Bolinao isn’t the kind of place we’d normally go to. My friends and I are beach bums and happy campers who sleep in tents and go to places that have no network signals and no toilets.
It was probably my idea to visit Bolinao and I didn’t really know how many tourists visited the place until we got there. Patar beach is the long stretch of sand frequented by both tourists and locals. Some parts of the beach are privately owned, some are exclusively used by certain resorts, and the rest is open to the public.
The sand is fine, the waves are feisty, and the sunset is gorgeous. You can avoid the crowd by hunting for a quiet camping spot or staying overnight in a resort since most people are just day trippers.
Patar beach is not the only star of Bolinao though. Here was where I finally got to meet the famed Cape Bolinao lighthouse, a structure that has been preserved since it’s creation in 1905. Unfortunately, tourists weren’t allowed to go up the lighthouse at that time but I was happy even without the panoramic view from atop. Looking up the lighthouse was enough for me.
There are number of caves in the vicinity of Patar beach, most of which have fueled local tourism and contributed to the income of Bolinao’s locals. We were actually pretty hesitant about going to the caves because we weren’t sure if it was going to be worth it. Fortunately enough, it was. We went to one dubbed ‘Wonderful Cave’ it was actually pretty wonderful. The water was cold and clear. The cave was really small but the swim was refreshing and invigorating.
Our last stop was Tara Falls which is around 30 minutes away from town. It’s a pretty sight but it’s crowded and the water isn’t as great as it was in the cave. Plus water for showering was difficult to get so I don’t advise even going.
Overall though, I really enjoyed Bolinao. The combination of land and water wonders, natural and man-made spots, was very much worth the trip.
HOW TO GET THERE
– Take a bus to Bolinao (Victory Liner, Five Star Bus Company, Dagupan Bus Line) for around 500 pesos. If you leave around 6-8 am from Manila, you’ll get there by around early afternoon.
– Take tricycle to Patar Beach, 150 per trike for three to four people.
1000 – roundtrip bus from Metro Manila to Bolinao
900 – tricycle rental to take you to Patar Beach, lighthouse, cave, and falls (around 225 each person)
300 – table rental at Patar Beach
70 – entrance fee, Wonderful Cave
20 – parking fee, Wonderful Cave
5 – entrance fee, Tara Falls
100 – cottage rental, Patar Beach
300 – food
budget per person = 2000 maximum
*All information are applicable as of May 2013. Photos by Elmer Pedrezuela.