BEACH ON A BUDGET: ANAWANGIN COVE AND CAPONES ISLAND

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It’s summer again here in the Philippines and I can’t help but flip through my Instagram, wondering where to go next. Today, I’m going to walk you through one of my most “sulit” (a Filipino word used for getting your money’s worth out of something) beach escapades – island hopping and camping on Anawangin Cove, Zambales.

I remember this trip as that one I almost didn’t take. Why, you ask? Well, for one, there’s this weird superstition in the Philippines that graduating students should not go on adventurous or dangerous trips because there’s a higher risk for accidents. Another reason is more straightforward: budget beach trips tend to be such a hassle. As for me, I believed that it was my last chance to ‘beach bum’ with my college friends before going serious with the job interviews and whatnot. As long as you play safe, what could go wrong, right?

To my parents’ surprise, yes, I was able to go home safely in one piece, without a deep dent in my wallet, a deeper tan, and appreciation for the splendid islands of the Philippines. Here are the reasons why you won’t regret going to the beach, on a budget!

Anawangin cove view

LESS EXPENSES, MORE ADVENTURE

Here in the PH at least, if it’s an ultra-budget beach trip, you don’t just hop on your car and get off inside your resort. In our case, there wasn’t even a resort! Budget beach trips would most likely mean different forms of transportation, and a DIY itinerary. It’s more exciting if you ask me!

Fresh food from the market

On the way to Pundakit Island – our jump-off point for island hopping – we stopped by the wet market to buy some meat and other ingredients for cooking. There are no restaurants in Anawangin Cove so beware! Google simple recipes beforehand because you can’t hunt for additional ingredients once you’re there already.

 Journey to the island

After being dropped off by our van, we hopped on a boat instead, to explore more islands before we even got to our destination! I don’t even remember how many Skittles I popped into my mouth just so that I don’t get seasick, but it was all worth it! When we reached the shores of our first island stop, we were instantly in awe.  Crystal-clear waters and white, powdery sands of an unspoiled beach welcomed us to Capones Island. No one lives there as far as I know, and it’s probably the reason it’s so pristine.  We were there for about 40 minutes or so, and my friends were even able to sneak in a game of beach football (say what) while I took pictures to feature in my blog.

Capones beach

I really did not expect everything that I saw in there. When your friends tell you about the beauty of unspoiled beaches, please, believe them. Give me another pack of candies and I totally wouldn’t mind the seasick frenzy again just so I can go back.

We also meant to go to Camara Island, but it was high tide at that time.

Anawangin Cove: Our home for the next two days

A few minutes more and we were in Anawangin Cove. I was actually still processing the beautiful sights in Capones when we saw pine trees near the beach! Pine trees are common in another PH tourist destination, Baguio, during December, so we were surprised. Upon further research when we got back from the trip, apparently, the seeds of the trees along with the ashfall from the Mt. Pinatubo eruption were carried by the wind to Anawangin Cove. You learn something new every day!

Anawangin Pine Trees

Here’s the fun part: describing the cove itself. The sands weren’t as white as Capones Island’s but still fine, nonetheless. Considering that there’s no electricity, let alone hotels or resorts, on this cove, it was a consideration beyond aesthetically-pleasing IG photos because it’d be our “bed” for the next 48 hours.

A quick walk around the island and you’ll see lots of fellow happy campers, souvenir shops, a small store selling necessities and a very limited amount of drinking water just in case it didn’t occur to you that there are no potable water sources in there. Just saying.

 

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EXPERIENCE DO-IT-YOURSELF BEACH CAMPING

Anawangin Cove Camping

Since budget beach trips require you to do things like cooking and serving your food, gathering water, pitching a tent, and lighting up your bonfire, it’s going to be a back to basics kind of thing and it’ll be easy to spot who in your group has the practical knowledge. No room service, no restaurants, and no electric appliances. If you’re not that person (like I was), then trust me, you’ll end up armed with a whole new set of skills when you come back to the city.

Camping cooking

Just a friendly reminder: whatever you do, don’t leave your trash behind!

 

NO SHORTAGE OF ACTIVITIES IN THE ISLAND

Not having electricity is quite an inconvenience, yes. However, on the bright side, you get to focus on having fun with each other. As the saying goes, “Wherever you are, be fully there.”

Don’t believe it? Here are the fun things my friends and I got to do without electricity and the Internet:

  • Trekking
  • Hill-climbing
  • Snorkeling
  • Island hopping
  • Bonfire games

Anawangin cove hill climb

Besides, no one’s spending a lot of money (*cough*, students with no salaries yet) so your group’s not that conscious/paranoid/troubled about finances and your mind is actually having a vacation, too. That isn’t so bad at all, don’t you think?

HAVE MONEY TO SPARE FOR YOUR NEXT GETAWAY

I’ve had my fair share of exclusive/club membership resorts and international beach trips. Of course, I wouldn’t say that one is worth more than the other. After all, the premium you pay for developed resorts is primarily because of the facilities and comfort.

However, experience-wise, I’d say that budget beach trips are better. You get a unique adventure every time plus you also have the chance to save up for when you want a more luxurious trip instead. If you ask me, budget trips are advisable (not to mention more fun!) if you can bring friends along. My family, however, prefers to really spend on more mainstream beach trips because they just want to relax and not worry about basic necessities.

 

Ready for your PH budget beach trip? Don’t forget to do your research, pack your camera, bring some friends, and have fun under the sun!

Note: We got a tour package for around PhP 2,000 per person, inclusive of round trip van transfers to and from Metro Manila, round trip boat transfers to and from Pundakit, and rental fees for tents and cookware.

 

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