When considering a vacation in the Philippines, one naturally thinks of planning an itinerary that includes visits to the country’s stunning beaches. However, in addition to the popular activities like exploring beaches and going island-hopping, there are also captivating lakes in the Philippines waiting to be discovered by water enthusiasts. These lakes offer an ideal setting for engaging in aquatic activities such as swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Aside from the magnificent crater lakes formed by volcanic activities in the past (including well-known ones like Taal Lake, Lake Balinsasayao, Lake Pandin & Yambo, Lake Apo, and Mt. Pinatubo tours), we have compiled a selection of the finest lakes worth visiting during your trip to the Philippines.
If you are searching for wonderful lakes suitable for swimming or the perfect spot for kayaking in the Philippines, here are some breathtaking lakes that should be included in your travel plans:
PAOAY LAKE (ILOCOS NORTE)
Paoay Lake, the largest lake in the province of Ilocos Norte, is renowned as one of the most prominent lakes in the Philippines. Spanning an impressive area of 386 hectares, this freshwater lake is designated as a national park and is located near Laoag City, approximately 3 kilometers away from the coastline.
Paoay Lake holds a prominent position among the must-visit tourist destinations in Luzon. Not only does it offer breathtaking natural beauty, but it is also surrounded by notable landmarks such as the Malacanang ti Amianan, a historic house museum that was constructed by former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Additionally, the lake is adorned with other attractions that further enhance its appeal. These include an 18-hole golf course, a sprawling 77-hectare 5-star resort and casino, as well as the Plaza del Norte Hotel and Convention Center, a 3-star hotel boasting 100 rooms.
LAKE BALANAN (NEGROS ORIENTAL)
Lake Balanan stands out among the Philippines’ renowned lakes due to its distinctive winding shape, resembling the number 8. The narrowest point, where the two main sections of the lake intersect, measures just 90 meters. This remarkable figure gives Lake Balanan a tranquil and serene quality, making it an ideal destination for eco-tourism and a perfect place to unwind amidst nature’s beauty.
Located approximately 60 kilometers away from Dumaguete City, Lake Balanan is nestled in the mountainous region of Siaton, Negros Oriental, making it one of the top tourist spots to explore in the Visayas. The surrounding area of the lake is adorned with lush forests, boasting century-old trees that provide a picturesque backdrop. Visitors can engage in various outdoor activities such as kayaking, trekking, zip-lining, or enjoying a ride on a banca (dugout canoe) across the lake, truly immersing themselves in the natural splendor of the area.
SUMLANG LAKE (ALBAY)
Renowned for its captivating scenery that complements the magnificent cone-shaped Mount Mayon volcano, Lake Sumlang in Camalig, Albay has emerged as one of the rapidly growing tourist destinations in Luzon. This 14-hectare lake, located less than 460 kilometers south of Metro Manila, can be conveniently reached by traversing the Maharlika Highway.
Visitors to Lake Sumlang have a plethora of activities to indulge in during their visit. Various facilities are available for rent, including kayaks, paddleboards, aqua-bikes, and floating cottages. One of the highlights is the balsa tours, where skillful boatmen navigate bamboo rafts through the tranquil waters of the lake.
To witness the most breathtaking views, the ideal time to visit is either during the serene dawn hours or in the late afternoon to catch the mesmerizing sunset. It is during these moments, known as the golden hour, that Lake Sumlang perfectly frames the majestic Mount Mayon, providing visitors with an awe-inspiring vista considered to be among the finest in the Philippines.
LAKE DANAO (LEYTE)
Nestled among the renowned Visayas tourist spots, Lake Danao in Leyte stands out as a captivating destination. Located on an island facing the Pacific coast, Leyte holds historical significance as the site of the largest naval battle in World War II. Situated high in the mountains of Ormoc City, Lake Danao sits at an elevation of 650 meters above sea level, boasting a violin-shaped contour. The temperate weather surrounding the lake creates a cozy ambiance, perfect for delightful gatherings along its picturesque shores. Spanning an area of 148 hectares, Lake Danao takes center stage within the expansive 2,000-acre Lake Danao Natural Park.
Revered locally as a lover’s lake, Lake Danao serves as a vital source of potable water, ensuring ample supply to nearby towns. This eco-tourist park offers an array of outdoor activities, including hiking, trekking, biking, and horseback riding. Along the perimeter of the lake, visitors will find cottages and huts available for rent, providing a comfortable and convenient stay amidst the natural beauty of the surroundings.
LAKE BABABU (DINAGAT ISLANDS)
Lake Bababu, located in the Dinagat Islands of Surigao del Norte, stands as an idyllic destination for adventurous and nature-loving individuals. Situated in northern Mindanao, this eco-tourism site offers a unique and off-the-beaten-track experience. To reach the lake, visitors embark on a trek along a challenging 700-meter path, characterized by a steep and rocky trail that winds through an untouched jungle.
What sets Lake Bababu apart from other lakes are two distinct features. Firstly, it is classified as meromictic, meaning that it consists of both fresh and saltwater, which remain separate throughout the year without mixing. Only ten lakes in the Philippines possess this characteristic, and Lake Bababu is proudly counted among them. Secondly, this lake boasts a remarkable underwater cave that stretches an impressive 650 meters, ranking it among the country’s longest. Divers can enter the cave from the lakeside, traversing its depths before emerging into the saltwater sea at the other end.
Lake Bababu truly offers a one-of-a-kind experience, combining the marvel of meromictic waters with the opportunity for underwater exploration through its extensive cave system. It is a hidden gem that promises adventure and natural beauty for those willing to venture into its beautiful surroundings.
KAYANGAN LAKE (CORON)
Included in numerous Coron private tour packages, Kayangan Lake is a captivating destination renowned for its natural beauty. As one of the most celebrated lakes in the Philippines, tourists eagerly embark on the Kayangan Lake Coron tour to witness its awe-inspiring limestone cliffs and crystalline turquoise waters. The sight is truly enchanting, and while many postcards have tried to capture its allure, nothing compares to experiencing it firsthand.
From the renowned viewpoint, visitors are treated to a breathtaking panorama of Coron Bay and its majestic rock formations. Dive into the pristine waters and admire the limestone cliffs from a different perspective, or venture into a nearby cave through its narrow entrance to gain another captivating view of the lake. Donning snorkeling gear allows you to explore the underwater marine life, as the clarity of the water is so remarkable that it remains visible from the surface, even for those who choose not to swim.