Just as the amihan season arrived, my friend Peng invited me for a snorkeling/freediving trip to Pagkilatan, Batangas. Pagkilatan is one of the best places to freedive because it’s home to a vast marine garden, filled with corals and different kinds of wildlife. It’s actually part of the Verde Island Passage, which is considered the “Center of the Marine Biodiversity of the World.”
Also Read: Best snorkeling spots in Southeast Asia
Dreamland Paradise Resort
You can find various beach and dive resorts lined up along the coast of Pagkilatan. Our organizers chose to book a room in Dreamland Paradise Resort because it’s cheap and it serves our needs for our snorkeling/freediving trip.
We were actually supposed to stay in a cottage, but the caretaker showed us other available rooms in the resort and in the end we decided to get a family-room instead. It’s airconditioned, with 2 beds and 1 additional mattress and it has a veranda with alfresco tables where we could eat or set up hammocks.
It also offers a great ocean view and overlooks Isla Verde, which is another popular snorkeling/freediving spot in Batangas.
Snorkeling and freediving in Pagkilatan
Once we have settled our bags in the room, we went straight to the sea. The resort is in an elevated location, so we had to take a long flight of stairs to go to the beach.
There’s also a coral area in front of the resort, but according to my companions who’d been here before, the best ones can be found past the Pagkilatan Cross and around the grotto (a small sombrero-shaped islet).
I was a bit nervous because I was using a new snorkel. My previous one had broken after several uses and Hali had rent me his, although it doesn’t come with a purge valve. I wasn’t used to it. (According to Peng though, it’s still possible to let out water using the mouthpiece alone but you need to do it more forcefully and this model is a better fit for freediving.)
The waves were a little strong during our swim. I hit the water and swam for several meters towards the grotto. Then I felt it — the occasional tiny pin pirkcs from small jellyfishes. Yikes. I mean it’s not uncommon to swim with small jellyfishes and normally they are just itchy, but these ones aren’t purely translucent but have small yellow dots around the body. Touching them stung.
I chose to move forward since I was already there. I passed by mounds of small corals before arriving at the Pagkilatan Cross. Around here, the corals are bigger and there are more soft corals swaying with the underwater current.
Around the grotto, we found corals growing on the islet and small schools of fishes. One of my companions said that Pagkilatan is a better spot compared to Binukbok Point or other places in Batangas. It’s also possible to see hawksbill turtles in this area.
We lingered a little while in the grotto. However, the waves were strong that it was risky getting too close in the islet and surrounding underwater rocks. We swam back to the resort. Halfway thru, I decided to walk barefoot inland to avoid the jellyfishes.
Once in the safety of the shore, I examined myself and found that I had a lot of itchy red marks in my arms and legs. Lesson learned: Always wear a rash guard especially here in Pagkilatan.
Afterwards, Peng cooked us a seafood lunch consisting of steamed crabs and shrimps in garlic butter sauce. I was so happy! Seafood meal + beach is the best combination ever. I had a nap afterwards, and I was too tired from waking up early and the snorkeling that I failed to wake up in time for the afternoon snorkel/dive.
For dinner, the guys grilled pork liempo and eggplant for the ensaladang salad. It was time for the hunter moon and it was a really nice evening.
The morning after, we had another snorkel/dive but since the waves were still strong, we stayed just in front of the resort. The corals here are smaller but good enough for snorkeling. The rest of the group were practicing or taking photos of their freediving. I saw occasional bio-luminescence planktons drifting in the water, in glowing blue and red. It was so cool! I immediately thought of the blue planktons in Onuk Island in Balabac.
Anyway, that was our weekend trip. It was chill and we had fun exploring the underwater beauty of Pagkilatan. I may be back soon! Stay tune.
We were 4 in a group and we spent about P2000 for this weekend trip. This includes share on toll and gas, accommodation and food.
Travel Guide to Pagkilatan, Batangas
Pagkilatan is a relatively quiet town in Batangas City. It’s filled with beach resorts and dive centers. A lot of travelers going here have come for its snorkeling and diving spots.
It’s also a popular getaway for families with kids.
How to get here
Pagkilatan is about 3 hours away from Manila.
- From Manila, ride a bus bound for Batangas City Grand Terminal (about 2 hours).
- From the terminal, ride a jeepney bound for Alangilan and get off at the University of Batangas. Ride another jeep bound to Kapitolyo and get off at SM City Batangas.
- From the SM Batangas Terminal, ride a jeep bound for Pagkilatan and ask the driver to drop you off at your resort (about 45 minutes). Jeepneys leave every 1 hour.
Note: Jeepneys from Pagkilatan back to SM City Batangas only ply this route up to 12 noon. At past noon, you need to take a tricycle and let the driver know to drop you off at another barangay where you can find jeepneys bound for SM City Batangas.
Things to do in Pagkilatan
Pagkilatan has a beautiful ocean so the best thing to do here is chill!
2. Snorkeling and freediving
Pagkilatan is rich in corals and wild life. It’s best to bring your own snorkeling gears and fins. Resorts also rent out gears for a fee.
3. Scuba diving
Whether you’re a newbie or professional diver, you’ll enjoy the diving spots in Pagkilatan. Dive centers offer various packages depending on your preferences.
4. Gaze at the night sky
Pagkilatan is a great place to see and take photos of the Milky Way at night.
5. Visit the Monte Maria Shrine
The Monte Maria Shrine is a pilgrimate center in Pagkilatan, Batangas. It features a 315-foot statue of Mama Mary.
Where to stay
There are various beach resorts you can stay at in Pagkilatan, Batangas. Make sure to do your research first before booking.
If you’re a snorkeler/freediver, it’s easy to find a resort to stay at. If you’re here for a family getaway, you may want to choose a resort with swimming pools and floaters for rent because the beaches in Pagkilatan are pebbly.
Dreamland Paradise Resort
We stayed at Dreamland Paradise Resort. What I love about it is that it has a great location and basic amenities.
If you’re here for snorkeling and freediving, this is a great choice. There are no snorkeling or freediving gears for rent, so you need to bring your own.
If you’re here for a family outing, there are certain things you need to consider. One, you need to take a long flight of stairs to get to the beach so it is not mobile friendly. Two, as of our visit (October 2019), the pool is still in construction so the beach is your only option for swimming.
- Cottage: Fan room, good for 4 people | rate – P3000
- Family room: Airconditioned, good for 4-6 people | rate – P4000
Cottages and pavilions for day tours, a swimming pool (still in construction during our visit). BBQ grill is available for free.
Dreamland Paradise Resort does not have its own restaurant. You can bring your own food (no corkage fee) or cook in the resort (limited cookware available for use). There are nearby eateries and stores just walking distance from the resort.
Kamantigue Resort – A family-friendly resort located right next to Dreamland Paradise Resort. It has swimming pools.
Danke Laia – One of the most popular resorts for freedivers. Day trips and overnight packages including meals are available. As of this writing (October 2019), , accommodation are tents only.
Snorkeling and freediving gears are available for rent:
- Mask and snorkel – P200
- Fins – P200
- Foam buoy – P100/freedive buoy – P300
That’s our guide for your snorkeling and freediving trip to Pagkilatan, Batangas. Do you have other questions? Let us know in the comments below!
What to read next:
Here are other places near Manila where you can snorkel and freedive: