Located in the province of Zambales more specifically in Uacon, Candelaria there is this little island called Potipot that serves as a perfect get away from the buzz of the city. It is easily reachable from the mainland via a small boat or I bet you can actually make the swim (please don’t try it, it’s a joke). But seriously, the island it’s so near you kind of get excited once you reach the jump off area where the boat is located, that you just want to give it a try!
WHY TO GO?
What we really appreciate of this travels is the chance to have a nice rest and breathe some fresh air, the hustle of getting there is much compensated at night, since we headed to sleep earlier than usual. Consequently you’ll find yourself already wake up at the very early morning, which is great since you can even enjoy the sunshine, and trust me, something I have really learned to appreciate in the Philippines are sunshine’s and sunsets.
Some people, what they like to do is to take it as a one day tour destination since they are staying in the resorts over in the mainland and decide to enjoy a full day white sand and clear crystal water. I would like also to mention the silver linings of traveling to Zambales, since I really think it’s one the best destination near Manila. It has a lot to offer such as the beautiful sightseeing of the mountains that blends together with the calm beaches around the area, that picture right there is what you will see from Potipot Island.
Crowd alert! Dully note that Sundays are the most crowded day of the week, this is mainly because of all the families that decide to go there for a day trip and enjoy a fun day in the beach.
HOW TO GET THERE
We strongly recommend starting this adventure via a midnight bus, this one’s usually take less time to reach you final destination, since they avoid the hectic traffic via Luzon highways exiting Manila. A direct bus going to Santa Cruz, Zambales is your number one option to arrive at the very first hours of the morning and make the best out of that day. Duly note that sometimes you might not find the direct bus, and you will be forced to make a little detour in the city of Olongapo, just like it happen to us. I must say it’s not so bad to make the travel via Olongapo, but if had the choice I will go directly since the add time was like 3 hours.
The jump off area is a brown sand beach right in front of several resorts, which you can just reach by walking through a narrow path beside them, straight from the improvised bus stop once you arrive.
WHERE TO EAT?
I strongly recommend on not to relay and do not leave anything to fate, bring your own food to avoid any starving problems or midnight munchies. In case you like to travel light remember before getting in the boat you can buy some snacks, also in the narrow path getting to the port that I mentioned earlier you can find lots of locals that rent everything you might need for your adventure such as a camping tent, cooking utensils and more.
There is a sari sari in the island that serves as a small convenience store. In the weekend sari sari, they have noodles soup, beer, cigarettes, and soft drinks and water of course with a price that is a little higher due to the effort they make. This business only works on weekends and some other occasion or holiday due the increasing demand of people that visits the island. But as I said earlier, it’s better to have everything prepared on your own.
They also have this Grilling area which is huge where you can just put your chef vibe on and cook some chicken, pork, fish…
We made some chicken, some sandwiches and some other canned goods, plus the snacks we decided to buy before departing. Also we talk to the boatman who was the cousin of the tricycle man (this happens very often) and we asked if he had a cooler and if we can rent it for a day and he did! We bought some ice and some beers, water and we were ready to go.
WHERE TO SLEEP
The answer is very simple, camping tents are your best allies in this trip. There are an overnight pitching fee of 300 php or roughly 7 dollar per person. There are cottages along the coast that are big enough to fit I would say 5 people, but trust me I have seen more 10 inside of them. These ones are also for rent for a reasonable fee of 30 dollars or 1500 php. Due note that this so mentioned cottages doesn’t have anything inside, they are native house with no beds or fans. As a weekend destination of course week days is like low season, you can camp wherever you want and go into the water whenever you want. I did notice that at night the tide comes a little bit too much high so be careful. Anyway I don’t think there will be any problem in terms of lack of space. Also in the entire island you will find certain plumbs with buckets and showers (covered and not so covered) where you can just fresh yourself up after a nice swim in the crystal clear water or working in your summer tan.
NEAR BY DESTINATIONS
South direction you will find these amazing coves under the name of Anawangin and Nagsasa those places have a similar vibe as Potipot, the difference is basically here you will find long beaches with the magnificent back ground of the mountains but not with white and beaches and crystal water. Also remember I mentioned that if anything happens like if you run out of food or something it’s very easy to go to the mainland from potipot? Well for Anawangin and Nagsasa it’s a lot more difficult since the boat ride from the jump off area it’s like 45 minutes, but then again Sari Saria are available offering food, drinks and tents for rent.
Shout out alert! If you decide to head little further north in your Zambales travel, you will find yourself in the province of Pangasinan, home of the spectacular One hundred Island national park under the jurisdiction of the Municipality of Alaminos.
As a national park is much protected and well known by the locals, it also has what I would like to call the Philippines travel standard procedure, which is: Bus, tricycle and boat once you completed those you will reach a wonderful destination, and one hundred islands is no exception.
In conclusion what better way to spend a nice weekend getaway which is not that away, with a nice camping experience, cold beer and one of the nicest sunsets in a not so crowded island which gives you a mirage of having your own private island.