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Posted by on Jun 2nd, 2009
Filed Under: Featured, Luzon, Zambales

zambales map

A paradise in peril because of unregulated and unsustainable tourism, Zambales challenges the traveler to uncover its secrets buried in its seas and deep in its jungles – before the ravages of man fully destroy its fragile but inconspicuous beauty.

Stretching 173 Kilometers on the Central West Coast of Luzon Island fronting the South China Sea, Zambales is the second-largest province of Central Luzon and has a one of the less densely populated areas in the Philippines – quite a surprise since the province is just 3-4 hours northwest of Manila. Most of its inhabitants are crammed in the lowland plains toward the coast – the indigenous Aetas (the earliest inhabitants) and the superstitious Sambals (an Austronesian group of people who displaced the Aetas and from whom the Zambales were named after) live in its mountain ranges.

Zambales has great wreck diving spots and it is actually considered as the wreck diving capital of the Philippines – with most of it concentrated in the Subic area, the former site of one of the biggest naval bases of the Americans in the area. During World War 2, at least 25 Japanese ships were sunk off the Zambales coast – some of which were probably salvaged immediately during the immediate postwar period to open up Subic Bay for shipping. Rumors have it that there are at least 10 large ships or more that lie in its waters. Aside from World War 2 wrecks, the remains of the San Quentin (sunk in 1898), a wooden gunboat, lies nearby Grande Island. San Quentin is the oldest known wreck in the Subic area. Other wrecks include the USS New York (between Alava Pier and Cubi Point), El Capitan (Ilanin Bay), LST (near Grande Island), Oruku Maru (near Alava Pier), Patrol Boat (Triboa Bay) and LCU Landing Vessel (Triboa Bay).

Philippines Zambales Capones Island

Capones Island
Photo by madtrap

When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, to say that Zambales was hard-hit would be a gross understatement. Not only did the ashes destroy a large portion of the reefs in the area, it buried entire towns in a thick layer of ash at least 1 meter deep – some of them basically wiped off the map. In recent years, the visibility on beaches is slowly returning, and the corals are slowly recovering with a few turtles nesting in some areas, a great majority of sharks and dolphins that used to call the coast home never returned. Hopeful signs are on the way though with a number of sharks in the area seeming to go up.

Zambales was first explored and settled by the Spanish in 1572 and founded the towns of Masinloc (1607), Iba (1611 and the current capital) and Santa Cruz (1612). As I mentioned earlier, Zambales came from the word Zambal, a Hispanicized term for Sambali. Zambal or Sambal, also referred to the language spoken by the Sambals. One of the versions says that the name’s etymology was derived from the word Samba which meant worship as the Spaniards thought to have found the natives in the area highly superstitious and engaged in ancestor-worship.

Philippines Zambales Anawangin Landscape

Anawangin Landscape
Photo by Xave Ignacio

The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo changed entire landscapes in Zambales. A famous destination amongst campers is the Anawangin Cove near the coastal village of Pundaquit in the town of San Antonio. Anawangin Cove is a curious aberration, it has rough, ash-colored beach (it is not white sand as a lot of people claim it to be) lined with Agoho Trees (Casuarina equisetifolia l.) – a large, evergreen, straight and tall tree resembling a pine tree. These trees stretch inland and the seeds of the trees were said to be brought by ash expelled by Pinatubo. We wanted to go further inland but our local guide said that wild buffaloes usually come down the mountains after a rain and they DO attack people. There is a river a few meters away from the beach and this connects to the sea.

Anawangin is perfect for campers and it does look like a miniature tent city during weekends when hordes of people spend their weekends here. The best time to come to Anawangin is during weekdays at the beginning of the summer months – February-March. The problem with Anawangin was basically it did not live up to its hype. There were no lifeguards (swim at your own risk- I would not recommend the beach for children as there are immediate steep drops, the waves were extremely rough during the rainy season and the rough sandy bottom is too shifty); we were disgusted to see that there was garbage everywhere (the cove has no system of proper garbage disposal at all) which came as a shock for us, as we initially thought that the cove was a clean and peaceful area. We were dead wrong. There was barbed wire and rope fences as well. After the spectacle of having Agoho trees lining up the beach instead of the usual coconut trees (as it is for most tropical countries) wore out, we were ready to leave Anawangin.

Similar coves exist further south of Anawangin like the Nagsasa Cove which hardly ever gets tourists. If wave conditions are tolerable, head to Nagsasa instead of Anawangin. We spied a better beach, around the bend of Pundaquit, just before you turn towards Anawangin. The beach is of course of the same sand quality as Anawangin minus the Agoho trees and the crowds (and hopefully garbage). The main feature of the unnamed beach was that it has the massive mountains close to the shore with two very tall waterfalls (must be at least 100-400 meters high) that then meet somewhere two-thirds down. According to our boatman, you can take a dip in its waterfalls.

Visible from Pundaquit are the islands of Capones and Camara. Capones is a 2 kilometer long bone-shaped island and famed for its lighthouse which is one of the oldest in the country. The lighthouse is inaccessible during the rainy season due to rough seas. During the rainy months, the boatman would usually drop you off around the middle and possibly the narrowest point of this island. The middle has a multi-story abandoned skeletal building that looks like it will collapse anytime. The island is volcanic in origin and possibly remnants of an enormous eruption thousands, if not millions of years ago. It has beautiful cliffs and short stretches of white sand beaches- the island is romantically referred to the Ko Phi Phi Leh and Jeju Island of the Philippines – through its cliffs, beautiful rock formations, and patches of green shrubbery strewn with volcanic rocks – (reminded me of a scene from Easter Island minus the statues). I guess the sweeping vista encouraged some couples in my tour group to sneak in a quick nookie by the cliffs. Now that is some scene that I do not ever want to see on my vacation. Like Anawangin, Capones Island suffers from a lack of environmental concern from the visitors, the locals and the local government – we were greeted by trash on a short trek up the middle of the island – flip-flops are everywhere. The locals told me that the trash came from nearby Subic and washed into the area by big waves. WHATEVER. The trash is in your backyard now, do something about it and clean it up.

