MANILA, Philippines ? Creating an awesome family experience this summer is easier than you think. No need to fly or drive for more than three hours to enjoy your summer getaway with the family. All you need is a little bit of imagination and inspiration to create a summer vacation that your kids will remember and love you for. Here are 10 awesome family destinations that will surely be a hit:
Balai Isabel, Talisay, Batangas
Balai Isabel is the best resort around Taal Lake. You can enjoy kayaking on the lake, swimming in the infinity pool with a level view of the Taal crater, or you can dip inside the Taal Lake via the floating Mobideep pool. They can arrange a hike up to the Taal summit through a private, shaded and cleaner path. A good massage after the hike will definitely put you into a deep slumber. They offer various types of accommodation to suit your budget. Makati Skyline caters the food at Balai Isabel. The resort is conveniently located 9km away from Tagaytay, where you can enjoy Tagaytay?s little foodie secrets.
Balai Indang, Indang, Cavite
It is a secluded retreat house, similar to Sonya?s Secret Garden, located in Indang, Cavite. The only distinguishing mark is a number 88 sign along the road. You can indulge in Marge?s innovative and improved home-cooking all day long. In between meals, you can dip into the pool or just laze around and enjoy the fresh air. Kids are more than welcome to play around the garden. You could ask Marge about Yoki?s collection of treasures and perhaps she could even give you a tour of the place. Balai Indang is 30-minute drive from the Mendez intersection in Tagaytay.
Playa Calatagan, Calatagan, Batangas
The young and fun beach community resort created by Landco is coming to life in Calatagan. It has a cool blue river and infinity pool that kids will love. They serve the best food in the Calatagan area, using Manila standards in quality of food and presentation. Nice cabanas are setup to take advantage of the cool Calatagan winds during summer. You can also drive to the Calatagan lighthouse nearby. The best asset of the place is watching Calatagan?s golden sunset while chilling out on the beach with family and friends. You need to be a lot owner or accompanied by one to enjoy this Calatagan hideaway.
Bamboo Beach, Nasugbu, Batangas
Bamboo Beach is the best beach in the Nasugbu, Batangas area. Its 650-meter beach cove is exclusive and 80 percent privately owned by Kawayan Cove Seaside Estates. A small part (20 percent) of the beach is for public use, but it can only be accessed via boat. The beach cove is simply perfect?clean water, calm waves, gradual sloping beach, beige colored fine sand and awesome sunset. The beach is abundant with small fishes, which you can feed with small slices of squid. The resort serves simple grilled Filipino food. This could have been the Boracay of Nasugbu if it were open to the public. While in Kawayan Cove, don?t forget to explore the giant cross and rosary at Meditation Point. This is where a lot of memorable weddings are held, with a cliff side view of Nasugbu bay.
Cali Rana, Lake Caliraya, Cavinti, Laguna
Cali Rana is a private resort hidden inside the forest of the man-made Caliraya Lake in Cavinti, Laguna. The relaxing 30-minute Caliraya Lake ride to the resort is an experience in itself. The resort offers basic accommodations and swimming pool amenities where power is supplied by generators at night. This resort is best for families or barkadas that would like to bring and cook their own food. You can introduce your kids to the cement sculptures of old Filipino folklore characters like Malakas and Maganda, Maria Makiling and others. Most of the structures are cemented to protect them from decay, which gives the resort a cute oldie appeal. I would recommend that you take the speedboat tour of the entire Caliraya Lake in the morning.
Wonder Island, Calamba, Laguna
It is the only resort located on an island in the middle of Laguna de Bay. You have to drive all the way to the busy city of Calamba and take a boat going to the island. The accommodations and swimming pool facilities are clean, simple and surprisingly maintained well over time. It is best to lower your expectations going to this simple Laguna de Bay escape. The best assets of the resort are the therapeutic natural spring water of the swimming pool and a boat tour of Laguna de Bay during breakfast. On your way back to Manila, make sure to pass by Jose Rizal?s Shrine in Calamba City.
88 Spa and Resort, Pansol, Laguna
Paradise Resort, Pagsanjan, Laguna
The best resort in Pansol, Laguna is the Chinese/Korean-owned 88 Spa and Resort. You pay for exclusivity to avoid the typical large crowds during the summer season. You?ll love the kiddie pool with Mt. Makiling as a background. Most of their multinational clients avail of the day tour package. This consists of the transportation to/from Manila, lunch/dinner in the resort?s Korean restaurant and the two-hour Pagsanjan falls tour. The resort has a special partnership with Paradise Resort in Pagsanjan, Laguna which handles their hassle-free tour of Pagsanjan falls. Summer is the safest time to go to Pagsanjan and experience the free full body massage of Pagsanjan falls. Don?t forget to take home some buko pies from your favorite store: Letty?s, D? Original, El Mare or Collette?s.
Hidden Valley, Alaminos, Laguna
Hidden Valley is an all-time favorite. It is a secluded private resort with a natural botanical garden, natural thermal pools, and a hidden waterfall. This nature escape in Alaminos, Laguna serves Filipino buffet lunch and merienda for day-trippers. You?ll spend the day swimming pool-hopping around its hot and cold natural pools, and hiking into the virgin forest, through century-old trees and giant ferns, to find the hidden waterfalls. From Hidden Valley, you can decide to drive a little further to explore the Viaje del Sol foodie destinations in San Pablo, Laguna and Tiaong, Quezon.
La Luz/ Palm Beach/ Virgin Beach, San Juan, Batangas
The San Juan Batangas beach resorts are a popular destination because of their clean, calm waters and because it?s the best beach area closest to Manila. La Luz resort continues to be the most popular because of its value-for-money overnight packages, commitment to maintain its natural habitat, and the marine sanctuary directly in front of the resort. For a more secluded high-end escape, the Palm Beach resort is recommended. This is the farthest resort and enjoys a quiet isolation from the main stretch of San Juan Batangas beach. The Virgin Beach is also recommended because of its wide white beach area, its nice restaurant, and its limited room capacity to avoid that crowded feeling.
Subic, Olongapo City
When the four-lane Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTex) opens this summer, it would cut the travel time from Manila to Subic to less than two hours. This would make Subic accessible and the most favorite beach destination in the North. It would now be easy to organize beach outings to Club Morocco, Anvaya Cove, Lighthouse Subic or White Rock Resort. While in Subic, the kids will love the tigers in Zoobic, and the Dolphin and Sea Lion shows in Ocean Adventure. Don?t forget to eat at the Meat Plus café (best restaurant in Subic) and shop for imported goods and chocolates at the Duty free outlets. Also, you can drive to the Pawikan Conservation Center in Morong, Bataan to release young sea turtles into the sea.
Always remember to make your summer outing with the family fun and memorable?especially for the kids. You can go to www.OurAwesomePlanet.com/ SummerDestinations for more details on the destinations above.
Anton Diaz is a professional travel writer, travel photographer, and photo blogger. He is the digital publisher of Our Awesome Planet, one of the top blogs in the country today. His advocacy is to promote the Philippines online and make every Filipino appreciate the beauty of the Philippines.