Anawangin is a secluded weekend getaway located in San Antonio, Zambales, Philippines. With its lush pine tree forest, a scenic river, majestic mountain range and mystic beach, it is fast becoming a popular destination choice for Manila dwellers and people who is in continuous search of weekend haven in Luzon (avoiding the hassle of booking trips in Visayas and Mindanao area). The place gets crowded during summer, holidays and weekends though. Last weekend, Anawangin is flocked with around 200+ campers.
The jump off point to go to Anawangin is Pundaquit Beach in San Antonio which is accessible through private car from anywhere in Luzon and public bus. Parking fee for private vehicle is P200 (overnight).
From the jump off point, you have a choice to rent a boat for a 20-minute ride to Anawangin Cove or nearby islands, Camara and Capones or you can also trek 4-5 hours going through dry river beds and amazing view from the top of the mountain.
My sister-in-law invited us to join them last weekend. She is organizing an outing for her high school friends. My hubby, brother and I were excited to join the fun. While it isn’t as popular as Boracay Beach, this is definitely worth a visit.
Upon researching from the uber-reliable internet, I learned a lot of groups will be coming over the weekend. Three of us will be going ahead of our group and will commute via Victory Liner in Pasay. The last trip on Friday is 11:30 PM. By 10 in the Evening all tickets were sold out. We were left with no choice but to take the the 11:45 PM trip to Olongapo Station and transfer to another bus going to Iba, Zambales.
Fare going to Olongapo is P210 via Victory Liner Aircon Bus. It’s a 3 hours ride from Pasay City. From Olongapo we transferred to a non-aircon bus that will take us to San Antonio, Zambales. Fare is P40 and took us less than an hour to reach our destination. From there are 24 hours tricycle services you can avail to take you to Pundaquit beach.
In our case, our contact boatman, Mang Florante, asked his friend who drives a tryk to fetch and drop us to his place. We paid P100 for the ride. It was raining hard half-way our trip. Its actually raining the last 5 days and we were hoping that come this weekend, Summer will be back.
Mang Florante’s place is along Pundaquit Beach. We reached his place at 4 am and stayed there until the sun rises. On Saturday morning, before 6 am, we were the first one who brave the sea.
The rain just stopped but the waves is still mad. Our first plan is to wait for the rest of the group in Pundaquit. But since, a lot of people will be going to Anawangin, including the group who just park their bus, we decided we’ll carry on to the cove and find a good nook for us.
My jaw almost dropped when I learned that we will be using a small boat to take us for a 20 minutes rollercoaster ride. Arggh. I wasn’t expecting a 3 pax-passenger-capacity boat, not on a bad weather. Oh No! Such a small boat on an open sea. Are you sure?
But our boatman assured us that this boat is safe. The waves are close to everyday wave… duh. He provided us with life vests. Big boats cannot land near Anawangin’s vicinity.
So, off we go with the small boat. It was a mix of terrifying, exciting & fun moment. Sea water splashing everywhere, waves here and there. We made sure to water proof our valuables by packing it with plastic bags. Beyond the deep blue sea, we enjoyed the ride and hope to land Anawangin cove safe and sound.
Finally, after 20 minutes we landed. Wheeww! *dancing*
Anawangin is one paradise that is proudly Philippine made. The beach sands are from Mt. Pinatubo lahar during its eruption in 1991. The said volcano eruption brought about the growth of pine trees along the beach. There is also a stunning view of the river.
We spotted few campers enjoying the area at early morning.
We are set to camp on the left side of the cove where the restroom, wash area, water pump is easily accessible.
After picking our comfort spot, we pitched our tent, unpacked our food, set up the hammock and savor the tranquility of this haven.
Anawangin getaway is a back to basic experience. The toilet is public and shared. You have to bring your own tent. There’s no room to rent or any available tents for sale/rent. There is no electricity. No cellphone/mobile signal. Drinking water is for sale and do not come cheap. Negotiate with your boatman on which time he will be picking up your group, as there is no way you will be able to communicate after he leaves the cove.
I don’t feel like swimming as the waves got crazier. I have read a few stories about the mystic beach where the undercurrents are unpredictable. A number of guests have died previously because of drowning. I think everyone should be vigilant when swimming and just enjoy the waters near the shoreline to avoid such unfortunate accidents. I have to warn my brother about this and I’m glad he took the stories seriously.
I got hold of the camera and snapped photos while there are still only few awake people. Ferdie took a nap on the hammock. My brother was exploring the area too. When I got tired, I went back to the tent and felt the light drizzle outside.
I had a long nap. I woke up when the rest of the group finally arrived. There were eight of them including my sister in law. After introductions, we helped pitched their tents while others prepared a sumptuous lunch. The feast includes pork adobo and crabs. Yum!
