Friday, January 7, 2011

A well-spent anniversary on the gray sands of Zambales, Philippines

{December 2008} My boyfriend and I decided to go on a beach getaway for our first anniversary. The budget was one to consider, so we tried to look for potential places in Luzon that can be easily accessed by bus. And then we thought of Zambales. Zambales has always been a great destination. And since we haven't visited the place in a very long time, I started looking for resorts and cheap accommodations online; and was eventually lead to La Paz Crystal Beach Resort (the surfing paradise!). Anyway, Rubel was up in trying surfing (although we've never tried this before), so he gave me the go signal to book the trip.

Before our trip that late December month, we already set aside a 50% down-payment for our lodging; and then saved up an extra PHP4000 each for our future expenses.


We started our morning by taking a cab to Victory Liner Espana, as we planned on catching the earliest trip to Zambales. Since we bought tickets bound for San Narciso (where the resort was located), we paid PHP400 for a one-way trip. The trip from Manila to San Narciso took us about 4 hours (including 1 stop).


When we finally reached San Narciso, we hailed a tricycle that would take us straight to the resort. We paid about PHP30 for the 5-minute ride. Checking-in at the resort was no hassle, so we were able to get our room right away.


The room that I booked was offered at PHP1500/night. The room was small but it had a really good AC unit. The bathroom was ok except for the few times when we would run out of water during the day. The wooden fixtures and accents of the room also gave out a homey ambiance. Plus, the lodging that we got also included a veranda of our own. 

After settling in our room, we changed into our beach outfits and went out to check their small eatery (since we haven’t eaten lunch yet). There weren’t many food options after checking the menu, and they only served what was available at the time. So if you're a picky eater, then you should consider dining elsewhere. San Narciso was not a commercialized town, so you'll still experience the feel of the province here. And if you really want to eat somewhere different, then you'll have to consider taking a tricyle out to the main road, and eat by Dude's Pizza. But since we were too lazy to leave, we ate what was available then. 

Food wasn't that great though. They only offered what was mostly fried or grilled, and the price ranged around PHP100-150 per meal. Good thing I brought my coffee tumbler, along with a few coffee packs. So this definitely saved me from buying coffee from them. Hot water was free by the way.


We basked under the sun right after lunch. We took silly photos and swam a bit before the sun finally disappeared. The beach was also nice. It had a long stretch of golden sand that eventually turns gray when it gets soaked with ocean water. 

When we were finally high and dry, we went back to our room to take a quick bath; and went straight to the restaurant to order some dinner afterwards. Dinner choices were limited (as expected), so we ordered what was available. 

After dinner, Rubel and I decided to go on with the remainder of the night by buying some cold beers (I can’t recall if the resort was selling beer; but I do remember buying a few bottles just across the street), coke and a few bags of salty chips. Soon after, we went straight to a vacant beach hut to unwind a bit. 

Talk was endless especially in the company of someone you have common interests with. But as soon as we got tired and felt cold (the breeze in Zambales was refreshing), we went straight to bed to finally catch on some much needed R & R.


We decided to do a photo-op in one of the spots of the long beach-stretch. We eventually found a very beautiful spot after having walked a good 15-20 minutes. We had trees from afar as our background, and in some angles, the sky and the ocean. 

We planned on going to Pundaquit to check Capones Island. But much to our expectations, we weren’t able to experience either Capones or Anawangin (lacked research on this part!). We already wasted so much time walking to nowhere. So we decided to just go back to San Narciso, and eat merienda at Dude’s Pizza (the best and only fastfood option in the area). After an ordinary taste out of San Narciso's pizza, we hailed a tricycle back to the resort. 

We just spent the rest of the afternoon by the beach. The clouds started to look all gloomy after a few hours, so we packed up our stuff and headed back to our lodging. But since it didn't rain, we did the usual dinner and drinks by the beach until we got ready for bed again. Of course, Rubel had to try this mini surf board (or whatever it's called) before calling it a night.


We woke up real early again to catch some waves. But Rubel didn’t get to surf anymore. Lessons were being offered at the time for a fee. My boyfriend didn't want to pay anymore (since we were saving what was left of our money for a side trip down Subic) so we skipped any paid activities that day. We just watched the ones who surfed that morning. 

Oh! I wasn’t able to mention how strong the waves were for the past few days. You can literally be swept by it! I was actually scared most of the time for Rubel since he was a little too playful in the water --- considering that the man doesn't know how to swim!


Anyway, we checked out before lunch and took a tricycle ride back to the main road. We then hopped on board a bus that was bound for Olongapo for a quick trip to Subic. I think it was about less than 2 hours when we got around the area. And when we finally reached Olongapo, we got down the bus and looked for the yellow jeep that would take us inside the Subic Freeport Zone. 

Word Of Advice: It’ll be hard to go around the Subic area without your own transportation, and walking won’t get you far either! Buses are accessible but they only pick up passengers in specific areas.

Upon entering the Subic Freeport Zone, we rode this mini shuttle. We also asked to be dropped off at the area where the American outlet stores were. We probably spent a good two hours of shopping until we decided to head back to Manila.

All in all, these three days that were spent with Rubel, while exploring the different parts of Zambales was well worth the trip! It was a great anniversary getaway despite the mishaps; and it was definitely something that I could take on again in the future --- but will make sure to research on further next time.

And as always, here’s the TRAVEL EXPENSE SHEET that I prepared for our Zambales getaway. Hope it helps in one of your future vacations in the area! Until then…

Explore & be free!
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