Going to Lola Sayong’s Surf Camp is the best last minute decision I made in my entire life. I was in Legazpi, Albay for a business trip and had a day to spare before I board my Legazpi-Manila-Zamboanga flight. A few days before my Gubat trip, I tried crowdsourcing on facebook to help me decide where to go. My comments section was filled with suggestions and a majority of my friends recommended Lola Sayong’s with a guarantee that I will love the place. I took the two-hour bus trip going to Sorsogon City and a thirty-minute jeepney ride to Gubat. It was also my first time to go on a solo-backpacking trip.
I have seen video clips of surf camps and I had expectations on how a day in a surf camp would feel. Chillin under coconut trees, catching some waves, getting a tan, meeting new people, and other dreamy stuff that only happens in movies. Guess what? Each one of my expectation and a lot more happened in Lola Sayong. But the unassuming surf camp in Sorsogon has more to offer than the mainstream expectations that I had. I fell in love with the place the moment I entered its gates adorned with decommissioned surfboards and a large tarpaulin with their house rules. Lola Sayong’s Surf Camp is not only a tourist destination, it’s the best model of Community-Based Eco-Tourism that I have been to.
SURF. The waves during my visit were perfect for beginners like me. Walk-in surfing lessons are available for only 350.00 pesos per hour. That would include the instructor’s fee and the surfboard rental. It was my first time to surf but my instructor communicated well and helped me catch my first wave on my fourth try. Not bad for a beginner who is definitely not an athletic person. As with its surf instructors, the management has a “No School, No Surf” rule. Most of the instructors are students from the community and as a way to motivate them to go to school, they are not allowed to teach surf lessons if they don’t go to regular schools.
SAND and SEA. The overall vibes of the sand and shore in Lola Sayong’s is similar to that of the beaches in Zamboanga del Norte. The sand is fine and the water is perfect even for ordinary beachgoers who have no surf plans. The surf instructors and other staff of the camp gather in the afternoon to clean the coastline and remover the dried seagrass and other debris that were washed ashore. Benches and hammocks line up the coast where you can sit under coconut trees and just let the day pass you by. It’s a paradise away from the hussle and bustle of the concrete jungles.
The camp did not have a fancily dressed receptionist but people dressed in everyday clothes and topless surfing instructors walking around the place. You will not find luxurious rooms but low-cost cottages made of indigenous materials. The food is excellently prepared by their kitchen staff that is also surfers with washboard abs and a contagious smile. Every person in the surf camp, from their local staff and guests from all over, are very friendly. The income goes to the community that runs the operations of the surf camp. Everyone in the camp has their roles; from the kitchen to the reception, surf rentals, souvenir shops, housekeeping, and maintenance.
The kitchen and mess hall is my favorite place. With reasonable prices, plated seafood and meaty meals are cooked by the boys at the kitchen. I did my best to try all of them and I never got disappointed. Meals are cooked and seasoned perfectly. Fruit coolers made with fresh fruits and served with paper straws are great cool-down beverages after a day under the sun.
Genuine and contagious, the smiles of everyone in the resort makes it feel a lot like home. You can talk with the management and staff during meals and lazy hours. I was on my own but I made a lot of friends. I got to know fellow travelers during meals. At night, the resort is lit with lamps that give it an island getaway vibe.
Lola Sayong’s Surf Camp is not a luxurious resort and it should stay that way. Leave your expectations of luxury behind and embrace the homey atmosphere. Spend a night in your cottage or go out to the recreational areas and meet new folks to share stories with. Being in Lola Sayong’s Surf Camp is like eating lotus flower, you would want to stop time and stay there forever. It is whimsical with a touch of reality. Go there and be enchanted with its charm like no other. Lola Sayong’s Surf Camp is love. And just like love, it should stay as it is. Love it for all that it is and more.
How to get there: From Legazpi, Albay, ride a van going to Sorsogon City then a jeep to the Municipality of Gubat. A tricycle will take you to Lola Sayong Surf Camp.
Meals at the surf camp are priced at 100.00-150.00 pesos! Try their menu! Guaranteed fresh seafood!
Accommodations are at 850.00 per cottage for an overnight stay with an hour of surfing lessons.
Walk-in surfing lessons is at 350.00 per hour
Contacts: Message Sir Noli John on Facebook.
Photos: Fuji X-A2
Sunglasses: KZ Gear Philippines