One of the best parts of living in Dumaguete, the small seaside city in the central Philippines, is its proximity to so many other things to do and see.
In fact, I call “Duma” the “Day-trip capitol of the Philippines” because, just a short bus, ferry, or moto ride away you have world-class scuba diving, Apo Island, waterfalls, hiking and mountain climbing, swimming with whale sharks, resort white-sand Sumilon Island, the super fun and entertaining Sijiour Island, dolphin watching, the amazing Manjuyod Sand Bar, and more. It really is a paradise for people who like to get up and go enjoy nature or do something fun, whether it’s for a couple of hours or a couple of days.
Another side trip that I love taking from Dumaguete is to visit the Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park. Actually, people just usually call it “Twin Lakes,” but it does encompass the conjoined bodies of water, Balinsasayao Lake and Danao Lake.
You can find these splendid lakes nestled in the low mountain ranges of Negros Oriental, the green and lush province where Dumaguete sits, right outside the neighboring small town of Sibulan.
However, even though Sibulan is only a 15-minute drive from Dumaguete as the crow flies, it’s not easy to arrive at the banks of these lakes. In fact, you first have to take the national highway that leads parallel with the coastline up into Sibulan. While you can do this on your own moto or car, it’s a little far for a noisy trike ride (but possible) so I suggest just taking the public bus. Just tell the driver you want to get off at the Twin Lakes and he’ll stop for you.
From there, you’ll see only a small side road that turns up into the mountains. But there will also be a little stand where several motorcycle taxi drivers (habal habals) hang out, waiting for visitors. Hop on these bikes (but haggle for a better price, first), and turn on your GoPro, because the ride up is spectacular in itself, through thick jungle, scenic hills, winding mountain roads, and high palm groves. After about twenty minutes or so, you’ll arrive up these steep small roads to the registration booth for Twin Lakes.
Like I said, there are two lakes to see, but you’ll probably arrive at Lake Balinsasayao, which is a short (but steep) walk from the registration area. I would wear old sneakers or some sort of supportive sandals with grip because this road and then the stone pathway to the lake can get really treacherous and VERY slippery with the frequent mist and rain.
But once you get there, you’ll see an uncrowded, pristine huge lake, framed by picturesque green hills. You can rent a kayak and cruise around, or go swimming. A lot of freedivers even hit these lakes, as it’s 80 meters deep!
Once you’re done with this first lake, take the little trail up more stairs to the top of a ridge between the two lakes, where you’ll find a lookout tower that gives you an inspiring view. You can go down and visit Danao Lake, too, although many people opt to hit the nearby restaurant and get a break instead! I would tell you to leave early in the morning and on a sunny day, and get ready to have rain dumped on you if the clouds roll in, but an amazing experience right in Dumaguete’s backyard!