I stood still, staring at it; regretful of my decision a few years back when I refused to visit it as I busy myself chasing wonders far from home. I was astonished as I gazed at the cascading waters creating a mist that made its plunge pool invisible. It was so enthrallingly high and powerful with its beauty coming right at me; blessing my senses in every way possible. This small quaint town of Luisiana is a cradle to a gem with an irresistible charm. This is Hulugan Falls.
About Hulugan Falls
Hulugan Falls is one of the four and the tallest of all falls in the town of Luisiana, Laguna. This majestic waterfalls that is 70 meters high (about 230 feet) sits at the heart of Brgy. San Salvador. It has a wide plunge pool with natural pockets where everyone could enjoy and safely dip at its cold and refreshing waters after a tiring adventure on the trail. You can reach the falls in 30 minutes of a descending trek from the jump off.
The falls granted a lot of Luisiana’s locals a new means of livelihood. For a few years now, the locals would guide the tourists from the town itself and nearby provinces who come and experience Hulugan Falls’ beauty. It has also paved a way for the tourists to discover what Luisiana has to offer aside from its majestic waterfalls.
We were lucky enough that we’re able to visit it despite the downpour recently. It had been raining for days but still, it was safe to go.
Brgy. San Salvador, Luisiana, Laguna’s Waterfalls
There are three other falls to see and experience in Luisiana. These are Talay Falls, Hidden Falls and Aliw Falls. While you can visit these three in a day, Aliw Falls is situated in a different Barangay in Luisiana. The first two, Talay and Hidden Falls are both located in San Salvador and can be visited as well if you are going to Hulugan Falls.
Before you start the trek, your tour guide would ask you as to how many falls would you like to visit. We decided to see the three so we took an hour and a half trek at most before we got to the last: Hulugan Falls. Our tour guide suggested that route since the trail is a whole lot easier than the other way around with what seemed like a non-ending ascent. The first two we visited are Talay and Hidden Falls. Take note, though, that the guide fee rate is the same (Php 500.00 for 1 to 9 persons). It’s at your discretion of you would want to top it up.
The first that you’ll see after more or less thirty minutes of trek is Talay Falls. It is a two-tiered one. There’s a table and long bench made of bamboo near the lower tier where you can rest while recharging for the next falls. You may take photos on the boulders by the waters especially on the higher tier of Talay.
We were not allowed to swim because the gush and currents were stronger since it had been raining. Ate Lita, our tour guide mentioned though that they do not also allow swimming even on days with good weather due to its current.
After a few minutes of climbing through boulders, you’ll reach the Hidden Falls. They named it as such because it is literally hidden in these huge boulders. The trail, I must say, is pretty exciting but a bit dangerous since moss has grown on the boulders making them slippery. There’s a rope on the steep part and the local tour guides have installed make shift bamboo bridges for everyone’s safety. Hidden Falls’ beauty is truly underrated and in fact, worthy of going through its extreme trail.
Best Time to Visit Hulugan Falls
Best and safest time to visit is around January to March – towards the dry season. During the peak of rainy season or when there are typhoons, the LGU won’t allow tourists to visit since the trails may get extremely muddy and dangerous. Further, the water turns into brown. The rivers could get impassable as well due to the currents. On sunny days (towards the end of March to May), on the other hand, the falls could really get crowded especially every Holy Week.
Sample Budget for a Day Trip in Hulugan Falls
Bus fare (Manila – Luisiana, PHp 160.00, v.v.) – Php 320.00
Jeep Fare – (Drop off to San Salvador, Php 30.00, v.v.) – Php 60.00
Environmental Fee – Php 40.00
Tricycle Fare to jump off (Php 20.00/ way, v.v.) – Php 40.00
Guide Fee – (Php 500.00 / A group of 5) Php 100.00
Food – Php 200.00
TOTAL: Php 760.00 (per head for a group of 5)
Important Fees in Hulugan Falls
- Parking fee – 4WD – Php 40.00, Motorcycles – Php 20.00
- Environmental fee – Php 40.00
- Guide Fee – Php 500.00 (for 1 to 9 persons)
- Life vest rental – Php 70.00
Sample Hulugan Falls Day Trip Itinerary
5:00 AM – ETA from Buendia
8:00 AM – Sta. Cruz Town
8:30 AM – San Salvador (Information Center) for Orientation
8:45 AM – Tricycle to Jump Off
9:00 AM – Start trekking to Talay and Hidden Falls
9:30 AM – Talay Falls, rest, snack, photo ops
10:00 AM – Hidden Falls -, photo ops
10:30 PM – Hulugan Falls, lunch, swim
2:00 PM – Trek back to jump off
2:30 PM – Wash Up
3:30 PM – ETD Luisiana, Laguna
7:00 PM – ETA Manila
The first few concrete steps at the beginning of the trail going to Hulugan Falls The ascent back to the jump off from Hulugan falls
How to Get There
- From Buendia or Cubao, take a Worthy LLI, HM, JAC Liner bus bound for Lucena or Sta. Cruz. Get off at Sta. Cruz. The trip would take three hours. Fare is at Php 160.00 per head.
