Zambales / © Owen Ballesteros / Two2Travel.com

Camping fun in Zambales

Zambales has been enjoying its fair share of the tourist pie for some time now, and for good reason: its natural beauty guarantees to offer something for everyone—the camper, the not-so-happy camper, the mountaineer, the photographer, or the one who just wants to get out of the slick city and into the peace and quiet of the mountains.

What’s more, it can be as cheap as you want and is very accessible. Hop on a couple of buses, a tricycle, and a boat, and you’re there (in the Philippines, that kind of commute is pretty uncomplicated). So we decided to give camping a try and packed fork and spoon for the first time.

Two2Travel zambales





We visited Zambales for the first time during the Holy Week in April and managed, quite miraculously, to evade the dreaded crowd. We had taken the usual route—Anawangin, Nagsasa, and Capones—spread over three days and two nights, arriving on a Tuesday just when everyone was itching to get home from work and pack for the holidays.

On a typical day, Zambales takes roughly five hours from Baguio, longer by two hours than from Manila. Our trip took a record seven hours though, because we had to wrestle with bigger crowds and endless under-construction highways along the way. Still, we were lucky to have secured our own seats.

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The boat trip to Anawangin, our first stop, had been uneventful at best. We passed by rugged vistas we’ve seen nowhere else yet: grass-covered hills far off into the horizon, the sun bathing them a golden—almost blinding—glow.

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The savannah-like landscape reminded us of Calauit, although Zambales is surrounded by deep blue waters, which are all its own.

The landscape of Anawangin Cove looks a lot like Baguio’s because of the Agoho trees—conifers just like the pines—seeds of which were blown into the coves during the Mt. Pinatubo eruption.

Between Anawangin and Nagsasa, we found Anawangin’s facilities better and more organized—there’s running water, toilets, sacks for trash, and wooden tables and chairs for campers. It was obviously kept to accommodate more people, with Nagsasa covering just about a fourth of what Anawangin can.

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When it comes to the beach, however, Nagsasa is a clear winner between the two. About 10 meters off the shore, the water level was still waist-deep (about a meter high). The waters were clear, although by no means the turquoise or sapphire of other more well-known beaches.

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The final leg of our trip consisted of a quick yet all-too-tiring hike to Capones Lighthouse in Capones Island.

This island is popular among photographers, no doubt because of the centuries-old structure jutting out of the skyline white and lonely. As we docked on the western side of the island—the one frequently battered by big waves—we knew exactly why. What little there was of a shore between the waters and the slope leading to the lighthouse was filled with whitewashed rocks of all sizes and shapes. There was literally nowhere else to step on but the odd conglomeration of those white and hard and menacing stones, threatening to quash you or your belongings with a single misstep.

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And although we did take the more dangerous route by boat, we were rewarded by a short 15-minute trek to our destination as opposed to the hour-long hike from the eastern side. To say the building had been rustic would be an understatement. It was abandoned, with only the skeleton of a brick structure standing right now. But it was still nothing short of beautiful.

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The view from the top had been particularly rewarding: you take in an enormous stretch of the South China Sea West Philippine Sea—the same waters you can see when atop Cape Bojeador in faraway Burgos in Ilocos Norte. Directly below is a meadow, with a narrow trail cutting through the grass from the eastern side. The rocky cliffs that give way to the sea, and the small colorful outriggers floating not far away, are also visible from the lighthouse.

We found the vistas the most worthwhile part of this trip. The most photogenic of all were mostly raw spots that simply happened to have a random but beautifully timed mix of water, sand, mountains, and sun.

Arguably the best way to experience what these three spots have to offer, aside from taking photos, is to simply hang a hammock and marvel at how slow time seemed to move in that part of the world.

Here are some of our souvenirs. You can also read more about our trip on the 10 Easy Trips section of Lonely Planet Magazine Philippines Issue 11, out on newsstands now.

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ANAWANGIN-NAGSASA-CAPONES SURVIVAL TIPS

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Two2Travel

Owen Ballesteros & Nikka Corsino are trigger-happy travelers from the Philippines. They both swear by the sharpness of Nikon and almost always carry a packet of instant coffee when traveling. Photography is their bread and butter, their passion, and sometimes the only thing that prevents them from killing each other. If you have offers of work, collaborations, or an endless supply of instant coffee, please drop them a message here.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14100214772512787303 Diwata Luna

    We went to Anawangin last April, but I’m sure to go back for Nagsasa and the hike to the lighthouse!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00779572056259030202 Two2Travel

    The lighthouse would be worth it ate! Thanks for dropping by!:-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03621362906136291478 Mitch

    First time here! WOW, I am amazed! Ang ganda ng blog mo and the pics..How to follow you and would you mind if I ask where do you edit pics? lovingit!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00779572056259030202 Two2Travel

      Hi Mitch! Thanks for the generous comments! You can paste your email on the “Two2Travel by Mail” portion on the right sidebar to subscribe to our posts via email. Please also follow us on Facebook & Twitter (links are also on the right sidebar).

      We do the layout of photos on Pages. :) Thank you!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07702731572193711275 John Henry Goico

    Spend a few hours frolicking through the fresh air of truth with today’s Groupon: Overnight Zambales Camping Adventure at Anawangin Cove, rent atv

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