Nagsasa Cove Guide: directions, tips and itinerary

It has been a while since my last trip to Nagsasa Cove yet my old posts about this hidden gem in the north are still receiving quite a number of comments from people who asking for suggested itineraries, directions on how to get to Nagsasa and other similar inquiries. Hence, I have come up with this quick guide on how to plan your own trip to Nagsasa Cove, Zambales.

What to bring?

There will be no food sources, electricity, cellular signal, proper accommodation and other usual amenities in Nagsasa Cove. It should be best that you only bring the necessary items. Canned and other instant food will come in handy. You can bring your own tent or hammock but in case you don’t have these, you have the option to rent from the tour guides in the town of San Antonio. If you’re looking at buying meat or fish for grilling, be sure to bring knife, ice chest, grill necessities, marinade among others.

How to get to Nagsasa Cove, Zambales?

This guide is for people who will be coming from Manila. The most ideal time to leave Manila is 4a.m. Try to catch the first bus leaving for Iba, Zambales from the Caloocan bus station. It will take you approximately three hours (including the stop-over in Olonggapo City, Pampanga) to get to the town of San Antonio, Zambales. Just tell the bus conductor or the bus driver that you’ll be dropping off at San Antonio. Most likely, some of the bus passengers will also be taking off at San Antonio.

Upon arriving in San Antonio, you have the option of getting breakfast at the town proper. Take advantage of this opportunity to shop for camp necessities in case you forgot something. In our case, we bought the food (fresh fish, meat, etc.) we brought from the town’s public market.

From the market, you may take a tricycle going to Barangay Pundaquit (Pundakit) where you will be renting the boat that will take you to Nagsasa Cove. It’s around 20 minutes away from the public market.

Renting a boat ride

The rate of boat rentals usually vary depending on your number. For a small boat with a capacity of four persons, the standard rate is P1,800.00 for a round trip. You have to arrange your return trip schedule with your tour guide. You can also have the option to visit the other coves like Talesayen, Silanguin and Anawangin Coves for an extra fee. You may also arrange to include island hopping to Camara and Capones islands before going back to Pundakit.

In case you didn’t bring your own tent, you may opt to rent your own tent from your tour guide. Tent rental ranges from P250/day to P600/day depending on the tent size and capacity.

At this point, it is best to turn off all your mobile phones. You won’t be able to use your phones while in Nagsasa Cove and turning them on will only drain your batteries out. There’s no cellular reception in the area and you won’t be able to charge your phone in case it drains out of power. There’s no electricityeither in Nagasasa Cove.

Should you wish to do all arrangements prior to the trip, you may contact our tour guide at 09108162974 and/or 09172022692. They will be glad to assist you with your needs.

Itinerary

Here’s a sample itinerary of my first trip to Nagsasa Cove. Though the itinerary didn’t mention, we made a side-trip to Capones Island before heading back to Pundakit. Of course, this was arranged with Kuya Kulot, our guide, for an extra fee.

DAY 1

04:00 Leave Caloocan for Iba, Zambales
06:30 Arrive at San Antonio, Zambales
06:45 Breakfast/ Palengke (for our meals)
07:45 Take a tricycle to Brgy Pundaquit
08:10 Arrive at Pundaquit
08:30 Take a boat to Nagsasa Cove
09:30 Arrive at Nagsasa Cove

Day 2
10:00 Leave for Pundaquit
11:30 Tricyle to San Antonio
11:45 Bus to Olongapo
12:30 Lunch
14:00 Bus to Manila
18:00 Arrive at Manila

Other guides to Nagsasa Cove

The Hike to Mt. Pinatubo

It was still dark when we left Manila. I was excited for this trip. Aside from the two lenses and a fully charged DSLR camera that I packed in my backpack the night before we left, I didn’t really make any serious preparations for the trip. It was my first out of town trip with the bagets, one of the few reasons to be excited.

The sun was already up when we reached Capas, Tarlac. Cai, Ada and I took advantage of the three hour trip to catch some sleep. It wasn’t too long when we were assigned to our own four-wheel ride. I’m not quite sure how things are normally done since all the trip arrangements were done by Rob and Dong.

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It took us almost an hour to get to the point where our 4×4 trucks can no longer take us. The first part of the trail to the Mt. Pinatubo crater was already stunning. For almost an hour, we have been traversing a seemingly endless valley of volcanic ashes and sand, what was left from the volcano’s eruption a couple of decades ago.

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Before, the hike towards the crater only takes an hour. The 4×4 riders used to have a sky way on top of the mountainous pile of ashes which lessens the hiking time. But after a portion of the sky way collapsed last year, the authorities have prohibited access to the shortcut, thus, doubling the visitors’ hiking time.

It nearly took us three hours to complete the hike to the crater. The terrain was rough but it wasn’t as inclined as I expected. The whole three hours were combinations of short rests, cam whoring and waiting for people to catch up the group’s pace.

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It was already noon when we arrived at the crater. The view of the picturesque crater with its emerald colored lake was our price after went through the long tiring hike. It was one of the most beautiful sceneries I have seen.

Food was not a problem for us since our tour guides have already brought with them pre-prepared packed lunch, which is part of the usual Pinatubo tour. Under the mango tree we sat while savoring the scenic view of the crater, we ate our hearty lunch.

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After resting a bit, we went down the crater to get a closer look of the emerald lake. The cold waters of the volcano was tempting enough to let it pass. After taking a few photos, we went to take a dip while the others went out for a boat ride to the other side of the crater. Too bad I didn’t get to see what the other side looks like.

At around 3pm, we started packing up and headed our for our return hike. This time, it was easier for us since the trail was mostly on a downward slope. It was already dark when we arrived in Tarlac.

It was a one good trip. I spent less than 3K and brought home an unforgettable experience and a card full of beautiful photos.