“Disconnect to reconnect”
Ask me where my go-to beach getaway is and I’ll instantly say it’s Anawangin Cove. It’s cheap (especially with a group), has beautiful soft sand, and shallow waters as calm as vodka in your glass! Best of all, it can be done in a day! It’s a straightforward 3.5 hour drive through Subic, where I make sure Vic, my “suki-bankero”, is waiting with his boat for me as soon as I arrive, for smooth sailing. I have been there so often and taken so many different people that I have made Anawangin my adopted province!
As soon we arrive to Brgy. Pundaquit, we park at Coast Resort, mostly because it’s convenient and closest to the boat. If you need to change, there are basic bathrooms to use for Php 5, (Php 10 for toilet use, Php 20 if you shower) and then off we go. For first timers, I normally encourage a quick little island hop, stopping over Camera and/or Capones before Anawangin.
Even for seasoned globetrotters, I’ll never forget how my friends and I were blown away when we first “discovered” these islands. Camera is tiny, but wandering around and being surrounded by multiple shades of blue and lush green mountains, reminds me a lot of Hawaii.
Capones, on the other hand, has soft sand and strong waves, but it’s special to me because of the “mini-hikes” (only about 15 minutes to get to the top), where you get to see some of the most breathtaking views. If the tides permit, you can also get dropped off on the side of the island where a dilapidated lighthouse eerily stands. Even though it was only mid-morning, chills were running up my spine as we climbed the creaky old stairs of the main tower, sort of a like an old abandoned movie set. Yet, the mystery behind the structure kept us intrigued to discover more as we dove inside. If you’re into this stuff, it’s definitely worth checking out. Once you get past the lighthouse, you can wander towards the cliff and once again, bask in the God-made beauty before you.
Of course, the main destination is always Anawangin. Upon anchoring, you’ll notice brightly colored flaglets, nipa huts, and a bamboo wall surrounding the resort/campsite, which has disappointingly been getting wider and wider, through the years. Frankly, from afar, after coming from such remote islands, all the paraphernalia can look hectic, but before you judge, as I once did, give the place a chance! Once you land, to enter the campsite grounds, you’ll need to pay Php 70 per person. The area seems pretty basic, but once you’re settled in, you’ll learn to embrace its rustic charm.
If I’m with a big group, I’ll normally get table (also known as a “cottage”, but it’s really a table with a roof) for Php 500/ day, and if you plan on grilling you can rent one for Php 50. For me, the best tables are normally near the entrance (so you get quick access to the water), and under the pine trees, especially since it gets pretty hot during the day. There have been other times, when I know the mission of the squad is to get a tan, so we just pay the entrance fee, and set up a tent we brought, outside the bamboo walls, which is where we put our valuables and get some temporary refuge from the sun.
The distinguished beauty of Anawangin and the islands near it, are the result of volcanic ashes from the infamous Mt. Pinatubo earthquake in 1991. For days, Mt. Pinatubo destroyed everything in its sight, spewing ashes as far as the province of Tarlac, Pampanga, Angeles City and Nueva Ecija. (I remember this as I was on the plane and was rerouted to Taiwan… but that’s another story) But fortunately, today, over 2 decades later, what was once sterile wasteland, has metamorphed to extremely fertile soil, producing extremely lush forests with pine trees, right in the middle of this tropical oasis!
Once in Anawangin, much of the day is spent in the water, taking catnaps, grilling, drinking, and sometimes walking around the river inside the site. There is no signal in the island, and is a great place to detach from the city circus! If you’re going with a group, we suggest you bring your own food, but basics like Instant Pancit Canton Noodles, chips, ice candy, and (warm) soda, bear, and local liquor are readily available. At around 5-6pm, when the sun no longer glares and starts to set, more people normally head to the water. It’s also around this time that I get ready to leave as the waves heading back to Pundaquit also gets rougher.
Back at the parking lot, we clean up quickly at the Coast Resort then hop back into the van and head towards the familiarities of the urban jungle around 9-11pm.
Every time I have a complete day trip in Anawangin, I feel like I have come back from a (super cheap) 3-day vacation and am ready to dive into the coming week, which is why I keep coming back over and over again, to my 2nd province!
- Kid-Friendly: 5/5 Very. I’d say if your kid is old enough to walk and upwards, bring em! Big plus if they can swim!
- Dog-Friendly: 5/5 Totally!
- Bathroom – Friendly: 2/5 Most of the bathrooms in the island and resort are basic, but be thankful for the little things like running water that at least work!
- Food-Friendly: Bring your own food to grill
Average Cost per Person for a group of 10: approx. Php 700 – 1,000
- Toll way: Approx. Php 1,000 RT
- Boat: Php 3,500 or Php 300/head, whichever is bigger. Negotiate!
- Lunch : Php 200/each (We bought food along the way to Anawangin. Andok’s is our favorite stop)
- Anagawin Cove Entrace Fee: Php 70/each
- Table at Anagawin Cove for the day: 500/each
- Grill – Php 50/day
- Shower – Php 20
- Bathroom – Php 5
- Parking – Php 100/day
- Charging a device in the island – Php 50/hour
How to get there via Private Vehicle (On Waze, put “Pundaquit:
- Get on the NLEX, and get off on the DAO exit.
- Follow the signs and get on the SCTEX.
- Heads towards SUBIC (NOT Tarlac).
- Once you exit Subic, you should see the Olongapo Public Cemetery in front of you, where you make a left.
- From there, you will be driving through the towns of Subic Town, Castellejos, and San Marcelino.
- You know you’re going the right way, when you reach the end of San Marcelino, and see a sign saying IBA. DO NOT go towards IBA, make a left to San Antonio.
- Once you get to San Antonio, go straight until you find the Municipal Hall. At the end of this main road, turn Left.
- Follow the signs to Pundaquit Beach and keep on following the road until you see parking areas normally near resorts. There will be a bunch of boatmen along the road. Negotiate and get the boatman you are most comfortable with. They can also suggest to you where you can park.
- Get on the boat to Anawangin!
5:00 am – Meet at A.venue Mall
8:30 – Get to Brgy . Pundaquit and park at Coast Resort
8:45 – Get to the boat and head to Camera Island
9:15 – Arrive Camera and explore
9:30 – Head to Capones to explore the light tower (Optional)
10:30 – Head to Anawangin
10: 45 – Arrive at Anawangin, pay entrance fee, settle down, swim
5:30 pm – Leave Anawangin
6:00 – Arrive Brg. Pundaquit
6:30 – Done with showering, cleaning up, head out
10:30 – 11 – Back at A.venue Mall
Bring your own food to the island.