My first of many adventures started out on a mundane February 2014 Saturday afternoon, on a gathering of familiar faces over coffee and pastries. A friend saw a promo package to Nagsasa Cove. Immediately, we turned to planning mode and availed the promo. And so began my first travel adventure, with my high school friends.
How we got there
Nagsasa Cove is located in the municipality of San Antonio, Zambales, about four to five hours from Manila. As our package didn’t cover transportation from Manila to San Antonio, we had to commute from Manila to Olongapo then to San Antonio.
We met at Victory Liners station in Cubao in time to get the 3AM trip to Olongapo. After three hours, we alighted at Olongapo where we had our breakfast first before continuing our trip. Victory Liner also has trips passing by San Antonio so we didn’t have to go far for our connecting trip.
From Olongapo, it took us another hour and a half to reach San Antonio municipal hall which is our meeting point. While waiting for our guides, we took the time to purchase food that we are going to cook upon reaching the island.
From San Antonio municipal hall, we rode tricycles to Pundaquit Beach which is our jump-off point for Nagsasa Cove. Pundaquit Beach is also the jump-off point for Anawangin Cove, a similarly renowned destination on the coastline of San Antonio. From Pundaquit, it takes about an hour to an hour and a half to reach Nagsasa Cove by boat. On our boat, there were about 15 individuals, seven of which was part of my group.
Capones Island and Lighthouse
Our Nagsasa adventure started with a short hop to Capones Island. Unlike most tours though, our guides gave us an unorthodox entry to the island. Instead of the boat docking at the beach which is a bit away from the lighthouse, our boat anchored on the more rocky side of the island which is nearer to the lighthouse. The catch, however, is for us to swim from the boat to the shore through a rope that ties the boat to the shore.
At first, we were a bit surprised because we are the only boat which docked on that side of the island. No one wanted to take the challenge of swimming to the island. We all thought it was a joke. But then my friends reluctantly got up and said “Ok, let’s do this.” I was hesitant too but if they say they’re doing it, then what’s to prevent me from doing so too.
So there, we, the mountaineers from Cordillera were the first ones to swim from the boat to the rocky shore. We left our flipflops on the boat as it might get swept by the waves (our first mistake). Upon landing on the shore, we discovered how painful it was to walk barefooted on the sharp rocks of the shore. Nonetheless, we pushed through and trekked to the lighthouse. We reached our destination after about 10 to 15 minutes of trek.
The abandoned lighthouse was already inundated by the various elements that struck the island. Fortunately for the travelers, it is standing sturdy. Though the iron parts and stairs were already rusty, we were able to reach the top unscathed. The view is magnificent! That’s when we realized our second mistake, we didn’t bring our cameras. But then, it would have been as risky as well.
After breathing in that sea breeze, we went down for our trek back to the shore. Just like the way we entered the island, we swam back to our boat. Though we weren’t able to take any pictures at the lighthouse, we’re still happy with the sight we’ve just witnessed.
Caveat if you want to try this daredevil-ish feat, always keep your entire body parallel to the sea to avoid getting wounded by the sharp rocks, especially on the shallow parts near the shore.
To Anawangin Cove
Before reaching Nagsasa Cove, we made a short stopover at Anawangin Cove. Anawangin, back then, was the more famous destination until the other coves on the coast of San Antonio were opened to travelers.
As the sun was already high, we didn’t get much time to enjoy the ambiance that the quaint coast offered. Nonetheless, Anawangin’s backward-ish vibe offers a relief to the harried city soul.
After taking pictures at Anawangin, we buckled up for our ride to the last stop, Nagsasa Cove. Upon alighting from the boat, we took a quick breather before setting up to cook for lunch. The agency already provided us with the cooking utensils. However, we must build the fire on our own. Not much of a challenge for us mountaineers 😉
While preparing our lunch, we also took the time to setup our tent. The tents were also provided by the agency. Each tent can accommodate up to four individuals. For few moments, we took in our surroundings, especially the tranquility that beset us in this off-the-beaten track destination.
Everything just started moving slow but we didn’t mind. We are no longer rushing our lives like we do in the urban hubbub. Though there’s a flurry of activities surrounding us, the chaos is nothing compared to the catastrophe we left behind for just a couple of days. Nagsasa is protected by mountains on all sides, a reminder of our hometown.
When the high sun started to go down on the horizon, we started to explore the nooks and crannies of Nagsasa. The sand is fine and grainy, but unlike its Boracay counterpart, is grayish in color. Further reading mentioned that the transformation is an offshoot of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991.
Of Sunsets and Pictures
Located on the western side of the Philippines, Nagsasa is a perfect spot for sunset viewing. Never one to back out on these opportunities, we immediately brought out our phones and cameras to take a snap of the breathtaking view. Jump shots were aplenty, and so were silhouette shots. I guess there’s just something about a beautiful sunset that brings out the creativity and playfulness in one.
When we got tired taking pictures, we went back to camp to cook our dinner. As was before, each contributed in the endeavor. Some made the fire while some diced and sliced. On the side, everyone’s sharing anecdotes while mellow songs were being played. Life is moving on wander-ful pace.
After dinner, we came down the shore again to build a bonfire. We also brought some wine to drown the night away. The serenity that surrounded us is enough to recall some nostalgic moments during our high school years. Laughter was abound though some of us started feeling weary. We lay on the sand and just enjoyed our laid back environs.
As lights out is set at 11PM, we all returned to camp and took shower one by one before going to sleep. The shower rooms can accommodate one at a time only and we are not too keen on the prospect of bathing in the dark.
We woke up early the next day to take advantage of our remaining hours on the cove. The early morning allure of the waters is just too much for us to resist the temptation. The beauty of the island has become more palpable with the rising sun. The water is so clear one can see the sea floor. Moreover, it is shallow for a long stretch, thus, a great place to swim.
We also played on the shore and built our own sandcastle. We wrote our names on the sand and just had a wonderful time, knowing that by the end of the day, we will be back in that urban bedlam. We took our last few hours in the island to rejuvenate our harried souls, convalescing our tired spirits by drinking in the endless manna that this quaint and serene place offered.
That is how we concluded our short shindig, just having fun on the crystal blue waters of Nagsasa. We had so much fun that the after taste made us want to long for more adventures. When we returned to Manila, I didn’t notice much as time passed me by, and by 11 PM of the same day, we’re already back.
Each of us spent a little over 2,000 PHP for the trip. 1,200 is for the tour package alone. Didn’t have much breakdown unfortunately to help future travelers 😦