Are you in the Philippines, particularly its center Manila, and you do want some R&R but have limited time, budget, distance, and energy to spare? Also, are you feeling all the blues and you just want to soak it all in the sea (or by the beach, at least), but you’ve also seen this vlog with a gorgeous waterfall that really got you crave for a cliff-jump (because you’re one heck of an adventure soul), but then suddenly you just want to enjoy a calming river cruise while chowing on a big plate of seafood because you’ve realized you’re not into swimming in the rain at a beach with your best-kept swimwear? Then, I’ve got a place for you. I now sound like advertising it, but no, I’m not paid to do so. I just had the same questions to myself some weeks ago, with the answer YES to all of those questions. And if you feel a YES, too, then you’re at the right reading place.
Sea. Falls. River. If you are a water junkie (not sure if there’s such a term, and argh, such a hippie word), Bolinao, Pangasinan might be the one you should be heading to right now. Imagine those three bodies of water in just one town? Sure, other places have them, too, but not in a very close distance to each other, especially being close to Manila. Well, a 45-minute plane ride to some other provinces is technically, 45 minutes only, but we know the entire travel (and hassle, plus plane jitters) is not just 45 minutes.
So, Bolinao is a six-hour bus trip from Manila ( Victory Liner or Five Star Bus; the latter having more schedules). You can basically sleep through your journey if you want to miss the provincial scenery. Upon arriving, a tricycle ride (sorry, no taxi/Grab/Uber or what-have-you here) can take you to your resort. You may want to pay a visit first, though, to one of the oldest churches a few walks away from the terminal and eat in one of the eateries at the back of the church if you fancy a hot (really tasty) bulalo (beef soup?). Then, voila. you can now sleep at your resort! Kidding. Of course, no time to waste, start exploring!
You may ask the trike driver to have a quick sidetrip to the Patar Lighthouse on your way to your resort or when you’re heading to Patar Beach. The area and structure doesn’t look old and the facade is cleanly maintained.
So, the first water form– the beach. Patar Beach doesn’t boast of a fine white sand beach or an amazingly blue-green sea, but the colors the sunset brings is magnificent. You can just sit on the sand and wait till dusk swallows all the reasons why you’re here in the first place…if you’re in the emo mood.
The morning after, you should be more refreshed and energy-packed because you will really need some energy to climb up and down some trails to your next water destination: falls. But no worries, it’s just a five-minute trek from where the trike is parked. And when you finally see them, yes them, as there is a set of three nearby falls to swim your heart out or cliff-jump if you really must.
Once you get all the feels now from that waterfall love, you may want to eat. Eat seafood. And eat the best calamares and addicting chicharong shrimp and fat-in-belly-fat bangus/milkfish, and oh, crabs. Where? Just by a river. Your third body of water. On a floating resto or a cruise… while a live acoustic singer is patronizing your senti feels doing When You Say Nothing At All (again, if you’re in the emo mood). Sungayan Grill is the name of the place, by the way.
Now, if you still crave for some water after all that and a relaxing swim to end the day before you head back to the metro, you can book a semi-budget bed-and-breakfast accommodation at Casa Almarenzo. The catch? Infinity pool. Now you decide.
All in all, Bolinao is truly a smart weekend trip for anyone, whether Manila-based or not. Aside from those bodies of water I mentioned, there are other worthwhile places to see and activities to do here, like caves and coral reef sanctuaries. You can even head to the nearby town of Hundred Islands if you have a little more than a weekend to spare.
For some video about Bolinao, basically a summary of this post but live, you may want to watch this:
You’re welcome. And feel free to get back to me when you get there. 🙂