Philippines Zambales

Camara Island
Photo by Dave Ryan A. Buaron

The neighboring Camara Island has the better beach in the Pundaquit area. It is composed of two islets, one smaller than the other and connected by a sandbar (okay well, mostly it was corals and stones) during low tide. The smaller of the two has a quirky looking form, on its side it looked pretty much like a huge stone piranha. The waves come from both sides and crash on the sandbar, which was quite entertaining for a bit. Some people camp out here during the day – pretty much noticeable with the amount of trash lying in the area and some people grilling in one corner under the shade of the low-lying trees that cover the island. We also noticed that there were big chunks of broken corals in the island leading us to think that either the waves were exceptionally strong or these were remnants of dynamite fishing in the area.

Most of the boats going to these areas are small and can only properly seat 3 people – and most don’t have a cover to protect you from sun nor rain nor the waves that are usually twice to thrice as big as the boat during the rainy season. And yes they charge heaps and a tad overpriced –Pundaquit boats are generally a big rip-off. A boat to Camara would usually cost you PhP600 pesos (we haggled and settled for PhP500), If there are four of you, a trip to Capones and Anawangin would cost you about PhP300 per person. Camara plus the unnamed beach I mentioned earlier would set you back PhP1000. If you want to arrange for a boat ride, talk to the boatman directly and avoid the additional fees latched on by the crappy resorts in the area. Demand a working life vest. The waves can get pretty freaky.

Philippines Zambales

Pundaquit Waterfalls
Photo by Dave Ryan A. Buaron

Unknown to many, Pundaquit (with all of its trash-strewn beaches) has some noteworthy waterfalls that are often overlooked by people who are mostly excited about going to Anawangin. A short 15-minute trek from the main resorts of Pundaquit reveals unnamed, refreshing waterfalls. There is significantly less trash in this area and an eccentric American was damming some parts of the waterfall (he asked me for some weed too – too bad for him, I am a good boy, hehe) – he put up a sign asking visitors not to throw trash in the area – although I saw one guy pissing in one downstream part of the waterfall – seriously dude, that’s not even close to competition! Warts and all, we were really grateful that our Tour Coordinator Chris from Discover Asia International Travel and Tours suggested the waterfall-hopping on our second day, we really enjoyed the dip and were really happy to be away from the garbage dumps of Anawangin, Capones and Camara.

Editor addon

*updated Ryan: 19/11/2009 – Discover Asia International Travel and Tours does not have their best guides anymore, and lately, it has been very difficult dealing with them. I could no longer vouch for the quality of their services.

North of the town of San Antonio, San Narciso, offers good surfing spots with one reportedly having a 30 second run. Crystal Beach Resort is a favorite hang-out for the surfers in the area. The surf in this area breaks left and right and has a sand bank. Under the right conditions, the waves can be pretty big but pretty much inconsistent especially during the months of November to May. Your best bet would be to go from late May to October for better waves. At the mouth of Macolcol River, there is more reliable surf. The High 5 Lahar whose breaks are formed on the lahar, or the pyroclastic material from Mt. Pinatubo, rather than by the sand bottom. There is also surfing at Capones Island, however, its recommended only to advanced surfers due to its reef breaks.

Philippines Zambales Potipot Island

Potipot Island
Photo by Meanne-Angelbear

Other notable islands on the Zambales Coast are the islands of Potipot, 1 kilometer away from the mainland shore of Uacon, Candelaria, further north of Iba (roughly over an hour away). The island is reached by 5 minutes by boat and it has lush vegetation and white sand beaches as well. Grande Island in Subic Bay is great for wreck diving as well as if you want to increase your count of the number of islands you have been to in the Philippines- you might as well drop into Snake Island also in Subic and Hermana Mayor Island in Santa Cruz. Panatag Shoal (also known as Scarborough Shoal) 137 miles off the coast of Palauig town offers diving opportunities. As early as the 1500s, Filipinos have used this shoal to fish and seek shelter during bad weather. While being ridiculously claimed by China and Taiwan (Manila is heaps closer to the shoal than Beijing or Taipei), the shoal is being administered by the Philippine Navy and Panatag shoal falls within the baseline limits of the United Nations Convention of the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS). Topographic, scientific and marine studies have been conducted by University of the Philippines and the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the area. Chinese poachers continue to harass the area.

For hikes to Mt. Tapulao (2037 m), Koto Mining River and its numerous waterfalls and the Aeta village of Cabatuan, the best towns to base yourselves would be in Botolan (whose beaches are cleaner than the ones in Iba and Pundaquit) and Iba. While in Botolan, you may want to check out the Botolan Wildlife Farm owned by Swiss Zoologist Martin Zoller who created a sanctuary for a collection of rescued animals like a Siberian Tiger.

Discover Asia International Travel and Tours organizes trips to Anawangin, Camara and Capones with the trek to the nearby Mt. Pinatubo included. If not for our really good tour coordinator and drivers, our trip to Zambales would have been more underwhelming than it actually was.

Editor addon

*updated Ryan: 19/11/2009 – Discover Asia International Travel and Tours does not have their best guides anymore, and lately, it has been very difficult dealing with them. I could no longer vouch for the quality of their services.

Why Not Go

Skip Zambales if you are looking out for pristine, clean beaches. The local officials, the resort owners and the locals in the area do not have any clue on how to properly maintain the beauty of most of its places. Our boatman even peed in the ocean in Anawangin and bottles of liquor and trash all over the beach in Pundaquit were just plain disgusting- that showed a lot of respect for the environment. For honeymooners, steer clear of the beaches of Pundaquit – get your peace and quiet elsewhere. Do not go to Zambales during the rainy season. For the island-hop in the Pundaquit area, you will miss out on most islands and coves as the waves are plainly colossal and the currents are too strong.

