Destination Guide: Nagsasa & Anawangin Cove, Zambales
Nagsasa and Anawangin Coves are among the top Philippine tourist attractions in Central Luzon. They are relatively close to cities like Manila, Olongapo and San Fernando and in recent years have become favorites of Philippine beach goers, campers and mountaineers. These beaches are perfect for a quick and cheap weekend get-away.
HOW TO GET THERE:
From Manila take a bus bound for Iba, Zambales. Get down at the Municipal Hall of San Antonio. A wet market is located behind the town hall where you can buy food and other provisions. Travel time by bus takes 3.5 hours extended by multiple stops. Whereas, land travel via a private vehicle will only take 3 hours via NLEX forward to Mac Arthur Highway.
- Several bus liners ply the Manila to Iba, Zambales route, one of this is Victory Liner which provides free Wifi on their buses. The Victory Liner terminals in Buendia and Cubao are quite crowded so it’s better to go to the main terminal in Caloocan city where they offer hourly trips.
- Prior to the trip it is advisable to call the bus liner to double check the schedules. Published website schedules are not reliable.
- Bus fare from Manila to San Antonio costs roughly 265 PHP one way. The trip back home costs about the same.
From the Municipal Hall in San Antonio, hop on a tricycle and head for Pundaquit beach. The tricycle fare is 30 PHP per person. You will arrive at Pundaquit beach in approximately 10 mins. Pundaquit beach is the jump-off point to the coves. Rent a boat to take you to there. My companions and I booked a package that included our boat ride to and from Nagsasa and Anawangin Cove, as well as camping equipment, drinking water, charcoal for cooking and a side-trip to the island of Capones and Camara. (Buy extra charcoal at the market, you will need a lot of it).
The trip from San Antonio, Zambales going back to Manila, can be more challenging because the buses bound for Manila are scarce and by the time they reach the town of San Antonio, they are already full. The wait time at the passenger stand across the San Antonio Municipal Hall took 1 hour. My friends and I opted to take a crowded, non-aircon bus to Olongapo terminal, the travel time was around 1 hour. From Olongapo Terminal it was easy to book tickets for a bus ride to Manila. The travel time from Olonggapo terminal to Manila was around 2-3 hours.
Have a full tummy – It is a 3 to 4 hour road trip to San Antonio, Zambales. Start your day with a full breakfast and have some snacks in your backpack. If you haven’t eaten in your rush to catch a bus, there are bus stops along Dinalupihan, where you will be given 15 minutes to buy food and freshen-up at the restrooms.
Cook for Day 1 – Prepare your meals for the first day so you can rest and relax on the beach after the long trip. Avoid bringing food that spoils quickly. Some food suggestions: Adobo, fried meat, canned food like spam, chips, cookies, bread.
Light up your life – Bring flashlights and extra batteries to find your way at night. (There is no electricity at these coves). For your cooking needs bring matches, candles, lighters and newspaper “pang siga.”
Pack charcoal – We ran out of charcoal and forgot to buy candles, luckily the locals have sari-sari stores on the beach. But, as expected prices were higher than usual. Rookie campers like us tend to forget a lot of things. Keep a list and buy all items you will likely need at the town market to avoid extra spending. (On a positive note, buying items from the beach stalls provides a good livelihood for the locals. Thus, your money is well spent). Charcoal – 30 PHP / bag Candles – 20 PHP / stick Have a bonfire by the beach – The locals sell bonfire wood for 150 PHP / bundle collected from fallen branches and dead trees. But you can scavenge the forest for your own wood if you are persistent enough. But please – don’t chop down any trees.
Boost the flames – Bring a small bottle of kerosene and newspaper to help ignite the fire for your bonfire or for your cooking. This will cut-down long tedious hours of grilling your food.
Proper trekking attire – If you intend to hike and explore the mountainous areas of the coves, make a mental note to pack hiking gear, “sandals or any footwear that can easily dry, leggings, shades, a hat, water bottles, snacks and sun tan.” My friends and I did not pack leggings, as a result we came home with souvenir scratches from the tall grasses in the valley we crossed on our way to the Nagsasa Waterfalls. We paid our guide 100 PHP per person to take us there. Waterproof your bags – On a small boat, water will easily get inside and splash all over you and your stuff. Waterproof your bags with large plastic bags or any waterproof fabric to protect your gear. For your gadgets it’s a good idea to carry them in a dry bag or waterproof bag. Conserve nature – Bring an ample supply of garbage bags and place your rubbish in one place. The beach locals will collect these at the end of the day. It’s a noble gesture and a simple way of helping them maintain and preserve the coves. Budget – For 3 days and 2 nights at the coves 3,000 PHP to 3,500 PHP will suffice. We were a group of three and that covered our transportation, food, camping gear, boat fees, water, charcoal. If traveling with a large group you will likely spend less.
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