I truly love outdoor activities that’s why after a long hectic months, I was looking for an escape of the usual hustle and bustle life. I found myself at San Antonio, Zambales. It was my best beach bum experience so far. What I love most in Zambales Cove was the fact that there is no electricity, no cellphone and internet signal and everything is back to basics. Cook on a camp fire if you don’t have a gas stove, eat with bare hands if you don’t have any utensils and entertain yourselves with funny stories if you’re bored. Exploring the Island of Zambales was an enjoyable and adventurous getaway. Island hopping and mountain trekking were the coolest outdoor activities I ever had. It’s more fun in the Philippines.
San Antonio, Zambales is the province of the Philippines located in the Central Luzon region. It is increasingly known for its beautiful beaches, majestic mountains and scenic coves. Its shoreline is ragged and features many coves and inlets. It is a favorite destination of beach lovers and campers. Among of the scenic coves and famous islands are the following:
- Anawangin cove – The so-called “Gem of Zambales”. It is a crescent-shaped cove with mixture of volcanic ash and pristine white sand beach. What makes the place unique is the unusual riddle of tall pine trees growing around its vicinity. It is the most visited and maintained cove among the neighboring coves. It is a perfect camping site for those who wants to stay overnight in the island.
- Capones Island – is a small island with huge rock formations and steep cliffs surrounded by white sand and coral beaches. It is the island where the historic Capones Lighthouse is located. The climb going to the lighthouse was also great. Such a wonderful experience.
- Camara Island – has a great view of the ocean. It has big rocks surrounded with rocky white sand and a little soil. It is the closest island from the shores of Pundaquit, Zambales which is the drop off point for island hopping.
- From Cubao Terminal take a Victory Liner Bus bound to Olongapo City which leaves every hour via SCTEX from 3:00AM to 9:00PM. It takes only 4 hours travel. The fare is only P235/person one way. Once in Olongapo, ride any bus headed for Iba, Zambales. Fare for an ordinary bus is P40 and P60 for an air-conditioned bus. There’s also a direct trip to San Antonio, Zambales which costs P375/person one way from 6:30AM to 9:30AM and 3:30PM to 5:30PM. However, Iba-bound buses are not always available. So it is always safe to take a two-way ride bus.
- Then, get off at San Antonio proper in front of the Municipal Hall. It is highly advisable to buy foods and necessary equipment for camping from the public market or grocery stores near the Municipal Hall since buying foods from the beach are more expensive.
- Ride a tricycle to Pundaquit, Zambales, the jump off point for island hopping and going to campsite. The fare is only P30/person one way and it takes only 15 mins ride. It is an easy ride since tricycle is available 24/7.
- In Pundaquit, rent a boat going to Anawangin Cove, it is a 45 mins sea ride from the jump off point. You can also opt for an island hopping before going to Anawangin, the campsite. For inquiries and tour arrangement please contact Mr. Randy Aniceto (boatman), contact no. 09093120345 or 09162732887.
- Boat rent – is P1,200 back and forth (inclusive of island hopping)
- tent – P500 good for 2-3 persons
- Pitching tent fee – P100
- nipa huts – P100
Update as of April 2014, below are the new tour package rates/ boat rates:
- 3days & 2nights – overnight in Nagsasa Cove or Overnight in Anawangin Cove plus sidetrip to Capones Island for P600/person
- 2days & 1night – overnight in Nagsasa Cove plus sidetrip to Anawangin Cove and Capones Island for P500/person
Things to do:
1. Island Hopping
Before heading to the campsite, we’ve done our island hopping in the morning since it was the best time to explore the island while the wind and waves were not yet rough. We explore the three islands namely Camara, Capones and Anawangin Island.
2. Camp by the beach
Back to basic life moment at the beach. The best way to experience an adventure is to camp out at the beach under the green and tall pine trees. Campers like us spent a night at Anawangin Cove with a bonfire and a pack of marshmallows in an isolated island with no network signal at all. We enjoyed each other’s company telling funny stories and life events.
If you don’t want to opt for a camping tent, there are nipa huts and cottages along the beach for a fee.
3. Trek the mountain side of the beach
At 6:00AM on the following day, we woke up early to prepare for a trek at the Anawangin mountain side of the cove. I was so excited for the reason that it was my first ever trek. I was thrilled by the hike at the majestic mountain plus the greener nature that passed our way to the top. I was mesmerized by the view when we got on the top of the mountain. A great view to enjoy and appreciate what God has to offer. It was like I was in a paradise beach. Just remember that it is best to trek in the morning.
4. Visit the Capones Island lighthouse
Visit the place to learn the story of its magnificent past. It is a historic lighthouse located in Capones Island. The original lamp and lantern were replaced with modern solar-powered lighthouse light as part of the Maritime Safety Improvement of the Philippine Coast Guard. Only the tower though was renovated and the keeper’s house and the other buildings in the station were left deteriorating.
5. Swim, snorkel and other water sports activities
The water is clear, perfect for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and other water sports activities. it is a great place to relax and be a beach bum. Perfect place to soak the sun.
6. Watch sunrise and sunset by the beach
Watching sunrise and sunset by the beach is a nostalgic view for a dramatic and romantic experience. Just sitting on the beach watching sunrise and sunset while listening to the ocean is a great way to refresh your mind and soul.
7. Relax and enjoy the beauty of nature
It was a lovely laid back morning to relax and unwind. The calmness of the ocean plus the scenic view of the cove made me feel fresh and free from the hustle and bustle life of the city. Just remember to appreciate the beauty and wonders of nature.
8. Take photos as a souvenir
Just don’t forget to bring cameras with you since the cove is a great place to take photos that will bring back the memories of your adventure trip.
Tips and Reminders:
- Bring a small portable stove. This will come in handy. It takes a lot of time and energy to start a fire so if you’re up for quick cooking, stove is a must.
- Bring in loads of drinking water. Stores in Anawangin sell this for unreasonable prices. Keep yourself hydrated always.
- Don’t forget to bring flashlight, lighter and lamp. Remember there’s no electricity in the area.
- You can always bring your own camping tent to save money.
- Foods to eat for camping.
- Sunblock and insect repellent is a must.
- Swim in the leftmost side of the island. There are lots of people swimming in the far right.
- Don’t cross the islands in the afternoon. The waves are so huge and wild. These are calm though in the morning.
- Just go directly and negotiate with the boatmen of Pundaquit. You can save a lot more than availing of travel agency promos.
Breakdown of expenses:
Cubao – Olongapo (bus) = P235 x 2 = P470/pax back & forth
Olongapo – San Antonio, Zambales (bus) = P60 x 2 = P160/pax back & forth
San Antonio – Pundaquit,Zambales (tricycle) = P30 x 2 = P60/pax back & forth
Total = Ph690/pax back & forth
- Miscellaneous fee:
boat rent = P1,200 (inclusive of island hopping)
overnight entrance = P150
tent fee = P500
bonfire fee = P100
- Foods = it depends on your budget
“The tans will fade but the memories will last forever.”