The municipality of Calatagan occupies an entire peninsula that juts out into the Verde Island Passage, which is at the center of the ecologically important Coral Triangle and described by a 2007 Smithsonian Institute study as the “center of the center” of the world’s marine biodiversity. The passage and the surrounding islands are notable for its high concentration of marine species. In Calatagan, you don’t need to go far to see it. Hiding in its shallow waters are sea stars, crabs and fishes. Its reefs nurture a multitude of marine lifeforms, from corals to turtles to sharks, all playing a vital role in the environment.
MANILA TO CALATAGAN BY PRIVATE CAR
If you’re on a road trip, the best route to reach Calatagan is via South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). Travel time is between 3 and 4 hours, depending on which part of Manila you’re coming from and the traffic condition both in Manila and Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
If you have a smartphone with a reliable internet connection, just use Waze and you’ll have no problem navigating. But if you want to do it old school, here are the directions.
- Hit SLEX and take Santa Rosa Exit. You can also take Eton City or Greenfield City Exits to avoid traffic jams in Sta. Rosa.
- Stay on Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road until you hit Silang Junction.
- At the junction, turn right onto Tagaytay-Nasugbu Road and drive across Tagaytay and Alfonso.
- At the Batangas-Cavite boundary, turn right into Nasugbu. You’ll know it’s the border when you hit another junction. The left road will lead to Lemery, the right to Nasugbu. The right road has an arc with a big-ass “Welcome to Nasugbu” sign. You won’t miss it.
- Keep driving until you hit Palico junction. Turn right. You know you’re on the right path if you pass by Central Azucarera Don Pedro.
- Drive straight ahead until you see another junction with Shakey’s (right in front of you) or Shell Gas Station (to your left).
- Turn left. You’re now on Calatagan-Lian Highway and you’ll be passing through Lian town proper. Stay on that road until you reach Calatagan town proper.
From the town proper, most beach resorts are just a 20-minute drive away.
Ready your camera phones because your windshield will be framed by mighty trees that flank the main road. And watch out for fire trees that will come to view, painting the skies with its red-orange canopy.
MANILA TO CALATAGAN BY PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
- Travel to MRT Taft Station along EDSA, where you can catch buses bound for Calatagan (4am-4pm). You can also take a van at the basement parking of Metropoint Mall on the other side of EDSA. I haven’t really tried the bus, but I had taken the van to Calatagan a few times before. Travel time: 3 hours. Van fare is P180.
- Alight near Calatagan Public Market or anywhere in the town proper.
- Charter a tricycle to your resort. Travel time: 20-30 minutes. Fare: P200 (good for up to 4 pax).
You might want to take the number of your tricycle driver or arrange to be picked up because in this area, it’s hard to find one to take you back to the town proper.
WHERE TO STAY IN CALATAGAN:
For many budget travelers, Calatagan is known as a camping destination. Back when Burot Beach was still open to the public, it attracted weekend warriors from all directions.
The resorts below allow overnight camping for a fee. They also rent out tents, but I highly recommend that you just bring your own or purchase one beforehand. It’s going to be cheaper in the long run.
OTHER TIPS FOR THE POOR TRAVELER
- The Calatagan government implements a tourism and environmental fee: P30. It is usually collected by resorts upon entry. You only need to pay it once, so if you’ve already paid it at Manuel Uy Beach and you’re visiting another resort, just show your Environmental Fee slip.
- Bring insect-repellant lotion. I have to say, the very first time I contracted was here in Calatagan. That was eons ago, but I still highly encourage you to protect yourself from mosquitoes.
- Leave no trace. Don’t leave trash on the beach. Whatever you bring to the place, take them with you when you leave. Leave nothing but footprints!
- Use coral-friendly sunscreen. A study conducted by Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology revealed that many sunblock products contain chemicals like oxybenzone, benzophenone, and parabens that are harmful to marine life. Choose brands that do not contain these chemicals.
- Bring a hat, light scarf/wrap or anything that can protect you from the sun. Island hopping boats don’t have a tarp cover so you’re pretty exposed to the sun.