February 18, 2014

Candelaria, Zambales: Bumming at Potipot Island

I have great friends, a job that allows me to take short vacations, and a country filled with beautiful beaches. I'm a clingy, impulsive, and tropical person so expect to see more beach posts in this blog. :p Since 2003, I've been wandering aimlessly with my high school friends, taking short trips on weekends. Nothing has changed, except that our soles have become itchier, and souls more clingy to each other. Last May of 2013, we decided to take a 6-hour trip to the farther side of Zambales, where the island of Potipot awaits.

There are many things that I am thankful for.

Taking a selfie during our stop over at Subic
We rented a Courtyard Exclusive Beach Front House for 8 at the Isla Vista Beach Resort & Restaurant. It has Wifi, 4 AC bedrooms w/ ensuite toilet & bath (one 1 bath with hot shower), 32” flat screen wall mounted cable tv in the living room, dining, 2 door non frost 8’ refrigerator, burner,  kitchen w/ basic utensils, outdoor kitchen & garden, grill, and parking, all for P 8,000.00 only. You can check out their room rates here.

Touchdown!!! :)
Our Kitchen (We just let Irco, Pat, and Portia, do their thing since Kyla, Erika, Cyan, and I don't cook. :p)

Our plus ones. :)
One of the 4 AC rooms. (Very spacious!)
Plus, we have our own bathrooms :)
As soon as we settled down, we prepared ourselves for Potipot. To get to the island, you can ask the receptionist to reserve a boat transfer.

Potipot Island on our beach front
Goofing around while waiting for the boat

T.22 live in Potipot, Candelaria, Zambales! :)
All aboard!

The round trip boat transfer that comes with life vest costs P400 for 1-6 pax, P800 for 7-12 pax, and P1200 for 13-18 pax. If you feel like embracing the whole beach bumming vibe, you can also bring your own tent and stay in the island.

Since we went on a weekend, the island was pretty packed. Most of the good spots were taken so we had to go to the back of the island to secure our own. We brought our own cooler as well.

This is Erika! (We call her Ishi, sometimes Hodor)
My Coron travel buddy, Kyla, (The other Hodor)!
The Februarians of the group, Cyan and Portia, with Patricia and Irco as photobombers :p
Crazy Kids :)
Panoramic view of the island :)
We stayed until sunset, same with everyone else. So when we headed back to the departure area, we had to wait for an hour to board our boat. But with a sunset this beautiful, who are we to complain?

We always do potluck when bringing food & drinks so we just dined in. After dinner, we went straight to the happier part of the night. :p

Exposing our messy side
We sang our hearts out to 90's hits featuring Backstreet Boys, N Sync, Britney, Aqua, and our favorite, the Spice Girls. (Don't judge!) I was one of the first to hit the sheets.

If you find Potipot crowded, there are other islands in Zambales with creamy-white sand and crystal clear water that you might want to try. To name a few: Anawangin, Capones, and Nagsasa. To get here you can try this route from shoestringtravelers.com:

Getting To Uacon, Candelaria

By private vehicle: To get to Uacon, Candelaria by car take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) all the way to the Dau/Mabalacat exit then continue on to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX). The route through San Fenando – Lubao in Pampanga is shorter but passes through a narrower road and congested town centers so we decided on using the SCTEX instead for speed and ease of travel. Travel the length of SCTEX to the Tipo Exit, pass through the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) and on to Subic Town. Take the national road all the way to Candelaria. You will pass by the towns of Castillejos, San Marcelino, San Narciso, San Felipe, Cabangan, Botolan, Iba, Palauig and Masinloc before Candelaria in that order. It’s about a five hour drive from Metro Manila. There are two things to remember so your trip doesn’t take longer than necessary:

1. After Castilejos you will reach a junction with a sign on the road going to the left pointing to San Antonio. Do not enter that road but continue straight on to San Marcelino and San Narciso to avoid passing by San Antonio which is the longer route (the road to San Antonio goes to Pundaquit and the destinations of Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves).

2. There is another junction after Iba and before Palauig. The road to the left goes to Palauig town proper. Do not take that but take the road inland (to the right) that bypasses Palauig town and goes straight to Masinloc and on to Candelaria.

By public vehicle: Ride a bus bound for St. Cruz, Zambales. Victory has buses that regularly ply this route. Get off at Barangay Uacon in Candelaria (Candelaria is the town just before Sta. Cruz). You can take a trike or even walk to the nearest resort or the beach where you can get a boat to Potipot Island. 

Be it Tagaytay, Batangas, or Zambales, summer will always remind me of happy memories. We may have different and hectic working schedules, but we make sure we don't let this annual road trip pass. 2014 is our 11th year, (Yes, we treat each other as girlfriends!) and we are going grand. But i'm saving that for another post. I hope you enjoyed a little tour of Potipot through these photos! :)

Thanks Irco for letting me share your cool photos! :)