About 45 minutes of plane ride or 10 to 12 hours of bus ride away from Metro Manila is Camarines Sur. The province is one of the country’s newest and rapidly rising tourism stars with coasts as well as islands that greet every traveler with secluded white-sand beaches and gorgeous limestone formations. There are also throbbing adventure sports scenes that help make the region stand up and take global notice.
Pili has been the provincial capital, but Naga City is more known to tourists. Before the tourism frenzy in the city, Naga was noted as a seat to Bicol’s most revered, famous, and miraculous religion icon, Our Lady of Peñafrancia. The third Sunday of September is allotted to traditional celebrations and events that are offered to the Lady.
About Camarines Sur
Camarines Sur is popular as home to the world’s smallest fish, the sinarapan. It is also famous for its beaches, splendid attractions, colorful festivals, old churches, and of course, Mt. Isarog. The province is an agro-industrial center in the region. It is the biggest province in all of Bicol region in terms of both land area and population. Camarines Sur is covering up to 5,400 square kilometers of land, inhabited by about 1.5 million people (the 13th biggest in the country).
Deep religiosity and fervor of its people has made Camarines Sur famous. Religious tourism is very much active. The sites of Our Lady of Peñafrancia Church in Naga City as well as the century-old churches in San Jose, Goa, and Sagñay are popular among Marian devotees. For eco-tourism, the province is bringing into forefront Lake Buhi (home to sinarapan), and two active volcanoes complete with trails, Mt. Asog and Mt. Isarog. White and black sand beaches in Caramoan and Sagñay have coral reefs. Naga City has a bustling night life.
Camarines Sur has also successfully established its image as a center of adventure sports not only in the country but also in the whole of the Asia-Pacific region. The CamSur Watersports Complex is a recently opened wakeboarding center, the biggest in all of Asia. CWC, as it is more popularly called, has sprawling wakeboarding, waterskiing, and wakeskating facilities. It recently hosted the Ironman 70.3, the first ever international triathlon event held in the Philippines.
For avid spelunkers, Kalupnitan Caves in the town of Ilibmanan should never be missed. It has numerous stalagmite and stalactite formations. The caves are home to thousands of unique species of bats. The town of San Jose also has several caverns and a long canopy that stretches to as far as the Calinigan Mountains. The area houses the Adiangan Caves, which have dripstones that look like suspended waterfalls.
There are four festivals held in the province.
Tinagba Festival – held in February 11 in Iriga City. The celebration coincides with the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes and is highlighting a parade of bull carts that are laden fully by harvested crops.
Boa Boahan Festival – held every May 12 colorfully showcases thanksgiving and indigenous fertility rites.
The Kaogma Festival – coincides with the province’s Foundation Day every May 27. The event pays homage to fisher folk and farmers.
- Peñafrancia Fiesta – held every third week of September. The weeklong celebration features military and civic parades, exhibits, regattas, a sports fest, beauty pageants, and cultural shows.
How to get there
Buses take travelers from Metro Manila to Camarines Sur at specific hours everyday.