Few months ago, we saw this hostel in Mabini being built. From a distance, it looked like the ones in Siargao or La Union with its Nipa roofing and hanging bamboo light fixtures. Its roof is the only thing we could see making us even more curious about what’s inside. Since we’ve been visiting Batangas for several months now, hopping from one budget-friendly resorts or hostels to another, we thought of giving this place a shot soon as it opens. After several weeks of looking forward to it, we finally had a chance to try it. I must say, the decision of staying in this place called Balai Lawom is one of the best that we made.
About Balai Lawom
Balai and Lawom are Cebuano terms which mean house and deep, respectively. Technically, it is a home and a headquarters to Lawom Freedivers PH; which would best explain its name. Regardless, they welcome all the freedivers who would love to chill out and dive. If you would love to explore the dive sites around Bagalangit at the town of Mabini, this is among the best places to be. You can either swim or walk your way for a shore entry to dive into the jetski, buddha and cathedral. These are just few of the dive sites in Batangas that you can explore if you stay at Balai Lawom.
Balai Lawom’s Facilities and Amenities
The hostel has four fan dormitory-type rooms with six double deck beds. Each room can accommodate up to twelve persons. However, due to the pandemic and in compliance with the IATF protocols, they would only allow 50% of its full capacity. Each bed has a clean sheet, pillow and blanket.
The Third Floor
Guests may also opt to stay for a night at the third floor. It is an open space with high nipa roofing; hence, just pure fresh air and ocean breeze. There are mattresses with pillows and blankets, too. During our visit, we also found a tent pitched in there. Perhaps the guests are free to do so.
Bathrooms and Toilets
The hostel’s bathrooms and toilets are all shared and are found at the ground floor. There are no toilets at the second nor third floor. Thus, you really need to get up and go downstairs if you need to use it.
The Bar and Restaurant
One of the many things that I love about Balai Lawom is that it has its own bar and restaurant. We didn’t have to walk or drive elsewhere to eat. Also, if you’re up for some drinks at socials, you may just grab one from the bar. Apart from cocktails and alcoholic drinks, you may also order coffee from it.
Among the best place to hang out or just lazily lay around is their lounge. When there are no classes held, you may spend the whole afternoon listening to music, jamming with the karaoke, watching movies, playing board games or simply just lay in there. It is where they usually hold the socials night especially after dinner.
What I also love about that area is that, it has a corner where divers could neatly and safely leave their gear. In this way, the gears are not scattered nor placed everywhere.
Our Balai Lawom Experience
We came early in the morning since we would want to make the most of our weekend dive trip. For the first time after a few weeks with an awful weather, we’re finally getting a dose of sunshine. I was all giddy since we also get to spend this weekend in this hostel that I’ve been curious about ever since we saw it getting built. We waited at their bar and restaurant as they prepare the room for us that we were about to share with another group. After few minutes, they sent us to our room where we settled our stuff.
I honestly didn’t spend much time in the room despite it being half-filled. Aside from it’s close with walls, I just love loitering at the pretty hallway with a seeming balcony facing the ocean.
The hallways are my favorite! Its rustic tropical aesthetic appealed to me – so much! It’s mostly made of bamboo. I love the people’s vibe that you’ll come across in it as well. It is just as warm as the place. Smiles are something that they don’t mind giving away.
Dining and Drinking!
When it’s time to eat, we just have to grab the plates by the counter. They have already set the meal and all we needed to do is to get one and savor it. They make sure the food is served fresh and hot in time.
The happy hour started after dinner. Divers gathered at the lounge where they were singing and some are dancing. While most of them stayed in that area, the small circle I was into stayed at the corner beside the bar. Here’s a tip: If you want peaceful days and nights near the ocean, the best time to stay at Balai Lawom is on weekdays. On the other hand, if you are into socials and parties, the best time to visit is on weekends, of course.
Balai Lawom Rates
Everyone is welcome to stay at Balai Lawom. If you want to just chill out in their crib, here are their rates:
Day Trip Rates
- Third floor accommodation, Day trip with no meals – Php 350.00
- Fan room accommodation at the second floor, Day trip with no meals – Php 550.00
- Third floor accommodation, Day trip with lunch – Php 500.00
- Fan room accommodation at the second floor, Day trip with lunch – Php 700.00
Overnight Stay Rate
Overnight stay rate starts at Php 1,375.00 inclusive of a fan room accommodation at the second floor and four meals: lunch, dinner, breakfast and lunch.
Dive with Lawom Freedivers PH
For only Php 3,375.00, you can already enroll into an Introduction to Freediving class. This includes 2.5 hours of dry lesson, gear rental, coach fees, safety equipment use, 3 open water dives, photo and video coverage and overnight accommodation at Balai Lawom with 4 meals (lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch). If you haven’t tried freediving, have fear of swimming in the open water or you just want to further your skills, this course is the best for you!
You may also want to read: How Do I Start Freediving? A Beginner’s Guide
For Php 3,075.00, you may already attend a Line Training with Lawom. This includes 1.5 hours of dry lesson, event fee, safety equipment use, coach fees, 2 open water dives, photo and video coverage and an overnight accommodation at Balai Lawom with 4 meals (lunch to lunch the next day). Gear rental, however, is not included. You may opt to bring your own or rent from them which may cost Php 300.00 for two days. Those who can comfortably descend to 7 to 10 meters, would want to learn more about freediving safely and setting up the dive line could best enroll to this!
For Php 1,575.00, you may enjoy open water dives and get to meet other freedivers, too! With this, you may hone your skills as you learn from other divers and take as much photos and videos as you want. The rate includes safety equipment use, coach assist fees, 3 open water dives and an overnight accommodation at Balai Lawom with 4 meals. Gear rental is not included in the rate as you may bring your own or rent from them for only Php 300.00
You may also want to read: Amazing Health Benefits of Freediving
Transportation is not included. If you wish to join a car pool, you may add Php 900.00. They will pick you up along EDSA or SLEX. The rates abovementioned are promo rates that run from July to September. For updates and inquiries, you may reach them through:
Facebook: Lawom Freedivers PH
Balai Lawom’s Travel Requirements
The management requires a presentation of at least a medical certificate or the most recent result of a swab or antigen test upon check in. Also, you need to bring a mask and a shield [worn especially at the common areas]. Upon arrival, we were also asked to log into their logbook and sanitize our hands afterwards. The management encourages social distancing and sanitizing of hands at all times.
Balai Lawom, Yay or Nay?
Is our stay and experience a yay or a nay? It’s a Yay for me! The whole place and the vibe is just so cool not only that it’s new. There’s not much of hostels like that around the area which makes it a must for you to experience it, too! The place is great, so are its people. Also, you’ve got an option with the food since they also offer something else in their menu aside from the ones that they serve for regular meals included on the fees. Lastly, in just a few steps, you can enjoy a pretty small coral beach especially when it’s low tide.
Do you also look forward to staying and learning Freediving with Lawom? Let us know about it!
Next to Read:
- The Differences between SCUBA Diving, Freediving and Skin Diving
- Our Simple Acts that Damage the Corals