Beach Camping for Beginners, at Nagsasa Zambales with Anywhere Philippines

This was my first trip with Anywhere Philippines and I chose a beach-bum themed camping weekend getaway at Nagsasa Cove in Zambales. I have never spent so much time (more than 24 hours straight) in a beach in my life before this. One of the things I will keep with me is the thrill of going camping again. I definitely learned enough basic beach camping and bumming techniques that can probably get me through and help me prepare for my next camping trip.


Tip #1 Catch some Zzzz and Hunt for Food
We proceeded straight to our Makati meetup place before 3 a.m., intending to sleep our way comfortably in a new and airconditioned (and Wifi-ed) van. The supposedly 4-hour plus ride was cut to three and I couldn’t sleep anymore due to the excitement of another adventure. We were at Brgy. San Antonio by 6 a.m. - a little too early for the local palengke.


There’s nothing in Nagsasa Cove to eat and buy and this was definitely not a hunting trip. Our guides thought ahead and bought everything for the next L, D, B that we needed – from condiments to meat to ice to drinks in the nearest town before the boatride. The “bummers”, on the other hand, hunted for breakfast at an eatery compound. I caught up with a plate of old-style palabok and it brought back childhood memories.


Tip #2 Wear Comfy, Light and Water-Friendly Clothing That Doubles as Sun Protection
For those of you who haven’t heard of Nagsasa, FYI, it is in Zambales and you take the NLEX (North Luzon Expressway) from Manila to get there. As you know, the Philippines is known for its humid climate, high temperatures and coastal areas (beaches included). This trip happened in early December of 2011 and all of the above were present. 


In short, the beach from our start-off point in Brgy. Pandaquit had a beach that was incredibly hot and tiring to walk on to get to the boat and I was super sweating. 


I made very deep holes so I had to carry my slippers lest I want them buried and I felt like I was on quicksand with every footstep. It was a very odd beach because of the grey-black sand quality. The waves were also heavy and ideal for surfing. 


There was no escaping the sun when we got to the boat. A dry-fit top paired with shorts and light sneakers/footwear (would choose closed and water-resistant or quick-dry next time) with a sarong or coverup (long-sleeves, sunglasses and hats for some) would have been a good idea instead of a beach dress and slippers. As this was an Anywhere Philippines “bumming” trip, all the bags, coolers, tents, food, boat fees, camping fees, guide fees and everything else were all taken cared of. I only had to bring myself and worry about what I choose to hand carry with me and my skin for the next 2 hours (arrived 9:30 a.m.) via boat to the camping site.

Tip #3 Mind Your Own and Let the Guys Get to Work
There were only 2 visible islands from a distance and instead of going to them, our boat turned towards the side following the shoreline to the coves. I loved the boat ride view.


Nagsasa Cove comes after the more popular Anawangin Cove. Many campers already beat us there and set up camp under shady trees. 


I could only take in the conversations between our seasoned camper guides when we got there. Our base structures were 2 huts with tables, one, they said, was to be the dedicated kitchen/dining area (where we will prepare, cook and dine) while the other was for our things. Hammocks were hung and two people will sleep here for the night. 


Tents were pitched without my help (you could actually make this your business, I was here to beach bum haha). 


I actually found out that there are different kinds of tents and beach tents probably won't protect you as much in a mountain camp.


People began to cook and make fire.


Some were trying to break in a block of ice from the cooler. 


A homemade sauce was made and the liempo was left to marinate in it.


Suddenly there was a person fanning the uling (coal) for the BBQ.


There was also sinuglaw na tuna (sinugba + kinilaw) in another pot. 


Mang Ador took care of the rice while pumpkin with gata was made for the vegetarian in the group. 


There was also some assembling of foldable dining sets going on. 


I, on the other hand, was told to enjoy myself like get in the water and do whatever floats my boat.


Tip #4 Scout the Area
Ah, the Nagsasa island life! 


Here I found mountaineers with their very organized backpacks and sleeping bags and made new friends who love these weekend getaways like me. Time was slow. There was definitely no cellphone signal anywhere when you get to this place. 


In the land where there seemed to be no electric outlets, laptops and online friends, there were lots of hills and mini-mountain ranges that looked so easy to climb without the trees. 


The government is managing half of this area (to the left where we camped) while the other half (to the right) is being managed by Aetas. There were pine trees everywhere and it’s still one big question mark to me as to how they grew in this place. 


On the top of my mind, I can only recall catching pine trees in Baguio and Tagaytay in the Philippines. I didn’t go into the “wilderness” behind the camp anymore. Other Nagsasa goers found their spot to play Frisbee 


while I lounged at the sand and posed for the camera. 


I wanted to take the beauty of this surreal place surrounding me with me. I wish Nagsasa could remain unspoiled in the years to come – with no electricity, no signals, no other structures more than what is already there today and just spells out the complete opposite of the life that I know.


Tip #5 Take as Long as You Want


Time doesn’t seem to fly by as quick here and it doesn’t mean that I didn’t have fun. I just found myself dumbstruck and caught up with the following: the lovely view, the camp, taking everything in, the super nice water and the sudden silence, eating with my hands or a spoon only, what will happen when the sun sets, the rain, what time it was, walking in pitch black darkness, taking a bath without a showerhead and going to the bathroom with a flashlight. There are only two covered bathrooms with no showerhead (balde and tabo only), no light bulb, occasional loss of water supply and super small toilet bowls with no auto flushing system.


I spent the afternoon sitting in the water. What I loved most about Nagsasa is the beach. You’ll find yourself half a kilometer from the shore and still the water is knee deep (I’m short so the water level is lower if you’re taller than I am)! The water is calm and very clear. You’ll only find baby waves near the shoreline. There was only one fish in sight too. 


Plus the “sand” (volcanic debris) settles at the bottom with a wave design (you can see where you’re going very clearly if you swim with goggles). 


I sat there with an awesome view while some of my new friends had a swimming competition. You can go from side to side (horizontally) or back to the shore (vertically). Wherever you are in the water, you can claim a spot to just sit and contemplate.

Tip #6 Bring Stuff for the Cold, Rain, Mosquitoes and the Dark


After my beach time, I slept in the hammock after I took a cold bath while our master campers cooked once more. I actually fell to the ground when the hammock gave in and the helpful kuyas did some hocus pocus with the ropes after they saw me land on my butt. It was very funny.


I also had mosquito bites when I woke up so I will do it again with more protection like be covered from neck to toe or put on some insect repellant while I sleep. 


I would also bring a hammock that is not netted for comfort. For dinner, we had nilagang butu-buto (boiled spareribs soup) plus pasta with tomato and cheese, pesto and spicy tuna sauces. We ate with lamps (bring sources of light stronger than a flashlight) and with the heavy rainwater dripping from all over the makeshift shade. 


A windbreaker, hat, sarong and plastic would definitely help. It was cold and wet and fun. Good thing we put our bags in the tents already. Our ever so awesome seasoned camper guides Migs and Alvin managed to make a bonfire out in the beach after the rain stopped! 


All the magic just came together and made the evening so wonderful – there was warmth as we formed a circle close to the fire, makeshift long sticks and a whole pack of big marshmallows for me to burn over the fire and eat, 


music that was from a phone playing through a portable speaker, flashlights and camera tricks,


twinkling stars and people. This part of the night was called socials – where people talked about their travels or stories and got to know each other a little.

Let’s Go Back to Nagsasa. #Only in the Philippines.


This was just Day 1 of my overnight Nagsasa adventure. Ready for Day 2 of my Nagsasa trip? I believe now that one has to be ready for the sun, the rain and the dark at the very least to go beach camping. Good thing I was with Anywhere Philippines or I wouldn’t know where to start and be a little overwhelmed with all the preparations like transportation, the food, the tents, the cooking gear and everything else. I got to be a beach bum for the first time in my life and appreciate what was in front of me. The trip also opened me up to the wonders of backpacking and camping. My to-buy list just got longer (those foldable plates and portable cooking gear are super cool for one). Haha. Most of all, I got another taste of another beautiful place in the country that I would probably go back to again and again.

51 comments:

  1. I've been to Nagsasa before and I thoroughly enjoyed the place and the experience. Very peaceful. Ideal for those who want peace and quiet.

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  2. Wow cool place.It's like anawagin in zambales.

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    1. Hi Bochog! It's actually just a boat-ride away from anawangin. We passed by it on our way to Nagsasa.

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  3. That place rocks! Now we know where to go this summer. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Laila! wish i could go there this summer too!

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  4. looks like an interesting place to visit... bucket list inclusion :)

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  5. cool photos! Ive never been in that place. May I know where exactly is that? I suddenly become interested since it has white sand. :)

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    1. Hi Myrna. Hmm it's more like black sand to me with all the volcanic debris. This is in Nagsasa, Zambales. You can find how to get there under the label Zambales: Nagsasa =)

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  6. hopefully i can visit there!! at least once. beautiful place!

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    1. Hi Kimberly! Make it happen! Plan na! hehe. Very beautiful!

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  7. A must-visit this summer. I'm dying to see this place :) Unspoiled and breathtaking.

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    1. Yup! Camping is the only way to stay there at the moment, no electricity (pitch dark at night) and only 2 toilets!

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  8. I thought nasa ibang bansa ka..para kasing thailand. very serene, malinis at private yung lugar.. naka-overnight na ako sa beach pero not planned. instead sa tent matulog, mga dahon ang hinigaan namin..dahon ng coconut... pero di makatulog kaya buong gabi kami nagdaldalan at nagkakantahan. Sa Siargao Island kami noon.

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    1. Cool! Siargao hmm very tempting actually to do an overnight at the beach again. I think it also depends on the company and how you take the experience moment by moment. Akala ko rin nasa teletubbies land ako hahaha. Nagsasa took my breath away... =)

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  9. Replies
    1. All I can say is go while it's still early. =)

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  10. This is really cool and amazing.. wanna try it.

