From time to time, I’ve always imagined myself making an escape from the crazy life of the metro. You know, one of those spontaneous trips that doesn’t stress you about the things that you should do and what not… Thinking about it and actually doing it, however, is a different story. Most of the time, excuses prevail.
Last weekend was different though. With a brilliant idea of hitting the beach doing nothing but to chill, me and my friend have decided to check out what Patar Beach in Bolinao, Pangasinan has to offer. Fine white sand, genuine people, not-so-near-yet-not-so-far-proximity to the metro, and not-commercialized beach proper. The idea of hitting it all excites me!
Pre-departure and the non-existent plans that have been almost screwed.
Most people that I know would probably not go away if they weren’t sure that they’d have a ride nor a place to stay. Quite frankly, I thought we had both. A week before our supposed beach trip, I was able to get a confirmation via sms from one of the resorts I’ve read online. And, on the day itself, I was able to get the scheduled trips of probably the most reliable provincial bus lines in Manila-Victory Liner. Things were looking fine, or so I thought.
Imagine how you’d feel when you weren’t able to contact the place you’d be staying hours before your trip. Then imagine being able to get in touch with them just 5 minutes before you meet your friend to start off your journey. Goodness! I was smiling but I was worried sick inside that we’d have to cancel last minute and then my friend would “un-friend” me!
And then there was the bus availability. We arrived at Victory Liner at least an hour before the trip that we were supposed to take, which is the last one at 10:40 pm. After being on queue for almost an hour, we learned that the next trip is not until 1 am which is only until Alaminos, a city which is an hour (or so) away from Bolinao. And this 1 am trip? They were still going to look for an available bus. No more trip to Bolinao until the day after!
The moment I learned about it, I just knew it was either we go elsewhere or we go home. Elsewhere was the better option. Calling the other bus companies at that hour was impossible. The only way then was to run.
Destiny telling us that this trip should push through, in spite of.
I quickly made my way to the station of my then-more-trusted-bus-line, Dagupan bus, which is probably 100-150 meters away from Victory Liner just to see if they have available trips to Bolinao. Upon reaching the station, VIOLA! A bus was waiting for us! It was then that I realized that I should’ve taken my bag with me rather than leaving it with my friend. The unfit version of me ran back to get my friend. After which, we were finally able to secure the last two seats of Dagupan Bus to Bolinao. *Last seat included the conductor’s seat which he generously gave us.
A high five and 5 minutes later, we were off from Manila and onto Bolinao. 🙂
The bus ride took less than 5 hours from my estimated 6-7 hour trip. We took a 30-minute tricycle ride to Patar Beach and in no time, I was able to smell the scent of the sea. The funny thing was, when we were almost near our so-called destination, my telecom service provider doesn’t cover the whole area and thus, there was no signal. No nothing to the outside world. And yes, no communication to our supposed room provider.
Manong tricycle driver was kind enough to call the manong room provider. Apparently, it was not how I imagined our stay to be. Mix up was an understatement. We figured, it was better to look for another option.
50 meters and 5 minutes later, we were finally able to settle inside a room set-up 10 meters away from the water.
We managed to get some sleep at 6 am before the crowd started to pour in. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t that noisy. I couldn’t even hear the waves of the sea in spite of the thin wooden walls.
When we finally got to our senses, we walked the whole stretch of the beach, passing by a lot families, kids, teenagers and day trippers until we reached the less crowded area of the beach.
The beach was pretty much dominated by kids trying to enjoy the turquoise blue water. Well actually, even the older ones couldn’t help themselves. The water was really inviting! The inner kid in each of us came out. Who cares about sunburn when someone invented the sunblock, right?
And the sand? Just look at that. White and clean. And you’d have to go at least 10 meters away to get to the 3 feet deep water.
The rock formation was beautifully placed by nature somewhere in the middle of the stretch of the beach. It’s probably the most photographed area here.
Least crowded part of the beach.
The farthermost part of the beach is of course, the least crowded. After passing by the cottages, we were able to reach the tent and tables only area where there wasn’t much of a crowd.
And of course, there was this thing called a beautiful sunset. Facing the west, it was inevitable. And as the day went by, one of my favorite things to watch finally came into view. It was quick yet it was perfect.
Spending a night in Patar wasn’t that eventful. Not that I was expecting it to be. After getting so much beach love and food love that day, I just wanted to be clean and sleep my way. Besides, another day of sunkiss and beach fun was something I was really looking forward to!
A small area just a few meters from the beach has invited children to take a dip. It’s probably water from the sea that has accumulated here or something. Can’t be too sure.
