(Featured Photo: The hut we rented and local fishermen rolling their boat into the water.)
Andrew and I were in the Philippines to volunteer in a medical mission. The mission lasted a week, but we stayed in the Philippines for three weeks to also visit family and friends. While in the country, one of my best friends and I decided to go on a short girls’ trip. We wanted to go somewhere close to Manila since I didn’t have a lot of time to spare and she couldn’t miss too much work, but still wanted to be far enough from the busy city. After weighing all our options, we eventually decided to go to one of the more secluded beaches in Zambales, which is located on the west of the island of Luzon.
- Bus from Manila to San Antonio, Zambales around 530pm (3-4hrs)
- Tricycle from the bus stop in San Antonio, Zambales to Villa Janella Resort in Barangay Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales (20mins)
- Early morning food and supply shopping at the public market
- Boat ride to Talisayen Cove around 9am (15-20mins)
- Overnight camping at the beach in Talisayen Cove
- Breakfast in Talisayen Cove
- Boat ride back to Barangay Pundaquit around 12pm
- Bus from San Antonio, Zambales to Manila
Driving would’ve probably been the easiest and most convenient mode of transportation from Manila to Zambales. However, since neither of us knew how to drive on Philippine roads, we opted to ride the bus instead. Hiring a private car/van service was also an option, but it would’ve cost us thousands of Philippine Pesos. The bus, on the other hand, was only about 300 Pesos for a one-way ticket.
Although there were no restrooms inside the bus, the ride wasn’t bad because it was only a 3-hour ride in an air-conditioned bus (there are both air-conditioned and non-air-conditioned buses available), with a shared TV monitor on the front of the bus. We brought our own drinks and snacks, but vendors went on the bus to sell snacks, too, during some of the stops. Also, there’s a 15-minute stop at a terminal with food places and restrooms about halfway into the bus ride.
The ride was more comfortable than I expected. However, I did have my Osprey 65L backpack, which didn’t fit on the overhead compartment. I had to store it in the storage area underneath the bus, which, as a first-time bus rider in the Philippines, worried me because I couldn’t keep an eye on my belongings, especially during stops when other passengers took their things out of storage. (All went well.)
Like beach-side resorts, there are a number of outfitters for hire that not only provide the round-trip boat rides, but could also provide, if needed, the tent, kitchen utensils, food, and water. My best friend was able to contact our outfitter and arrange our entire trip through text message.
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like the information for the outfitter we hired. Otherwise, there are a bunch of options online or just find one when you reach San Antonio, Zambales if you have enough time.
There is an abundance of beachside resorts in Zambales, from low-cost to high-end ones. A quick online search will bring up a number of options. However, if the only need for a resort reservation is for a place to stay the night before going to the cove the next morning, check with the outfitter first if they allow guests to camp for a night at the beach where their boats are docked. Our outfitter did inform us that we could camp near his dock, but we already booked a non-refundable room at the local resort.
Once at the cove, we set-up camp at the beach and rented an open-air hut from the locals for about Php 300 / US $6, which we used as a refuge from the sun and as our dining area. As expected, bathroom facilities were minimal. Enclosed toilet facilities were available, but we had to pump bath water from an underground well and shower using a pail-and-bucket combination out in the open.
The outfitter we hired informed us that they could also provide our food for a minimal fee. However, we wanted to choose and cook our own food, so we opted to go to the market before leaving for the cove. The tricycle driver we hired for the weekend drove us to the market early in the morning and even helped us shop. He also said that he also
We could’ve saved more if we knew about the camping option at the outfitter’s dock instead of booking a room at the resort before heading out to the cove the next day. We also opted to purchase more expensive fish at the market because we wanted some good food while camping. Overall, a comfortable budget for a short camping stay at Talisayen Cove would be about 2,500-3000 Pesos per person, including the roundtrip bus ride from Manila, food, supplies, and miscellaneous tricycle rides.
- Multiple small bags are better than one big bag for the bus ride because the overhead compartments are small. It is possible to put bags under the seat in front of you, but it may be uncomfortable. Another option is to put big bags in the bus’ storage compartment located below the bus and keep your valuables in a smaller bag with you.
- There are multiple bus routes available to get to San Antonio. The easiest way is to ride the Express bus that goes from Manila to Iba, Zambales and just tell the driver to let you down in San Antonio.
- Upon arriving in San Antonio, strike a deal with a local tricycle driver in case you need multiple rides or rides during late/early hours of the day.
- Instead of staying at a resort overnight for the sole purpose of being on location to catch the boat early the next day, check with the outfitters if they will allow you to camp on the beach where they dock their boats.
- There was a fly infestation during our trip because there was something going on with the farms in the area. So make sure to store your food properly and keep your dining area clean to avoid getting swarmed with flies.
- Go for a swim at sunrise! It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. The water was warm and peaceful, the place was quiet, and the rising sun lit the place up beautifully.
Email email@example.com if you’d like the information for the outfitter we hired and the tricycle driver who drove us around Pundaquit.