There was a time when the phrase “beach near Manila” was synonymous with a place in Zambales. Subic, a coastal municipality, was the go-to destination for beach-lovers. It had almost everything a Manila urbanite seeking a quick escape could ask for: a seaside hideaway, top-notch resorts, and a chance to go shopping in peace. On top of all that, it is just an easy drive away.

Today, one could say that Subic is so last decade. Yes, many other hidden gems have been uncovered and other concealed coves have been revealed, but Zambales never left the radar of sun-worshipping weekend warriors.

Here are some beach destinations in Zambales that prove that when it comes to beaches, Zambales just keeps on giving. We divided it into two categories: Beach Resorts and Budget-Friendly Beaches.

Best Budget-Friendly Beaches in Zambales

If you’re traveling on a budget, here are some Zambales beach destinations to consider. Many of these can be enjoyed even if you’re on a day trip. Some allow camping. Some don’t allow overnight stays at all. We also linked to separate pages where you can get more info.

Potipot Island

Before the beaches of San Antonio were “rediscovered,” there was Potipot Island in Candelaria, a secret that was known only to a few travelers.

Potipot Island is privately owned, but it’s one of those islands you should visit to seek some peace of mind or just a quiet, more intimate moment with nature.

How to get here: Hop into a Victory Lines bus to Sta. Cruz (P450) and get off in Uacon, Candelaria. Then, travel by tricycle to the port going to Potipot (P15) and hire a boat to the island (P400, up to 4 pax).

If you need a more comfortable place to spend the night, you can check in at a nearby resort: POTIPOT GATEWAY RESORT.

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Crystal Beach Resort

I’ll let my teammate Karlo Jose Pineda describe the place: “If you’ve ever read a list of the best surf spots in the Philippines, chances are, Zambales will be featured. And as soon as we stepped out to prepare for our surfing lessons, I understood why. The sea made huge, rolling waves with perfectly curled tips, like those I liked to draw in blue crayon when I was a kid. It was breathtaking.”

The Kampsite

Crystal Beach Resort, in San Narciso, offers surfing lessons with Quiksilver Surf School for P400 per hour, inclusive of the surfboard, rash guard, and Quiksilver instructor’s fee.

For non-surfers, Crystal Beach has something for you too. It’s one of those resorts where “you have the beach practically to yourself; it’s cleaner, and you don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t want to. You can just sit under an open hut and listen to the rain’s patter on the roof while you read a good book, or listen to your favorite Spotify relaxation playlist.”

How to get there: Crystal Beach Resort

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Anawangin Cove

Over the past few years, Anawangin Cove has captivated more visitors, which has also sparked a growing interest in nearby beaches. Almost in an instant, the village of Pundaquit has transformed from a sleepy fishing village into a tourist town.

Anawangin Cove Inlet

But tourism isn’t the only thing that changed it. When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it dumped tons of ash to the shore of San Antonio. What used to be a rocky coast became a supple, shining piece of paradise that seems to have come out of a crazy beach-lover’s fantasy. Over time, agoho trees (sea pine trees) began growing in its ashen slopes, creating a surreal Boracay-meets-Baguio landscape.

How to get there: Ride a bus to Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales and get off at the San Antonio Public Market near the Municipal Hall (P270-300). Alternatively, you can travel by bus to Olongapo and another bus to San Antonio, and get off at the same market. Look for a tricycle to take you to Pundaquit (P60 per 2 pax) and then rent a boat to Anawangin Cove (P1000, good for 4 pax).

Fore more info, read: Anawangin Travel Guide


Nagsasa Cove

Nagsasa Cove

Like Anawangin, Nagsasa Cove is strewn not with your regular sand but volcanic ash spewed by Mt. Pinatubo and carpeted by a forest of sea pine trees. It has all the good things Anawangin is famous for — including a natural viewpoint on a hill and a postcard-worthy inlet — but retaining the more laidback atmosphere that has started to slip away from the other. But unlike its more popular stepsister, Nagsasa doesn’t get too overcrowded, although it’s starting to attract more and more tourists each year.

How to get there: Ride a bus to Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales and get off at the San Antonio Public Market near the Municipal Hall (P270-300). Alternatively, you can travel by bus to Olongapo and another bus to San Antonio, and get off at the same market. Look for a tricycle to take you to Pundaquit (P60 per 2 pax) and then rent a boat to Anawangin Cove (P1000, good for 4 pax).

Fore more info, read: Nagsasa Cove Travel Guide


Talisayen Cove

Talisayin Cove is the quiet type.

