Caliraya Lake is a favorite destination among motorcycle riders and bikers based in Metro Manila for weekend rides. Located in the mountainous area of Lumban, Cavinti, and Kalayaan in Laguna, the area surrounding Caliraya Lake has also known as a top destination for outdoor recreation, water sports, retreats, and fishing.

Since travel has eased again after the pandemic, the area seems to be becoming more popular among families for car camping, glamping, and other outdoor nature activities. There are a lot more family-friendly resorts, glamping destinations, and new al fresco restaurants serving wider food options that have popped up in the area in the past two years.

Previous visit to Caliraya Lake by motorcycles

Before the pandemic, we usually just rode our motorcycles going here and back on quick day trips for a simple breakfast or lunch meal. Just for a change of pace, we decided to bring our bicycles to do a Caliraya Lake-Pagsanjan loop ride, staying overnight before and after biking around the area for a relaxing bike-cation weekend.

As of our visit, there are no more checkpoints and travel requirements to visit Caliraya coming from Metro Manila.

Lake Caliraya is a man-made lake situated in the municipalities of Lumban, Cavinti, and Kalayaan in Laguna province. The lake is situated at 1,200 above sea-level, roughly 100 kilometers East of Metro Manila.

Getting to Caliraya Lake is about 2 and half to 3 hour drive from Makati. The most popular route for car owners is via SLEX, exiting Calamba thru the Bucal By-pass road of Greenfields development, and exiting to Los Banos. From Los Banos, continue to drive thru Sta Cruz and finally Pagsanjan, before going up the hill of Caliraya.

The preferred route for those coming from the East and motorcycle riders is the Manila East Road. The best way to access this would be from Ortigas Avenue, then Ortigas Avenue Extension, E. Rodriguez, eventually leading to the National Road and Manila East Road. If you take this route, you will be passing by Cainta, Antipolo, Teresa and several scenic towns of Laguna, including, Tanay, Pililia, Siniloan, Pakil, Paete and Lumban. Traversing this road will lead you along the perimeter of Laguna de Bay.

Popular spots and landmarks in the area include:

  • Japanese Garden (still closed to the public as of May 2022)
  • Caliraya Lake
  • Lumot Lake
  • Cavinti Falls
  • Hulugan Falls (Luisiana)
  • Pagsanjan Arch
  • Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Church
  • Cavinti Underground River and Caves Complex

Cyclists can bike all the way to Caliraya Lake from Metro Manila if they want to taking both routes for a full Laguna Loop or can take the more scenic Manila East Road route. However, just getting there will probably eat up a whole day, as it’s over 100 kilometers coming from Quezon City. The Manila East Road route crosses Antipolo City, Teresa, Morong, Pililla in Rizal Province and Mabitac, Famy, Paete, Pangil and Pakil in Laguna Province with a total elevation gain of 1,100 meters.

For those with limited time or are traveling with families and kids, another option is to just drive to the Laguna area with cars bringing bicycles so you can avoid the highways and start biking around the area once you get there. If you use Caliraya Lake as your base, you can enjoy a more leisurely ride and have time to do other activities like boating, river rafting, kayaking, fishing, sightseeing, visiting waterfalls and caves, and more.

For this particular ride, our start and end point for biking was Caliraya EcoVille Farm Resort. We started our bike ride at about 9:00 am in the morning after breakfast.

Our original plan was to loop Lumot Lake on the way to Cavinti and Pagsanjan because the road looked passable on Googlemaps. However, we encountered dead ends and fenced off roads that required us to backtrack. A main dirt access roads was cut off due to new developments in the area. The signal in the area was also very weak and maps wouldn’t load properly so we got a bit lost.

At any rate, the road going to Lumot Lake is great for bikers because not a lot of motorized vehicles pass here, and the area is just being developed, so it feels very raw and new. There are a lot of uphill areas to tackle and nice flowy downhills.

We came across lots of new camping areas on the road leading to the Cavinti Underground River and Caves Complex, a newly discovered cave complex which is fast-becoming the most promoted eco-tourism destination in the province of Laguna. Unfortunately, you can’t just visit the cave without prior coordination.

Visitors must get a permit or waiver to visit from the tourism office in the town proper. We’ll try and revisit it one of these days (but not by bike), because the road going down is incredibly steep (nasunog yung brakepads ko) and still requires about half an hour of hiking through a dirt trail according to locals.

