Last updated on April 1st, 2022Taal Volcano is very special as it is one of the only places where there is an island in a lake, on an island in a lake, on an island in the world. This makes Taal Volcano a popular destination to visit when traveling through the Philippines. Taal Volcano Taal Volcano, aka, Volcano Island, is a 311 m volcano in the Batangas region of the Philippines. Taal Volcano is both the second most active volcano in the Philippines as well as the smallest active volcano in the world. Despite its small size, it is a mighty volcano with a history of 33 eruptions since the 16th century. Although Taal Volcano has not erupted since 1977, it is considered restless and is highly monitored for any activity. Update: Taal Volcano recently erupted in January 2020 and again in March 2022.
Fun Facts about Volcano Island:
- It is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire
- Its crater lake is the second-largest in the world
How Can I Visit Taal Volcano?There are two ways to visit Taal Volcano: as part of a tour or on your own. If you choose to go on a tour, you can arrange yours with the Filipino Travel Centre. They offer transportation from Manila and back, boat ride in Tagaytay to and from Taal Volcano, and a local guide on the island. If you choose to go without a tour, head to Tagaytay and hire your own boat over to the volcano. Once on Volcano Island, follow the paths others take to avoid the chance of getting lost or hire guides to take you around the volcano on a horse.
Visiting Volcano IslandWhen at Taal Volcano, there are two options to reach the top: you can hike or go horseback riding. For my visit, I chose to go horseback riding, and I enjoyed it.
Horseback Riding at Taal VolcanoOnce at Taal Volcano, you can choose to go on a guided horseback riding tour. The horses will take you to the top of the volcano as well as back down. The cost is approximately $15. The trip takes a few hours including the approximately 40-minute journey each way and the time spent admiring the volcanic crater from the top. For my visit, it was our first time horseback riding, and we were especially excited to be trying it on a volcano. It made for a super memorable experience. Once at the top of the volcano, depending on what trail you take from your entry point to Taal Volcano, you can hop off the horses and walk down to the crater lake while the horses rest. I chose to walk down to the crater lake.
When To VisitTaal Volcano can be accessed year round, although there are higher temperatures in spring, so be aware if you visit in March or April. I visited in January, and the weather was good.
What to Pack
- Hiking shoes or running shoe
- Comfortable clothing
- Water bottle
- Camera / Phone – to take photos of the views
- Optional: A small amount of money for drinks for when you reach the top
Tips For Visiting Taal Volcano:
- If doing a tour, try to get a larger group to lower your tour cost
- You don’t need a full day at Taal Volcano. A half-day is plenty of time.
- Note: the sun sets around 6pm year round, so ensure you leave Volcano Island before it gets dark
What It’s Like – Visiting Taal Volcano & Horseback RidingThe plan was to visit Taal Volcano. I did not have anything arranged and did not know how I was going to manage to get over to Volcano Island without going to Tagaytay, but I knew that this was the only time that we had available on this trip to make it happen. The day started in Taal, which is on the opposite side of Lake Taal as Tagaytay is. There wasn’t time to drive up to Tagaytay, the main access point of Volcano Island, and we didn’t desire to go on a tour. I enjoy experiencing activities when possible, without a tour group. Our reasons for not taking a tour included: not having time to drive to Tagaytay, they were expensive for two people going without a group, wanting to experience the volcano without crowds, be flexible with our schedule, not have to visit at a specific location, and see a different side of the volcano. Before my trip, I had read somewhere that you could hire a boat to take to Taal Volcano, so somehow I was going to find a way to make that happen. My search began to figure out how to get to Volcano Island.
Getting to Volcano IslandWe decided to drive to Agoncillo, a small village directly beside Lake Taal and the closest point to Taal Volcano without going to Tagaytay. Driving into the small lakeside village, all was quiet. We got out of the car and looked over at the volcano. It was so close now. It was all I had imagined. I was excited to be this close. Now we had to find someone willing to help us get over to the island. We spotted a man near a boat. Maybe he would be able to help us. Speaking in Tagalog, Patrick talked with him about hiring him to take us to volcano island and back. After discussing a price, he happily agreed. A few minutes later, we were on our way to Taal Volcano. I was so happy. I was finally going to get the opportunity to visit Taal Volcano. We paid about $10-15 in total each for the short 5-10 boat ride each way across the lake and back. After informing him that we wanted to ride horses up the volcano, he was kind enough to take us directly to the horseback riding rentals. The man waited in the shade near his boat for us to return at the agreed time in a few hours. We were thankful for his help and happy that we could help him make some money for his family.
Horseback Riding at Taal VolcanoOnce at the volcano island, we arranged to ride horses up to the top instead of hiking it. The horse guides assisted us in mounting the horses as neither Patrick nor I had ridden a horse before. It was a great decision as it would’ve been challenging for us to hike on a sunny day without water or sun protection, and we did not have the time to hike up to the top and back. We had limited time to return with our family waiting for us and we still had to drive back to the house before dark. Climbing up to get onto the horse saddle was slightly more difficult than I anticipated, but the guides were helpful which got us saddled up smoothly. When we were comfortably ready to head out, the horse guides lead the way. They walked along our sides while we rode the horses. I’m riding a horse! A real horse, and it’s not a dream or a movie. This is so neat. It took a bit of time for my body to adjust to the feeling of riding a horse, but I was having fun. We rode in a single file along the path leading to the top of Taal Volcano. After a while, we stopped. When I got off of my horse, my legs felt strange to be on the ground again. It took me a moment to get used to walking on my feet. We had arrived at the top, and it was so worth it. Looking out over the crater lake and seeing the tiny island of Vulcan Point, made me so happy. There was that island in a lake, on an island in a lake, on an island that I came to see. Now I just had to get closer to Vulcan Point. At the very top of the volcano, there was a small, almost hut-like structure that sold ice cold beverages. We bought drinks for us and our horse guides. It was interesting to see cold drinks all the way up here surrounded by no other structures, but we appreciated having the opportunity to hydrate. Especially since we had forgotten to bring drinks with us. They were more expensive than to buy them at the store, but if you are in a pinch, it was good to have an option to purchase them there. Taking photos of the experience of being here, and feeling the wind blow my hair everywhere, I felt content. Now if only I could manage to smile into the camera, without squinting from the sun beaming down on me. While looking out from the top, we spotted some children that had just walked up after they had just finished swimming in the crater lake below. We had not planned to go swimming, but we definitely wanted to walk down to the lake to try our feet in the water and feel the volcanic water. Now ready, we walked down to the crater lake and stuck our toes in the water. It felt so amazing being here that it was easy to forget you were on a volcano. So much vegetation and trees surround the crater lake that it does not feel like we were on a volcanic island at all. It was unreal. We stayed a while to take in all the views. Once finished at the crater lake, our horses were ready to take us back down the volcano to our boat. We began the descent using a different path than we rode up to see more of the island. The ride down was less exciting than the horse ride up as we had already visited the crater, and seen Vulcan Point, but it was still fun to be horseback riding. Once again, we rode single file down a path. At the base of the volcano, we rode through a small village where people live on the volcano island. As we rode through the village, children would look at us and wave. We later found out that people are not supposed to live on Taal Volcano due to it being a restless, active volcano. Despite this, some poor families call the island home and make their living fishing and farming. Returning to the original boat drop-off location, our boat driver had waited for us to return, then took us back to his village where our car was waiting. Our time at Taal Volcano had come to an end. We continued home thinking about the fun-filled day we just had, and how thankful we were to have had the opportunity to visit Taal Volcano. I would like to return sometime and visit from the Tagaytay side to see the other side of the volcano, and hopefully bring some friends to share the experience with.
Hope this information helped you with visiting Taal Volcano in the PhilippinesHappy travelling!
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Have you been to Taal Volcano or gone Horseback Riding? I’d love to hear all about your experience.
Haven’t been to Taal Volcano or gone Horseback Riding? I would love to hear whether you would go or not in the comments below.