After lunch, we joined the group games. ’twas a riot. Two sets of games were played and everyone enjoyed it.
We had a few moments rest after the game. Some changed into their swimming attire. Ferdie and I explored the path behind our location, going through the forest of pines.
There is a dry riverbed and creepy looking trees. But the view is amazing. We took few shots before going back to the rest of the group.
We asked them if they like to join us to hike the hill on the other end of the cove. It looked intimidating but our guess is that its a good 15 minutes trek. Everyone agreed. My brother got tired of swimming and just slept.
Off we go to the right side of Anawangin Cove. We had few stopovers when we found a couple of interesting spots to take photos. Before we knew it we were on our way up the hill.
It’s an easy trek up. But beware during rainy season or you might slip your way down. You will also pass through where the river meets the sea. The current can be strong, and it can take you down. Place your camera in safety.
At the top you will be greeted with a stunning view of Anawangin, and its surrounding coves and the aerial view of blue waters. It’s like a different world up there.
Time to get camera-happy and click away. This is the best place to watch the sunset, unfortunately, it drizzled again so we opted to go down instead.
The first photo up is an aerial view of the white sand stretch of Anawangin. To its right is the scenic river.
Down the beach, we decided to dip and ride the waves while its drizzling. The current is so strong that few dead and broken corals were swept at the shore.
We then headed to wash up before dinner serving. We had pork barbeque and Ensaladang Mangga for dinner and the remains of Adobo and crabs from lunch. A mouthwatering dinner indeed.
After dinner, some went swimming. An hour later, it rained hard. Three of us were sharing a tent and were ready to sleep. The rest of the group continued their party on the covered area we set up earlier.
A few minutes of strong wind and rain, our tent was soaking wet inside. We gathered our things in a plastic bag and wait for the rain to stop. After awhile, the weather subdued and we were able to clean up the tent. We had to turn it upside-down to remove the excess water.
Inside, it was still a bit wet. But we were able to find comfort and sleep anyways.
I woke up at 6 AM. Both Ferdie and my brother were cold, I was lucky to have my sarong wrapped around me, a battle off the cold ground. Ferdie prepared a coffee. I urge him to stroll with me once more inside the pine tree forest to photoshoot. My brother came with us. I overheard from other groups, that they were soaking wet that night too. So we were not alone.
By the time were back, the rest of the group were preparing food already. Some were taking down their tents.We had salted eggs, tomatoes, eggplants, dried fish, grilled fish and barbeques for breakfast. It was a feast once again.
We settled our bill with the island caretaker and paid P100 each per person. A fee when you stay in the island overnight, the money is used to maintain the cleanliness of place.
Break Camp. By 10 AM we were ready to leave the place.
We were supposed to be carried out in 3 boats to Capones Island. But the 3rd boat did not show up on time. So we fit ourselves to two small boats, with all our luggages. Good news is that the wave isn’t as wild as yesterday, bad news is that some of us will sail without a life vest on. Oh no!
Off to Capones Island. It was about 20 minutes boat ride. We dock to the nearest jump off point to Capones lighthouse. From there, it is still a 15 minutes trek up.
We spotted few people going down. Some even gave encouragement that we are only a few minutes away.
When we reached the lighthouse, everyone gathered near the water well. Thirsty, tired and sweltering with the scorching summer.
From the top, you get an amazing 360 degrees view of China sea’s crystal clear waters. There are a lot of spots for photo ops including the spanish style building.
The cliff reminds me of the view in Batanes, the rolling hills, amidst the blue waters. Its absolutely breathtaking and romantic during sunset.
After our photoshoot session, we went down to our boats and sail away back to Pundaquit beach.
There were paid restrooms and wash area. We cleaned up, change clothes and get ready to leave. We also settled our payment for the boat, that costs us P300 per pax.
There were 2 cars to fit the group, we convoyed our way to Angeles City to have our late lunch. The mouthwatering feast includes crispy sisig, tokwa’t baboy and kaldereta.
We also visited Holy Rosary Parish Church to pay respect and thanksgiving for a safe weekend.
We were trapped in traffic jam in NLEX and reached home at passed 9 in the evening.
Bargain. Ask. There are many resorts and boatmen in Pundaquit where you can arrange a day or overnight trips to Anawangin Cove, Capones and Camara Island. Find the best value off your money.
Bring only the necessities, ie. I wouldn’t wear shoes, if I were you.
Respect nature. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
And lastly, have a clean, good fun. Remember that the other campers may be longing for solitude.
My sister in law for letting us join the trip. Her batchmates for welcoming us to the group. Mike & Lilian for the ride.
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