Why Go

If you are a group of college kids or twenty-somethings eager to rough it out and camp then the Zambales Coast offers a lot of camping opportunities. Make sure you dispose of your garbage properly, or better yet bring your own trash bag. Zambales is also perfect for people who want to surf closer to Manila as well as wreck divers who can’t make it to Coron. There is hiking in the north and the promise of finding that secret waterfall tucked somewhere in the cloud-covered Zambales mountain range is an exciting prospect.

Best Time to Visit

Best time to travel and island hopping is during the dry season (November to May). For surfing, late May to October is the best time to head out to the surf in San Narciso. Check with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration or PAG-ASA for updates on any weather disturbances before you go.

Where to Stay

Philippines Hotels and Resorts

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Philippines Zambales

Camping at Anawangin
Photo by Dave Ryan A. Buaron

For people planning a trip to Anawangin and the other coves, skip out the hotels and resorts in Pundaquit. Pundaquit hotels are a steal. Literally. We stayed at apparently the best hotel on Pundaquit beach – Canoe Beach Resort. For PhP1500 a night – we were promised hot and cold shower, a queen-sized bed and an air-conditioned room. The hotel got one out of three. The room was very small and boxy, there was only a cold shower, which was not working for most of our stay because of the very low water pressure (they only have a single line for a stretch of several rooms), the air-conditioner wasn’t working and was very noisy, and the queen-sized bed was hard as a brick. There were no toiletries, and you pay extra for a towel. Power isn’t guaranteed, there was no proper check-in, and the beachfront room has no good views of the sea as it was blocked by other cottages and a bamboo fence. The fan-rooms have a great view of the parking lot and the pool-area rooms front a miniature pool which can get pretty noisy with screaming kids during the weekend. Apparently, the other hotels in the area are dirtier, a group of 5 people from our tour group asked to be transferred to our hotel because their room in Wild Rose Inn was disorganized and dirty. It has to be said that even if you are a guest at Wild Rose Inn, you have to pay PhP50 extra to use the pool and pesos more to use the tables. So ghetto and so disgusting. To me this echoes of the greedy innkeepers of Les Miserables.

Your best option? Camp out.

Where & What to Eat

Bring heaps of your own grill food and all the camp-out chow when camping in Anawangin or Nagsasa. There are no restaurants in those coves at all and the closest are in Pundaquit which are mostly overpriced. Our hotel in Pundaquit charged us PhP40 for a jug of hot water and our PhP200 pork sinigang has a measly four bite-size pieces of pork swimming in vegetable extenders, mediocre soup and alas, a strand of hair. For that amount, we had to wait for a good 30 minutes because they do not have enough cooks and they don’t even have the simplest thing of all- a cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen- a major sacrilege. We had to settle for a lukewarm bottle of San Miguel Light. Great! The better eating places are all located in Subic with Pier One (Filipino Cuisine) having the most consistent service. Zambales mangoes as well vie to be one of the sweetest in the Philippines, second only to the Guimaras mangoes and are definitely worth a try. The mangoes are in season from January to April.


Bonfires by the beach in Anawangin as well as the evidently ghetto attempt towards style and class in the beaches of Pundaquit and the red-light districts of Olongapo practically sums up the nightlife in Zambales, which if not for the decent restaurants in Subic, would have been altogether considered inferior.

My to do List

1. Check out the Wildlife Farm in Botolan.*
2. Camp out in Nagsasa Cove.*
3. Do a quick island hop – Camara and Capones Islands; Snake and Grande Islands. **
4. Chill out at the unnamed beach between Pundaquit and Anawangin.*
5. Visit the local Aeta village.*
6. Go waterfall-hopping.*
7. Surf in the High 5 Lahar in San Narciso. *
8. Organise a beach cleanup with friends. If the locals wont do it, do it yourself!*
9. Eat famed Zambales mangoes, the sweetest mangoes in the Philippines after Guimaras.*
*- Highly Recommended
**- Recommended by Locals

Stay Away From

1. Pundaquit hotels – they are a major rip-off and I would never recommend any of them.
2. Mosquitoes, ants and bugs! – bring a hefty tube of bug repellent to be sure especially if you plan to do a side trip to the beach.
3. UV rays and a hat– Apply ample sun protection and sunglasses as the sun can be strong during midday.
4. Keep a watch on your possessions and don’t stray too much from your group.
5. Dehydration – keep yourself amply hydrated with ion-based drinks and with trail-food as well as never forget to bring a towel and a change of clothes.

Getting There

If you are not going with a tour group, you may try taking the Victory Liner going to Iba, and they leave every half-hour from the terminals in Pasay, Sampaloc and Caloocan via Olongapo. Travel time varies between 3-4 hours to 6 hours.

If you are driving, you may want to grab an updated road map. You should drive through NLEX and then connect to SCTEX and then go through all the way to Subic. If you want to head further north to Pundaquit, drive past the cemetery in Subic to head to Subic Town. Past Castillejos Market, you turn left on the road to San Antonio after the municipality of San Marcelino. You go straight, make a left from the fork with T.R. Yangco Elementary School, turn right to Evangelista Street and then cross the bridge. The Pundaquit Coast is on your right. If want to go up further , skip the left turn to San Antontio and go straight north to Botolan and Iba.

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Ryan supports socially and environmentally responsible and sustainable tourism, as well as the promotion of the Philippines as an alternative Asian tourist destination. Learn more about me [+]

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62 Responses to “Zambales”

  1. Edhel Dionne Pua says:

    This article provides all the information that I need. Hope to see more of these kind of articles.

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks Edhel! I am glad that this article is of great help to you. Don’t worry I am working on a heaps of articles on the different destinations in the Philippines. :)



      • Feugene says:

        yoh! mr. ryan what’s up so you’va been to anawangin. How r u bro? Please let me know about great tips on how we can enjoy our vacation in anawangin

  2. julia says:

    oh my i met that american too! he asked me the same thing and at the back of my mind i was like, “dude i’m with my mom and cousin, come on!” haha! he sure did smell some after smoke reek. super funny anecdote!

    love the article. zambales was ok and not great as i expected it to be. sad sad fact about pundaquit (and its visitors), they need some “revere the earth 101” refresher.

