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Anawangin Cove Experience

Anawangin Cove Experience. This article "Dreaming Anawangin" appeared on Business Insight ( writtend by Reg Hernandez. Please read...

THERE she is!" we exclaim, as the boatman navigates the outrigger around the coastline facing the choppy waters of the South China Sea. Approaching "her," the postcard in my mind mirrors so many other beautiful places. The green mountain range lends a dramatic backdrop to the sandy beach reflecting white in the high-noon sun. What seems to be a lush forest embraces the foot of the mountain. But I sense something is different. Something peculiar, strange even. As the boat makes its landing on the beach, it becomes evident. Am I dreaming? Are those pine trees at the back of the beach? Pine trees? On the beach? Cue twilight zone sound effects.

Anawangin Cove, a long-time favorite hideaway to backpackers and mountaineers, is a crescent shaped cove accessible from the coastal village of Pundaquit in San Antonio, Zambales. The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 vastly changed the terrain of its outlying areas, Zambales included. The "white sand" of Anawangin is mixed with lahar from the eruption. Unique to the cove is the thick growth of agoho trees, which look a lot like pine, right behind the beach. How they came to be is a bit sketchy. Some locals say they were not there originally and only appeared after the eruption, speculating that the volcano spewed the ash that made up the beach and agoho seeds that have now grown into trees during that catastrophic explosion. Whatever the explanation, it is a sight to behold. As you explore inland, amidst these Agoho trees and foliage runs a stone riddled stream that reflect the towering trees and sky. During the wet season, there are waterfalls to hike to that are quite impressive. Walking through this paradise brings about a feeling of mysticism and fantasia. No wonder backpackers love this place.

There is no electricity and there are no resorts or lodging in the cove but camping is permitted for a minimal fee. Thus Anawangin has become a favorite site for people who want to "rough it up" a bit. In our high-speed, post-modern world of technology, it is nice to slow down and come back to the basics, so to speak. Pitching tents, cooking over a fire (or super-kalan), lying on a hammock while the cool breeze whispers you a lullaby, Anawangin affords this lost art of vacationing.

There are two ways to get to the cove from Pundaquit. One is via a five to six hour trek, depending on your fitness level, across the Pundaquit mountain and the other is via a thirty-minute "banca" or outrigger boat trip. Should you take the trek, it is advisable to leave early in the morning to avoid the heat of the midday sun. When you reach the cove, a dip into the clear, blue waters of Anawangin should refresh your tired limbs. Be mindful though; the currents can be a tad tricky. If you opt to take the boat trip, arrange for a side trip to the two rocky islands Capones and Camara.

Camara island offers a nice beach and impressive rock formations while Capones island hosts one of the oldest lighthouses in the Philippines. From the beach, it is quite a trek to reach the lighthouse but well worth the effort. There is a closer access to it around the island. However, docking is subject to wave conditions. Built in the late 1800’s, the tiled flooring of the structure echoes its glorious history. Climbing the spiral staircase can be at times worrisome but once at the top, you can see impressive views of the surrounding landscape. Now maintained by the Philippine Coast Guard, the lighthouse has since been renovated and fitted with a solar powered light and still guides ships in the area.

Today, Anawangin isn’t a "best-kept secret" of backpackers anymore. Most any time you will find tourists camped-out but there is enough space for everyone. If camping isn’t your thing, Pundaquit now has a number of resorts and guesthouses such as Canoe Beach Resort. Amenities are pretty basic, but instead of a tent and sleeping bag in the cove, you can get an air-conditioned room with a hot shower. For a little more luxury, there is Punta de Uian where the rooms have cable television and wi-fi. All trips to Anawangin Cove, Capones and Camara islands can be arranged from the resorts.

Dreaming of mountains, the sea, sand, "pine" trees, stream, all in one place? For a quick transport to a fantastical destination, whether roughing it up or taking it easy, there she is – Anawangin Cove.