In the center of Bolinao town is the centuries-old Bolinao Church (the parish is celebrating its 400th year this year). In front of the church is a marker pushing forward the claim that the first Mass on Philippine soil was celebrated in Bolinao Bay in 1324 by Blessed Odorico, a Franciscan missionary on his way to China, who took refuge in Bolinao Bay during a storm.
The last time I was in Bolinao, I visited the U.P. Marine Science Institute and stayed in a hotel in town. This time, I made sure we stayed at Patar Beach. The beach is actually several more kilometers from the town proper. And along the way is a long row of resorts that offer accommodation ranging from nipa huts to pricey hotel rooms and beach villas.
On the way to Patar Beach is another iconic attraction of Bolinao, the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. The lighthouse, constructed in 1905, is one of five major lighthouses of the country and the second tallest after Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Burgos, Ilocos Norte.
Patar Beach is actually at the end of the road. Resorts usually charge you PHP30 for parking and you can enjoy this really great beach. There are also huts for rent for the day. Just a warning though, while the cream sand on the beach feels really great, once you get into the water, it becomes rocky and it's difficult to walk on.
If you want to stay right beside Patar Beach, there's only one decent resort there, Treasures of Bolinao, where we chose to stay for the night. And they capitalize on the fact that they don't have competition with really high rates. They have a nice elevated walkway where you can see Patar Beach from end to end or view the picture-perfect Bolinao sunset.
The rest of the resorts in Patar Beach only have basic accommodation such as nipa huts. But if you're willing to drive back to Brgy. Ilog Malino, there are more choices such as Puerto del Sol, another high-end resort.
Part 1: Tondol Beach in Anda, Pangasinan
How to get to Bolinao, Pangasinan
Victory Liner and Five Star have several bus trips from Manila to Bolinao daily. Trips begin at about 7 a.m. and leave at intervals of 2 to 3 hours.