    • Ryan says:

      Hey Julia,

      Thanks for the comments! I think that’s probably the son, we met the father. equally hippy too. LOL. I guess it runs in the family. Although it was the Dad who advised us of the bigger waterfalls further at the back as well as the 30 second run on a surf break north of Pundaquit.

      I agree tho, there should be a concerted effort with all the stakeholders in the area to clean up the trash and put in a sustainable tourism program in place. After all, this is where they get most of their bread and butter.



  3. beng says:

    That was a detailed and unbiased article. Worth notetaking for would be visitors. I should have listened to my friend when she said she’s not going back to Anawangin.

    The waterfalls was the saving grace of the place, we enjoyed the water that truly refreshed us plus the free back massage.

    You will be our reference on our next trip.

    Kudos to you ! ! !

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks Beng!

      Do check out my other articles especially Sagada- Bomod-ok Falls are pretty awesome. I agree, the waterfalls were quite awesome and pretty enjoyed it very much myself. If I had to go back in the area, I would head out to Nagsasa instead of Anawangin as well as check out the other falls on that unnamed beach.. Maybe check out the surf spots further north. Will be doing an article on Philippine Yachting soon and next well I will do the rounds on the Ilocos Provinces. :)

      Cheers and keep checking these pages for amazing places in the Philippines!


      • taz jonson says:

        Hope you can also go to Iligan City (my hometown), the city of waterfalls ad feature it in your blogs one day. You will love it.

        • Ryan says:

          Hi taz, we have been to Iligan last September. Check out my piece on Lanao del Norte. Iligan was really nice. Loved the people there!!

  4. lea says:

    we did our part and got rid of our produced trash in anawangin by physically bringing them back to san antonio for proper disposal. i just hope our contemporaries did the same. :)

    if only i just have enough dough to make it to the other neighboring islands as well. nice article, ryan.

    • Ryan says:

      Thanks Lea!

      I am really glad you did your part in proper waste disposal and protecting the environment, we need more people like you. Don’t forget to tell your friends who are planning to go anywhere in the Philippines to throw their trash properly. :) :) Of everyone starts doing it then it will catch up and one act can transform entire communities!



  5. Ramel says:

    Pundaquit is not nearly as dirty as the writer makes it sound. We love it there and the people are great. Some people complain about everything.

    • pktan says:

      One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

    • Ryan says:

      Well Ramel, would you like to see the photos of the trash? You wouldn’t like it. People literally leave their trash on the shore. Sorry, but I call a spade a spade, I saw trash everywhere on Pundaquit, Capones, Camara and Anawangin. Maybe you should really open your eyes and look around because it is this denial that turned your beautiful place into a horrible garbage dump. You should really do something about it instead of denying it.

    • Scott says:

      Hi Ramel. I have to disagree with you on that point. I usually like to walk barefoot on the beach. However, on Pundaquit I was worried about stepping on broken glass and still burning cigarette butts. I walked the entire stretch of beach and could see trash the whole way. The trash really is everywhere, and speaking to the locals they agree too, they just don’t do anything about it other than blame it on Subic. Also, I recall that on Capones Island I spotted a toilet seat at the bottom of the cliff on the beach and thought it very fitting.

      I really wish that the locals would do something about the problem as it would definitely improve anyone’s stay there.

  6. Eugenio says:

    Do you have any proofs or basis that Zambales mango is 2nd only to guimaras in terms of sweetness? Can you show your best reference of your claim?

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Eugenio, I am stating my personal opinion here, I apologise that sentence wasn’t clear enough.

    • Ryan says:

      I saw this entry at –

      Recognized as the world’s sweetest fruit by the Guinness Book of World Records, the Guimaras mangoes is said to be the best mango specie that is produced anywhere in the world and is reportedly served in royal dining halls of kings and queens and official residences of presidents and prime ministers (Buckingham Palace, the White House etc.). Bill Clinton and the current Pope (benedict XVI) was said to be fans of Guimaras mangoes.

      According to the National Mango Research Institute, the Guimaras mango is a rare type of strain from the carabao mango-type varieties. Unlike the carabao mango trees, the Guimaras type mango trees can only grow up to a height of only 25 to 30 feet. The local government of Guimaras, through its campaign, actively bans anyone from bringing other species of mangoes to the island for fear of contamination and alteration to their highly-prized mangoes.


      AFIK, Guimaras mangoes are actually considered as the ones accepted internationally for export because it is largely free from any pests and diseases . This makes it acceptable for stringent quarantine and quality control requirements of other governments especially Australia. You may contact the National Mangoe Research Institute if you have further questions.

  7. nik says:

    hi,i live in pundakit and the trash that has been mentioned a few times are mostly brought in to shore by the big waves from the storm.

    • Scott says:

      Hi Nik,

      We woke up one morning, walked down the beach near Canoe, and we saw pits dug with trash in it. It looked like it was just put there that morning. When we were in Capones, we saw a toilet seat cover somewhere along the middle of the island (inland) and many pairs of filp-flops. The thing is, whether or not the trash was left there by the people of Pundakit or washed ashore by storms, that is not an excuse for the people of Pundakit to clean it up since the trash is in your area. People should just stop throwing their garbage on the beach. I am sorry, but we saw what we saw and it was not a very pretty sight. The people of Pundakit should really think hard about protecting the environment because as of now, I would never recommend anyone of coming there. We support sustainable, environmentally friendly tourism but in those areas – Pundakit, Capones, Camara and Anawangin failed miserably.


      • nik says:

        hi scott,

        That has always been a problem in pundakit of trash being brought in from the sea.hopefully soon a group should be organized to maintain the islands and the rest of the beaches as of you have mentioned.

        • Scott says:

          Hi Nik,

          That would be great if there were a group to clean up the beaches. It’d make the place much nicer. In the meantime the residents themselves can just pick up trash when they see it.