Of all the ashen coves patching the coastline of Zambales, Talisayen (or Talisayin) is the quietest. It’s like that one guy back in high school who sat at the very back of the class, not saying a word unless asked. Often overlooked because he wasn’t as popular as his seatmates.

But Talisayen, Nagsasa and Anawangin are cut from the same cloth, made of the same volcanic stuff. But what sets Talisayen apart is that it appeals to a completely different set of travelers, those who make their own trail. Even after all these years, Talisayen has managed to avoid the crowd.

How to get here: From Pundaquit, boats (good for 4 pax) can be rented for P2000-P2500. Alternatively, you can also get here by boat from Subic, but entails a longer travel time.


Silanguin Cove

Silanguin Cove

Silanguin is the least crowded of all the newly rediscovered beaches of San Antonio; thanks to its remoteness. Be warned: the sand here isn’t white, not even off-white. It is light gray, at best. But don’t judge a beach by its color. Unlike the other coves, the water here is much shallower and less violent, making it more ideal for swimming (soul searching, if you’re into that thing). The reddish soil of the surrounding mountains combined with the bright greenery also makes for the best view in San Antonio.

If you have more time: Go fishing! The waters of Zambales are so rich that fishing tours are starting to make waves. Ask your boatman about it before the trip.

How to get here: From Pundaquit, boats (good for 4 pax) can be rented for P2000-P2500. Travel time: 5-6 hours. Alternatively, you can also get here by boat from Subic, but entails a longer travel time.


Camara Island

Camara Island harbors a short stretch of sand that is easily accessible from Pundaquit. In fact, it is the closest to the mainland and is visible from the village.


Capones Island

Capones Island. Photo by Vins Carlos.

Capones Island is covered in rocks on one end and strewn with fine sand on the other. You can easily recognize it by its sharp cliff that overlooks a glittering beach and is crowned by the historic Capones Lighthouse. Together with Camara Island, it is a popular island-hopping sidetrip destination. Visitors may enter the building and climb to the top of the tower. The lighthouse guides vessels to and from Subic Bay and Corregidor.

How to get there: From Pundaquit, you can ride a boat to Capones Island. Entrance fee: P350.


Liwliwa Beach

Liwliwa is a fishing village in San Felipe, Zambales. “But when the waves come, which, according to the grapevine, are impressively consistent, this sitio becomes a haven for surfers and surfer-wannabes alike,” shares Karlo.

“Unlike other staple surfing spots, Liwliwa isn’t usually crowded. Perhaps because finding it is a bit tricky since the road leading to ‘Liwa is hidden from the main highway. The place may have taken the off-the-beaten-path adage quite literally, but getting there is worth the journey. Not only because of the uncluttered setting it offers for a good surf, but also its natural features, which are interestingly picturesque (the beach sand is said to be mixed with lahar that ensued from the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo).


TOP ZAMBALES RESORTS

If you have the means and you’re after amenities, you may opt to stay at a resort. Zambales has a lot of good accommodation options especially in the Subic area. Many of these resorts have swimming pools and are easily accessible, especially if you’re on a road trip.

The highest concentration of resorts are in Subic. It may not be as fair as Boracay or any other beach you frequent, but it is a decent beach getaway with grayish sand hugged by gentle waves.

The best part: after a day of beach bumming, you can put on your bagain-hunter hat and go duty-free shopping! Aside from the beaches, you might want to take a look at the stores on your way back to Manila. Beach + retail therapy. No other formula is more effective in relieving stress.

Below are the 10 top-rated resorts in Zambales as reviewed by Agoda users. Note that NOT ALL of these are beachfront. Always check the location on the map first before you make a booking.

Court Meridian Hotel

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Moonbay Marina the Villas

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The Lighthouse Marina Resort

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Segara Suites

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Mangrove Resort Hotel

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ACEA Subic Bay

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iCove Beach Hotel

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The Reef Hotel and Residences

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Kamana Sanctuary Resort and Spa

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Subic Park Hotel

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Camayan Beach Resort Hotel

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Photos above were provided by the resorts via Agoda.



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Yoshke Dimen

Storyteller at Yoshke.com
Yoshke is a part-time digital marketing consultant, part-time travel blogger, and full-time dreamer. He has three passions in life: social media, travel, and --- wait for it --- world peace. Yoshke has won 3 PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS and received 9 nominations. Learn more about his personal journeys at Yoshke.com.
Yoshke Dimen

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