The long weekend rush clogged the southbound expressway, so it took us nearly four hours to drive to Lake Caliraya, Laguna instead of two. But as soon as the car rolled into Aquascape Lake Caliraya, a rustic lakeside family-vacation-spot-turned-resort in Cavinti, our dreariness from the long drive melted away with the tranquil scenery of the lake. I knew right away that we found one of the best escapes from Metro Manila. Situated on Eco-Saddle, a campsite on a small peninsula now dotted with small resorts along the south shore of Lake Caliraya, this lakeside retreat has seven native-style rooms, including a few designed for specific interests like the karaoke room, mahjong room or treehouse room, ideal for a big group of friends. But what truly makes this resort special are their “floating cottages”, which are more like houseboats because not only do they float on the lake but, since they’re motorized, they can actually take you on cruises around the lake!
We enjoyed our lake cruise at 5 am the next morning, when we were lucky enough to see the lake shrouded in fog. It was so spooky and peaceful at the same time – especially with a flock of crows flying ahead. By 7am, the mist dissipated and the sun finally emerged, revealing Mt. Banahaw rising behind the shoreline. We paddled around on kayak to enjoy the beautiful morning, and took a swim in the lake, which was surprisingly lukewarm, jumping off the patio. Finally, the houseboat continued circling the island across the resort, while we sat on the porch watching a brave crow fend off a large buzzard from the treetops on the island.
What started as a private vacation house has turned into a low-key lake resort with seven lakeside rooms and two “floating cottages” or houseboats, which may be docked overnight at the resort or the island across. Both houseboats are furnished with double beds, a living area with flat-screen TV, a small kitchen and a patio. There’s even a surround system, where you can play music from your iPod. To top it all off, the houseboat has disco lights for a night of partying on the lake. The slightly larger Floating Suite has a toilet, LPG griller, solar power, unlimited use for two kayaks and – believe it or not – a smoke machine for the party animals onboard!
Explore the island across the resort on electric mountain bike!
My favorite activity was paddling to the island and back on stand-up paddle board
Aside from simply hanging out in your room or houseboat, there’s a lots of ways to enjoy the outdoors. There are several water sports equipment you can rent like kayaks (PHP 300 per hour for two persons) and stand-up paddle boards, which make for relaxing way to explore the calm waters fronting the lake or traversing to the island, which you may explore on ATV (PHP 600 for 15 mins for two persons), electric mountain bike (PHP 300 for 20 mins) or electric skateboard.
If you’re looking for a break from the tranquility and a dose of adrenaline, take a jetski/wave runner for a spin (PHP 4,000 per hour for two persons), or charter a speedboat to see more of the lake (PHP 1,500 for 15 mins for four persons). There’s also several jet-ski pulled inflatables, which can take you on thrill rides, such as the Swordfish (PHP 1,000 for 15 mins for two persons), Banana Boat (PHP 200 person person, for a group of six to ten), Tsinelas (PHP 1,000 for 15 mins for three persons) and – the most fun – the Flying Bird (PHP 1,000 for 15 mins for one person only).
Exhausted from full day’s adventure? Take a dip at the outdoor jacuzzi, or soak your tired feet at the doctor fish spa – both free of charge for check-in guests!
The resort offers delicious home-cooked Filipino dishes like sinigang in pork or prawn. So gooooood!
Guests are encouraged to bring their own food, or to cook their own meals at no corkage fees, as both houseboats and villas have private kitchens. But the resort staff can also prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner with advance notice. They prepared really delicious Filipino home cooked meals. Ask for their mouthwatering sinigang (sour soup) in pork or prawn!
Aquascape has two houseboats: a Floating Cottage and Floating Suite. The Floating Cottage is PHP 6,000 per night, good for four persons, inclusive of a one-hour lake cruise; while the Floating Suite is PHP 10,000 per night, good for six persons, inclusive of a one-hour lake cruise and unlimited use of two kayaks. It’s best to make advanced reservations via email months in advance, especially if you’re planning to stay over a weekend or holiday. Standard check-in time is 2:00 PM and standard check-out time is 12:00 PM.
The resort also has lakeside bungalows and villas ranging from PHP 3,000 to PHP 6,000 per night:
How to Get There
Aquascape Lake Caliraya is a two to three-hour drive from Metro Manila. It’s best to get there and back in a private vehicle. Eco Saddle offers a hi-ace van for rent at PHP 8,000 roundtrip inclusive of driver’s fee and gas. Pick-up and drop-off points can be discussed. This rate is for overnight stay only. There will be additional charges for more than one night
One may also commute by taking a bus to Santa Cruz, Laguna from Cubao, Pasay or Alabang in Metro Manila (PHP 160), then transferring to a Santa Cruz-Lumot jeepney, alighting at the entrance to Eco-Saddle grounds (PHP 30). Look for the Mt. Carmel or Eco-Saddle signs. From the entrance, it’s a 10-minute walk to Aquascape Lake Caliraya. An entrance fee of PHP 80 per person will be collected. Navigate using Google Maps (see Location Map below).