Everyone knows Subic and Zambales for their white beaches and of course duty-free malls. I can still remember way back as a kid, my mom used to love shopping in Subic before the birth of high-breed supermarkets that offer both local and imported items. On the other hand, Zambales is also known as the home province of the majestic Mt. Pinatubo (which I haven’t explored yet and is still pending in my bucket list), the volcano that caused chaos back in 1990, but is now a major trekking destination in the country.
Last week, during the non-working holidays due to APEC Summit, we opted to leave Manila to maximise the long vacation and to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city. We decided to go to San Narciso, Zambales. It was a four to five-hour drive from Metro Manila and it was definitely worth the travel.
It was quiet, peaceful, and just the perfect place to be at if you’re looking for a serene location just outside the Metro.
We stayed in Crystal Beach where we found a haven. It was quiet, peaceful, and just the perfect place to be in if you’re looking for a serene location just outside the Metro. The mood and the vibe of the beach gives you a feeling that you wouldn’t want to go back to Manila anymore and just stay at the resort.
It wasn’t a surprise at all since the resort itself is a popular resort for retreats and team buildings. Not to mention, unlike other beaches, the resort has the right mix of greens with the Agoho Trees providing enough shade and contrast against the blue sky and the white sand.
The beach is a sight to behold! There’s not much crowd and is perfect for relaxation. There are enough umbrellas and beach chairs to accommodate those who’d want to savour the sea breeze, and more than enough white sand and water to keep you rolling (literally and figuratively. Haha)!
The beach is facing the West Philippine Sea, yes the West! Of course, it means we have had the opportunity and pleasure to watch the sunset. At first, I thought the sun will not grace us with its famed sunset because it was cloudy then. Little that I know, it is what will make the sunset even look more stunning!
I thought the sunset is already the highlight of the trip, but it is not. If there’s one thing that I enjoyed big-time, it was when I laid my back against the beach chair, took off my sandals, grabbed a cold can of beer, relaxed and gazed at the stars. We were lucky because we arrived on the day that they have an acoustic night. It’s a simple night where people can chill by the beach around a bonfire and let the time pass by.
Though our stay at Crystal Beach was fun and relaxing, in general, there are some things that you might find a bit disappointing, too.
1. Their restaurants do have a cut-off during non-peak hours and have limited inventories in terms of ingredients. We experienced this when we ordered halo-halo and they told us that we’re past the cut-off. We then decided to order for fruit shakes, but most of the flavours are not available as well.
2. They say that San Narciso is an option for surfing enthusiasts who are looking for a sweet surfing spot near Manila. However, waves are close to none when we went there. We had to go to a nearby town for us to ride waves approximately 1.5 feet. Baler is still the best surfing destination for me.
3. If you’d want to have a massage, schedule it ahead of time if you’re planning to do it at night before you sleep. Their masahistas are not available past 10PM.
Despite and in spite of everything, it is still one of the best overnight vacations that we’ve had thus far. The facilities are clean, the people are nice and friendly, and the place is truly stunning and picturesque.
We spent around PhP9,600 for the accommodation, drinks (beers included) and food (lots of good and tasty food!) for 6 individuals, which is actually not bad! If you’d want to know more about Crystal Beach, you can visit their website at http://crystalbeach.com.ph.
Truly, San Narciso is an underrated option if you’d want to experience beach life in Zambales minus the crowd that you’d get in Subic. It gives tourists a place to relax and unwind outside Metro Manila, without having to book airlines or travel for more than 10 hours, and is best for quick holiday trips.