Plan your weekend: Experience lakeside leisure in San Pablo, Laguna

San Pablo, Laguna is a true gem in the South. Located about 80 kilometers from Manila, driving there should take about two to three hours. It is home to seven freshwater lakes namely, Sampaloc Lake, Pandin Lake, Bunot Lake, Calibato Lake, Mohicap Lake, Palakpakin Lake, and Yambo Lake.  Each one has its own distinct quality and character.

We took a trip to San Pablo and took in the views and the lakeside treats and eats. Read on and see which ones you want to visit first. Don't forget to try the paco salad, kulawong talong, and other local specialties.

Pandemic wise, San Pablo does not have any travel restrictions although it is recommended that you check in advance before you schedule your trip.

Sampaloc Lake

This lake should be the first one you’ll see since it’s in the center of San Pablo City. An ideal place to go for a morning or late afternoon run, many locals and visitors alike also come to just partake in the wonderful views and refreshing winds.

There are food stalls along the side of the lake, which is regulated by the city government. Foods such as barbecue, isaw, fish balls, and other favorite street foods are available. There are also coffee shops and restaurants nearby.

Twin lakes Pandin and Yambo

Pandin Lake is for families and for spending quality time with friends. Visitors park their cars in a designated parking space and go on a 15-minute walk to the lake.

Once there, for about P400 each, guests can rent a raft, go swimming, and have a sumptuous lunch in the middle of the lake. You can choose which local food you want to be served. It’s also an easy short climb at the riverside of Pandin to see Yambo Lake on the other side. A trip here is highly recommended!

Feast of local food in the middle of Pandin Lake.

Bunot Lake

A short drive from the city is Bunot Lake. The best way to experience the view is by having a lakeside lunch at Cusina de Sabang. The restaurant offers Filipino dishes and is a nice place for families, friends, and couples.

A view of Bunot Lake (Photo by Vicente Robles Jr.)

Mohicap Lake

Descending 105 steps of stairs will take visitors to Mohicap Lake. A tourism officer should be there to welcome you and give you a brief history of the place. Activities such as rafting, swimming, and fishing for catfish and tilapia are available.

Palakpakin Lake

Palakpakin can be viewed from the road and is very accessible since you can even take pictures from your car. The residents nearby grow carp and cultured tilapia.

Calibato Lake

An ideal  place to view Mt. San Cristobal, Calibato Lake is a welcome sight after a 10-15 minute trek. Residents here fish for tilapia as well.

Travel tip

There are a few affordable accommodations around San Pablo. An overnight trip over the weekend should give visitors enough time to go around and enjoy the experience. Villa Escudero is also a 15-30 minute drive away from the city. You can take a day tour of the hacienda and then retire for the night at San Pablo. The next day is another chance for exploration and relaxation.