Panoramic View of Patar White Beach
Just like the rest of the weekend getaways, it had also come to an end. Leaving a piece of my heart in Bolinao, I left it with peace and happiness in my heart.I’m very grateful for one of the most spontaneous trips that I’ve taken in a long time. The fun part is having it with one of your closest friends. This probably wouldn’t have been as much fun if 1/3rd of my Panagbenga friend didn’t join me. 😛 Thanks sis!
But before closing the weekend, we still managed to make two quick stops. Less than 5 minutes away from the beach, we reached Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. It’s perfect in its own way, given that it’s a perfect view for another photo opportunity. 😛
And to remember it by, I took my last glimpse of the horizon of the South China Sea before I slipped my way gracefully to my tricycle ride. That was pretty awkward too.
The horizon of Patar, Bolinao, facing the South China Sea
Our Bolinao weekend getaway was concluded with a quick visit to the 400 year old St. James the Great Parish Church which sits in the heart of city. We weren’t able to catch the Sunday mass then though.
Quick “About the beach” Info:
Patar beach is a public beach. So for those who doesn’t want to be seen, heard, nor spoken of, then this place probably isn’t for you. It’s pretty popular mostly to the locals and nearby residents who appreciates the simple pleasures of nature. I consider it as an old-school beach set-up. Simple and peaceful in spite of the crowd. But then again, it has a long stretch of beach so you’d definitely find a spot for yourself! And trust me when I say that I was able to bum around and relax. 🙂
This isn’t one of those highly commercialized beaches, so, if you came here to party, then you are kidding yourself. People go here to swim, bond with family and friends, make barbeque or grill some seafood on a lazy weekend, and watch the sunset.
From Metro Manila, you have three bus lines to choose from: Victory Liner, Five Star, and Dagupan Bus.
1. Ride a bus to Bolinao.
Travel time is 5-7 hours. Fare as of April 24, 2015 is Php 459.
2. Upon reaching Bolinao, ride a tricycle to Patar Beach.
Fare is subject to your skillful negotiation skills. Our driver asked us for Php 250 but was kind enough to agree to Php 200. We gave him Php 250. Fortunately for us, he came back on our last day just in time for our departure and offered to drive us to the bus station.
Where to stay:
For day trippers, you could rent a cottage for about Php 500. That’s roughly US$ 12. Which means you have a wooden roof, an area to leave your stuff (but of course you have to have someone to watch over it as well), and an area to grill your own meal.
For overnight lookers, a cottage/room starts at Php 1500 onwards. We got ours at Php 2000, which isn’t bad given its location. I know for a fact that we could probably get it at a lower cost. But that didn’t matter then. We agreed before I thought of haggling. We stayed 10 meters away from the beach (check the photo above).
Room where we stayed (located at Nelly’s White Sand Beach Resort) – rooms and cottages just off the beach, +639193362159
Gran Canaria (where a friend and his family stayed)– rooms in a compound are situated just across the street off the beach, +639275468798 / +639328505800
Nature’s Beach Camp (where the beach front wasn’t overly crowded) – cottage rooms are set at around 50 meters above the beach front. Amazing view as well. No day cottages, just tables under the trees and a wide space camp out. +639182213694
Another option is to set-up a tent and camp out. I haven’t figured this out given that we didn’t really know it until then.
Where to shower ETC:
Unless your room is a 5 meters away and comes with shower, then the public restrooms and shower rooms would be useful for you. This would cost you Php 10 for #1 and #2 (each).
Where to Eat, What to Eat:
You could rent a cottage and grill your own food. In the morning, boatmen come by and sell some goodies. We were able to have a taste some freshly caught squids for the day.
For those who don’t have anything to grill, there are restaurants around the area. Our favorite was Kuya Benjie’s Paluto. The grilled milkfish (good for 3 persons) was just Php 180 pesos and it was AMAZING! Food for 2 would cost more or less Php 200.
There’s an abundant supply of Coconut (Buko in Tagalog/Filipino) which is available for just Php 25. Take advantage of this. It’s really sweet and the coconut meat is really tender.
From time to time, ice cream stick is being sold by Manong/s (definition: Manong – A term being used by Filipinos to address an older man or brother) passing by and it is available for Php 15. Beat the heat with that.
Another trip which is one for the books, this is probably one of the most memorable getaways I had to date. Spontaneous and fun. 🙂 Looking forward to the next beach trip really soon!
**This post is a part of my Life’s a Beach! beach-lovin’ series.**