16 September 2010

Weekend at Potipot Island, Zambales

Most, if not all, Filipino urban dwellers have high regard for Boracay Island’s fine white sand beach. The island however has now become densely packed with commercial establishments and not to mention, foreign tourists, which most of the time, upset some vacationers who tend to favor an unruffled time-off from the city life. Today, new tourist destinations are now being promoted as Boracay-like – same white sand beaches minus the hustle and bustle.

The dates September 10 to 12 marked another long weekend. As early as August, some of my college friends were planning to hit the beach despite the rainy season. They even proposed visiting Boracay but because of busy schedules, the plans were banked off. Relentless as we have been, we were able to push through a beach getaway as one of us had gotten a hold of information about Potipot Island, a virgin island strewn with fine white sand.

Potipot is a privately-owned island sitting off the shore of Barangay Uacon, Municipality of Candelaria, Zambales. Checking the maps available over the Internet, I found out that Candelaria is way up north of Zambales thereby justifying the 6 hours drive from Quezon City.

Getting there and accommodation
We left QC at 3 am to avoid the hassle of being caught in a traffic jam assuming that some vacationers were also heading north to spend their long weekend. Since we had a vehicle, we were comfortable enough sitting in the passenger seats; well, save for the driver-forward slash-vehicle owner, Mac. Traveling by land gives me an opportunity to appreciate rural areas. As the sun begun to rise, Zambales’ beautiful landscape emerged. The splendor and simplicity of the province was nonetheless a refreshing sight. After a stopover, some sleep, a couple of chit-chats, sight-seeings along the way, and the long drive, we arrived at our destination: Sun Bloom Resort.

My friends and I checked-in for an overnight stay amounting to Php 1,500 per night. If I’m not mistaken, I think Sun Bloom is one of the cheapest resorts in the area. In addition, the resort allows reservation through phone calls without down payments.

The resort sits in front of the beach and  Potipot is already visible from there. When it comes to our room, I might say it’s fair enough with amenities including an air-conditioner, bathroom, and two double-sized beds. The staffs were also accommodating too. It was a good place to stay until we were informed that they do not serve food. We can however opt to dine at nearby resorts, ask the cook to prepare meals for us granted that we provide them a meal plan and ingredients, or cook for ourselves by renting their utensils which can be costly – imagine cooking rice insanely amounts to Php 150! Over all, the resort was still tolerable. We nonetheless decided to hit a local eatery for lunch and check the town’s market to buy some provisions and liquors.

Roughly five minutes worth of boat ride from Sun Bloom is the small and tranquil island of Potipot. All the fuss was right, it is strewn with white sands and is surrounded with clear aquamarine waters. Guests however need to pay an entrance fee of Php 100 since it’s a private island but they can however choose to stay over the night granted that they bring along with them tents and foods. We readily took pictures of ourselves and swam the moment we set foot in Potipot. The shoreline is a little bit rocky though and one should also take note of fallen twigs along the shore that could pierce through bare feet. Aside from the beautiful beach is the lush greenery all over the place. Trees of different sorts completed the feeling of being castaways of the hit TV show “Survivor”. I think this place would appeal more to nature trippers.

After bathing under the sun and into the sea, we decided to roam around Potipot which took a good 30 minutes worth of walking. We however realized that there’s little to do in the island and because of this, my friends and I spent most of our time talking about everything and anything while sitting in fine white sands by the sea side. It was a relaxing moment and not to mention, a good opportunity for stressed young adults to unwind and catch up with their college buddies. Before the sun sets, we decided to bid Potipot goodbye and head back to the resort.

Concluding the trip
Dinner time came, and because Sun Bloom does not serve foods, we hopped to a nearby resort.

Dawal Beach Resort offers more amenities, such as a swimming pool, at a higher rate than Sun Bloom. Upon arriving at Dawal’s in-house restaurant, I realized that a handful of guests were currently checked-in in the resort. The large menu lists traditional Filipino meals in addition to a bar list which offer a wide array of liquors including beers, cocktails, to cognacs, tequila, and wines. We decided to order sinigang, liempo, buttered chicken, and rice along with our individual choice of drinks. Overall, the foods tasted really good. Perhaps it’s the lutong probinsya quality that satisfied our taste buds.

We headed back to our room as soon as we were done with our meals. We concluded the night with some drinks, chit-chats, and games.

I must say that the trip to Zambales and to Potipot Island was quite remarkable. It’s been a while since I’ve been out of the metro and being in the province with friends surely was a good escape from the fast paced  city lifestyle. Of course, I will not compare Potipot with Boracay; that would be farfetched. Potipot nevertheless is a perfect destination for those people who want a quick break from the urban life. In addition, the island, as well as the resort, provide a good venue for families or group of friends to share intimate moments together. The idea of a weekend getaway after all is to relax and make time for people whom are dear to us.

Our long weekend however did not end that night. We crashed Subic the next day and spent the afternoon at a coffee shop along NLEX. I must say, it was a SUPER FUN trip.


Anonymous,  September 19, 2010 at 6:56 PM  

"This is what I love about traveling by land. It gives me an opportunity to appreciate rural areas. As the sun begun to rise, Zambales’ beautiful landscape emerged. The splendor and simplicity of the province was refreshing to the eyes."

----You didn't see much! You were sleeping! :) Sige nga, where's Calaclan Gate? LOL!

Matt Matt Emmanuel September 21, 2010 at 7:26 PM  

Hui gising na kaya ako nung umaga!Tulog lang ako nung wala pang-araw. hehe. How am I suppose to appreciate the landscape kung madilim? hahaha