A guide to the twin lakes of San Pablo

San Pablo is a place in the Philippines famous for its seven lakes. Locals and tourists alike that have once been there would always single out the twin lakes Pandin and Yambo whenever they share their adventures in San Pablo. Curiosity got the best of me, and went to the place itself to know if the stories were really true.

How to go to the famous twin lakes:

San Pablo is only a couple of hours away from the bustling city of Manila- a good place to visit for those looking for a hasty weekend getaway. According to the facebook page of the twin lake, the entrance would be found near lake Pandin. To our dismay, the locals told us that the Pandin lake entrance was already blocked long ago due to land disputes. If you really wanted to see the lake, they told us that it can be accessed by crossing its twin, lake Yambo. So, my mother and I had to go to the city of Nagcarlan, search for the entrance of lake Yambo, cross the lake, trek the trail going to lake Pandin, then finally reach the lake. All the trouble of this trip made me think: the lake tour better be worth it.

So, If you are going here from Manila:

  • Ride a bus bound for Lucena (you can find one at the Jac Liner terminals located at Cubao and Buendia)
  • Alight at San Pablo (just ask the driver to drop you off at San Pablo)
  • Once at San Pablo, you could either find a jeepney bound for Nagcarlan, or directly hire a tricycle to drop you off directly at the twin lakes.

What to expect upon arriving at the famous twin lakes:

After almost an hour of commuting, we finally reached the entrance to lake Yambo. The view of the lake was beautiful. Suddenly, all the troubles we got ourselves into became worth it. The weather also seemed to have calmed down ย (it was raining a bit when we were commuting) and the sun slowly started to shine. I immediately reached for my camera and took numerous pictures of the lake while my mother registered our names for the day tour.

Just be prepared to/for:

  • Long queues specially on a weekend. The set-up is like this: upon registering and paying, your names will be recorded in their notebook. Expect to be with the company of other travelers (if you are a small group or traveling solo). Also, the raft used to transport visitors from the registration area to the Pandin lake is man-driven. So yeah, bring in a sack of patience for all the waiting.

 

  • Take a very, very late lunch if you still haven’t eaten yet prior to going here. We registered our names at around 12 noon but was able to take our “lunch” at around 1400 to 1430H. The lunch was worth it, though so it’s still a thumbs up for me. But the management should fix this problem fast, not all travelers are willing to wait that long for their food.

 

  • Hot climate and little shed. If you value your white skin so much, then this destination may not be the one for you. Be prepared to get your skin fried if you are coming here on a sunny day. You’ll have no other shade to shelter that precious skin other than the shade of the roof of the bamboo raft.
Lake Yambo is a 35-hectare lake. It provides livelihood to the locals as most of them cultivate fishes to be sold in wet markets or to tourists visiting the lake.

Crossing Lake Yambo to reach Lake Pandin:

My mother and I waited for a while for our names to be called for the lake crossing. We boarded a raft made of bamboo. The raft can accomodate 14 people at most. Bangkeros (locals fetching the tourists to and from the lake) pulls a rope fastened at the lake entrance and to the small piece of land separating the lakes, enabling the raft to move forward.

Two guys from our group assisted the bangkeros in pulling the rope. The raft reached the other side of the lake in a couple of minutes!

As the raft moved accross the lake, we saw some fish pens. The bangkeros told us that tilapia and hipon (shrimp) are mostly cultivated in these pens. Our lunch even came straight from these pens. Nothing beats a freshly made meal in the province.

Cultivating fishes in these fish pens serve as one of the major livelihoods of the locals.

Lake Pandin proper:

After a short trek along the small piece of land separating the two lakes, we finally managed to reach lake Pandin. Like its twin, lake Pandin also offered a beautiful environment. It may look like lake Pandin is larger than its twin. However, it is only 25 hectares wide- 10 hectares smaller than its twin. Locals say that the surrounding vegetation of lake Pandin made the lake look a lot larger compared to Yambo.

Greens surround the lake. Imagine that the lake is a soup inside a bowl. The edges of the bowl being trees and plants.

Of course, the lake tour would never be complete without swimming in its warm waters. Without much ado, my mother and I wore our lifevests, and helped ourselves with a fresh afternoon swim.

My mother enjoying the fresh waters of the lake.
Dive right in!
Flowing water into the lake = rare shower experience.
The rich vegetation across the lake is sure to calm both the mind and the soul.

Sadly, the lake tour ends as soon as the timer of your bangkeros hit 2-hours. Yes, whether you like it or not, all tourists are only allowed to stay in the lake for 2 hours at most. This method is adapted in order to facilitate the number of tourists entering the lake, and also to make sure that the lake do not become too crowded.

A view of lake Yambo taken at the highest point within the small strip of land separating the twin lakes.
A photo of lake Yambo, taken before leaving.

Fees:

  • Small Bamboo raft: 180 Pesos/ $ 3.63

 

  • Big Bamboo raft with food: 360 Pesos/ $ 7.25 per person MINIMUM OF 4
  • 1000 Pesos/ $20.14 good for 2 persons
  • 1200 Pesos/ $ 24.17 good for 3 persons

 

  • Big Bamboo raft without food: 180 Pesos/ $3.63 MINIMUM OF 4
  • 500 Pesos/ $10 good for 2 persons
  • 600 Pesos/ $ 12 good for 3 persons

Final thoughts:

It was unfortunate that a number of tourists tend to cancel their trip to Pandin lake because of the outdated information regarding the entrance to the lake. We have already shared our concern to the locals and told them that it would be best if all the crucial information (such as the lake entrance) is updated in order to boost the number of tourists visiting the place. Otherwise, my experience here is a blast. I do hope that more people would come and appreciate the attractions San Pablo has to offee such as the beautiful twin lakes Pandin and Yambo.

I highly recommend this place for:

  • Cute, romantic couple getaways
  • Escaping the city life
  • Relaxing
  • Swimming and Nature tripping
  • Family get-togethers
  • Group Bonding

Happy traveling guys! -Carlo, WHT

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