Laguna’s Caliraya Lake is a haven for water sports enthusiasts

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By Anna Valmero

LUMBAN, LAGUNA –  If you’re into water sports, the man-made Caliraya Lake should be a perfect getaway this summer.

Caliraya Lake was created in late 1930 by a US Army engineer by flooding the Cavinti valley of the Sierra Madre to generate hydroelectric power for Manila.

In the early 1990s, commercial development took place. Water from Laguna De Bay is carried by big pipes to the valley. The area of the valley was dug some 50 meters deep and layered with industrial plastic to hold most of the water.

Large bass were introduced into the waters, which make the lake ideal for game fishing.

Then, pine trees and other local trees were planted to replace the coconut trees that once dominated the harsh environment atop the valley. The pines now consist most of the lush greens of the rolling verdant hills of the mountain. Also, numerous islands of various shapes and sizes have been formed during the creation of the dam lake.

The strong mountain breeze comes from the Sierra Madre mountain ranges and distant Mount Banahaw. On a windy day, you could smell the pines that would remind of how Baguio used to smell before the small city became highly urbanized.

The Caliraya Resort Club offers a variety of water sports in the area. There’s  boating, wind surfing, game fishing and water skiing.

Aside from water sports, an exotic restaurant that serves meat from snakes, lizards and even frogs is also a must-try for tourists coming here.

In her blog “SexyNomad’, Jen Juan wrote of her windsurfing experience in Lake Caliraya and how the surrounding environment reminded her of summer days during her childhood.

“I tried windsurfing for the first time at Surf Kamp in Lake Caliraya. Many times I have fallen into the murky lake water and the effort of lifting the sail and maintaining balance on the board has really stretched my muscles and joints to their limits. After those first few  of attempting to learn how to windsurf, I’ve always wanted more,” she wrote.

With it numerous coconut trees standing lean and tall, its green grass, the strong breeze and the beautiful Caliraya Lake from a distance, it makes me feel like I’m a child once again.”

A word of caution for swimmers: make sure not to go far from the shore because the water gets deeper at the center. Just last year, three girls drowned in the lake when they slipped into the deeper part with waters as deep as 30 feet.

Better yet, always wear a life jacket and tell your group where you are headed.

(Photos from http://www.caliraya.net)

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