Choose your own adventure at Aquascape, Caliraya.
What makes a vacation one to remember? Laughter, a sense of calm, a sense of adventure, and, sometimes, even tears. Our recent trip to Lake Caliraya had all those things. Looking back on it, I can’t decide which memory takes the cake—a four-hour karaoke session, riding the banana boat and all five passengers falling off in a straight line in the middle of the lake that we ended up kicking each other (unintentionally, of course), or our associate editor crying a minute into her chosen water sport—some variant of an inflatable ride attached to a speedboat.
It’s rare to find a spot that boasts of a myriad of activities yet also offers a serene respite from the trappings of the city, but Aquascape Caliraya was exactly that. A hidden gem in the heart of Laguna, Aquascape is a family-owned resort established by a father and daughter tandem who were always in search of a place to camp and have fun in the water.
Aquascape offers seven lakefront cottages, a floating cottage, and a bigger, more premium floating suite. It’s the perfect secret hideaway. Despite the optional solitude, the resort offers a long list of activities based on guests’ chosen terrain: rocky paths, an open field for archery, or the vast expanse of the water.
A fan favorite is the ATV. Whether driving skills are existent or not, the buggies are rather easy to navigate and badass to take photos with. The trail is straightforward—there’s absolutely no chance of getting lost in the forest—but keep in mind that the path isn’t perfect, so humps care of fallen logs, dips care of the lay of the land, and necessary maneuvers to avoid certain trees are part of the ride and the fun. For those who prefer a more sustainable and active option, there are e-bikes for rent as well. After a 15-minute ride, an area for archery is available for the brave souls who want a few tries at being Legolas.
The water sports are the bread and butter of the resort. Kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis, and speedboats are all available for rent throughout one’s stay, but the real winners are the inflatable rides. Five to ten people ride a cylinder-like floatie shaped like a banana, hence the name, and hold on for dear life as the speedboat races with the sole intent of having the passengers fall off. And fall we did.
There are other variants too. One is lovingly called the Tsinelas by the owner because it’s shaped like a slipper. Two people lie down on the flat surface and one person stands in between them holding on to the top, or the “strap”, so to speak. Another ride is called the Swordfish, where two guests sit on the ride and hold on to the sides while being dragged along in circles. Guests have the option to ask the driver to go slower or faster depending on their tolerance. In our case it didn’t really feel like the driver slowed down but it was still exhilarating nonetheless. I kid you not when I say one of us cried and they had to end the ride.
REST AND RELAXATION
If guests are after calm and relaxation, Aquascape wins at that as well. Imagine sleeping in a motorized floating suite and waking up in the middle of the lake to the most glorious view of the water, with curtains billowing and the sunlight streaming. Nothing beats that level of serenity. Guests have the option to have the floating rooms docked by the shore near the lakeside general area or somewhere more private.
The rest of the lakeside cottages are all designed differently but all evoke a rustic, homey ambiance. There’s a tree house, a bungalow, and other room options depending on the number of guests. Each room is equipped with—get this—a karaoke, and there is a special karaoke room if you want more privacy and a set up that resembles having an audience. Each room even has disco lights to boot to guarantee performance levels. Even the floating cottages have disco lights. Of course we tried it in the middle of the lake and, of course, we did so while listening to Justin Bieber’s “Despacito”.
Perhaps the factor we enjoyed the most from the resort was the experience of having to choose your own adventure. There are no nearby restaurants, stores, or commercial establishments so guests are highly encouraged to bring pre-marinated or pre-cooked food. The floating rooms have their own kitchens and grilling areas and there are common grilling and dining areas on ground too. Guests have the option of pre-ordering meals but a cookout is equally satisfying. There are free amenities like a jacuzzi and a fish spa that any guest can enjoy.
Whether guests are looking for downtime or activity after exhilarating activity, Aquascape delivers. One night just isn’t enough.
This story was first published in Explore Philippines Issue 17
Photography by Jisa Atrero & Rholiza Beth Sy