It is no secret that Zambales, a province in the Philippines, is home to several natural wonders. From the beautiful disaster Mt. Pinatubo to the white-sand beaches with spectacular sunsets, which are the reasons why Zambales became a go-to place for beach and mountain adventures. Another reason why Zambales is a popular travel destination is due to its proximity to the country’s capital and likewise because it is studded with coves that are sure to give travelers a peaceful escape away from the metro. One of the must-see coves is Nagsasa Cove.
Nagsasa Cove – Zambales’ Secluded Treasure
Unlike its sister-cove Anawangin, Nagsasa Cove is quite far from the urban areas making it a perfect place to camp and have a beach experience away from the city.
In Nagsasa, you’ll be surrounded by natural wonders — in front of the beach you’ll be mesmerised by the serenity of Nagsasa Bay that is connected to the West Philippine Sea, while just behind the Cove’s shoreline stands the majestic landscape of Nagsasa, Balingkilat, and Cinco Picos (Five Peaks) Mountains.
It is said that its current natural state is far from how it was before the Mt. Pinatubo erupted. The Cove’s shoreline was rocky, in contrast to its current grey sand that is believed to have originated from Mt. Pinatubo’s volcanic ash. The now barren slopes of the mountains used to be studded with tropical rainforests. And the now relatively shallow bay was said to be teeming with rich marine life and resources.
Although the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo has drastically changed its landscape, its current state remains remarkable and worthy of one’s admiration.
Planning on heading to Nagsasa Cove? Here’s what you need to know.
Getting to Nagsasa Cove
You can get to Nagsasa Cove by taking land travel plus riding a boat or hiking mountains.
Metro Manila (Cubao) – San Antonio – Pundaquit Port (land/sea, 4 – 6 hours)
Take a Victory Liner bus from Cubao or Pasay Terminal heading to Iba or Sta Cruz. Ask the bus operator to drop you off at San Antonio Bus Terminal. From there, take a tricycle to Pundaquit Port. Upon arrival, hire a chartered boat to get to the Cove. This route will approximately cost PhP 350 – 400 (USD 6.7 – 7.7) per person, excluding the boat ride expenses. A chartered boat could start from PhP 1,500 (USD 29) depending on its size and the number of individuals it could transport.
Metro Manila – Olongapo – Sitio San Martin (land/trek/hike, 7 – 8 hours)
Take a Victory Liner bus heading to Olongapo City. From there, you can ride or hire a jeepney to head to the hiking jumpoff point in Sitio San Martin Zambales. From there, process the necessary permissions from the local government and the Aetas. The trek could take approximately 6 hours. This route could cost PhP 300 – 400 (USD 6.7 – 7.7) per person, excluding payment for the guide, environmental and permit fees. If you plan on taking this route, it would be best to secure permits in advance and consult professional local mountaineers.
Note: The rates could vary especially during peak seasons and may change accordingly.
Nagsasa Cove Activities
If you’re looking for a peaceful escape, Nagsasa Cove may be the best destination for you. The Cove will make you appreciate these simple and relaxing activities:
1. Enjoy the Cove’s beach – Nagsasa’s shoreline may not have a white sand that most people adore, but its grey sand does not make it less worthy of a beach bum’s attention. Not to mention, the view, while you are basking under the sun, is a lot more breathtaking being surrounded by Zambales’ mountain ranges.
2. Climb the Nagsasa Hill – Seeing the Cove from the ground makes it appear like any other regular beaches. However, once you climbed up the hill, just a 15-minute trek away from the camping site, you’ll be astonished to see the Cove’s crescent-shaped shoreline that is truly amazing.
3. Be one with nature by the creek – If you’re facing the Nagsasa Bay, walk to your right until you reach almost the edge of the shoreline. To your right, you’ll see a creek facing the mountain and you could even sit at the edge of the sand while dipping your feet in its shallow water to meditate, relax, or simply be one with nature.
Camping in Nagsasa Cove
Nagsasa Cove doesn’t have a resort. However, the shade provided by the Agoho trees is more than enough to let travelers camp in the area. The camping fee ranges from PhP 100 – 200 (USD 2 – 4). There are also tents available for rent. Rental fee varies depending on the size of the tent.
If you booked your trip via a tour operator, they could already provide everything you need including the tent and cooking utensils. Also, since there are no establishments in Nagsasa, you must bring your own food. It would be best to buy food in San Antonio’s public market and cook it upon arrival at the Cove.
Here are top harv experiences you shouldn’t miss while in Nagsasa Cove:
1. Disconnect and reconnect – Nagsasa Cove does not have any signal coverage. No chance for you to do Instagram or Facebook stories, or even send a text message to anyone. For the internet generation, this may be a nightmare. But for a genuine traveler, this is a perfect opportunity to disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with nature and with the people you are with during the trip. Nothing’s more fulfilling while traveling than doing exactly just that.
2. Climb the hill, see the view – Your trip to Nagsasa Cove wouldn’t be complete if you would not see the Cove from the Nagsasa Hill. The view is just striking and is very much the highlight of the trip.
Tips and reminders
1. No electricity, no signal – There’s no signal at all in the area. It would be best to inform your loved ones, friends or workmates about it. There is also no power.
2. Pack-up camping essentials – Bring matchsticks/lighters, flashlights, power banks, insect repellents, swiss knife, can opener, camping food, sleeping bags, coal or butane burners, and other camping essentials.
3. Buy food from the public market in San Antonio – There are no establishments that offer food in the Cove. It’s best to bring your own food or buy ingredients from San Antonio’s public market prior to going to Pundaquit.
4. Boat rides could be bumpy – Getting to Nagsasa Cove means that you’ll have to endure an hour of bumpy boat ride regardless of the weather condition. If you’re prone to seasickness, make sure to take an antiemetic prior.
5. Bring an emergency kit – This may sound like a basic reminder but let’s admit it, a lot of travelers disregard bringing this basic travel essential. It is highly advisable to bring an emergency kit to a secluded, no signal coverage place like Nagsasa. Make sure you pack antihistamines, maintenance medications, antiseptic, and first-aid topical medicines with you.
6. Leave no trace behind – Nagsasa is one of those destinations that isn’t as polluted as compared to other beaches. Let’s keep it that way. Also, please do not vandalise on the rocks in the area.
A Secluded Witness and Survivor
Nagsasa Cove has witnessed one of the most devastating disasters in the Philippine history and is one of the survivors that’s proved that nature is indeed a master of art and creation. Its secluded landscape could leave anyone speechless and the opportunity it offers to be away from distractions offered by the urban and online world, are indeed refreshing and truly helpful.
The world is fast-changing, and as much as we want to keep natural treasures like Nagsasa as secluded as possible, preventing progress, development and growth is seemingly impossible. What we can do, however, is to positively contribute to their preservation and conservation — in both simple and grand ways.