        • Ryan says:


          Scott and I were together when we saw the trash ourselves on the beaches of Pundaquit- because we travel together. There were HOLES DUG IN THE SAND ON THE BEACH of Pundaquit one morning when we were taking a stroll, and there was a heap of trash in that hole! There was a toilet seat a 10 meters uphill in the middle of Capones. There were bags of trash in the woods of Anawangin. Styrofoam plates were left in between the rocks of Camara.

          This is particularly embarrassing since Scott is a foreigner and these things we did not expect to see. You should be taking responsibility for your community (assuming you are from Pundaquit) and not freaking call names. You should be embarrassed of these garbage problem on Pundaquit instead of being too defensive about it. Wag mo nang antayin na ibang tao pa ang makapuna, kasi nakakahiya magdala ng bisita galing sa ibang bansa sa lugar nyo kasi pati ako napapahiya sa pagsalaula ng mga taga-dyan sa kalikasan. At mas nakakahiya ang pagtatanggi nyo kasi kitang kita ng mga mata namin kung gaano kadumi ng lugar.

          When I write articles, I actually go to these places. I almost always spend my own money for everything – bus, tricycle, jeep, eroplano, barko, bangka pati mga tinutuluyan ko. Pano ko mapromote ang lugar nyo kung ganyan ang mga pag-uugali ng mga tao dyan. Higit sa lahat, napakaimportanteng bagay sa turismo ang pagmintina ng kalinisan at kalikasan – hindi namin yan nakita na ang ganyang klaseng pagmamalasakit sa Pundaquit. I promote these destinations out of public service, wala akong kinikita dito. I have my own day job that pays for the travels and I can safely say I have traveled to at least half of the Philippines and I have also traveled abroad.

          Tama yang sinabi mo, bumuo kayo ng community organization na tutulong sa palagiang paglilinis ng Pundaquit at ng iba pang mga aplaya. Magsisimula sa inyo dapat ang pagbabago hindi yung turuan kayo ng turuan. Sa huli, sa inyo naman yan ang kahihiyan kung hahayaan nyo lang lalong salaulain ang sana’y magandang lugar. Lahat kayo dito stakeholders – mga beach resorts, mga mangingisda at bangkero, ang pamahalaang lokal, ang kumunidad at pati na rin ang mga turista.

          As a travel writer, it is my responsibility to report my actual experiences in the most accurate way possible. We are not some paid writers of some airline or a lifestyle magazine who would just sugarcoat everything and thinks that every place is postcard perfect when it is really not otherwise I should not be in the travel guide writing business. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it once again, I stand by my articles.


  8. ryan jay says:

    dont talk about pundakit that way…..
    pundakit is a nice place to stay………..

  9. Ryan says:

    I hope the Pundakit locals who go online and spend their time to come to this website and being defensive, should at least try to walk outside and see their beach filled with trash and start spending time more on cleaning it up than trying to defend something that is not true.

    I stand by my articles firmly, it is sad that instead of trying to solve a pressing environmental concern, people spend more time about defending a very self-destructive practice. We saw the trash ourselves and we experienced this first-hand. We call spade a spade. If Pundakit can clean up after its mess as well as Anawangin, Capones and Camara, we will recognise it, but if there will be no positive changes, I am sorry but our reviews will remain the same.

    We are not the only publication who noticed this, other publications including the Lonely Planet Guide to the Philippines mentioned the trash on Pundakit and this time we agree with the Lonely Planet on this call.

    Be proactive people, protect the environment.

  10. april ann estaris says:

    hi ryan the article was so helpful to us amateur campers. and especially because of the reminder to dump your own trash. the place is so wonderful let us not waste it. i hope more people will be this responsible.

    • Ryan says:

      Hi April!

      FINALLY!! Someone understood what we have been trying to tell everyone! Thank you! But of course, it is not only from campers as well but the local community and all stakeholders in the area to realise and act on this problem. I hope more people like you understand us so that maybe in the far future, we might actually want to come back to Pundaquit!

      :) Cheers and Mabuhay ka kabayan!


  11. Myra says:

    Hi Ryan!

    I haven’t been to Pundaquit but my kids and I have spent almost all of the past 20 Christmas vacations in Palauig, Zambales after my parents relocated there.
    It used to be a tradition for us to sleep all through new year’s eve, then we’d head for one of the beach resorts in Iba. With the rest of the province asleep we’d have a long stretch of beach entirely to ourselves all morning. Just super!

    After the tsunami, Tatay declared: “NO more going to the beach!” So these past few years we’ve hiked to the Marangla stream and picnicked there instead. Also, we’ve always taken a short detour too to an unnamed falls that few people have seen.”

    One sad note about this stream: it is a rock quarry, and each year it looks different — raped and ravaged by someone who has no regard for its beauty and for the wildlife that call it home. I’ve always been concerned about people leaving trash behind when they visit places. This past vacation I had to collect disposable diapers and other trash left by other people.

    The Zambales people have much to learn about their lovely province, how to protect its environment, and how to attract visitors to it.

    • Ryan says:

      Hi Myra!

      I totally agree with your comment, my problem there was the attitude of the people toward environmental protection. Zambales has a lot to offer and it is quite sad that people there doesn’t realize the importance of their treasures.

      Thank you for your proactive stance, if you cant change the attitudes of the people, you will just have to lead the way. I hope your kids realize how great their mom is and adopt the same attitude towards protecting the environment. :)

      More power to you kababayan!


  12. Melskies says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I’m from Zambales, Thanks for the fair write ups about our province.

    I guess most of Zambalenos are not aware that they have this treasure to be proud of. That’s why we are not doing anything about it. We are un-informed and un-aware. It is a shame that our attitude towards our province is totally careless.

    Me myself would like to help but doesn’t want to initiate. (just trying not be hyprocrites)

    • Ryan says:


      I have been trying to talk to some of my friends in the environmental movement, I hope they can help setup a massive community education drive in Zambales…We will see… Thank you very much for your comment, it all boils down that no matter how pretty a place is and you cant take care of it, it would just be nothing. You can do something however in your own way, maybe you can pay a visit to the places that we mentioned here, talk to the people if you see any of the trash, or even set an example by making sure you put your trash in the proper bins. You can also blog about it, tweet about, use the power of social media! There are many ways that we can do and help. I think right now, people just needs to be informed and educated. They have to be made aware of the situation.

