Crashing waves, warm sun, and quiet countryside charm.
The sleepy municipality of Bolinao in the province of Pangasinan continues to lure foreign and local tourists alike. And it’s easy to see why.
Worth the trip
Bolinao is roughly 6 to 7 hours from the capital of Manila by car. Make sure you pack the car with good tunes, good friends, and snacks for the long trip. Having an alternate driver is also a great idea.
For those taking public transportation, there are several bus terminals in Cubao, Quezon City or Pasay City with buses going straight to Bolinao. The bus ride can take anywhere from 8-10 hours, depending on the time of the day or week. Weekend vacationers might be in for a longer drive, especially with the heavier influx of tourists in terminals and even at North Luzon Expressway (NLEX).
With its growing popularity among tourists, there are lots of options when it comes to lodging and accommodations in Bolinao. From the budget-friendly hostels and transient homes by the beach to the more upscale beach resorts and hotels, there’s a place to rest your head whatever your budget. All it takes is a bit of research, which is even easier nowadays thanks to the Internet.
When in Bolinao, do not miss out on one of this coastal municipality’s offerings: Its delectable selection of the freshest seafood.
Things to do
On the way to Bolinao is one of the country’s most famous landmarks: The Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan.
If you cross the Pangasinan border early in the day, why not visit Hundred Islands before heading off to Bolinao? The boat tour around its main islands–Governor’s Island, Children’s Island, Quezon Island, and Marcos Island–takes about 4-5 hours, depending on how long you and your travel buddies want to swim around or take photos. The best part of the island is the panoramic view of the world famous island cluster.
Upon arriving in Bolinao, don’t forget to visit the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse in Abac, Patar. It is the second tallest lighthouse in the Philippines after Cape Bojeador Lighthouse in Ilocos Norte. Built on top of Punta Piedra Hill, it is 352 feet above sea level. The structure itself is 101 feet tall. On a good clear day, the view from the lighthouse is said to reach up to 20 miles midsea.
Another tourist destination is Patar White Beach, just a short distance from Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. The sand may not be as fine or as white as that of Boracay’s, but if you like peace and quiet–with only the sound of the gushing waves–then this stretch of beach is for you. It gets a bit crowded during the summer and holiday weekends, but it’s still tolerable.
If you’re looking for a cooler, shadier swimming spot, head down to the Enchanted Cave. It’s an underground pool inside a cave with crystal clear and cool waters to soothe the swimmer. An entrance fee of P100 per person will be collected upon entry. Some parts of the underground pool can be as deep as 10 feet, so be careful. Also, be mindful of the jagged rocks underneath. If you’re not too comfortable relying on your swimming skills or the guide ropes, you can also rent a life vest for an additional fee.
Another alternative is going to Bolinao Falls in Samang Norte. Despite the 5-10 minute trek (depending on your pace) leading to the falls, it’s been developed over the years and is now one of the most famous tourists destinations in the municipality. There are bamboo cottages and tables you can rent for the day. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not take a leap of faith from the top of the falls to the cool pool waiting beneath?
Summer may be over but it’s never too late to explore. Don’t forget to include Bolinao to your travel itinerary next time you come back home to the Philippines.
All photos by Ching Dee. All rights reserved.