Every now and then, we need to walk away from the rest of the world, to hide from the demons of our lives and the masquerades of society. Being disconnected for 24 hours on a secluded beach in Silanguin Cove with literally no one else except our boatman, the caretaker and his 5 dogs provided us the solace and sanctuary we sought. In the beginning, we experienced withdrawal from losing access to the internet and social media, but the uneasiness was instantly replaced with awe the moment we unmounted the boat and our toes buried in the fine sand.
Surrounded by mounds covered in tall grass and lone trees, the Zambales Coves are known for their ash-colored beaches and fir trees. The scene looks nothing like the tropical overgrowth associated with the Philippines. Instead, it seemed like a piece of Marlborough country was dropped on the coasts of Zambales.
When people hear Zambales, they think of the more popular coves: Anawangin, Talisayen and Nagsasa. Silanguin Cove, the fourth and last cove, is often overlooked because of its distance from Pundaquit. However, Silanguin also has the largest beach, which begs the question why people choose to crowd around Anawangin. Come on, guys! Silanguin is just an extra hour away by boat!
Yearning to go out of town again, Miguel and I went on a romantic getaway to the nearest beach from Metro Manila that wasn’t Batangas. Giving up on tour packages, we decided to do a DIY trip to Silanguin Cove, an adventure in itself. The bus ride from Cubao to San Antonio, Zambales took roughly 5 hours (~PHP 500 round-trip), and the boat ride cost us an extra 1.5 hours, but it was well worth the time, because Silanguin Cove was deserted. There was practically no one there! We basically owned the beach.
Before we actually found a boat, we stopped by the San Antonio Public Market first, which was right behind the Municipal Hall where the bus dropped us off. We got ourselves some things to cook with like:
-Coal (PHP 10/bag)
-Oil (PHP 10/bag)
-BBQ Sticks (PHP 12)
-Pork (PHP 220/kg)
At the wet market, one of the tinderos asked us if we were going to Pundaquit, because he had a referral: Ka Luis. While Pundaquit is lined with resorts renting out boats, it helps to have a contact.
We walked around the block to the local grocery (bodega style) to get other essentials:
-Detergent (PHP 5)
-Off Overtime (PHP 163)
-Wilkins Water 5L (PHP 81)
Right outside the grocery was a line of tricycles. Based on our due diligence, the trike rate should only be PHP 30/person, but the trike driver wanted to charge us PHP 35 because he figured he wasn’t going to get any pasahero on the way back. Not our problem, buddy. We struck a deal, saying that he can come pick us up the day after just to ensure sales.
We drove towards the beach resorts, stopping by a roadside tourist center where we had to pay the environment fee of PHP 20/person.
At the Ka Luis resort, we met with Kuya Luis himself. The original boat rental rate was PHP 3,000 to Silanguin Cove but we managed to bring the price rate down to PHP 2,500. Unlike my previous trips to Anawangin and Nagsasa, our boatman stayed overnight with us, because Silanguin was too far and too costly for him to return from in the same afternoon only to return the following morning. We gave him some snacks and a 200-peso tip when we returned the following day.
There were only 2 or 3 distinct resorts on Silanguin beach. Our resort–the middle one–had a spacious camping ground sufficiently covered by foliage. While the resort rented out cabanas, we brought our own tent, so the only thing we had to pay for was the entrance fee of PHP 20/person. Including the bonfire for PHP 200, we spent around PHP 2,500 per person that weekend.
Things to do in Silanguin Cove
1. Chill by the Beach
Swim, get a tan, play volleyball, card games, drinking games…anything! Literally anything goes.
Well, hey, you came to a secluded beach to escape and find peace, right? Do yoga or something!
3. Explore the Beach.
We walked along the stony coast. The remote parts of the beach were the most picturesque.
4. Watch the Pink Sunset.
The sun set behind the hills enclosing the cove, leaving behind a pink glow in the horizon.
5. Light a Bonfire
Ask kuya to light you a bonfire for PHP 200 and sing the “Campfire Song” or, in this case, play ukulele music. Miguel had his ukulele shipped all the way from Canada so that he could serenade me by a campfire.
6. Star Gazing
The best part of beach camping on an isolated island or beach is the absence of light pollution. When I started beach camping, I learned that the stars appear to follow the moon; they don’t come out until after the moon has gone, which is usually around 2 AM to 4 AM. It’s the best time of the night to catch the stars twinkling in the night sky, as well as to ponder the vastness of the universe.
How to Get to Silanguin Cove
Pretty much like any other cove in Zambales, you’ll have to go through Pundaquit, San Antonio. The alternate route is to go through Subic. While you spend less time on the road, you spend more time on the hard waves.
Having a new found appreciation for commuting, Miguel and I took a Victory Liner bus bound for Olongapo, then got on another bus bound for Iba or Sta. Cruz, getting off at San Antonio Municipal Hall. From there, we took a tricycle (or trike) to Pundaquit. Coming home was just in reverse.
Manila to Pundaquit
Option 1: Cubao to Iba or Sta. Cruz (~PHP 260) – 4.5 hrs
Option 2: Cubao to Olongapo (PHP 212/person) + Olongapo to San Antonio Municipal Hall (PHP 58/person) (bound for Iba or Sta. Cruz) – 5 hrs
Trike: San Antonio Municipal Hall to Pundaquit (PHP 30-PHP 35/person)
Pundaquit to Manila
Trike: Pundaquit to San Antonio Municipal Hall (PHP 30-PHP 35/person)
Option 1: San Antonio Municipal Hall to Cubao (PHP 265/person) – 4.5 hrs
Option 2: San Antonio Municipal Hall to Olongapo (PHP 58/person) + Olongapo to Cubao (PHP 212/person) – 5 hrs
Option 3: San Antonio Municipal Hall to Sampaloc (PHP 265/person) – 6 hrs