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May 17, 2016

Neil Writes About Nagsasa Cove!

For several years now I have been hearing about beautiful beach sanctuaries several hours from Manila. Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves would always be part of that conversation. So when a friend of mine said they were going on a trip to Nagsasa Cove, I jumped ship!

The view that greeted us!

Manila to San Antonio, Zambales

We were lucky enough to form a group of nine people so we decided to hire a driver and a van. What We got was this wonderful gentleman, driver Noel. His van was a big Toyota Grandia. It was big enough for the nine of us and our luggages and our necessities. 

Our pick-up point was along EDSA-Shaw blvd where we also had our breakfast at a local fast food joint. We left at 7 AM. Ideally, the drive would take two hours if without traffic. 

A sneak peak of what's to come!

Unfortunately, traffic in Manila is nothing new. It took us an hour to get from our pick-up point at Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City to the Toll gates at NLEX. It took another hour to get through the toll exit booths and to Subic. From Subic it was another hour to get to San Antonio, Zambales. 

It was a long ride. Along the way, most of us were either chatting, sleeping or eating. (What else is new?) 

The hut where we waited for our boat!

San Antonio, Zambales to Nagsasa Cove

San Antonio is an interesting little town. It was obvious that tourism was a major source of income for its local. The many small travel agencies, the number locals trying to sell you local crafts, the plentiful food stalls and the large number of parking lots.

Once we arrived, our guide, met us and lead us to their hut where we would rest as we waited for our boat ride. The quickest way to get to the cove is by Boat. You would have to traverse the mountain range if you were to get to it by land. 


The boat ride itself is an hour long. At first, the waves would be a cause for concern, but after a while it grows on you. You begin to notice how beautiful the water is when it glistens against the sun and how the mountains and cliffs flaunt their majestic nature. 

As we reached the cove itself, the water began to calm and the view of the pine trees were a sign that we were indeed near.

Timing is everything

Nagsasa Cove Day One

As we near the shore, the engine was turned off and we were drifting towards the shore while our captain guided the boat with the fin controls. The first mate went ahead to the nose of the boat to prepare for anchor drop. After dropping anchor, he guided the nose of the boat to land safely.

Land Ho!

As the boat sat still as it can, we dropped off and the boatmen soon helped with our luggages. They then led us to our camp site and prepared our tents. 

Picnic tables and tents!
After the tents were built, we settled in our own tents and proceeded to do our own thing. Some prepared the meal, some prepared for a swim and I prepared for a photowalk.

Still water Reflections!

It was the afternoon and the low tide began to take effect. From the camp site, I walked while taking my time with capturing pictures at my leisure. I made my way to the river where I passed by various forms of vegetation. Some with thorns and some with none. I made it to the river bed where there were various round stones that gave me a hard time traversing. Eventually I made it to open field where you have a full view of the mountain range.


I crossed the river and was met with a grassy plane. The grass was were at chest level. Fortunately, there were signs of a path that was worn down by frequent use. I navigated through the path until I reached the pine trees. It wasn't long till I found my way to the camp site on the other side of the cove.

I took continued to take pictures and after two hours of wanderlust I decided to go back to camp.
At the same time, the people who took a dip arrived at the camp to dry up. We were all on time for dinner. The only problem was, there were no lights. We had to eat with just the LED lights from our phones. It was quite the challenge.

After dinner, we gathered around a bonfire that we just lit and played some drinking games while playing a board game. It was crazy fun.

The River Bed!

Nagsasa Cove Day Two

I went to bed at 9.30 PM and awoke at 12.30 AM. I decided to take a walk as I felt too well rested to fall back asleep. When I got out of my tent, I saw the trees right across from me and behind it was the Milky Way. I was breathe taking. I had forgotten how beautiful the stars were and how plentiful they were. From the edge of the ocean in front of me to the mountains behind me, All I could see were stars.

Before Sunrise (Watch the Movie)
There was just something about it. It was so quiet that you could only hear the cold ocean wind hitting the curves of your ear lobes, the ocean waves slamming itself towards the shore and the insects making their mating calls. It was beautiful and it was serene. It was so relaxing.

I wanted to take pictures of the stars but I forgot my tripod. Bring one if you can! The stars are too pretty to miss out on. I then laid down on a picnic table and just stared at the stars until 3.30 AM where I fell asleep.

The sun is about to rise!

I woke up at 5AM and felt so relaxed, relieved and revitalised. I haven't been to the beach in a long time. The serenity of the place did its job. I took a shower right after waking up. It was quite an experience being able to Shower with a faucet and pail again. I changed clothes and saw that the sun was about to rise so I ran to the other side of the cove for another photowalk.

I finished at around 6.30 and breakfast was almost done. We decided to help set the table and we ate.
Most of the food we cooked were bought fresh from the market in Manila. The Travel agency provided ice, gas, stove, coal and utensils.

Watch my shadow break free!

At 9AM everybody was done taking a bath and suiting up. We then headed for the hiking trail where we could see the whole cove. The climb itself was pretty quick. We got to the top in 20 minutes. It was the trek down that was more intense.

We reached the foot of the mountain after a short while and we saw a great spot to swim. It was near the rocks but the mountain was providing a amount of shade that gave the area a cooler swim than the rest of the cove.

We swam until 11 AM and after a quick wash, we ate lunch. After that we started packing and waited for our boat ride to Capones Island.

Near the top!

Capones Island

Capones Island is the island right across the beach where our waiting hut was in San Antonio Village. It took nearly an hour to get there from Nagsasa. The Island itself is beautiful with white sand, clear water and sculpted cliffs. The only thing was we couldn't climb it and reach the light house. 

So after a couple of minutes of taking in the view we left for San Antonio where we had our last time to wash ourselves of the sand and salt water. We took our baths in the travel agency's hut and after suiting up we packed up and got on our van and left for Manila.

Capones Island!

San Antonio, Zambales to Manila

The ride back took three hours which was roughly the same as our trip to San Antonio. We left at 4PM and got to Manila at 8PM because we decided to stop over to have dinner at a McDonald's in Subic. The trip was so relaxing.


Total Php 18,000 for Nine People
Php 2000.00 per head
Php 1000 for Van and Driver
Php 700 for Travel Agency (Boat, Tent, Utilities, Ice, Assistance)
Php 400 for Groceries and Food

The Verdict

What we Liked:

  • Several hours away from Manila
  • Php 700 Travel Agency fee is a great value!
  • The Van was the most expensive part of the trip but at least we were safe and comfortable
  • Nagsasa is not the prettiest place but it sure makes up for with Serenity
  • Kind locals
  • There are sari-sari stores with sodas, junk food, coffee, beer, soap, shampoo and the like

What we ALMOST Liked:

  • Can be crowded during peak seasons and there was an area of the cove where most people were. ( We were lucky to be on the side where there were few people)
  • Not much to do but Swimming, barbecuing, hiking and exploration
  • White sand on top of black sand


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