My Vios Venture: Road Trip to Pundakit, Nagsasa, and Capones Island ofZambales
This is not my first time to visit the coves of Zambales, namely Anawangin, Nagsasa and Capones. But, this will be my first to drive my friends from Manila, to the small coastal town of Pundakit, the jump-off to the coves.
You can just hire a boat when you reach Baranggay Pundakit in San Antonio, but its best that you coordinate your trip with a local contact. You will be able to know the cost of the boat ride in advance and the weather and sea condition in the area.
My contact for the last 3 visits is "Kulot", 0906-9444388. Our boat ride costs 1,800 php with an additional 400 to visit Capones making a total of 2,200php, which we will divide into 4.
There's no network signal at the coves, and no electricity. On some campsites, you can rent a light bulb powered by a generator that lasts until the fuel runs out. There's ample toilets and running water but not advisable for drinking.
The night before the trip, I prepared our camping essentials.
1. Portable Stove
3. Flash light
5. Sleeping Mat and Pad
6. Swim Gear
7. Clothes for the overnight trip
9. Personal Care Kit
10. Mess Kit
11. Cook Set
On the average, it will take 3-4 hours to reach San Antonio in Zambales. We decided to leave at 9:30am, to avoid scorching mid noon sun on the boat ride to the cove. We reached Balintawak tollgate around 10:15am and was at the San Fernando exit by 11am. Before continuing forward to Bataan, we made a lunch stop in Dolores, for the 200php lunch buffet at Partyplace. The lunch buffet was a real value for money that already comes with a bottomless drink.
An hour after, we went back to JASA highway to the direction of Dinalupihan in Bataan. I was advised that this is the more practical route than taking SCTEX all the way to Subic. We passed by the towns of Bacolor, Guagua and Lubao, and finally Dinalupihan where we took SCTEX to enter SBMA. This route bypasses the zigzag route to Olongapo City and sets you on your way to Subic Town as you exit near the Olongapo Public Cemetary. From here, it’s another hour to San Antonio, passing the town of Subic, Castillejos, and San Marcelino. You need to make a left turn at the San Marcelino Municipal Hall, which is still approximately 10km away from San Antonio. San Antonio is your last stop to buy provisions for meals. A favorite is the green mangoes and the fresh catch of the day. I was able to borrow a cooler from "Kulot" and ask him to include ice and a container filled with 5 liters of purified water. Also, we rented an additional tent for my friends. After buying meals for dinner and the next day's breakfast, we were on our way to Pundakit following the signs from major intersections.
We met Kulot in front of the Chapel in Pundakit where we were guided to the parking area. It’s only a short walk to the beach, where we met out boatmen. When all the items for the trip were boarded, we were off on a 45 minute motorized boat ride to Nagsasa Cove.
After passing Anawangin Cove, we arrived at Nagsasa around 4PM. We pitched our tent and prepped for dinner. We took turns in exploring the beach and swim until the sets. Bringing our own stove and cook-sets made the preparation for dinner convenient. We cooked rice, grilled fish, peeled mangoes and heated canned goods. We asked for a bonfire from Mang Totoy, which they would set up and clean for you for 100php. Just as the bonfire was starting to burn, it started drizzling and eventually poured on us. We hurried to secure our things and the tent. Good thing, we decided to move to a bigger cottage. The rain did not last long, and as soon as the rain stopped, we dried the tent and rested for the evening. I enjoyed what was left of the bonfire, which was lighted again. We have a good sleep, maybe because of the long drive and lack of sleep the night before.
We woke up early to prepare for breakfast and continued exploring the beach. My other friends went to climb the hill beside the cove.
It didn't take long until our boatman arrived around 10 AM, the exact time we asked them to pick us up. We packed our things making sure we didn't leave anything and boarded the boat to take us to Capones.
Capones is the island across Pundakit. From the shore, it looked very small, but it’s actually long and narrow, with a lighthouse on one end. We were not able to dock near the light house because of the strong waves and instead docked on the other side. Unlike the coves, Capones has whiter coarse sand, and stronger waves. There are no established camp sites and is ideal for day tours. The sight of a group of dolphins swimming along side the boat rewarded our trip to the island. After a few pictures, we headed straight to Pundakit where we settled the boat fare and other miscellaneous items we ordered from Kulot.
We did not docked on Anawangin anymore. The landscape is very much similar to Nagsasa although a bit more compressed with Pine Trees shading the beach and mountains bordering its side.
We left the town around 2PM taking the same route back.
Just before taking the San Fernando via the JASA Highway, we made a stop for late lunch. My Kapampagan friends recommended this place. I remember passing by the signboard to these establishment on my previous visits to Pampanga. It’s located in the town of Bacolor before reaching the Lazatin flyover.
The place reminded me of the Palaisdaan restaurants of Quezon and Laguna. The dining areas are perched on stilts connected by bamboo walkways. Here, you can ride bamboo rafts while waiting for your food order that usually takes20-30 minutes. They even have asign that encourages advance orders if you are in a hurry. You can also fish for Tilapia or visit the Butterfly Farm and look at the Monitor Lizard near the entrance.
The menu made to look like a bamboo leaf spread across the table was genius. I thought we can use it as place mats, but was taken as soon as we made our orders. The food items have a Kapampangan name, but descriptions are included. We ordered Muggo Soup (Mung Bean Soup wit Peeled Shrimps),Kalderetang Itik (Goose in Tomato Stew), Tilapia in Coconut Milk and the Chicken and Pork Asado. We were given boiled Kamote (Sweet Potato) and Peanuts as Appetizer.
The food was worth the wait. The serving is big enough for a family of five. This is just what we needed after the 2 hour drive from Zambales. We are definitely coming back to try the other items on their menu, that included exotic dishes.
We arrived in Manila around 5:30 PM.
Gas 1,500 php
Toll Fee Balintawak 45 php
Toll Fee San Fernando 112 php
Meal at PartyPlace 800 php
Toll Fee Dinalupihan-Tipo 35 php
Toll Fee Tipo-SBMA 18 php
Meals and Provisions 900 php (actually i spent 900 more for the new portable stove)
Entrance to Nagsasa 400 php
Cottage 100 php
Bonfire 100 php
Misc. from Store 300 php
Boat 2,200 php (1,800 plus 100/head to Capones)
Ice, Cooler, Water, Tent 500 php
Overnight Parking 150 php
Toll Fee SBMA-Tipo 18 php
Toll Fee Tipo-Dinalupihan 35 php
Meal at Apag Marangle, 1,400 php
Toll Fee Bocaue 157
Total 8,770 divided by 4 pax = 2,192.50 per head