Saturday, April 05, 2008

Zambales: Anawangin Cove in San Antonio, Zambales

The famed beauty of Anawangin Cove has spread far and wide as being one of the best beaches in the country. And we were finally there, well almost. It was an exhausting trek to Anawangin Cove. But the hike to the beach was not yet over. At sea level, we still had to navigate a kilometer along a dry river bed.

But the bizarre landscape felt mysterious in a way. It didn't look like I was in the Philippines with all the pine trees right beside the beach. Walking the dry river bed with that pyramid-like mountain in the background added an eerie feeling to an already uncanny trek. Anawangin got its name from nuang the Ilocano word for carabao since there is an abundance of it there. Remember the wild carabao?

After several meters under the hot summer sun trekking on the rocks, we finally made it to the shady cluster of pine trees. I wonder how they got there. Our guide said many were planted after the Mount Pinatubo eruption but he added the trees were there even before. To add to the mystique were crystal clear streams that reflected the tall pine trees on the surface like you were in some enchanted forest. And to think this whole area was devastated in 1991. It just shows how fast nature heals itself.

And then the beach finally appeared. It was a long strip of near-white volcanic sand dumped by Mount Pinatubo. The locals said that before the eruption, this area was mostly rock. The sand from Mount Pinatubo had created a wonderful playground for beach lovers. And it's even more wonderful that the locals take good care of it. So whatever they charge you, they most probably deserve it.

After taking photos, I went for a dip in the beach. The cool water washed away all the exhaustion from the climb, all the stress from school. It was a great way to welcome the summer!

How to get there
You can take any bus from Manila to Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Buses to Zambales leave the Victory Liner stations in Caloocan (about 23 trips from 5 a.m. to 12 midnight) and Pasay (four trips from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.) Fare to San Antonio is about PHP235.

Get off at the town proper of San Antonio and charter a tricycle to take you to the jump-off point in Pundaquit. That's about PHP50 per person or PHP200 per tricycle. Boat rentals to Anawangin and the nearby islands range from PHP800 to PHP1200 depending on your itinerary.

Where to stay
While many visitors to Anawangin camp there for the night, there are a lot of accommodations available in Pundaquit:

Punta de Uian
+63 918 888UIAN (8426)
+63 918 800UIAN (8426)

Nora Resort
+63 919 6374917

Part 1: Hiking up Mt. Anawangin and down to the beach
Part 3: Capones Island and its lighthouse

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Anawangin's mystical beach
Nagsasa Cove in San Antonio, Zambales
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