I know it’s no longer summer but I can’t say bye yet without having one last hurrah so when I heard whispers of a beach trip to Zambales at the office, I readily volunteered myself.
|The first batch off to Potipot in the distance|
Unlike most of the island getaways in the country, Potipot is very close to the mainland. I even joked that if you’re a very strong swimmer, you can probably reach it on your own. It took less than five minutes to bridge the gap from our resort to the island, although you have to be very wary of the strong waves as our group had two camera casualties. My bag got drenched but it was good I wrapped my things in towels (and I suddenly remembered I had my LV wallet somewhere inside as well, darn).
Potipot is a private island, rumored to be owned by a retired general, and entrance fees are Php100 per head for a day trip and Php300 for overnight stay. There is a quaint little tree house on the island, which I believe is for the owner, but of course, this is off-limits.
|I died with envy at the sight of this tree house. I want one!|
There is no resort (it’s too small, just a couple of hectares, and you can wak around it in less than 30 minutes) but there wooden tables and benches free of charge and there are restrooms as well. If you’re planning on staying for the night, better bring your own tent and prepare to rough it up a bit. And while there is a grilling station, you have to bring your own supplies and food as there are no facilities on the island, which I found extremely charming as I have never been to a trip like this one. I usually prefer my creature comforts (translation: I’m lazy). 🙂
|Restrooms/shower stalls? I didn’t really enter|
|Make shift grilling place right under fruit-laden Sampaloc trees|
|Grilled hotdogs never tasted this good when you’re on a beach location!|
|liempo bathed in soy sauce mixture|
I haven’t been to any of the islands off Zambales, so I can’t make compare it with Capones or Camera. But I must say that the sand on the island of Potipot is infinitely better than those in the Subic or Zambales shores, which are grainy and black. Potipot’s is fine, better than those in Batangas but falls very short of being comparative to Bora or Bohol. But it’s very pink like in Puka beach. And it’s not too crowded so that’s another plus point.
|Clear waters and pink sand|
The water is very clean and clear although there are stony portions where you have to be careful so as not to cut your feet. Those with sensitive skin should also come prepared as I experienced red spots on my arms and legs – I don’t know if it was due to the sand or the water but it was very itchy.
|Goofing around on the beach|
|I like the colors on this banca|
Too bad we could only stay for a three hours since the boatmen warned us against staying too late – the waves would get too strong to travel on motorized bancas and we might get stranded.
Potipot is located off the town of Candelaria, Zambales and is just one town away from Pangasinan. Travel time from Makati is around five to six hours (took us more than seven but then we had several stops for breakfast and the wet market) so better start as early as you can; it’s more than three hours away from Subic. I think Victory Liner is the only bus company that goes to Candelaria and fare is around Php375 one-way but our group rented a van. Given the distance, the van guzzled 1.5x full tank of gas.
As to where to stay, we checked in at the Dawal Beach Resort, for about Php2,000/night for an aircon room good for five, with its own cable TV, and of course, bathroom.
|View from our balcony – that’s Potipot you see in the middle of the ocean|
The good thing with the resort is they let you bring your own food and they will cook it for you for a minimal fee. We figured this would be a good way to cut down on costs as we were a big group of 15 and our total cooking charges for dinner and breakfast came to just around Php1,000.Had we ordered ala carte, it would have set us back around Php150 per person per meal. 😛
Now, given that Potipot is quite very far, many people might get turned off going there. But I would still recommend trying it out – after all, there are over 7,000 islands in the country and a decent citizen should be to at least a couple of these. 🙂