      Again thanks for taking your time to read…will post updates here if I hear anything from my friends in the environmental movements….


  13. taz jonson says:

    I never expected it would be what i have read. I saw Anawangin in pics and i love it. I am little disappointed to know about the garbage mgt. Hope it will be better soon.

    • Ryan says:

      I really hope so… some of my friends went to Zambales and they enjoyed it. There are other places to enjoy in Zambales. Further away from Anawangin is Nagsasa Cove, less people and more idyllic. :)

  14. hackertaz says:

    well said ryan…garbage in our country is alarming, I climb,surf,wakeboard,travel and scuba dive, even at the sea bottom you can find soft drinks can, speaking of garbage manila bay waste is also travelling miles away and I have just witnessed it last weekend while free diving and island hopping in my hometown nasugbu, our boatman said those garbage we saw from a distance is from manila bay…hope we can do more about this in a strict way…

    • Ryan says:

      Sadly yes, hackertaz. But I always seem to notice a pattern- people blame other places from the trash found in their backyards. Tsk tsk!

  15. S says:

    hi ryan! your blog is really really helpful. especially the part where we shouldn’t consider the hotels/resorts in pundaquit. darn, almost got ripped off if it were not for ur write-up. anyway, may i ask you something? what is the nearest town to pundaquit? a town where there are better hotels/resorts perhaps? iba? olongapo/subic? thanks in advance!

    • Ryan says:

      Hi S,

      They were saying that Punta de Uian is nice (on Pundaquit) but they are hell lot expensive. Pundaquit is on the town of San Antonio if I am not mistaken. The best hotels are in Subic definitely. Stayed at the Legend there in Cubi, as well as near the Lighthouse and the Subic Bay Yacht Club – they were all good hotels though I think that SBYC is members’ only. If you are just after good accommodations – then you will find them on Subic. Why don’t you try heading out to Potipot? :)



  16. S says:

    Hi Ryan,
    Thanks for your response. Pardon my next question though: where is Potipot? :) Would you know how far it is from Anawangin? Coz we’re just planning to do a photo shoot of the place and then leave and stay elsewhere :)

    Thanks again,

    • Ryan says:

      Hi S.

      From my article above-

      “Other notable islands on the Zambales Coast are the islands of Potipot, 1 kilometer away from the mainland shore of Uacon, Candelaria, further north of Iba (roughly over an hour away). The island is reached by 5 minutes by boat and it has lush vegetation and white sand beaches as well.”

      It is located in the Northern coast of Zambales, you have to go all the way to Iba past the Palauig Junctions and the Coto Mining Camp Junctions. Unfortunately, it is rather far from Anawangin which located at the southern end of Zambales.


  17. normfromtoronto says:

    Hi Ryan:
    I read somewhere that the beaches in iba are generally filthier than botolan.
    My wife ( originally from capas tarlac ) , children , relatives ( from capas)
    and I will be visiting botolan’s wild life game farm in may of 2010.
    Part of the treat will be swimming of the shore of botolan somewhere.
    Can you provide us with a decent beach name in that area?
    As a representative of canada i’ll be so proud of you for that information.
    ( ok so maybe i’m going a little overboard with my choice of words ).
    Thanks a million.

    • Ryan says:

      Hey normfromtoronto,

      Maybe you should try Potipot Island (Off Candelaria). So far that island gets better reviews.. Or even better, why don’t you check out the other beaches in the country? You can try Pagudpud, one of the best beaches in Northern Luzon.. :)

      Hope this helps!


  18. normfromtoronto says:

    Hello once again ryan:
    If we substitute the beaches of botolan for the beaches of lingayen,
    would we be ” in much better shape “?
    Keep in mind, we’re talking the month of may/10.

    • Ryan says:

      Hmmm… If you are headed to Pangasinan anyway, you should just head out to the Hundred Islands (Travel Guide available here) or you can spend the night in Bolinao’s Patar Beach (Pretty, clean, cream-colored sand beach), and I could hook you up with our contact there for the accommodation).

  19. normfromtoronto says:

    Hi ryan:
    I’m going to ask you to get back to me by direct e-mail
    and i’ll take that information from you at that point.
    Notice the time difference as we communicate back and forth?

  20. rico says:

    very informative and transparent. I guess Anawangin would drop down in my getaway destination list in the country though I also had to see it for myself. 8(

  21. lionell says:

    i would like to ask about the transportation fee regards on Manila to Zamabales, how much would it cost and if i will go around the said islands, how much will i spend from the boat man’s fees. tnx….

    • Ryan says:

      The costs would depend on which places in Zambales you are going, as well as which bus companies you are going to take. Please check with the us companies concerned to double check. Thanks. For the boat around Anawangin, I believe it was around 1,500 last year.

  22. couchnomad says:

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for writing a realistic view of Pundaquit. I have never heard of the place until a couple of months ago. I do not doubt anything that you have said about the garbage. I’ll be visiting Philippines for the first time in years and was planning to visit the place but with all this bad review about the garbage (toilet? used diaper?), I’m having serious second thoughts. I just might turn around as soon as I get to Pundaquit. People seriously need to learn to pick-up after themselves and start taking care of the environment. Campers, you may just be visiting but have some respect! Would you like it if your visitors treat house like a dump?

    Local people know that there is money to be made in tourism but they need to realize that they need to protect the environment they’re in to keep the tourists coming. Take some responsibility. Start cleaning up. Create rules for your visitors. That is your home, it is your responsibility to take care of it. If a can coke somehow landed right on your doorstep, would you just leave it there just because you’re not the one who dumped it there?