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  11. Love this post!! hihihi!!
    Think Im gonna try this DIY

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    1. Hi Francis! Thanks for dropping by! Feel free to use this post as a guide as well as my other posts =) I will add more information if I go there again.

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  12. Thanks to you mel, ngayon lam ko na san dapat mkpgrelax.. heheh...

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    1. You're welcome, Mikko! thanks for dropping by my blog=)

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  13. Wow, Zmabales was really one of the captivating place in the Philippines. I visited it once and I am planning to visit this again with my friends soon. Your post shows that you really enjoy your week end get away When I am Im reading and looking at your photos and it seems that I was in that place. Big thanks. I enjoyed it.

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  14. Try camping at Borawan Island, Dampalitan Island and Puting Buhangin in Quezon Province.:)

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  15. First time ko lang narinig ang Nagsasa Zambales and its so nice pala! I love the pics with yur girl friends with a great background of mountains, it looks like paint! hehe. can I say some suggestions? hihi. I suggest sana mejo larger yung pics para ma appreciate lalo but great photos! ;)

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  16. I wanna suggest bring Human Nature's Citronella Bug Spray para hindi malamukan oe any insects yung supple mo skin and iwas dengue na rin sis! Mahirap magtravel lalo pag may sakit or me kagat ng insects :)

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  17. Try Crystal Beach Resort Zambales. It is one of the top-choice surf resort in Zamabales. Surfing is one of the best water sports. At first, medyo nakakatakot matumba pero sanayan rin lang hehe!


    eddielli.bungay@gmail.com

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  18. We should also never forget to bring our first aid kit when camping. I don't know if you would agree, but for me, alcoholic drinks are a no-no when camping or going to the beach because sometimes it can ruin pure, clean fun.

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  19. Try the Potipot island which is one of the most prominent white sand island in Zambales.

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  20. Mt. Tapulao is great for mountain climbing or you can visit President Ramon Magsaysay Ancestral House in Castillejos.

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  21. Baloy Beach is also a nice destination,not very much developed that makes it more serene and natural. Parakito wristband or clips and citronella sprays will always be handy on all travels,specially on a camping.Learning how to surf would be fun:)

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  22. wow!hope to visit that beautiful place and dont forget to bring/wear your pretty clothes for perfect picture:)

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  23. Its on our bucketlist this summer. Zambales here we come. This post is definitely a big help to me. Will re read this again before the summer ends.

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  24. try the Camara Island,it is the closest island from the shores of Pundaquit Zambales. The island, like its close neighbor Capones, is also a big lump of rock with very little soil. Trees aren’t that many but because of the rock formations and angle of the island, it’s not hard to find shade and scenic spots for a great photo shoot.

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  25. Love the Crystal Beach..love surfing..<3 ;)

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  26. you will enjoy Borawan Island..try its really fun

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  27. Entalula Island, El Nido, Palawan. Its surroundings especially the sand is comparable with Boracay.

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  28. Palaui Island, Cagayan Valley is an isolated one. This would be a nice place to go during seasonal dates.

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  29. Panglao, Bohol is fantastic. All marine aquatic activies you know, will definitely be tried here.

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  30. Bantayan Island, Cebu is among the secluded beach resort here in cebu. Totally relaxing away from the modern world.

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  31. My province is Zambales and I am very proud that you posted a blog about Nagsasa. Zambales is getting known for beaches and everyone who will visit Nagsasa will say its "WORTH IT"! Also, you will enjoy playing beach ball here. Try going also to Magalawa Island in Palauig, Zambales. =)

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  32. It really is more fun in the Philippines. What I love about the place is that it's not too commercialized yet? I would love to go there!

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  33. Wow. Such a nice place. This is what I am looking for this summer.

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  34. I've been to Anawangin but I heard Nagsasa is prettier? Well, hopefully I get to visit that island soon. Such an amazing blog you got. :)

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    1. thanks shirley!! i've been to nagsasa only and i've been told that it is prettier =) we just passed by anawangin (by boat from a distance) and it has more structures already and a big sign haha.

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  35. I am curious about those foldable plates :) have you figured out where to buy them?

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    1. Hi Kat! From my friend - I bought those sa may mall near the corner of Taft and Buendia. Parang 300 yata yun. Sa outdoor shops like Conquer, meron din, but I think MAD (is the more) expensive na brand.

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  36. Beautiful, I want to visit this romantic place together with my hubby on my sembreak.But what are the important things na pwedeng dalin bukod sa tent coz maybe we can rent naman don?

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  37. Check out some great spots in the Palawan area at http://www.islandhoppinginthephilippines.com/palawan/services/camping/. Half way between El Nido and Coron, clearest waters in the world, so excellent snorkeling, 52 islands in the area, most of which are deserted, so you can combine with local boat tour and sleep on your own island.

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Hi. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I'd love to hear from you =)