- From the drop off point, take a jeep bound for Lucena, Lucban or Luisiana. Tell the driver that you are going to Hulugan falls. The driver will drop you off San Salvador where you need to walk a few meters to the Information Center. You may also opt to take a tricycle to the Information Center. Fare is at Php 30.00.
- After a brief orientation, you would have to take another tricycle to the main jump off. Fare is at Php 20.00 per head per way.
Where to Stay
You have options regarding your overnight accommodation shall you decide to spend more than a day near the falls.
Hulugan Falls’ Campsite
For only Php 100.00 per head, you may spend a night at the campsite near the first river going to the falls. Take note though that it is basically a campsite (with a make-shift bathroom): no electricity, no fresh water source. Thus, if you decide to camp, you should bring everything that you may need such as food, water, cook set, utensils, clothes, power banks and toiletries.
Camp Site at the Jump Off
There’s a newly established camp site with rooms as well by the campsite. Rate starts at Php 400.00. The place has electricity, Wi-Fi, kitchen and bathrooms as well.
What to Bring when Visiting Hulugan Falls
A good pair of Trekking sandals or shoes. Take note that you’ll be crossing rivers, rappelling, trekking for hours in this trip. Hence, a good pair of trekking sandals or shoes would be necessary. On rainy season, the trail gets really muddy; thus, wearing slippery footwears is highly discouraged.
Dry bag. Standing by or near the falls and crossing the rivers could get your stuff soaked. To prevent that from happening, bring a dry bag for your valuables.
You may also want to read: TACTICS Water Gear: Good Quality and Affordable Dry Bags for your Adventures
Water and snacks. There are no convenient stores near the falls nor along the trail. The trek is long and tiring so might as well take your own food, snacks and water to keep you up, too.
Insect Repellent. You wouldn’t want the mosquitoes have a feast on you, would you?
Trekking poles. If you are visiting on rainy season, might as well take with you a trekking pole or two. This will save you and help you a lot!
Other Things to Do in Luisiana, Laguna
- Buy pandan-made woven products such as baskets and hats
- Try their ‘Bibingka’, a rice cake made of glutonous rice with coconut topped with cheese
- Visit Aliw Fall
Tips and Reminders
- Take note that the Tour Guide Association would only accommodate tourists only until 3:00 PM if you are going to spend only a day at the falls or 5:00 PM if you decide to camp.
- If you decide to take a private car, there are paid parking near the jump off. For four wheel drive vehicles, the fee is at Php 40.00. For two-wheel drive, the parking fee is at Php 20.00.
- Pack light as much as possible. The trek is a series of ascents and descents and it might be really tiring especially if you are loaded with stuff.
- Wear appropriate and comfortable clothes.
- Observe the ‘Leave No Trace’ Principle at all times.
- There are paid bathrooms and toilets at the main jump off. Bath is at Php 20.00, Pee for Php 5.00 and the other at Php 10.00).
- If you decide to visit the three falls, I suggest you choose to visit Talay and Hidden Falls first before Hulugan. The trail in that route is much easier than the other way around.
- The LGU highly discourages the pregnant and people with heart and respiratory problems to visit Hullugan Falls.
with our tour guide to the falls of San Salvador, Ate Lita
As much as I would want to refer ate Isabelita Juacalla, our tour guide, their LGU has a system on assigning the guides for the tourists. I really love her because she was so nice, polite and sweet all the way through! It was like I went a trip with a mom on our trek!
COVID-19 Updates and Requirements
As of July 5, 2021, the LGU of Luisiana does not require any travel requirements from visitors. Minimum health and safety protocols such as wearing of masks in crowded areas and social distancing are observed.
I am honestly not a fan of waterfalls as rivers, lakes and the fresh water itself terrify me especially if I can’t see the bottom. It’s absurd because I dive a lot in depths. But, I was in awe – in love in a heartbeat; and utterly out of words to describe how fascinated I was when I saw Hulugan Falls for the first time. It is quite a reward for an extremely challenging trek that we had due to the slippery and muddy trail. I’d surely come back and see it again soon!
Other places to visit in Laguna:
- Mountain Lake Resort
- Gintong Bukid Farm & Leisure
- The Underground Cemetery of Nagcarlan (with Anak Kalang Festival)