Anawangin Cove in Zambales was on my bucket list for 2009. My friends and I attempted to go there last July 19, 2009 but due to rains, while still in Subic we decided to abort. (Blog Post here). So almost half a year later (my how time flies) I decided it was once again time to Attempt the trip.
The map below is just my guess as to the actual location of Anawangin Cove from a map I took off Google Maps.
View Anawangin Cove, Zambales in a larger map
To get there, you drive to the town of San Antonio, Zambales (It is very easy to get there… after Olongapo, head towards Iba, at an intersection in San Marcelino, turn Left then head on till the end of the road.) As San Antonio is where one of best friends, Norman Jose, lives, I knew the place quite well.
From San Antonio, we then proceeded to the coastal barrio of Punaquit (aka Pundaquit Beach). To get there… at the end of the road, which is the bayan of San Antonio, turn Left into what seems like a minor road, following the major road to the right will get you to Iba. Then just follow signs to resorts in Pundaquit. If you pass a narrow metal bridge, you know you are on the right path.
When we got to Pundaquit, we followed the road until we located one of the many pay parking lots where visitors leave their car to catch a boat to Anawangin Cove, Capones Island, etc. The pay parking is just P50. You pay when you leave.
This trip did not need much planning. All one needs to know is what you want to do. Go to Anawangin Cove. No need for advanced arrangements. When we got there, as I expected enterprising boat men would approach you and ask if you had coordinated with anyone and needed a boat. At the parking lot itself, someone did so. And since I wasn’t about to make things complicated, we negotiated for boat. We had a typical sized bangka for the four of us and agreed upon P1000 (round trip)… which I felt for a 30 min (one way) trip for a party of 4 was quite reasonable… though I was told later I should’ve haggled for P800 or P200/pax. We then proceeded to shore aka boat parking.
I had been to Pundaquit once before. Norman and I went to see the place sometime in 2006 or so. It changed quite a bit in the 3+ years since I last saw it. There are more bamboo structures and overall it looked more crowded (wuth boats) since I last remembered it.
After discussing a few details with our boat dudes, we set of to buy some food. Almost every blog you read from people who have been to Anawangin (and even the locals) will say that you have to bring your food because there is nothing there if you wanted to buy food. We bought some drinks, corn, mangoes (or as Jonathan pronounced it, Meng-go), junk food and we were off.
Off to Anawangin Code
We boarded our boat and we were off!
Patrick Mineses, RD Cimafranca, Jonathan Guevarra, and myself.
The boat ride alone was quite interesting. While it was only around 30 min. The views on the way was something to behold.
The photos above are en route.
Approaching the Anawangin Cove Beach
The Anawangin Cove Urban Legend
If you scour the web for articles and blogs from those that have been to Anawangin Cove, there a number of constants:
- Great Camping Ground
- Virgin beach, no one around
- You need to bring everything (camp equipment, etc.)
- You need to bring your food
Ok. So I could not test #1… maybe someday… but as for everything else? A lot of the blogs out there have entries from previous years 2007 and older. Here is what I discovered.
1) As a camping ground
There a lot of campers. So I guess it’s great. I sure would want to try camping overnight of these days. And maybe trek to the place instead of taking a boat.
2) Virgin beach, no one around
Probably with all the people that have read the blogs and heard about Anawangin Cove, on this day, January 9, 2010 it seems like it isn’t the best kept secret anymore. Throughout the day, more and more boats arrived. Not that it was crowded. There was surely lots of space.
I foolishly thought we would be like one group out of a total of maybe 20-30 other people on the beach.
When we asked our boatman before leaving if there were a lot of people, they said “oo marami… kahapon pa” (Yes a lot, since yesterday).
3) You need to bring everything
Well, aside form your equipment, here is what you will find there..
Lots of picnic tables. In the shot above, look close, I didnt realize that the wooden benches blend into the background with all the trees. But while we are at it, lots of nice woods at the back.
That cement/hollow block structure is an array of toilet rooms. Those drums contain the water you need to flush them via the “buhos” method. The beach also had a number of deep water pumps for water. Anyway for those concerned about your biological requirements… don’t worry. I don’t know if the water is potable, but out of curiosity I tasted the water. Is was freshwater, pero may “lasa”.
I heard this is new. And according to Patrick, this is new. It wasn’t then when he went to Anawangin in 2007 or when RD went here in in 2006.
4) You need to bring your food
I guess when don’t know what to expect, it always prudent to bring your food. But… its not true that there is no one selling anything there…
We found a store which sold the basics, snacks, drinks (cold even), some food items like bread, egggs, sauces (toyo, vinegar), shampoo, conditioner, etc. . They even sold Styrofoam cups, plates etc.
Walking further down the beach, you will find smaller stores.
I forgot to take a picture, but it was complete with two ice cream men walking around with hand bells and big Styrofoam coolers they lug around and sold two items… chocolate pinipig ice cream bars and buko salad ice cream sticks. Sold for P15 per piece.
Dispelling the mystic that is Anawangin
I am not saying that Anawangin didn’t live up to its reputation, it is a great place nonetheless for those that don’t like the commercialized destinations like Boracay.
It’s just that from all the travel blogs one might have certain preconceived notions of the place of being virginal. While it is still undeveloped, apparently a lot of people have gone to Anawangin that it is no longer the secret that it once was. Development is in its early stages and for good or bad, expect the subtle development to increase as the destination becomes more popular and more famous.
I guess that is the problem with Eco tourism. You find some undiscovered gem. You talk about it, blog about it, or some Travel Show does a documentary piece on it. The local government/town folk develop it to make it more tourist friendly like providing transportation or even putting a toilet. And there you have it… an honest to goodness tourist destination that ends up on Trip Advisor and the host of travel blogs like Lakwatsero.ME (ulp).
Update: To see some of the “development” from what I mentioned above, I came back five months later to see that a lot has changed. Check it out here: http://lakwatsero.me/2010/06/05/capones-island-and-to-anawangin-cove-zambales-june-1-2010/
Was Anawangin Cove what I expected… not entirely. But that didn’t mean it wasn’t a beautiful and breadth taking place.
Some more pictures…
In retrospect, Its a place I’d like to return to and spend more time in.
UPDATE: A lot of changes in a few months.
I came back on June 1, 2010:
Among other things, they have more showers and toilets!