If you’ve read through my posts, you might be wondering why I often post about Tagaytay B&B’s, resorts/hotels or areas of interest in the city. Well, it’s not because we live in Tagaytay, but we do live fairly near. About an hour and a half drive away to be exact. This is why we often go there for the weekend to escape the heat of Metro Manila and just relax. It’s also precisely the reason why it has become so popular in the last decade or so. I cannot count the number of times I have been to Tagaytay since I was a little kid.
While I’m on the subject, I think it would be good to give a brief background on Tagaytay. It is actually located in the province of Cavite. It lies along the Tagaytay ridge with elevations averaging about 610 metres (2,000 ft) above sea level. The City has an average temperature of 24 °C (75 °F). Due to it’s high elevation, the city is foggy at times and is relatively cooler during the months of December, January and February. The ridge itself looks over Taal Lake and it is actually the caldera of Taal. To be precise, the Crater lake on Volcano Island is the largest lake on an island in a lake on an island in the world. Quite confusing huh? Just so you know, Taal Volcano is considered the 2nd most active volcano in the Philippines. ‘Small but terrible’ as they say.
At present, tourism is Tagaytay’s most lucrative industry. In the past years, a huge number of businesses have sprouted up, mostly B&B’s, hotels and inns, as well as restaurants, coffee shops and attractions for kids like zoos and theme parks. However, during the time when Tagaytay was not as popular and as crowded, there was only one place you thought of going to when you were in the area… Tagaytay Picnic Grove.
During this visit of ours, walking the grounds brought back a lot of memories from my childhood and how it used to be. When I was younger, there weren’t too many places you could go to when you were in Tagaytay so we always found ourselves having a picnic (with our own picnic basket of course) in one of the picnic grove’s “kubos” or cabanas. There were a few of them scattered around the area and picnic tables were also abundant. If you couldn’t find any, you could always just plop down on the ground preferably with a blanket and just enjoy the cool weather, taking photos and just chatting. You could also try taking your kids horseback-riding. Like typical kids with all their energy and enthusiasm, we used to love exploring the hills and running around with no care in the world and that was enough. Tagaytay is also often rainy, for reasons I don’t know. But staying in the cabanas did the job and the rain only made it that much cooler. Life was pretty simple then.
Through the years, a lot of what I remember has changed. Some of them good and some, not so good. I remember that they also used to have one restaurant near the parking area called the “Salakot”, which is what they call a traditional wide-brimmed hat from the Philippines. They also had one underneath one of their big view decks. Both of them have closed since then. There was also a time that they had decent cottages for those who wanted to stay the night. We even stayed there once or twice. They eventually fell into disrepair, probably because of all the new places that started popping up.
I’d have to say that what I like about the new Picnic Grove is that they have added a lot more cabanas. Despite these new structures, they have still preserved the natural feel of the place. They’ve also improved the experience of going around since now they have walkways. It used to be that you had to rely on make-shift stairs to get around. Since the area was quite hilly, it often proved to be a challenge for young kids or the elderly.
For fun lovers, they have also added a number of attractions like the zipline and “cable cars”. You can try them for an affordable price. They have also opened up a number of tourist shops on the right side of the park. It’s a good place to buy ‘pasalubong’ or take a quick break since there also a number of small eateries in the area.
Despite the number of new tourist attractions that have opened, I think the Picnic Grove still has one of the best views of the Taal Lake. Fees are quite affordable and it’s large grounds are ample enough to cater to the large crowds. If you want a good old fashioned picnic with “ihaw-ihaw” (grilling area), then you can’t go wrong. I’d advise bringing your own food since I didn’t find any of the food being sold quite appetizing. It’s still a good place to just sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
Years ago, it was my parents who first shared the experience of the Tagaytay Picnic Grove with us. Since then, we’ve grown up and grown older and we’ve explored new places and tried new experiences but somehow, this place will always have it’s own space in our hearts. Until we meet again..