At the infancy of my wandering back in college, newbies like me had few less options when it comes to destinations. Confined with limited knowledge of destinations and traveling ideas, I was bound to nearby locations. Not far up north in a province called Zambales lies coastal destinations promising pristine beaches and offering a wide array of adventure awaiting the intrepid traveler. One of Zambales’ provinces is a paradise locals of Candelaria take pride of. I’ve been here once and was committed to revisiting the unspoiled island of called Potipot.Looking forward to an easy five hour drive, we opted to leave Laguna around past 12 hoping to avoid the daytime traffic of the National Highway passing by several towns of Zambales. Halfway on our journey we stopped by Subic’s The Coffee Shop to indulge ourselves with Jumbo Tacos for breakfast. Overflowing with succulent ground beef topped with vegetables and lots of cheese are wrapped in a taco shell of your choice. Eating this Taco is messy but at the same time delicious.
The Coffee Shop‘s Jumbo Taco in Subic.
The Coffee Shop Restaurant entrance. View from the National Highway.
Expanding volume of traffic was inevitable as streets of Zambales get busy with residents get on with their usual weekend routine. As crawled our way in town propers, our pace got faster as we exit town to the outskirts. Fortunately, there were routes avoiding several town proper until we finally arrived at the town of Candelaria.
Facing the South China Sea, Candelaria is the second farthest coastal town in Zambales. Along the highway stood bold signboards of numerous resorts which serves as entry points to the pristine Potipot Island. From one hotel we hopped to another in search of the cheapest but accommodating place to stay for the night. We literally scanned one resort to another.
Air-conditioned cogon cottages. Nope, not our room.
Cogon picnic shades, nope not our dining area.
This is our humble hut.
And our dining area.
Among all the resorts, Puerto Del Mar caught our eyes and fitted perfectly our budgets. Rooms and cottages are cheap. Within the vicinity are barbeque grill areas and open huts. Talipapa, a small wet market, is available within proximity. In addition, the resort has an in-house sari sari stores selling basic supplies like canned goods, drink, beer, cigarettes, etc., conveniently open 24 hours (but I think you have to knock).
Sufficing our overnight accommodation was a humble hut with native cogon grass for a roof. Sliced bamboos made up the four walls of our cottage. For our dining area, we also got an open hut, installed with a table and two benches. Basically, everything we need is at hand for a cheap price P600.00.
Calm waves sweeping Brgy. Uacon’s shores.
View of Potipot Island from Brgy. Uacon’s beach on a rainy afternoon.
Setting aside resort amenities and facilities, Puerto del Mar stood out, at least for me, because of the resort’s clean beach front. There were no boats, little to garbage-free, and it was quiet and isolated since it was a bit farther to the popular resorts in Baranggay Uacon, Candelaria. So after settling down, we had a nice time at the beach, skimmed the smooth shores swept by calm waves, and tried throwing a boomerang which we were unfortunate to catch.
Everyone was still deep in their sleeps, except Malai, when I woke up that morning. I helped prepare the hefty breakfast of hotdogs, eggs, and smoked fishes to get us carbo-loaded for an entire day in Potipot Island. Sandwiches and ice cold drinks were also packed as snacks in our island getaway. After tummies were filled and everything was ready, our kind host, Kuya Ronald, assisted us to two small outriggers boats capable of carrying 4 passengers each. Life jackets were provided to ensure the safety of guest onto the 5-10 minute boat ride under a occasional drizzles and a brewing storm.
Starting the day right with a heavy breakfast.
Life vests provided to ensure the safety of boat passengers. Beers not included.
Rain clouds hovering the Zambales province.
Opaque dark blue waters turned translucent revealing the thriving marine life until I felt the boat’s bow touched the the powdery wite sand of Potipot Island. Upon arrival, the island caretaker greeted us by charging a P100.00 entrance fee per head. The entrance fee comes with a beach front picnic table free of use. Cottages and comfort rooms are also installed within the island.
Cottages and comfort room in the island.
Potipot is a 7.5 hectare island surrounded by fine white sands and small corals. Circumnavigating the whole island would take a 20-30 minute walk along its beach. The walk passes by a large driftwood which has been there ever since and an iconic structure in Potipot Island. An isolated area on the western side (I think), has crystal clear water and soft pinkish white sand.
An isolated area in Potipot Island.
Scattered along Potipot’s beaches are varying sizes of drift wood.
CG and Malai sat by the huge branch of the driftwood.
Feet dangling from the enormous branch.
So, that’s about it. Overall, we spent more or less than P1,500, but I’m 100% sure it still can be reduced. We brought a van, but since a friend followed later the first evening, they had to bring another car. Final plans for this trip were made the last night before our target date. We had not enough time to shop and prepare food and supplies since most of us were busy with work. In the end, everything ended well. Everyone was happy, everyone was exhausted, we encountered problems along the way, but this journey was one hell of a ride. See you on our next Biyahe.
Now here are some fast facts which may help on your trip:
1. If you’re driving to Candelaria, Zambales:
From North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), take Dau/Mabalacat Exit, entered Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) to Tipo Exit. Pass through Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to Subic town proper. From Subic, pass by the towns of Castillejos and San Marcelino, then take the short cut (which is going straight instead of turning left) to avoid passing by San Antonio. When you reach a T-junction, turn right to San Narciso town proper. From there, head north passing by the towns of San Felipe, Cabangan, Botolan, Iba. Upon reaching a Y-junction, take the left road to Masinloc to avoid passing by Palauig town proper. After Masinloc, and the long agonizing drive is the town of Candelaria.
2. If you’re commuting, you may take a Victory Liner Bus. The Caloocan and Cubao Terminals have daily trips to Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Taking the Sta. Cruz bus will pass by Candelaria Town Proper, and you may take the tricycle from there. However, if you’re taking the Iba bus, you have to alight in Iba then ride a jeep, or a bus going to Sta. Cruz. Bus fare cost from P451.00-P456.00 depending where you will be coming from. For the schedule check the Victory Liner Schedule Table or call their terminals just to make sure.
Caloocan Terminal – (02) 361-1506 or (02) 361-4665 to 66
Cubao Terminal – (02) 410-8986 or(02) 727-4534
Pasay Terminal – (02) 833-4403 or (02) 833-5019 to 20
3. Just to give you a rough estimate, our gas budget for a Toyota Hi-Ace Diesel van was P2,260 from Manila-Candelaria and back.
4. Boat from Uacon to Potipot Island cost P400.00 maximum of 4 persons per boat.
5. Click Puerto Del Mar Beach Resortfor the accommodation rates and prices. Call or text Kuya Ronald Pangan for reservation and inquiries on the resort. 09183170478 or 09324038864
6. Like BIYAHERONG BARAT on Facebook.
7. More destinations in Zambales in Biyaheng Zambales.
8. Follow @BiyaherongBarat on Twitter
9. Be safe and enjoy your trip.
I saw some photos of our first trip to Potipot Island and Candelaria, Zambales 5 years ago. This was one of my favorite trips.
Our mandatory drift wood shot
The whole group in Potipot Island.
Jett, Yani, Sam & Me in front of Isla Vista, Brgy. Uacon, Candelaria, Zambales.