The good thing about landing at the Philippines’ city centre, Metro Manila, is its proximity to nearby destinations that offer a slice of paradise just a few hours away. When the hustle and bustle of the city gets the better of you, a quick escapade to the neighbouring province of Zambales will reset your weary, city-drenched soul with invigorating landscapes, immersive cultural experiences, and fun-filled activities that will make your trip a memorable one. Here are the must-visit places in this northern Philippine province where you can relax and enjoy the majestic scenery, play around, try new things, or all of the above.
Accessible via a 20-minute boat ride from Brgy. Pundaquit in San Antonio, Anawangin Cove is one of the many spots you can island-hop to when you’re in the area. Serious campers and beach-lovers prefer this cove for its understated beauty—the ashen beach is filled with towering agoho, or sea pine trees, sheltered behind a mountain, and has definitely become more popular over the years. With no mobile signal in the area, travellers are guaranteed a quiet and peaceful time, away from all the distractions and busyness of everyday life. Bring your tents and camping essentials, grill your own food, go for a swim, or hop on some water activities like a banana boat ride. You can also check out other surrounding islands like Capones, Nagsasa, and Camara, and watch the twinkling stars come night time.
This water park in Subic Bay is the biggest floating playground in Asia, boasting of 4,200 square metres of inflated slides, towers, bridges, human launchers, swings, and a lot more. The Instagrammable spot highlights a huge inflatable unicorn called the Unicornzilla in the middle of the park. The shore, on the other hand, is divided into three parts, each carrying a unique theme of its own—choose to lie back and relax at the Pink and Purple Bali Lounge, the Pink Jungle, or the Sunflower Lounge. Play passes are available for one-hour, two-hour, half-day, and whole-day access to Inflatable Island’s facilities and start at PHP 499 up to PHP 699.
Another gem of San Antonio is Casa San Miguel, a cultural retreat destination that’s been home to many local musicians. The rustic bed-and-breakfast is enveloped in a lush orchard—a restorative space for travellers looking for a place where art, music, and culture collide. Apart from a relaxing overnight stay, guests can enjoy viewing art made by local artists at the in-house museum, delightful eats at the Casa Backstage Cafe, and recitals by students enrolled in Casa San Miguel’s music school program at the concert hall.
If you’re looking for a surfing spot in Zambales, Crystal Beach Resort is one of the go-to places in the province. The resort owns a surf school within the property, so beginners can easily rent a board and hire an instructor to experience riding the waves. Sun worshippers also frequent the place, as the expansive beach area makes it suitable for both solo and group travellers looking for a refreshing dip all year round. Yogis are welcome to join the free sunrise and sunset yoga, and massage areas are available for those seeking a relaxing body treatment by the sea. At night, go stargazing as you sit at beach mats while watching acoustic night performances every weekend, with occasional fire dancing numbers if you’re lucky.
The road to Isla de Potipot, or Potipot Island, located in Candelaria, Zambales is quite a long ride—it will take travellers a good six to seven hours of land and sea travel before you reach this destination. Do not fret, though, as the beach getaway is totally worth the trouble! Less frequented by the crowd, arriving at this location welcomes you with a sweet, serene vibe, clear, turquoise waters, white sand, rough coral stones, and a magnificent view of the province’s mountain range. Camping is also a popular activity here, so get ready to pitch your tents by the shore. There are areas where you can snorkel and take in the beauty of the underwater world. Kayak rentals are available, too. The best part? You can catch both the sunrise and sunset during your stay here.