Taal Volcano, Philippines – Spectacular Views on a Hike to the Rim

The Taal Volcano, in Batangas, Philippines, is the smallest volcano in the world, and one of the most dangerous.

It erupted in January 2020 after a rest of 43 years, one of the longest periods of its inactivity since records began.

Actually, inactivity is not the right word, because earthquakes at the volcano are being recorded continuously.

It just didn’t erupt.

From 1965 to, and including, 1970 – 6 consecutive years – it erupted every year. Then again in 1976 and 1977, before resting until 2020.

The Taal Volcano is situated in a lake on an island, which is in a lake on an island, and the location is sometimes referred to as the Twin Lakes:

Taal volcano situated in the Taal lake on the island of Luzon, Philippines

To the North-North-West of the lake is the city of Tagaytay, which is a popular weekend destination for Manila residents and tourists.

In that map above I’ve indicated the Tagaytay Ridge, along the edge of which are lots of restaurants. The views from there over the lake to the volcano are fantastic.

The altitude at Tagaytay is around 2,200 feet. The volcano, on the other hand, sits in a lake which is only 3 metres (12 feet) above sea level and rises to a height of just 1,020 feet.

I’ve visited Tagaytay several times to eat in one of those restaurants, but the trip I’m covering in this article started from a small, local Barbeque restaurant near Talisay, took us across the lake in a banca, followed by a hike up to the rim:

Map showing the route we took to the rim of the Taal volcano

To get to our starting point we had to drop down a steep, winding road to the water’s edge – be prepared if you get car sick!

On the way, we got our first glimpse of the volcano from this side of the Taal lake (I’d seen it many times from the Tagaytay Ridge restaurants on the other side of the lake):

The Taal volcano

From there we continued down to the small local BBQ restaurant on the lake’s edge, from where they offered trips across the lake to the island, in one of these traditional Filipino boats (called bancas):

Bancas waiting to take us across to the volcano island

Here we are about a third of the way across, fully kitted out with our safety jackets:

A banca ride across Lake Taal

Luckily the water was smooth that day, as you can see. Given that the lake is entirely surrounded by mountains and, in any case, is not very large, the water is never going to get particularly rough.

But when you do encounter waves in one of those boats the outriggers tend to get swamped, which slows you down a lot!

Having safely arrived on the island we started our hike up to the rim of the volcano.

This is looking back down the track we’ve come up from and, across the water and towards the left, is where our BBQ restaurant is located. At the left of the picture, over the ridge, is Tagaytay City:

Hike up to the rim of the Taal Volcano

Finally made it to the rim – but unfortunately it was starting to cloud over (pretty typical weather for September in the Philippines!):

The lake in the crater of the Taal volcano

Sorry – yours truly is in this and the next image, both taken from the lookout point at the edge of the crater, overlooking the lake it contains:

Lake in the crater of the Taal Volcano

Looking towards the North from the one above (and I moved to the northern side of the viewing platform):

Lake in the crater of the Taal Volcano

We had had an early start from Quezon City in Manila to get here, and after our boat trip and hike we were getting pretty hungry so we headed back down and caught our boat ride back to the BBQ restaurant for some lunch.

Our BBQ space, where we ate, is the one on the left. The BBQ pit is in the middle and we sat around it under the shade:

BBQ

After a good feed, and a little snooze, we piled back into our hired van and headed back to Manila. A great outing – if you’re in Manila over a weekend I definitely recommend it!

Getting there

You’ll need to take a car or drive yourself if you have a hired car.

Grab is the Asian version of Uber and works very well in the Philippines. On my last visit (some time after this one) I summoned a Grab and agreed a price for the entire day. So he took us there, waited for us and took us back to Manila once we were ready.

In addition to Grab, if you’re staying in one of the hotels they will arrange a driver for you for the day.

Have you visited the Taal volcano or Tagaytay? Let us know in the comments!

Cheers,

Martin Malden

Martin Malden
The Expat Traveller

What do you think?

4 comments… add one
  • Matt Lin Mar 8, 2020 @ 23:10

    Hi Martin,

    Good to see you explore the nature of Philipines, and Taal Volcano looks rural but terrific. It’s nice to see all the greens in your photos!

    I saw the weather changed on your way back to the lake’s edge, and I wondered, did it become rough waters too? I want to go there to see the volcano, but it’s easy for me to get motion sickness. It’s better that I know how wavey it will become then decide to visit it. 🙂

    Another question is the food at the BBQ restaurant. Do they provide fresh seafood directly from the lake you just passed? It’s interesting.

    Cheers,
    Matt

    • Martin Malden Mar 9, 2020 @ 7:26

      Hi Matt,

      The weather clouded over, and the water was a little rougher on the way back, but nothing serious.

      The BBQ place did sell food but we actually took our own – a feast that we had prepared the day before! You pay for the use of the BBQ pit – selling food is not their main business.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Geri Apr 3, 2020 @ 17:59

    What gorgeous and scenic sites!

    I heard of the Taal Volcano eruption that just happened this year and that was quite concerning. I gather that this tour and hike took place before that happened?

    This is how I like to take vacations…just experiencing the sights and learning about different places.

    Awesome tour….

    • Martin Malden Apr 4, 2020 @ 8:22

      Hi Geri,

      Yes – that little expedition was some time before the eruption. I was at Tagaytay last November, though, a couple of months before the eruption. I was visiting some friends in Manila and we took a drive down there for the day.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

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