If you are making a trip to Dumaguete, one of the best things to do is to see the natural wonder of the Twin Lakes Dumaguete.
Twin Lakes Dumaguete
The best bit about the Twin Lakes is that, unlike the rest of the Philippines there is hardly any tourists around.
The twin lakes are a national park (and protected area in the Philippines since 2000) consisting of two stunning lakes surrounded by lush forest canopy that reaches up to 40 metres tall.
While you cannot swim in the lake itself (as it is a source of water for the local residents) going for a boat ride and hiking in the rainforest surrounding the lakes is certainly an activity not to be missed while in Dumaguete.
The lakes are located in the south-eatern end of Negros Island, around 20 km from the town of Dumaguete.
The twin lakes comprise of Lakes Balinsasayao and Danao (which are believed to be formed by a volcanic eruption 10,000 years ago). The lakes are relatively small but quite deep. Lakes Balinsasayao has a depth of around 90 metres.
During the second world war the Japanese dropped a package into the lake that they intended to retrieve at a later date. However, due to the depth of the lake the package was never recovered.
What to do at Twin Lakes Dumaguete?
If you are wondering what there is to do in Twin Lakes Dumaguete, you are spoilt for choice as there is plenty of great things to do in the area.
The area is particularly famous for bird watching enthusiasts but is also great for adventure seeking travelers as there is great hiking trails, boating & beautiful waterfalls to experience in the area.
Bird Watching Dumaguete
Aside from mainstream tourist activities of boating & hiking around the lakes, the natural park is a prime destination for bird watching enthusiats.
Twin Lakes is famous for its unique bird diversity as it is home to 120 different bird species. The area is known for providing a prime viewing position for endemic birds not limited to the Writhed-billed Hornbill, Flame-templed Babbler, Visayan Tarictic Hornbill and the Balicassiao.
The best way to discover birds in the area is by hiring a local guide (see below for more information).
Hiking Trails Twin Lakes
There are some great hiking trails to explore in the Twin Lakes area.
There are two main hiking trails that we would suggest within the Twin Lake area:
- Hike to the Secret Waterfall; and
- Hike to the Viewpoint.
To reach either of these hikes, you need to hire a boat (see more information on boat hire below). The local in charge of boat operation will know the term ‘Secret Waterfall’ or ‘Viewpoint’ and transport you directly to the desired location.
It is about a 5-10 minute walk to either the secret waterfall or the viewpoint (with the viewpoint being the slightly more strenuous option of the two).
From ‘the viewpoint’, you can choose between a 800 metre (fairly strenuous hike) back to the entrance of the national park or choose to hire a boat back to the entrance.
Boating Twin Lakes
The best way to get around the Twin Lake area is by boat. You can hire a boat to access various spots around the lake (a local will row – a pretty cool experience in itself) for Php 250 for 1 hour. The boats hold a maximum of 7 people.
Alternatively, you can choose to kayak yourself around the lake for Php 100 for 1 hour per kayak.
Ulayan Waterfalls Twin Lakes
The Secret Waterfall otherwise known as Ulayan Waterfall is the best waterfall within the Twin Lakes National Park area.
The waterfall is a perfect piece of untouched paradise within the National Park.
A series of mini falls cascade down from the main waterfall which is nested amongst a canopy of natural forest.
It is 1.1km from the entrance of the National Park and can be accessed by boat.
Twin Lakes Half Day Itinerary
You should allocate around a day of your time in Dumaguete to visit Twin Lakes.
We did the following activities within the park:
- From Entrance take boat across to Secret Waterfall (10 minute hike from boat docking)
- From Secret Waterfall take boat across to Viewpoint (10 minute hike from boat docking)
- From Viewpoint walk 800 metres return to the parking lot.
This itinerary will take round half a day to complete. We arrived at 8am in the morning and were finished by 3pm in the afternoon (with plenty of time allocated for photo opportunities within the park).
Hiring a Guide
If you are visiting the Twin Lakes National Park area, we would highly recommend hiring a guide.
We were lucky enough to have the experience of the most experienced and renown guide in the area, Jac.
It costs around Php 1,500 to a hire a guide (per group) for the duration of your journey.
This is highly recommended (especially if you are a bird advocate) as the guides are very knowledgable about the area. They are also the best way to direct you to the Secret Waterfall and the Viewpoint within the National Park.
How to get there?
There are numerous ways to reach Twin Lakes.
Twin Lakes by Motorbike
If you like adventure, you can rent a motorbike for Php 150 for 5hrs.
Twin Lakes by Transfer
Twin Lakes is also possible to be reached by habal habal for Php 300 roundtrip or Php 3,500 for a van for the whole day.
If you also enjoy diving, this can be organised through the Atlatis Dive Resort (the best Resort in the area for diving enthusiasts). A trip to Twin Lakes would provide the perfect diving break for a day.
What is the entrance fee?
To enter Twin Lakes, Philippines pay 50 Php while foreigners pay 100 Php.
There are some discounts available for students and senior citizens. Children under the age of 7 can also access the Twin Lakes area free of charge.
If you bring a vehicle to the Twin Lakes area, there is a fee of 30 Php and motorbikes will incur a fee of 10 Php.
What to bring?
It is advisable to wear lightweight but sun protective hiking gear. It is very hot in the area (especially while boating). It is best to wear trekking shoes.
We used an umbrella while boating across the lake and it proved very helpful.
While you cannot swim in the main lakes, it is possible to take a quick refreshing dip in the secret waterfall.
We brought with us a packed lunch which can be enjoyed at the entrance of the park.
There is a small store at the front of the park that sells the most delicious fried banana for only 10 Php (highly recommended – it is absolutely delicious!)
Where to stay? Camping in Twin Lakes?
We would recommend staying at the Atlantis hotel as they provide easy transfers to Twin Lakes.
Alternatively, you can stay directly in Dumaguete city centre.
For adventure loving enthusiasts it is also possible to camp in Twin Lakes. Tents and sleeping bags are available to rent (400 Php/4 pax).
There is also a camping fee of 50 Php per person for both foreigners & locals.
A great place to set up camp for the night is at the Viewpoint.
Alternative Waterfall? Casaroro Falls
Unfortunately, we were unable to visit Casaroro Falls due to wet season, however, it is certainly one of the most picturesque falls to visit near Dumaguete should you visit in the right season.
The waterfall cascades 100 feet and is surrounded by amazing natural forest.
In order to reach the falls you need to climb a rocky will, walk across a hanging bridge & climb 355 steep stairs to the bottom of the waterfall.
You are able to swim within the falls however, it is known for extremely cold water.
The best season to visit the falls for a comfortable hike is during dry season.
We absolutely loved our time at Twin Lakes. If you are looking for more great things to do in town check out our guide for the best things to do in Dumaguete.
If you need any more help accessing Twin Lakes, leave us a comment below!
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Disclaimer – We were sponsored by the Philippines Tourism Board on this trip. However, it does not in any way influence our views or opinions of the experience. Our review is 100% honest and a true reflection of our experience.