Bangrin Marine Protected Area, Bani
The thick mangrove forest of the 42-hectare Bangrin Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Pangasinan, on the western side of Luzon, is home to 57 species of birds, both local and migratory. Paddling through Bangrin’s calm waters and lush foliage is a sublime experience in itself, especially at sunset, when the water mirrors the flame-red hue of the sky and hundreds of nocturnal birds soar off into the horizon. The area is one of the best birdwatching sites in the Philippines.
Entrance fee to Bangrin MPA is P40 per person. To explore the mangroves, you need to rent a boat for about P1,000 for up to five people. Visits must be pre-arranged with the local tourism office. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Romel Dulay at the Bani Local Government Unit (LGU), mobile tel +63 928 244 5119.
HOW TO GET THERE From Manila, head to the Cubao bus terminal of Victory Liner and take a bus bound for Bolinao (about P400 or US$8, one way) and ask to be dropped off at Bani. Travel time is about four to five hours. From Bani town proper, take a tricycle to Barangay Apurao, where you can find boats to take you to the mangroves.
WHERE TO STAY Oldwoods by The Sea Eco Resort, mobile tel +63917 507 4488).
Paratec Beach, Burgos
Paratec, a 500 sqm beach cove in the town of Burgos, has a sandy shore on one side and sharp, black rock formations on the other. It’s a beach for those who are craving to do something other than lie on the sand and make sandcastles. People come here for the challenging climb to the top of the rock hills to get a stunning view of the black rocks and the sea. The clear waters are shallow close to shore, ideal for a relaxing dip and a swim.
HOW TO GET THERE From Metro Manila, take a bus bound to Alaminos. Fare is about P400 one way. Travel time is about 4 hours. Try Victory Liner. From the Alaminos bus terminal, take another bus to Burgos. Travel time is about an hour. From there you can hire a tricycle (up to P500 round trip) from the town center to Paratec Beach.
WHERE TO STAY There are no resorts on Paratec Beach itself, but pitching a tent for the night is allowed. A half-hour boat ride from Paratec is Cabo Beach, also part of Burgos, where basic accommodation can be found. Try Roven’s Place, mobile tel +63927 995 7608. A basic beach front cottage for up to 12 people will set you back about P2,500 a night.
Antong Falls, Sison
There’s a high concentration of waterfalls all over Pangasinan, from the tiny to the towering. But Antong Falls might just be the prettiest of the bunch. Tucked away in Pangasinan’s northernmost town, Antong Falls has nine layers of falls, with cascades ranging from one to 20 meters high. Most of the natural pools here are deep enough to jump in even from a height, and the waters’ bright blue hue and refreshing coolness compel most visitors to do so.
HOW TO GET THERE Antong Falls is open from 6 amto 5 pm. There is an entrance fee of P10 per person. From Metro Manila, board a Victory Liner bus bound for Laoag, Baguio, Vigan, or La Union (about P450 one way) and ask the driver to drop you off at Sison. From Sison town proper, take a tricycle to Inmalog (about P60), where the entrance to Antong Falls is located. From the entrance, it’s a half-hour trek to the falls.
WHERE TO STAY Try Marinas Farm Resort, mobile tel 0917 789 6431.
Tanduyong Island, Anda
At low tide, Tanduyong is just a 20-minute walk from Tondol Beach, a tourist favorite. At high tide, it’s a 10-minute boat ride. And yet, most people who come to the place don't stay long enough. This underrated island is actually a great place for a longer stay. In fact, it’s ideal for camping, if getting away from it all is more your style. Shaded by coconut and Ipil-ipil trees, this small island’s landscape is picture-perfect. Its waters are a rich fishing ground and excellent for snorkeling. Fishermen also frequent the area, so if you’ve got a hankering for fresh seafood, this is the place to go.
HOW TO GET THERE From Manila, take a Victory Liner bus to Anda (about P450, one way). From Anda Town Proper, hire a tricycle to Tondol Beach. Fare is about P150, one way.
WHERE TO STAY Camp out on Tanduyong, or stay at nearby JCT Beach Resort, mobile tel +63921 494 9248. Expect basic accommodation.
Cabalitian Island, Sual
This quiet island off the coast of Sual has a lot to offer — privacy, quiet, a coconut tree-lined shore and clear waters excellent for swimming.
HOW TO GET THERE From Manila, take a Victory Liner bus bound for Alaminos or Bolinao and ask the driver to drop you off at Sual. In Sual, head to the fishing port, where you can hire a boat to take you to Cabalitian. The boat ride costs approximately P500 round trip, and the ride takes about 30 minutes.
WHERE TO STAY A small basic thatched cottage for four on the island costs about P800. There are no restaurants, so bring your own food and drinks.
Published January 2016