Before I start my article, I would like to tell any interested adventure seekers of this spring…DO NOT TRUST GOOGLE MAPS on the location. The spring is located deep into the mountainous and forested area of Laguna that you need to be in San Pablo itself and ask locals to help you find it. ADVENTURE isn’t it?
I remember when I was planning my 2015 home trip back to the Philippines, I wanted to off some items from my bucket list. One of them was reconnecting with nature and be able to capture it in photographs.
I originally planned for a trip to Coron however the APEC 2015 summit that collided with my schedule didn’t allow that due to a weeklong transportation ban both air and sea.
Days before my scheduled trip, I was googling and instagraming hidden vacation spots hopefully close to home, when tagged photos of a hidden spring in San Pablo Laguna called Bato Springs grabbed my attention. Pictures of the springs hailed crystal clear waters and a small waterfall carved both naturally and manmade from the mountain. I just have to go there.
My fathers family are one of the oldest and possible part of the founding community of San Pablo, Laguna. That being said, I immediately called my dad and uncles asking for the exact location of the springs.
Google search for Bato Springs or Bato-Bato springs reveal no official website sans bits and info from travel bloggers over the years and one so called Facebook page. My most reliable source of info would be reviews from TripAdvisor and posts from Instagram #BatoSpings
To my dismay, my uncles and dad do not recall such a spring ever existed. But then again Laguna is a fairly large province known for its vast natural resources namely hot springs sourced from two dormant volcanoes Mt. Makiling and Mt.Banahaw.
My uncle from Virginia did recall about a “batis” Tagalog for spring, that he and his classmates would go to as a kid. But each spring, lake and estuary in Laguna goes by different names. My best bet was to go find the place myself which fueled my excitement, making this a old school adventure for me.
Less than 15 hours after I landed in Manila I told my dad that I wanted to go straight to our province in San Pablo, Laguna a good 1.5 Hour drive from the city. We left early to avoid traffic.
Reading from various blog post, Bato Springs is within the municipality of San Pablo not far from the city center and cathedral -both places I am familiar of. I asked my cousins and nieces if they know the resorts location. Not a lot of them knew of it despite living in the same town since birth. Then again San Pablo has a variety of resorts & lakes within stones reach, meaning Bato Springs itself is a hidden gem untouched by commercialization. And That Is GOOD.
After asking around more, one of my eldest cousin who came in late to the reunion said that the spring is located in San Cristobal. And though reports from some blog sites say Bato Springs is 5-10 minutes away from the city center, it is actually a bit ways more and taking a Tricycle (normal mode of transportation around San Pablo) will take longer. We decided to cram ourselves in our van and drive.
Luckily my family knows the way to barangay San Cristobal which itself was an 8 minute drive from the city center, but this area was huge. The good thing is there is only one main road and once you enter Barangay San Cristobal, & from there are small wooden signs pointing you towards Bato Springs. This took another 5-10 minute drive, navigating slowly so we can find the resorts entrance.
We actually ended up asking a local the exact gate to the spring. One man pointed us to take a left in a small entrance way with the sign ” Bato Springs” almost unmarked from the main road. From there we drove by groves of lush coconut trees, slightly deeper into the forest.
A short and cautious drive later we were greeted by a small shack where you pay your entrance fee. It is about Php 80.00 per person that is less than $2.00 There are cottages you can rent for the day with a makeshift charcoal grill.
As you walk after leaving their parking structure you will come upon first a swimming pool with the clearest bluest water. There resort was not crowded but the area itself was massive. Looking at the pool, I can tell this was more intended as the kiddie pool.
As you walk past the cottages and past a an activity area you will be greeted by the sounds of fast flowing water, and there from atop some manmade rock stairwell with bamboo railings was Bato Springs waterfall.
At first I thought, though the waterfalls were beautiful and the clear as shown in the pictures online, I found that particular area small. My cousin then called out to me further up the rock stairwell and I saw 2 larger natural pools of water, the Bato Springs mini mountain lagoon. Bato Springs reminded me of Hidden Valley Springs– a popular hot springs in Laguna except that this was wayyyyyyy more affordable (Hidden Valley is about PHP 1500-2000 entrance fee)
All around the springs are canopies of Acacia. Palm and Balete trees, allowing just the exact amount of tropical light accompanied by sounds of native birds cooing from a distance. The place reminds you of scenes from some Philippine Elvish folklore story and the photographer in me thought “This is a great spot for a film or photoshoot”
My regret was not bringing a bathing suit during our impromptu trip. But I braved the water anyway which was crisp yet not overly freezing to take several shots.
My father then recalled some childhood memories about this spring. He has been there in his youth like my uncle. But then like the many watering holes in Laguna, they were once called by a different name only known to the locals.
The larger spring pools which sourced water both from underground and via the mountain slopes then flows back down to a nearby stream are about 5-8 ft in depth or even deeper. The good news is there are several inner tubes you can rent and just laze around the pristine and clear waters. One of the bigger springs around the time of my visit closest to the entrance was closed off and drained out. They normally refill that spring during summer time and when filled the whole area looks like a large lazy river reminiscent from something like The Jungle Book.
We learned that the springs and the surrounding land actually on private property. The current owner, a 3rd generation of the original family has made efforts for the upkeep of the resort. Some of the workers and caretakers have their own small homes within the property.
Some important information when you do visit Bato Springs
- RESPECT and DO NOT LITTER. Bato Springs is a beautiful place a true hidden gem and locals would like to keep it that way
- Entrance Fee Weekdays PhP 75 Weekends Php 80 Cash Only
- Overnight Stay Php 125 not including cottage rental
- Cottage rental depending of cottage type ranges from Php 2000-4000 ($43.00-85.00)
- Do bring your own food and charcoal to cook and picnic wares like paper plates, plastic spoons and forks.
- Do bring your own towel and shampoo. The resort has limited resources as far as toiletries and the nearest convenience store is quite a drive away. They are after all in the mountain
- Bring some extra floatation device
- DO WATCH YOUR STEP. Walking along the narrow stone ridge leading underneath the waterfalls is slippery.
- Waterproof your phone and camera. Every angle of this place are both picturesque and wet. Great for selfies but better protect your camera
- Do bring bug repellent lotion like OFF . This is still a forest with (giant) mosquitoes sooooo…..
- Do bring cash. Not a lot of local establishments accept credit cards so primary form of payment will be in cash
- If possible drive there via Van or SUV. Its faster.
- DO Come early. Best to enjoy the place is starting at 10AM
- RESPECT NATURE. DO NOT LITTER!
For more information about Bato Springs location
Bato Springs Resort
Brgy San Cristobal, San Pablo City, Luzon 4000, Philippines