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My Dear Zambales

With its bountiful natural resources, not so crowded beaches and its cheery, friendly locals - I find myself falling in love with Zambales - These are the same reasons why it's one of my favorite places to disappear. There's just too many wonderful places to see!

One of my fondest trips in Zambales was on a hot summer, two years ago when I rode an ordinary public bus with a family friend who I consider as my sister. I believe that was her first backpacking trip. From Manila, we rode an aircon bus from Pasay, then got down in Olongapo and boarded an ordinary bus to Sta. Cruz, the last municipality in Zambales which comes before the province of Pangasinan.

The bus ride, though humid and a bit uncomfortable, consoled us with great views of the ocean and mountainsides. It was such a delightful sight that I could not help but let a smile escape from my lips.

We stayed at the Seasun resort which I researched from the internet. It was still under construction at that time. At that trip, we were able to explore Hermana Island an isolated beach with almost white and not so fine sand. We had to hitch a ride with another group we met at the resort to save on the boat fees.

Zambales is also the home of my popular and no longer a secret favorite hideaway – Anawangin Cove in the municipality of San Antonio.

Aside from Anawangin, another emerging camping spot, 30 minutes farther by boat is Nagsasa Cove.

The municipality after San Antonio - San Narciso is home to Crystal beach, a favorite surfing spot.

Move a little farther to the north and you will reach Palauig, jump-off to Mt. Tapulao - my favorite hiking destination.  It's long, ardous winding trails has made a lot of mountaineers shed some tears (me included!). The terrain is not actually difficult. It's the length of hike with not much views is what gets the best of most people who have been here. It makes you feel like you're walking on the same trail for hours! If you're looking for a hiking challenge, this is the place to experience it.

I could go on and on about why I love Zambales but what I'd really want to see is for you to get out of your houses and take that bus. So let me share with you how to get there without private transportation :

Here's how to get to Zambales from Manila:
1. Ride a Victory Liner bus from their terminal in Monumento, Caloocan - it goes straight to Iba/Sta. Cruz;
Contact Info: #+63(02)361-1506 to 10
Address: 713 Rizal Avenue Extension, Caloocan City
(call for the bus schedules, the website information is not accurate)
Travel Time : 4-5 hours from Caloocan;
Fare : 337 pesos (Caloocan to Iba) as of June 2008. It's cheaper if you're not going all the way to Iba.

2. Ride a Victory Liner bus from their terminal in Pasay or in Cubao (tell the cab driver or bus driver, the one with trips to Olongapo because there's another Victory Liner terminal in Cubao (with trips to Tuguegarao, no Olongapo trips there). Board a bus to Olongapo and at the Victory Liner terminal in Olongapo, board another bus to Sta. Cruz. Both Pasay and Cubao have trips to Iba (in Zambales) as well but they don't have a definite sched.

Click here for a map of Zambales

Don't feel like camping in Anawangin Cove? Here's a list of resorts in Zambales.

Now it's your turn to grab your backpacks and explore Zambales!

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