Daet (it kinda sounds like what to do when you want to lose weight) once the banking/internet chores are done (head for Vinzons Ave), but it’s the access point for Bagasbas Beach, a laid-back surfie, barfly and karaoke-crooner hang-out 4km north of town.
Tabaco, in the shadow of Mt Mayon, is the departure point for boats to Catanduanes. The lovely 19th-century facade of the Church of San Juan Batista is a must for colonial architecture buffs; some of the bricks bear individual masons’ marks, which is a rarity in this country. Otherwise, an early boat departure is the only reason to stay here.
Mt Isarog National Park
Dominating Camarines Sur’s landscape is Mt Isarog (1966m), Bicol’s (dormant) second- highest volcano. From Panicuason (pan-ee-kwa-sone), a steep, half-hour walk along a rough road (passable if it’s dry, but a regular car will struggle) leads to the entrance of Mt Isarog National Park. There is an admission fee (P100) at the base of the mountain.