Taal Volcano is a complex active volcano in the freshwater Taal Lake, about 50 km south of Manila. Hot fumes and ashes are often sighted coming out of the mouth of the volcano. The Taal Lake, covering an area of 243 sq km, partially covers the Taal Caldera, which was formed by powerful prehistoric eruptions of the volcano.
Mount Taal, on the other hand, rises to a height of 300 metres, with the last violent eruption occurring as recently as 1970. Together, they present a very beautiful sight and picturesque views when seen from the Tagaytay Ridge, with the Taal Volcano enclosing another smaller lake in itself.
Interest facts and features
The western side of Luzon Island is formed from a belt of active volcanoes, and Taal Volcano is one of them. In fact, it has the reputation of being the world’s smallest active volcano, taking only about 45 minutes to reach the island by boat and another 20-ish minutes to reach the summit of the volcano. The island formed by repeated volcanic eruptions has actually been named Volcano Island and it almost 23 sq km in size. Despite the warnings and the ever-present threat of eruption, some families have made this island their home, and earn a living by farming crops in the rich and fertile volcanic soil or fishing in the lake.
The lake itself is home to the world’s only freshwater sardine, the tawilis. You can also find trevally (locally known as maliputo) and one of the world’s rarest sea snakes – Hydrophis semperi in the waters here.
How to explore Volcano Island
You’ll need to hire a banca (boat) from Talisay to cross the Taal Lake in order to reach Volcano Island. To reach Talisay, you can choose between the more common public transport modes, including buses and jeepneys, or hired personal vehicles. It’ll take almost an hour to reach Talisay from Manila and about 45 minutes to cross the lake.
There are regular official tours of the volcano, which are exciting and entertaining. After having crossed the lake, you’re allowed to ascend the gentle slope of the mountain by walking or riding a horse right up to the top. When you get there, you can see the fumes coming out of the vent, and the bubbling water inside the crater, surrounding the edge of the lake. The view of the lake and the surrounding valleys is especially good from this height. While you’re visiting the island, consider stopping at one of the nearby fishponds so that you can get to grips with the unique marine life in the lake.