Batangas. It’s every long weekend’s best friend. It’s also the province for all seasons, as one travel blog put it. 😀
There’s a lot to love about Batangas, given its wonderful, natural attractions and close proximity to Manila. But for something less ubiquitous but still pretty as a postcard, Batangas harbors a secret spot called Lobo.
Discovering the never-heard-of
I was never aware of a Lobo in Batangas until I read about it in my mom’s travel magazine.
The article showcased a beautiful lighthouse – only one of two in the entire province of Batangas – and an unusual but pretty beach that had pebbles and stones instead of sand.
There were other sites recommended in this promising yet under-the-radar destination, and over the course of reading up, it became apparent that a visit to Lobo has a number of wonderful surprises in store, and not just a nice dip in the sea.
Planning a visit
In terms of driving, the experience has been one big happy surprise. It’s pretty uncomplicated. Going through the mountainous area will give even seasoned drivers a challenge – the road resembles isaw (intestines), seriously – but the roads are cemented and in great shape. There’s only 2 to 3 areas being repaired, but otherwise the roads are in excellent condition.
Also, it’s such a scenic drive!
Looking up Lobo will yield two famous attractions: the lighthouse and the pebble beach. The most prominent resort in Malabrigo – the barangay where these two sites are located – is the Punta Malabrigo Beach Resort.
This is NOT where we stayed in, though this is where I first inquired about accommodations. When I phoned the resort, the price was certainly right for a room for 2 adults and a child for overnight stay with A/C at Php 2,500 (US$ 56.21)*.
But they didn’t have a restaurant, and encouraged visitors to bring their own food to cook. I was told there were eateries just outside the resort, but just the thought of swimming the whole afternoon, bathing a child, and then having to ride a car to go out for a meal and drive back was incredibly exhausting. (Also, said eateries were dubious looking.)
When we visited the resort to go to the lighthouse, Malabrigo’s famous pebble beach didn’t seem swimmer-friendly. I’m not talking about monster waves here, but it just didn’t look like the kind of beach that’s meant for splashing about in. Maybe it wasn’t the best time of the year to go swimming there as well.
So if you’re intent on having a rollicking fun time at the beach, can’t be bothered to start the grill for meals, and you have preschool or even grade school aged children with you, do visit Malabrigo but stay in a different part of Lobo.
Where to stay
They say the best beach in Lobo is in Brgy. Fabrica. I’m inclined to agree!
The sand is brown but it is soft, and the waters are amazingly clear. Stand with the water up to your chest, and you would still see your toes glistening below.
This is not only a friendly beach, it is inviting! It’s a bit pebbly by the shore, but a few steps towards the sea and it’s powdery soft again. The beach has the usual sand crabs and the waters have small schools of fish.
There’s nothing alarming in the water to watch out for, like sea urchins, jagged rocks or jellyfish. The waters were calm our entire stay too.
In Brgy. Fabrica, the popular resorts that pop up are Gerthel Beach Resort and Almalin Beach Resort. While researching I came across Butterfly Beach House, and ended up booking with them.
Consider Butterfly Beach House
Butterfly Beach House shares the same coastline with Gerthel and Almalin, but is the more modest option, I believe. I learned of them in great detail from this old but still relevant post from CafeAtTinapay: Beach Trip: A review on Butterfly Beach House.
It helped that communication with the resort was smooth and pleasant. The owner was out of the country but she passed me along to somebody else who was able to address my inquiries.
We were given the same rate as Punta Malabrigo, BUT we had the place all to ourselves. Best deal ever.
Accommodations are basic but cozy. The aircon is old, therefore a bit noisy, but it works well enough. There is hot water shower available and no other plumbing issues.
We were also lucky that while the next door resort had more livelier guests, there was no booming music or loud karaoke at night.
Meals at Butterfly
My big concern – the meals – was of no problem, thank goodness. Butterfly didn’t have a restaurant either but at least pwede magpaluto (you can request for cooked meals and just pay a fee).
I spoke directly with the caretaker of the resort, and requested for an easy lunch of grilled liempo or fish (I was informed squid is hard to come by) and some vegetables like adobong kangkong. Our meal was ready to be served by the time we arrived.
The caretaker is a man of few words (and facial expression), so it was a good thing that he cooks pretty well and he let his more jovial son do most of the communicating with us.
It was just a matter of letting them know which meals you’ll be having with the resort so they can prepare. Our meals were exactly as I expected – uncomplicated but filling and good.
We had rice, grilled liempo and ginataang sitaw at kalabasa (apparently kangkong was no good that day), pansit guisado for dinner (they ordered this from elsewhere, which I didn’t mind – it was so good!), and for breakfast the next day, just some pan de sal, butter and scrambled eggs. I’m a bit picky with coffee and bought my own.
Before checkout, the caretaker presented a detailed breakdown of his expenses for the meals – everything from the garlic to the uling used. Everything came down to Php530 (US$ 11.91). For cooking, I’ve read that guests paid Php150 per meal, so I decided to make it 200. Not bad at all.
Butterfly Beach House was a good home base for the entire stay, and if it weren’t our first time in Lobo we would’ve just lounged, played, and happily stayed put. But that would just be a shame when there’s so much more to see. More on Lobo on a separate post 🙂
*Peso to US dollar conversion courtesy of Convert Units