Lake Caliraya

photo-20Caliraya  is a man-made lake situated in the mountains of Laguna, a mere two hours away from Manila.

I was first introduced to this happy place when my grandfather would have us tag along on his work-related weekends to the NPC compound. Till I was about 13, my cousins and I would spend many afternoons exploring the property’s trees and strange fruits. I would also take clumps of Caliraya’s abundant red clay back to Manila to turn into little volcanoes, complete with puff-paint orange lava oozing from their tiny craters.

A number of years later,  my parents decided that Caliraya would make the ideal place for a weekend retreat home. Some of my best memories from my 20s are those of lounging on our dock with friends who have become family. Weekends in our green house, to this day, are filled with laughter, good food, and stories that are funnier when told for the 100th time.

My parents have recently been putting a lot of their hearts into making this home by the lake even more magical. And my little family and I  are blessed that we get to enjoy it with them.

photo-16Here are some snaps from our recent trip to Caliraya. If you haven’t decided whether or not you’d like to build your own home up in these mountains, fear not. There’s now a comfortable place to stay. Details at the end of this travel post.

photo-12Everyone is friendly and waves to you from their boats as you pass.

afterlight-1On most days you can see Mt. Banahaw from the lake. My dad says that when she’s visible it means that there’s wind coming. You’ll know why this is a good thing in the next picture.

photo-13Meet my dad, the wind chaser.

photo-15Paddle-boarding has become one of the best ways to get a workout on the lake without even realizing it.

afterlight-2 We often take the kayaks and paddle boards out right before sunset. On days when we’re motivated, we’ll take them out in the early morning when the water looks like glass.

photo-18We invited Fung, a cinematographer from Australia to join us this Holy Week. He loved all the green and was just busy snapping away.

photo-21Sunsets up in the mountains never get old.

photo-11A number of scenes from Apocalypse Now were filmed here.

photo-17I promised I’d share a place to stay, didn’t I?

Soloviento is a new campsite owned by my father and his friends. It offers kiteboarding lessons, hot-water showers, adequate bedrooms, and a restaurant that serves the best wood-fire baked pizzas (the sardine one is my favorite). This is Bingo, their Guest Relations Officer.

If you’re in the mood to be a little daring, you can also bring your camping gear and sleep under the stars.

You can contact Soloviento via their Facebook page or Website.

photo-19Sunset from Soloviento.

Some tips:

1. Caliraya can often be more rainy than Manila. The best time to go is the summer. So what are you waiting for? 

2. If you do plan to go during any other season, a windbreaker and some gum boots will probably make your stay more comfortable. 

3. The water is clean enough to swim in, but don’t expect white sand at the bottom. It’s a lake.  

4. If you’re interested in kiteboarding, this is really the best place to learn it. The wind is constant and you don’t have to worry about sea urchins and corals. 

5. Kiteboarding too intense for you? Caliraya is also popular for bass fishing.