You cross a cheerful countryside with many orchards and plantations, notably the immense Dole pineapple plantation. Etched from a distance is the imposing silhouette of the Matutum Volcano (2,293 meters). The last part of the route from Surullah onwards takes you up on the mountain trail. The atmosphere changes as soon as you leave the agricultural plainâ€”the air gets cooler and the light becomes brighter. Finally, about two-and-a-half hours trip from General Santos, you arrive at Lake Sebu where you will notice the tilapia fish-breeding enclosures.
There are several small, similarly styled hotels offering basic amenities around the area but Punta Isla Lake Resort is the only one with a good view of the lake. You can, of course, visit Lake Sebu by spending a night at Gen. Santos, although the length of the trip will not allow you to see much of the region, which would be a pity. The resort is up on a cliff overlooking the lake. It is very popular among the locals who come here to spend the day, especially to have lunch in the little wood pavilions floating near the shoreline. The restaurant is situated on top of a hill with a pleasant terrace having a superb view of the lake. From the top, you can also view the tilapia fish-breeding enclosures that form interesting pattern of squares. The tilapia is served in all possible culinary preparations: kinilaw (raw in vinegar), adobo (stewed, in vinegar and soy sauce) grilled (the dishes are cooked on over charcoal fire) and then hauled up to the restaurant by an ingenious system of pulleys!
The resort is made up of a double bungalow and some rooms located in a nearby building. Obviously the double bungalow is the best choice, as it has a very pleasant terrace with a view of the lake. You can even have your meals served there in complete privacy. The interior brings to mind a simple, tinyâ€” though neatâ€”mountain refuge.
It is clear that Punta Isla Lake Resort does not have the comfort of a five-star hotel but the welcome is warm and the staff is efficient when asked to organize excursions, which include boat rides, renting a bike or visiting the nearby waterfalls and the weavers’ workshops.
How to get there
By air and land (5 1/2-6 hours) – – One-hundred-five-minute daily flights on Philippine Airlines or one-hundred-eighty-minute daily flights (via Cebu) on Air Philippines from Manila to General Santos. Two to two and a half hours by the resort’s jeepney from General Santos to Lake Sebu (92 km).
Note: It is recommended to take the jeepney arranged by the resort as it takes a lot more time by public transport. However, if you arrive without prior notice, you have to take a Yellow Bus bound for Koronadal (an hour from Gen. Santos), then in Koronadal take a Yellow Bus, minibus or jeepney bound for Surallah (an hour from Koronadal) and from the market at Surallah, take a jeepney bound for Lake Sebu.
Superferry also operates ferry service from Manila to General Santos.
More photos here