There’s no doubt that Nagsasa Cove in Zambales is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines. Who would’ve thought that a tragedy like the Pinatubo in 1991 can result to something as beautiful as Nagsasa Cove? Truly, the Lord has something better in store for everything.
As what other first-timers would do, I googled information on Nagsasa Cove before going there— like what bus to take and which terminal to go, where to buy food, sample itineraries of people who have actually visited the place just so I’ll have an idea. There are packages and tours that would definitely make our lives easier but I preferred to DIY (do-it-yourself) our trip for the reason that I’ve nothing else to do (I’m really good at researching so I’m always in charge when my squad has summer trips) and DIY-ing your trips actually saves you a lot of money.
Believing that we are already well-equipped with information I’ve gotten from travel blogsites, we have finally scheduled our adventure to Zambales. And even though I have researched everything—as in everything to make this getaway perfect, there are still some things we wished we knew (some things are really inevitable). Here are some heads up for the first timers to avoid hitting snags and mishaps on your trip.
1. The scenic view going to Zambales is on the driver’s side (left side).
If you love beautiful natural sceneries like me, then you should definitely ride on the left side (driver’s side) of the car/bus. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the view especially with the bus’ panoramic window. I didn’t get to enjoy the scenic route to Zambales because sadly, the tickets are assigned with seat numbers and ours are on the opposite side so make sure to request this when you buy your tickets.
2. Nagsasa Cove is a trekking destination.
Well, if you have gone through my backpack, you’ll see that I have only packed swimsuits and cover ups for 3 days. I’ve gotten used to what I usually bring when I go to Boracay/other beaches where everyone is in their swimsuits even at night.
So when we arrived, I was actually surprised that no one—literally no one was swimming in the beach (maybe because it was 12nn when we arrived, but still) and everybody was in their rash guards. I was like, ‘why is everybody in their rash guards?’ (including the men, mind you). Sugee and I were weirded by the fact that both of us didn’t know the drill—that Nagsasa Cove is a tourist destination mainly for trekking, but you can still go swimming at the beachfront (though if you like white sand beaches better, go island hopping to the beautiful white beach in Capones Island where you can also go camping).
3. It’s a 2-hour trek to the famous waterfalls.
We were told that there is a waterfalls that everyone who visits Nagsasa goes to. There’s a P10 entrance fee (per head) and a P300 charge for the guide (this is worth every peso because the view is uh-maaa-zing). The next day we left at around 10am after breakfast. I was in my bikini and a sarong wrapped around my waist and Sugar was only wearing his board shorts, a cap and we brought a 500ml bottle of water. What we didn’t know (and up to know I still wished we were informed) was we were about to experience the longest walk of our lives.
At first, we were still smiling and amazed by the view. It was something I have never seen before. Sobrang ganda (it was so beautiful), it looks like it was taken straight from a postcard. It could pass for South Africa minus the wild animals, of course. See photos below.
After 30 minutes of walking and trekking (in my bikini fyi) under the sun, we asked our guides, Carla and Joanne if we were there yet and of course we weren’t yet. I literally asked them every 30 minutes and to my surprise, their response still hasn’t changed—we were still far. Our bottled water was already warm from the heat of sun and I was beginning to feel dizzy (just imagine yourself walking in the middle of the Safari wearing nothing but underwear) but thankfully, they brought us to a water irrigation where we drank a lot from and almost bathed just to be refreshed (the water’s very cold and potable because it comes from the waterfalls).
After two hours, we have finally arrived! The falls was…okay…not really the big falls I was expecting (apparently because it was summer and the water going to the falls was scarce and even the river doesn’t have water in it) but you know what they say, ‘It’s the journey, not the destination.’ So since we were both very spent, we just enjoyed the fresh water, the view, and yes, our sun burn (lol).
4. There was no wind in the cove at night.
Yes, you read it right. No wind. It was the biggest revelation—we even brought blankets because we were expecting the temperature to be cold at night even though it was summer. But there was none. Na-da. It was really suffocating because there was no wind at all. It’s kinda frustrating as well because we could hear the wind but we feel nothing. This is because in April during at night, the wind comes from the mountains behind of the cove and not from the sea (not sure if it’s only in April, though). So yeah, you might want to schedule your trip a little bit early or if it can’t be helped and your trip really falls in April, bring battery-operated fans or just do it manually using your abanico.
5. No network coverage.
Be sure to save your snaps or if you’re a little too excited to update your status or post them pictures, you can do a little trekking up the hill (it’s on the left side of the cove facing the water and has a P10 entrance fee) or go island hopping at the Capones Island where there’s network coverage. I do suggest, however, to disconnect and connect with your loved ones instead. Do it the old school way!
These drawbacks are just one percent of the total experience of the trip and if I had the chance to do it over again, I still wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s the bumps in the ride that make it more exciting, anyway!
I hope that you can use these information to make the best getaway ever! Here is our 3-day itinerary and for those interested. Enjoy!
Take bus going to Iba Zambales via San Fernando. You can take ‘via SCTEX’ if you wish to arrive earlier (make sure to advise the driver to drop you off at San Antonio Municipal Hall).
11:30am San Antonio Municipal Hall
Walking distance from the Municipal Hall is the public market (ask locals for directions) where you can buy your needs for your stay. Make sure to buy enough stuff —there are sari-sari stores in the cove but their prices are 100% marked up.
12:15pm San Antonio Municipal Hall
After you’re done with shopping, just hail a tricycle (price for two is P70) going to Pundaquit Beach where the boats going to Nagsasa Cove are located. The boat we hired cost P2500 inclusive of island hopping. Sugar and I agreed to do the island hopping on our last day ‘cuz we are already tired from the long ride and hungry AF.
1:30pm Arrival at Nagsasa Cove ❤️
Trekked all the way to the falls
Arrived from trekking
This is the best time to trek the hill on the left side of the cove (facing the sea) so you can see the beautiful sunset.
Time to say goodbye to this beautiful creation of God.
11am Capones Island
We weren’t actually supposed to swim because our first plan was to just tour the island but the sand and the clear water was so inviting so we decided to have a quick dip.
12:45pm Pundaquit Beach
After swimming in Capones island we traveled to Pundaquit beach. Our guide accompanied us first to where we can take a shower for P20 each (it’s not a fancy shower but it does the trick). Right after, we headed back to San Antonio Municipal hall where we grabbed something to eat at 7 Eleven while waiting for a bus to Olongapo (from there, ride a bus going to Pasay).
Snaps I was able to save from expiring before I could even upload them on Snapchat and more memories we have created during our trip: