Zambales Weekend Travel Guide for First-Timers
Island Hopping adventure in Zambales
If you want a mixed adventure of island hopping and camping in one visit, consider Zambales. 20 years ago, this northern Luzon province was a tree-tangled wilderness. But now, it gradually reaches the wanderers ‘ears set off by the famous mangoes that this province produces.
Such popularity is widely spread even on the other side of the world. In Mexico, for instance, these famous ripe mangoes are called as Mango Manila which according to an Australian tourist in Mexico is the best mango in the world. However, travelers going to Zambales haven’t only confirmed that the best mangoes are produced in this province, they have also discovered other activities to excite their overall adventure.
The only way to arrange your island-hopping and/or camping tour is to charter a boat. For just 1,000php/ 22 USD, good for 2 pax already, you are guaranteed for a 2-day island adventure at your own pace.
A full meal is a must which consists of the famous silog meals and other seafood before embarking on a 30-minute boat ride to Nagsasa Cove, the first island out of the 4 famous Zambales’ treasures. After lunch, the boat was readily set, that at 1pm, the tour began. Unquestionably, life vests were required, especially if you’re riding on a timber small pump boat which is common in this country. Expect that sailing around Philippine waters will always come in rough fashion, so better be safe and equipped before it’s too late. Frequent splashes from the bouncy waters will certainly make you and your entire belongings wet before arriving at your destination. Water travels like this should always have your bags and gadgets protected by water- proof packets.
I don’t know if it’s by chance or luck, but I never had any queasiness when traveling be it by plane, bus or boat. Most of the time, I don’t bring any anti-dizziness medicine, more so if I’m on domestic travel only. Nevertheless, as the boat was coming to its near halt, the signs of our distress were gradually waning just as the bumpy waters slowly calming down as the waving leaves of the cluster of green agoho trees welcomed us.
Our wandering eyes was just beginning to feast on the never ending emerald shade of soaring trees and verdant mountains against a backcloth of serene, sapphire crystals of waters. Albeit the picturesque view and tranquil atmosphere of the cove, disquiet suddenly jumped in my heart. “Is this where we’re going to stay all night?” There’s no sight of security officials around. However, our boatman told us not to worry as there has been no occurrence of outrage ever since this place was opened for public. In fact, this cove is a perfect site for camping which gives you and other campers the whole island all by yourselves.
A herd of tents occupied almost the entire cove upon alighting, forcing us to build ours in the sands, just few feet away from the shore. The tour package comes with 4-person dome camping tent free of rent. Our good boatman helped us set up the tent on this available space. He assembled it close to the small sari-sari store which proved convenient for us who dislike the idea of carrying food along our travels.
Bargaining light travels will compensate your heavy pockets from needing to buy food that can costs as twice or thrice the regular price. For instance, the spicy pancit canton, I was craving as my light dinner, amounted me like 50php against 10SRP. 1L bottle of water was priced at 80php. After surveying the whole camping site, I was a little disappointed with the condition of the bathrooms. There were only two and barely complete. Considering the number of campers utilizing them and infrequent cleaning, it was just inconsiderate they are always filthy.
The following morning was a stroll along the unspoiled, white sands with its wash looking as innocent as the few Aetas living in the area. It was from one of these Aetas where I bought some Zambales magnets for souvenirs. At 9am, a larger boat disembarked and unloaded the huge round pails of fishes just in time for the breakfast. Oscar loved the colorful fish, and for an option, got another one which was completely black in color.
These 2 big fishes was price tagged at 300php/6.4 USD. Not bad. The store lady cooked them for us and provided us soy sauce and chili as condiments.
The whole afternoon was a continuation of our camping experience but to a different island,as beautiful as Nagsasa, the Anawangin Cove.Smaller to Nagsasa, Anawangin cove claims bigger number of campers and agoho trees crowding this tiny cove. It even has a par of nipa huts for rent. Due to larger crowds, the scenic cove houses several stores and souvenir shops to meet the demands.
Our stay in Anawangin cove was nothing more than walking around, swimming in the cool water and gazing at the stars at night. On the third day was the hopping day for 2 more islands to conquer.
The third island is the Camara Island. The huge rocks enclosing the small island can quite be a challenge for visitors who just want a brief swimming before heading to the next island.
To sum up our island-hopping adventure is the Capones Island where you could note its difference from the preceding island for the notable 18 th century-old lighthouse standing tall above the uttermost of the island.
When our boatman dropped us at Pundaquit,me & Oscar took our late lunch before going back to San Antonio Hall to ride a bus leaving for Cubao.
How to get there
From Manila, take Iba-bound bus from the bus liners stationed near MRT Cubao. What was supposed to be a 3-hour ride lengthened to 8-hour. Since at that time, there was no bus going to this route, I took the advice of one of the officers at the bus terminal to ride the Bataan-bound instead and get off at Double Happiness station in order to take the Iba-bound bus from there. Touching down the said station at 7am gave us the chance to take our breakfast before riding the next bus only to endure 3 hours more due to the heightened traffic brought about by the April holidays.
Finally, the San Antonio hall was in clear sight and asked to be dismounted there. A tricycle took us from the town hall to Pundaquit for 60php/1.3 USD where the ferryboats are awaiting for tourists.
Philippines can never run out of island hopping tours. Is Zambales among your favorites?
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