  23. emily_the_strange says:

    good day ryan!

    love this article.
    i love to travel and just rely on the internet for information about my target destinations.
    that way, i could skip spending on costly travel agencies and have the adventure by myself or with friends

    usually, the writers or bloggers sugar coat everything and when i visit the place,
    i get disappointed. now evertyime i read an article about a place, i become skeptic and

    i wanted to go to anawangin after seeing a breath taking picture of the island on one of the blogs i’ve read (but dumadapo din sa isip ko na baka edited lang :P ).
    i stumbled across this article. i got sad by the fact they are given this beautiful place,
    so full of potential to become one of the hottest tourist spots in the phils, but they couldn’t even clean up their own trash. what a way to give back to God and mother nature. sayang.. tsk tsk.

    but anyways, i’ll still visit the place, see what me and my friends could do about the trash. but, hopefully cleaner na sana ngayon.

    i’m looking forward to more of your articles, kudos to you, writers like you are hard to find these days :)

    more power


  24. markie says:

    Me and my wife were planning to go to anawangin tomorrow for our anniversary… i am a bit disappointed upon reading your article and review on the place. Me and my wife love to travel, see new places and immerse in local cultures. I guess, we as travelers, being more exposed to other areas in the country and outside Philippines, have the tendency to compare places and people behaviors. Hindi natin masisisi yung mga locals kung para sa kanila hindi makalat yung lugar kasi nasanay na sila sa ganun. If only the locals have the chance to see other places, maybe then, that’s the only time they can accept that what they are doing is wrong and somehow have the urge to do a campaign of protecting the environment. I have seen some of the best beaches mentioned on TLC and Lifestyle channel and I can say that we were not left behind in terms of beauty of nature…. BUT… WE THE FILIPINO PEOPLE DO NOT REALLY MAXIMIZE ITS POTENTIALS… hay naku makatulog na nga! I have to do all driving tomorrow. Anawangin here we come…. cheers!

  25. loren says:

    hhmm very disappointing ..anyway i came from surigao del sur, though i stayed here in manila for almost 10 years now,and if you fancy falls, i you cant miss our pride, the TINUY-AN FALLS..spend time searchin or do a little research about the place and i bet you would be astonished like you would thought you are in a paradise of fairies. having grown in a beach , boracay was never impressive to me when i got the chance to visit it. you know in surigao, white beaches are not a surprised. when i got to bora two years ago i thought it was nothing. like it was just a trip to one of our places..

    • Ryan says:

      Wanted to go Tinuy-an but our 3 years Philippine travels was abruptly cut short when we moved overseas, but maybe you can write about it!

  26. TJSkimboards says:

    Sorry to say this but..
    I arrived here in the Philippines about 6 months ago.
    I first came to Zambales thinking it was crap.
    But after actually going around and doing stuff.. I would say that
    most of the advice/information given in this section.. I would consider
    too exaggerated. Zambales is an awesome place to be. Not only Anawangin.
    I skimboard probably every week. Surf every now and then. And Zambales
    is awesome.. If your the adventure, sporty, and not so much of a complainy
    type of person. I wouldn’t mind showing people around every now and then.

    Just giving my opinion for someone that has been staying here for almost 6
    months. Enjoy!

  27. gerlalou says:

    first of all, i would like to make it clear that ANAWANGIN is such a beautiful place to go,,, the sceneries are perfectly lovable, the beach is so gorgeous, the place is truly wonderful!!!

    though, the biggest downfall of this wonderful place is truly the garbage management… i don’t know who to blame?

    first of all, i guess its the local government who seems to be neglecting this fact. truly, this place is a potential tourist destination, given the proper attention… it’s the town that would surely benefit from all of its God-given natural gifts. Dapat bumuo sila ng group na magmamanage ng lugar na yan and will impose all the necessary rules and regulations to protect the place. The place is so public,,, you’ll only be charged for the boat fee and entrance fee of P50 for daytour and P100 for overnight and you can be free to do anything. The boat fee I guess is just good enough, it compensates the gasoline and the effort of the boatman, considering din un layo ng lugar,,, it’s back & forth anyway…i just dont know lng who should take responsibility for the entrance fee,,, as far as I understand, the reason why they’re charging that amount is for the maintenance of the place,,, but what the heck are those garbage doing… though, i could understand that during peak season, pwedeng hindi na kayanin ng care taker ang pgm-maintain ng lugar kung maraming bisitang iresponsable!

    that’s why I say now… 2nd to be blamed are the visitors! why blame the locals? in the first place, are there residents living in Anawangin? dont you remember that going there, you must ride on a boat first… and Anawangin is a place na sasadyain tlga… do you expect the locals to go there from time to time and clean up the mess that the visitors had left? us, being the visitors should know how to care,,, and care enough!

    again, I must say this: Anawangin is truly a wonderful place to go… you’ll appreciate nature at its best. The pics in the many blogs that display its lovely scene are genuine and not fake! Hindi nman basura lng ang laman ng Anawangin,,, more than the garbage that’s highlighted in this blog, there are so much wonderful things to appreciate in Anawangin,,, you’ll never fail to get connected to nature once you’re there… it is just sad that no proper maintenance on this place when it comes to garbage disposal especially during peak season is being done. and it’s truly a dismay!

    and btw, mahal tlga ang bilihin dun,,, kya if you’re planning to go there… magbaon kn ng bonggang-bongga! again, ang Anawangin ay tinatawid ng bangka… so ang mga paninda ay dinadala p from town proper going to Anawangin,,, kaya wag kayo mag expect ng presyong kapareho lng ng nasa tindahan ni Aling Nena sa kanto… kaya kung ayaw nyo magsatusan ng triple, magbaon kayo!

    i wouldn’t comment on the resorts or hotels nearby,,, i havent tried any. and remember, Anawangin is not a resort, again, it’s public… it’s an undeveloped island… and it could be a camp site where you can spend the night… it’s safe! but if you’re really looking for a place to spend the night and dont want to have an overnight at Anawangin, I would suggest that you find a hotel or resort in Subic na lng… mas alive ang night life dun as this blog says.

