Wild swims and virgin beaches in Dasol

A sleepy town in Pangasinan is the gateway to some of the Philippines' finest virgin beaches

Text and Photos by Christian Sangoyo

Early Morning at Tambobong Beach, a fishing village in the town of Dasol

A panorama of powdery, white sand and sparkling aquamarine water welcomed us. On the horizon, the sun had just risen, turning our dusty frowns into quick warm smiles. Getting to Tambobong Beach in Pangasinan was hard, but well worth it.

Around midnight the previous evening, we boarded a bus in Cubao bound for Alaminos in the province of Pangasinan. Four hours later, we alighted and transferred to a scraggly, non-aircon minibus bound for the town of Dasol. We got off at the public market as dawn broke, bought food and supplies, before getting on an hour-long numbing tricycle ride through a narrow winding dirt road to Tambobong.

Tambobong Beach is quickly becoming a favorite of Manila weekend adventurers. Located in the fishing and salt-making town of Dasol in Pangasinan, it is one municipality away from the bustling city of Alaminos on its northwestern side, where the more famous Hundred Islands is, and Bolinao, which also boasts of great beaches.

But what separates Tambobong Beach from its neighbouring tourist magnets is its sense of isolation and rawness. It does take greater effort and patience to find this secluded and almost untouched paradise.

Bunking in at R Paradise, a four-room bungalow resort fronting the beach, we quickly unpacked our bags and changed into our beach outfits. We were not about to waste time; we quickly hopped aboard an outrigger boat—made more for fishing than hauling tourists—and headed on an island hopping adventure.

With packed lunch and bottles of beer, we anchored at a skeleton wreck about a hundred meters from the shoreline of the neighboring barangay Osmeña. The sunken vessel, which locals call balinmanok, indeed looks like a broken chicken ribcage amidst clear blue-green waters. Our boatman said it used to be a Taiwanese vessel that strayed off Pangasinan, its hull shredded by sharp corals during a storm.

Docking at the white sand beach of Colibra Island

We wanted to jump off the boat right there and then, the water was just so inviting, but we were told our next stop would be a better place for swimming. We held on to our snorkeling gear until we reached Colibra Island.

Set five kilometers away from Tambobong Beach, Colibra got its name from the numerous sea snakes that once frequented the area. We were assured not to worry though, as there are hardly any of those around now. Indeed, all we saw was creamy sand surrounding land sparsely dotted with coconut trees. The island is quite small, around 150 meters in diameter. 

The water was amazing; emerald-like in color and extremely clear. We took shelter under a rock outcrop and then ran to the sea; its warm waters enveloping us as we greet the fishes below.

The island of Balas Nagtaros, just a few minutes north of Colibra was our next stop. We docked at a coral stone beach, trekked to the middle of the island to a beach cove littered with craggy rock formations. We entered an opening within a rock wall and discovered a cave with a pool of water stretching for several meters before opening out to the sea again. Locals like to swim here to escape the harsh midday sun.

A mini underground river at a cave in Balas Nagtaros Islet

All the swimming made us hungry, so we set off for the other side of the island to find some shade under which to sit for lunch. We spent the next hour or two feasting on grilled fish from the market and snorkeling along the small channel that separates the islet from the mainland before sailing back to Tambobong Beach.

But we weren't done just yet. Tambobong itself is a good spot for swimming when the tide is up. We frolicked in the water, unmindful of the searing afternoon sun, then lounged under the shade of coconut trees, drinking beer.

The tide ebbed but we did not care. We were still firmly planted in place, watching local kids playing along the low water and fisher folks heading out to spend the night hauling in fresh bounties from the sea. Our reverie lasted until early evening, when we took out our cameras to capture the soft pastel colors of the twilight before stars started to dot the electric blue sky.

Essentials

R Paradise Beach Resort, Brgy. Tambobong, Dasol, Pangasinan, tel +63908 820 2016

Matabang Beach Resort, Bgy. Osmeña, Dasol, Pangasinan, tel +632 425 4980, +63905 245 5425, or +63928 937 7701

How to get there

Board an Alaminos-bound Victory Liner bus in Cubao along EDSA in the northern part of Metro Manila. Get off at the Alaminos Victory Liner terminal and transfer to a local bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Get down at the Dasol public market. From there, you can hire outrigger boats to take you island hopping. Try Kuya Bong, tel +63948 596 3432

For more of Christian Sangoyo's travels, visit LAKAD PILIPINAS

Published October 2015