Belonging to the Pacific Ring of Fire, Taal Volcano is known as the second most active volcano in the Philippines and the smallest active volcano in the world. It is situated in Batangas and one can reach it in less than 2 hours if you are coming from Manila.
Lake on an Island in a Lake on an Island
Tongue twister, isn’t it? You read it right. Taal volcano is not as simple as you think it is. Taal can be described as having an island within a lake that is on an island within a lake, that is on an island. To best illustrate that, let’s use the map below.
As you can see, we have an island called Vulcan Point and it is circumscribed by a body of water known as the Main Crater Lake.
If you are going to zoom out the map, one can see that the Main Crater Lake is enveloped by another island i.e., the Taal Volcano island. But that’s not all. The said island is still surrounded by another body of water and this is what you call the Taal Lake. Lastly, the said lake is again situated within an island that belongs to the main island which is Luzon. Cool, isn’t it?
Main Crater Lake and Vulcan Point Island
The Main Crater Lake is the largest lake on an island in a lake on an island. On January 30, 1911, a devastating eruption occurred changing the floor of the said lake creating what is now known as the Vulcan Point Island. It is being cited as the largest third-order-island (island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island) in the world.
Taal: Now a Tourist Spot
Even as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) prohibited permanent settlement in the island, declaring it as a high risk area and a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), poor families still opted to stay there to earn a living from fishing, farming, and tourism.
From our hotel Club Balai Isabel, reaching the Taal Volcano Island usually takes around twenty to thirty minutes using a boat. Rental rates usually differ as to where you are going to book. In our case, the rate is at PHP2,500.00 which is good for six persons. (Note that this tour was shouldered by our company as part of our summer retreat so prices may vary.)
Upon reaching the shore, a local will take a picture of your group while you are in the boat. Once you are done with your trek or even while you are still there waiting for everyone as they prepare, he/she will come back with a printed copy of your picture placed in a frame. At this point, you might be thinking if it is a free souvenir from the locals but mind you, business is business. Usually, they will sell it at a price not higher than PHP350.00 which may depreciate at around a hundred or so.
Well, I don’t want to take you into Religion class but it’s all part of the information. Remember Jesus during His final hours? He carried a cross along the path of Via Dolorosa on His way to crucifixion. In modern times, we have what you call as the Stations of the Cross with 14 stations to retrace His steps which is done during the Holy Week. If one is to go to Taal Volcano Island, there are also 14 stations which are set up along the way until one reaches the top. Not a fan of trekking? You can just rent a horse which can bring you to the top and going down without any hassle. It will cost you around PHP500.00.
Cons going up
One of the problems in going up is that the trail is too dusty and I mean it. You will need to have a mask if you are planning to go here. And it is not just your nose that you should protect but also your eyes. The mask will be of dual purpose as well because there are a lot of horse manure along the way. Aside from that, the heat is also one of those you should prepare for. If you don’t mind about getting darker, it’s fine. But if you are conscious about your skin complexion, then applying a sun screen is a must. You might as well consider wearing a long sleeve shirt or rash guard and a cap. If in case you forgot or don’t have one, they do sell straw hats on the island.
Pros at the top
Of course, you won’t go through all these troubles without a reason and definitely there is a reward waiting for you at the top after that thirty to fourty five minute long trek. Words won’t be enough so I’ll let you just see it.
Since it is a lake, you might want to know if swimming is allowed within the lake. Yes. Swimming is not prohibited here. You just have to be careful though because some parts are so hot that one can boil an egg as said by one of the locals.
And that pretty much ends it all. If you wanna know more, you can refer to the following links written below.