So what’s with the deal with the 2 + 6 days? My trip to Zambales last summer was divided into two parts.

The first part was a two day visit to Anawangin Cove, Zambales and the second was a longer six day trip to Nagsasa Cove, other areas of Zambales Province, and Bataan.

I’ve always wanted to visit Anawangin Cove in Zambales … I was curious to know if the beach was as beautiful in person as it is in countless of amazing photos online.

After a bit of googling, I discovered Trail Adventours and booked myself an overnight camping tour in Anawangin Cove. The package included a trek / traverse of Mt. Pundaquit going to Anawangin and then an island hopping tour of Capones and Camera Islands on the way back.  What! Me on a packaged tour!? Yeah, I was curious how it felt like being a tourist than my usual independent traveler self. My verdict: I guess the fact that I had to go back a few days later to do it “DIY style” speaks for itself. Trail Adventours and the members of my tour group were friendly, interesting, and accommodating but I just wasn’t feeling it at the moment. Maybe it was because I had expected too much of Anawangin … plus missing the chance of seeing the old lighthouse in Capones Island (during our 2nd day) made me a lot bitter. Our boatmen told us that it was impossible to dock at the island because of the strong waves.

Day 1 – Mt. Pundaquit Traverse and Overnight in Anawangin Cove, Zambales

Early Morning Trek to Mt. Pundaquit’s Summit in San Antonio, Zambales

The beautiful scenery along the trail from the village center of Brgy. Pundaquit

Great blue skies and wonderful view going up the summit

Really windy grasslands at the mountain top

First glimpse of Anawangin Cove

The unmerciful heat and scantily covered drylands going into the coast

View from one of the hills at the southern end of Anawangin. The scenery is unlike the usual tropical scenes in the Philippines because of the pine-like trees at the edge of the beach. I learned from my other companions that they aren’t pinetrees but a close cousin called “mountain agoho”

I really loved the whole scenery of Anawangin Cove but the beach/sand itself actually looks better in photos than in real life. It’s not “coral sand” like most Philippine beaches but seems more like a light shade of fine-grained sedimentary rocks. As such, it gets really hot to walk on during noontime.

Sunset at Anawangin Cove

Day 2 – Capones Island Let Down

Rugged cliffs of Capones Island and the unforgiving waves at the coast

My only view of the Spanish-colonial lighthouse in Capones Island during my first visit to Zambales

The struggle to disembark at Brgy. Pundauit proper because of the strong waves

When I returned to Manila, a few travel bloggers were planning an overnight camping trip to Nagsasa Cove, located just two bends away from Anawangin in Zambales. Perfect! it seems the stars have aligned for me to get the chance to visit Capones Island :) I was equally excited to travel with ClaireMarkyAda, Joel, Darwin, and Carla. Anawangin BTW was really beautiful but I loved the more laid back feel of Nagsasa Cove more. On our second day, I was able to step foot at Capones Island and see its old lighthouse (finally!). I found the rugged landscapes of Capones really alluring. I would’ve missed out on a LOT had I not returned! The experience of bonding with other Pinoy Travel Bloggers was definitely the cherry on top. How I wish all my trips were more like this, sigh

Take Two! Day 1 – Overnight in Nagsasa Cove, Zambales

View of Capones and Camera Islands from Brgy. Pundaquit, San Antonio, Zambales

Pumpboat ride to Nagsasa Cove

View of Anawangin Cove enroute to Nagsasa

First glimpse of Nagsasa Cove

Equally gorgeous mountain/coastal landscape of Nagsasa Cove

Scaling the rocky area at the northside hills of Nagsasa

Beautiful but shy sunset

Day 2 – Capones Island and Magalawa Island, Zambales

Morning boat ride back to Anawangin Cove

Revisiting the freshwater lagoon at Anawangin Cove

The trek to Capones Island’s lighthouse. I really loved the island’s rugged terrain. It exudes an unforgiving yet alluring aura for me … like a probable set for a dark fairy tale or something.

Passing through the woodlands at the west end of Capones Island

Entrance Arch of the Capones Lighthouse

Beautiful textures of the ruined heritage structure

Great view on top of the lighthouse tower

Backside view of the Capones Lighthouse

Amazing view of Capones Island from a spot near the lighthouse

Loved the red bricks … great photo-op moment since I was also wearing all-red with my carrot top 

While most of the group went back to Manila in time for the workdays, Me and Claire still had plans to see a few more attractions in Zambales particularly Magalawa Island in Palauig and Potipot Island in Candelaria.

I stayed in Balanga City for three full days during my trip in Bataan Province. This was the part of the trip when I didn’t prepare an itinerary. I’m usually a bit obsessive compulsive when it comes to planning for trips and it always takes lot of work to make foolproof itineraries. I wanted to try NOT to research about the destination prior to my visit and just make plans when I get there. The intention was to make the trip feel more spontaneous, like I was really discovering the place for the first time without expectations. After the three days, I realized that I’m just one of those people that are happier with itineraries in hand :D I may have experienced more spontaneity during my short experiment but there’s just a lot that I missed … interesting spots I could have visited had I made a more solid itinerary :( Of course, I only feel this way because I’ve come to like Bataan and I wished I could have seen more.

Day 3 – Coastal Sweep of Zambales Province (Magalawa, Potipot, Iba, Olongapo, Subic)

Waking up to a great view of Paradise at Magalawa Island

Working on my travel notes at the overnight cottages

The white sandbar of Magalawa Island

Pumpboat ride back to mainland Palauig, Zambales

On the bus to Candelaria, Zambales

View of Potipot Island from the grey (off-white) sand beach at the mainland

Approaching Potipot Island

Beautiful tropical scenery in Potipot Island. Loved the generous natural canopy shade.

Zambales Provincial Capitol in Iba

Iba Cathedral (Parish of St. Augustine)

Nightshot of the beachfront area of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) in Olongapo City, Zambales

Day 4 – Breakfast in Subic and Overland to Bataan

Ulo-ulo Monument / Rotonda in Olongapo City

Morning view of the Lighthouse Marina Resort in SBMA.

Orani Church (Holy Rosary Parish), Bataan

Samal Municipal Hall, Bataan

Samal Church (St. Cathderine of Sienna), Bataan

Abucay Church (St. Dominic Parish), Bataan

Balanga Cathderal ( St. Joseph Parish), Bataan

View of Mt. Mariveles in Mariveles, Bataan

Dusk view of Corregidor from Mariveles, Bataan

Nightshot of San Miguel Rock Formation / Hill in Sisisman, Mariveles

Day 5 – Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan

Coastal views at the town proper of Bagac, Bataan

Reconstructed Spanish-colonial Houses at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac

Beautiful poolside of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar

Wishing the Historic Core of Manila (Escolta) could look more like this. Ofcourse, it has to be more tastefully done!

WWII Monument along the highway in Bagac

Day 6 – Trek to Binukawan Falls and Mt. Samat Shrine in Pilar, Bataan

The unforgiving trek to Binukawan Falls in Bagac, Bataan

Secluded Limutan Falls

The taller but less accessible cascade of Ambon-ambon Falls. Didn’t get a front view because it meant trekking for another hour

Broke my slippers along the way. The midday (30 minute) trek felt like I was walking bare foot on desert sand. While I was on the very unpleasant experience, the thought of the Bataan death march naturally came to me. I couldn’t begin to imagine how grueling (and fatal) it was for thousands of Filipino prisoners.

The giant cross at the Mt. Samat Shrine, commemorating Philippine heroics

Awesome panoramas from the viewdeck of Mt. Samat Shrine