    being a Zambalena, I must say that Zambales has alot to offer… it is just sad that the local government is not pushing it through and don’t do any act to promote a good tourism in it, kaya up to now, Zamabales is still underrated. Hindi lng sana SBMA ang dapat i-highlight. There are so much treasure in the Northern part of Zambales, it’s so natural… it’s so wonderful. pero kulang sa push! Gising Zambales officials… napaka promising ng lalawigan natin, pero I must say… hanggang ngayon, boring pa rin at wala tayo’ng pwede’ng ipagmalaki sa turismo dahil wala kayo’ng ginagawa! Sa tagal na panahon,,, ang Zambales, isa’ng agricultural place pa rin when in fact… this is such a very beautiful place,,, kumpleto ang gift ng nature… mapa-bundok, dagat, ilog, falls… name it!

    we, as private individuals should not stop promoting a place gaano man tayo nadismaya… hindi ibig sabihin na “nalukot” ang iyong pagkakakilala ay titigil tayo at madi-discourage na. it all boils down to ones potential,,, pansinin ang kulang at i-highlight ang pwede pa’ng i-improve.

    i’m just praying na one day, magising ako at makita ko ang aking home province na umunlad na dahil na-manage ng tama!

    again, Zambales is not a WOW place pra s mga taong mataas ang expectation… hindi yan katulad ng ibang tourist spot sa Pilipinas gaya ng Palawan o kung saan man… pero Zambales is truly a wonderful and promising place only if nurtured, given attention and pushed towards a very good management of its God given resources.

  28. Adel says:

    Your information about Zambales is really informative to all. Like Gerlalou commented, Zambales is a truly a wonderful place to go. The Zamables gorvernment officials need to give more attention about the pursuing the Zambales tourism, especially there are lots of nicest places in Zambales to be proud of.

    Now that I became a Zambalena, I am really proud to know this place. I hope you can brought this to Zambales government officials and inform them that there are a lots of issued needed attention.

    Thank you.

  29. Steven Smith says:

    This information is out of date.

    We have a place in Zamabales about 20 minutes away from Punduquit beach. Just went there this last weekend and the beach was clean, & the water was beautiful. We were in the resort area not the public beach. I did not see any of the trash they are talking about there. While I have never tried staying over, the way to enjoy it is to go early in the morning during the summer months (now) and rent a bamboo hut, called a nipa hut, from one of the resorts. We liked Megan’s for this. Don’t expect much from the bathrooms (bring your own tp and do not put it in the toilets) but they do have grills and sinks where you can cook out. It’s more oriented to locals than foreign tourists. If you have some locals with you, expect to pay around 600 pesos for a day rental of a nipa hut. An all foreigner group might have to pay a little more. No idea.

    If we spend more time there, I will find out what is being done about the cleanup and perhaps something can be done to organize volunteer efforts in the other areas.

  30. Eddie says:

    It saddens me to see and hear that many of Philippines beautiful beaches are becoming polluted and littered caused by the irresponsible acts of the visitors and locals alike. It saddens me more that the government is not doing anything about it. That is why I’m tired of hearing from Filipino when they say ‘Filipino Pride’, but they’re the same irresponsible, ignorant, disrespectful people who makes our country look bad. You don’t like hearing people saying Philippines being such a dirty place? then clean after yourself, have respect for the environment and you’re surrounding, this is your country your home, have some dignity! It doesn’t start from the government it starts from the citizen!

    “Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself. ”
    ? Chief Seattle

  31. MayAnn says:


    Awareness and Education, this is part of the solution.

    Perhaps establishing sustainable living or environmental programs to educate students within these communities may help change attitudes.

    I have always dreamed of designing a youth initiative which involves keeping our communities clean and more importantly sustainable. I believe engaging with young people plays a pivotal part in finding a long term solution.

    I live in Sydney Australia, blessed and privilaged by this beautiful country but still enjoy going home to zambales for a short vacation. During my vacations I have noticed that in some particular areas the locals had a lack of knowledge on sustainability and caring for the environment, sadly, this education is not provided to them hence, locals are unaware of their faults.

    We can only continue to educate and make the locals aware of what they are doing wrong and ultimately what the consequences are.

    I would be keen to support and participate in any campaigns/programs/initiatives to education and provide awareness within our coastal zambales communities.


  32. Charles says:

    I like to just give a different viewpoint on some of the comments on the trash on the beach. first let me say that i am with a tour company that organizes island hopping tours in the area. As such we are frequently in the area and secondly that I am on the board of directors of a hotel in Subic Bay.

    this article seems to have been written 3 weeks after typhoon Emong. subic bay has relatively clean water and beaches, however after the first major storm of the year tons of trash are swept from inland areas into the bay. much of that ends on the shore of the bay and some goes out into the South China Sea. after emong Our hotel had between two to five men cleaning trash from the beach, it was almost a month till it returned to its normal level. In the first two days after the storm eased up, we removed 250 rice bags filled with thrash. the most common items were plastic cups from jolibee, straws and flip flops. in all over 1,000 bags of trash were removed. the beach of the hotel is only 20 meters wide. The city beach near by dug 15 foot deep holes, filled it with trash, burned what they could and buried all that remained. burying the trash is not a great option but it does solve the problem short term.

    the holes filled with trash mentioned above was most likely the result of a clean up effort. I believe that the locals do what they can to help keep the beaches clean.

    There was a comment made that said the locals were just trying to shift the blame to others, in this case I believe that it is justified. Manila bay gets filled with trash that eventual gets pushed out to sea, clockwise rotation of storms that pass to the northern portions of Luzon causes trash to be pushed back to shore.

    My view is that 9 months of the year the zambales beaches are clear of trash. just avoid the early storm season. Efforts need to be made to stop the trash at its source before it gets into the water ways

  33. Malou Inolino says:

    “The main feature of the unnamed beach was that it has the massive mountains close to the shore with two very tall waterfalls (must be at least 100-400 meters high) that then meet somewhere two-thirds down. According to our boatman, you can take a dip in its waterfalls.”——-i am very much interested about this statement!!! can u give me addtional infos about this? if we r going to hike Mt. Pundaquit is it possible to passed by these waterfalls or go on island hopping? thank you!

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