After months of preparation, here I am - free to tell you all about my (and my husband's) journeys at last! =) If you've been following my blog, you'll notice that I first fell in love with Zambales during my Anawangin cove trip with Anywhere Philippines and soon after, the TV shoot with PopTalk. I first learned about Crystal Beach Resort in San Narciso and experienced surfing from that episode. J and I have been attempting to stay here longer and it was full during the music festival. Finally, this year, went with his Galleon.ph team for their company outing! It's near enough (~4 hours) from Manila with an optional stopover at Subic. The resort can accommodate hundreds of guests at a time and you can choose from native accommodations to beach camping here. This chill resort can also be a good place for family outings, barkada trips or couple getaways. Check out my post below for tips and reminders if ever you want to make the most of this place =)
We left Manila at around 3am and arrived before 7am. They got a Zambales Package tour with a Maru agency if I'm not mistaken (maybe around P1400 per person all-in with van is reasonable). It is easy to DIY though. You can do just a day trip or overnight like us.
It was still pretty early but they have lots of hangout places until the 2pm check-in (12pm check-out) - the main dining area, DIY swings, the beach and even just sit down on the sand everywhere haha. We were also given a P250 consumable coupon for food and drinks that you can use throughout the day at their restuarant or store. They only had breakfast items like tocino and rice and sandwiches (costs ~P100 to P200) that early then you'd still have some leftover pesos in that coupon to use later in the day.
After breakfast, we headed out to the beach first since we still had maybe 6 hours to kill. You'll surely notice Zambales' beach pine trees, the volcanic black sand and the repurposed items they used to build the structures in this resort.
One thing to note is the very hot sand on your feet. For me personally, I prefer to use aqua shoes than slippers in these kinds of beaches ;) There are small shaded areas and huts with benches that are free to use and I spent my time just looking out into the water, dipping for a bit and sleeping like J haha. Although I didn't surf, I like surfing and falling here in the sand instead of other more rocky places like Baler or La Union.
The boys were happy that check-in time was already up haha. M already surfed at P400 per hour with instructor and board (P200 for just the board).
For accommodations, at this time March, we stayed at one of the rooms in the House of Matthew. It had 2 double beds, airconditioning, cable TV, basic amenities, towels, toilet and shower with hot water. The water in the sink tasted like rust though so I would advise using bottled water for brushing your teeth.
Since it was a tour package, I think lunch was provided by the operator. I would advise people to check the quality though and supervise in the buying of the ingredients up to the cooking to make sure that the food is fresh. Or just buy freshly prepared food there.
Since we were around 20+ people, they had tables in this new hall. There are comfort rooms with bidet and showers available here too. It's at the midpoint of the beach and the cottage. It could get crowded though, especially at around after sunset (bring a flashlight!) so if the CR is important for you, then go book a room instead of doing beach camping with these common bathrooms. The cleanest bathroom is near the sari-sari store for me hehe. The rooms came with buffet breakfast with drinks like below.
There are several campsites close to each other and I even saw a sign for a women-only campsite.
As for J and I, since lunch might not be enough for the crew, we settled to get hot meals in the restaurant using the leftover coupon. All in all, we spent a total of around P700 for good Filipino food - adobo, sisig (like!), liempo, rice, coconut, triple treat dessert (I liked the halo-halo over the mais con yelo and the buko pandan).
That whole time from 2 to 5pm, I slept and slept in the room haha. I was still recovering from all the events that took place in relation to our wedding. I'm not a fan of the blazing sun so J went to play volleyball and do beach-ey things while I got my alone time. By the time I woke up, the temperature was just right. Some people surfed again while others, just played with the waves. There were a lot more beachgoers out at this hour but it wasn't that crowded even with hundreds of people. The beach is cleaner here in my opinion vs the beaches I've been so far, except for some dog poop...
Surfers go to the left of the flag while swimmers stay within the 2 flags zone. I know Zambales is known for sudden drops in depth so it's good that they had a lifeguard calling out to people who cross the lines already.
As always, I just sat on the sand, took out my camera and watched the sun go down. =)
We were lucky because during that weekend, they had sunrise and sunset yoga, also an acoustic night and fire dance at the beach (best if you could check out Crystal Beach Resort's Facebook page also)! The sunset is also beautiful here.
I felt like Zambales had everything that I needed at the moment - a break from everything else and, at the same time, a reconnection of sorts to all the things that are good in my life. In truth, everything had been crazy for me for months now leading to my big day. I still can't explain what happened in words for now. But there's definitely a major change in the way I travel now, probably in the way I blog too =) I hope you are looking forward to more adventures with me and J! We would definitely back. Say yes to repeat travel!
If you've got budget and are only around 10 people with a car, maybe you'd like to try booking Zambawood also or The Circle Hostel. They are very near here =)