Anawangin Beach Cove
I went to Zambales primarily to go to Anawangin , not wanting to be the last to see this beach which some have labeled as one of the top 5 in Luzon. To nature lovers, it just might be the number 1 beach destination. A friend who saw my post on facebook, after reading my description, commented that it seems like Bora in the 70s. My guess is that it will stay the same for many more years. But get there fast, before commerce sets in.
Anawangin is back-to-basics. Isolated. No electricity.No cell phone signal. No room accommodations, no restaurants, no bars, no shops. Bring your tents, food, water, and other provisions.
For an entrance fee of P100 per person, campers can stay overnight, pitch their tents, use the picnic tables around, use the improvised showers (water from artesian well), and the toilet facilities. Other things you might forget may be available in the sari-sari store, the owner of which can even cook the meat and fish you bring to the cove, for a small fee.
Anawangin is unique. It is the only beach area I ever went to with a thick cover of tall pine trees. Imagine a beach cove on top of the mountains in Benguet. The powdery off-white sand is said to be lahar, from the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. The pine trees (like the agujo in Baguio) are said to have grown in the area directly as a result of volcanic waste flowing into the cove, bringing with it fallen pine trees and pine tree seeds.
The cliffs are gentle enough and seem to be calling trekkers. The hill at the back also offers trekking opportunities, but locals never fail to caution adventure travelers about wild animals that roam the mountains. The lagoon is refreshing, shaded by the pine trees.
The water is fine, but there have been reports of strong undercurrents. Best to stay near the shore, and always swim in groups or with a buddy.
To truly enjoy the natural beauty of Anawangin, avoid the months of April and may when campers fill up every little space. I went there with no other visitors on the island, and felt like I owned the place.
Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales
Yes, Anawangin is THE destination in Pundaquit, which now seems to be THE destination in all of Zambales. Travel time from Manila is approximately 5 hours, passing thru NLEX-SCTEX and SBMA. San Antonio is just past San Marcelino. Victory Liner goes to Iba, so you can ask to be dropped off in San Antonio. Tricycles can take visitors from the town proper to Pundaquit. Those traveling with their own vehicles can park in Pundaquit, and arrangements can be made by the boatman.
Boat hire is P1,000 to the cove, including being fetched the next day for your return trip to Pundaquit proper. You may also do a tour of Capones Island, pass by Camara Island on the way to Anawangin for only P1,000. Passenger load is 4 to a boat. I personally recommend Joven Orcino who can be contacted thru his mobile numbers 09193215252, and 09159599595 or thru Royal Patio Beach Resort (see details below)
For those who want to visit Anawangin but not camp there, accommodations can be booked in Pundaquit.
The top hotel is Punta de Uian, a huge resort-hotel complex done in a Balinese theme.Room rates start at P4,160, with the penthouse at P15,000, with huge discounts during off-peak months. The resort has a spa, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and offers recreation facilities like ATVs, kayaks, jet skis, and snorkeling. Island hopping can be arranged, although the prices of boat rides from Pundaquit proper are much cheaper.
Contact Punta de Uian at 0918 8008426. Website: http://www.puntadeuian.net
A more simple accommodation can be booked at Royal Patio Beach Resort. Airconditioned rooms start at P2,400 with a family room (3 queen sized beds) at p7,000. There is a bar and restaurant, pool table, videoke, kayaks, and boats for island hopping.
Contact Patio Inn at 0916 4271561 or 0917 5101488. Website: http://www.patioinnhotels.com
There are other inexpensive accommodations, like native bamboo cottages by the beach, like those at Sun & Surf.
The place is like an informal resort, with the owners operating a sari-sari store at the corner. No toilet facilities in the bamboo hut, but a common facility is located at the end of the property. Each bamboo hut costs P1,000 for an overnight stay. Contact Oliver Padua at 09217696663.
Right beside Punta de Uian are two inexpensive accommodations. One is called Aplaya Inn, accessed from a road at the dead-end of Punta de Uian. You will think the road stops at the far end of Punta de Uian, but there is a small perpendicular road that is not visible to the driver unless you know that that small road exists. Rooms are from P1,000 to P2,000.
In front of Aplaya Inn, also accessed from the same “invisible” dead-end road is a private property where 2 aircon rooms can be rented. This is a better option because the property is on a beach front, and is run by an amiable caretaker named Joel “Awing” Reolizo (phone: 09194432915),
He says that when a group rents the 2 rooms, they don’t mind how many people actually occupy the place, making the place virtually exclusive. Other members of the group can also pitch tents. Food can be arranged, with Joel’s wife doing the cooking at a P150 cooking charge. Guests need only to buy from their store what they want cooked: half a kilo of pork is P100, half a kilo of bangus is P65. Nice place for a bonfire at night.
Boat trips can be arranged for a tour of Capones Island, with its magnificent light house, and the nearby Camara Island. I am writing about Capones separately.