Growing up, I never really had the chance to camp out, even as an adult. The most I had ever done was put up a tent in my backyard and to drink a bottle of wine under the pouring rain only to realize that water seeps through the bottom. (Duh!) The experience was short-lived. Everything I knew about camping had been picked up from movies.
During the long weekend, we finally decided to leave town and camp for real. Zambales, approximately 3.5 hours from Metro Manila, is a trending location for beach camping for its coves and islands. Cut-off from civilization, the coves along the coastline are surrounded by grassy hills called Cinco Picos.
You can hike to the coves, but it would take an entire day. The easier way is to charter a boat from Pundaquit to take you to your cove of choice. Nagsasa Cove is a 1.5-hour boat ride from Pundaquit. The view was amazing! We passed several coves before reaching Nagsasa.
We got a voucher online so the entire package was just PHP 800/person. It was the more practical move because there were only 2 of us travelling, so we shared the boat with 6 others. However, if you’re planning to travel with a larger group, you can charter your own boat in the area for about PHP 1,000 to PHP 2,000 depending on the size of the boat.
One of the first things we did when we arrived was pitch our tent (inclusive in the voucher). Well, actually, one of the kuyas did it for us. At that point, we were just really tired, hungry and thirsty even though all we did was sit in a boat for over an hour.
…and then we got to cooking. While the use of the cooking ware was free, we had to deposit PHP 100 per ware. We would get the money back if we return them clean. Apparently, we had to bring our own detergent, which we did not, so we kinda “borrowed” some from the other campers. We weren’t really sure who owned it, but it was just there on the sink. (Yes, there is running water. There’s a also a toilet, but no shower. They use a pail and a dipper, which is a luxury in the outdoors.)
Because we were noobs, I packed us canned food and crackers as opposed to raw ingredients. I kinda knew that starting a fire would be hard. We bought coal (PHP 100 per bag) and scrounged for dried leaves. We were dirty by the time we realized we were doing something wrong. We ended up asking kuya to do it for us, then we learned that we had to dig a pit first. Our first meal was vienna sausage. Yum!
Later on, I realized it was better to heat the food in the can since the fires weren’t the strong anyway. I left the canned food for an hour over the embers. Just in time for dinner. (Update: We can add a couple more hundred Pesos per person to get 3 meals prepared.)
There’s pretty much nothing to do on the beach except drink and chill. The second time we came to Nagsasa Cove, we had our matching Inflatable Couches. Because of the sea breeze, it didn’t take long for us to swish-swoosh the couches to life.
One of the activities on the cove apart from beach bumming is to hike up the hill. It has an awesome view of the cove. We went up on our own, but found it difficult halfway up because the path tends to split into 3 ways every few minutes, so we weren’t really sure where we were going. The locals also serve as guides but charge PHP 100 per head.
There’s a waterfall an hour’s trek away, but we were too lazy and tired to go. Instead, we just waited for the sun to set, and admired the view. That evening, we brought our tent out to the beach and went star-gazing. The sky was beautifully lit by hundreds of stars that we normally couldn’t see in the city due to light pollution. I actually saw the depth of the universe. We slept on the beach, but not before enjoying the bonfire and roasting marshmallows.
On our way back to Pundaquit the next day, we stopped by Capones Island. There’s a lighthouse on this piece of rock, but we couldn’t dock because the waves were too strong, and the shore was too rocky. We actually had to go chest-deep in water just to get to shore, climbing over slippery rocks.
Just like the day before, we got a spectacular view of the hills and the coves, which stretched on for miles. The entire experience made the sacrifice of luxury worthwhile. I would do it again if offered the opportunity, but this time, I would come a bit more prepared…and with more friends who can cook real food. 🙂