  • Tourism office: 523-0152 / 523-0129 loc. 106
  • Mobile No: 0948-1571174 / 0912-8067356 / 0915-2934238 / 0963-8783289
  • Email: amazingcavinti@gmail.com
  • Twitter: @acavinti
  • Facebook: Amazing Cavinti

Portions of the road are also still under construction leading to the cave complex and there were signs that said “No Trespassing” beyond a certain point. That detour actually took up a lot of time, but it ended up being the most interesting part of the ride.

When we finally got a signal, we realized that we had biked way too far beyond where we should have turned, so we decided to just backtrack to the main highway and got to Lumot Lake at around 1:00 pm.

From there, it was straightforward to Pagsanjan, with photo stops at the famous Pagsanjan Arch at 2:30 pm and a binalot lunch at a bike-friendly restaurant right in the town.

After lunch, it was a slow and steady ascent back up to Caliraya Lake from the main road. There are a lot of scenic overlooking spots here and new restos to stop for those who want to take a break.

We got back to the lakeside area around 5:00 pm and stopped for a lugaw lakeside meal and watched the sunset before heading back to the resort. After the long ride, it was great to be able to rest and have a comfy bed to come back to and not have to bike all the way home.

According to my Strava stats, the area we ended up covering was 63.14 km with an 845 elevation gain, with almost 5 hours and 42 minutes of moving time. If you skip the detour, the loop will be roughly just 35 km.

For this biking trip, we stayed in one of the older establishments in the area that offers a one-stop base for nature activities – Caliraya Ecoville Recreation Farm., which offers accommodations ideal for families, couples, and groups of friends to chill, relax and enjoy nature.

The 20-hectare facility boasts of a 2-hectare fish pond, campsites, nature trails, and a dining and indoor game area.

For those who don’t own bikes, the farm resort also offers bike rentals and has a short biking/hiking trail. Guests can also enjoy kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, fishing, soft archery, Caliraya Lake boat tours, and other nature activities.

We booked a stay at one of the traditional lakeside Nipa Hut Cottages (P2,500/a night). The fan room facing a small lake offers a back-to-basics feel, with a view of coconut trees from the window. It was relaxing just to listen to the crickets and frog sounds at night.

For those who really want to be one with the outdoors, the farm grounds also provides a secure campsite where you can pitch tents {P500/night) and fall asleep under the stars.

For those who prefer creature comforts and want more space, there are premium lakeside cottages and air-conditioned hotel rooms to choose from for P2,999/night).

Aside from Caliraya EcoVille, there are a lot of other unique accommodation options around the Caliraya Lake area, including the Bali-inspired resort Baliraya, glamping spot Kaliraya Surf Kamp, Aquascape Lake Caliraya and more.

The last time we stayed overnight in Kaliraya Surf Kamp in 2019, it was just a simple campsite for riders and bikers, but it’s now under new management with EcoHotels.

The grounds now offer tiny house quarters for family car camping and glamping with easy access to a restaurant plus decent restrooms for those who want to enjoy being outdoors but don’t want to rough it out so much.

During previous visits to the area before the pandemic, there weren’t a lot of dining options in the Caliraya area except for the typical eateries serving silog meals. For bikers who just want good coffee, there’s a lakeside cafe called Kreme Puff, and a small eatery serving fruit shakes, lugaw, and more.

More upscale restaurants and al fresco bars have also popped up to cater to the tastes of families and glampers.

We were surprised to find a lovely branch of Trattoria Altrove (the famous brick-oven pizza from El Nido) in Caliraya. The al fresco restaurant located inside Kaliraya Surf Kamp, offers delicious Italian dining specializing in pizza and pasta with premium ingredients.

Pizza is my favorite comfort food, and Trattoria Altrove has one of the best pizzas I’ve tried outside Manila restos. It was the last order by the time we got here, and food was supposedly just for takeout, but the staff on duty was nice enough to let us dine-in and have a few beers. It helped that another group arrived shortly after us. I’d love to try the other dishes next time. Great interiors and ambiance too.

Other dining spots around Caliraya Lake you can eat in include Del Lagos Kitchenette, Popoy and Basha’s Ribs and Steak, and Meldivz Mountain View, an al fresco food park with a view with Unli Samgyup, ramen, Japanese rice bowls, and grilled specialties.

We spotted a new cafe called Alexa’s at Caliraya Heights, which offers pasta, sandwiches, premium coffee and overlooking views, which was just on soft opening.

Yhamshe Resort Hotel and Restaurant, a local resort also has a new branch called Yhamshe Grill that offers a spectacular view of the ridge overlooking Laguna Lake, where you can enjoy Filipino specialties and beer.

For those in need of a nature getaway for a weekend, the area around Caliraya Lake offers the perfect place to escape the city and just enjoy the simple life for a weekend.



Original Source: www.traveling-up.com

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