Zambales

Zambales is a very diverse province. You can sail boats on blue waters in one town, and lose yourself in thick forests in the next. You can dive deep into the ocean or reach the summit of towering mountains. Get ready to be kept on your toes for this province is loaded with sights to see and places to go.

Zambales is a province in Central Luzon that faces the West Philippine Sea. It’s a 5-hour drive from Metro Manila and is comprised of 13 towns and 1 city. It’s home to the largest population of Aetas, an indigenous people across Luzon, and to the Sierra Madre, the longest mountain range in the Philippines.

One of the mountains that make up 60% of Zambales’ area is the volcano responsible for the second largest eruption in the 20th century, Mt. Pinatubo.

The active volcano now has a lake in its crater and is a popular tourist spot. The journey to the crater starts with a ride in a 4×4 Jeep through Mt. Pinatubo’s Crow Valley, followed by a 2-hour hike by a river. During the dry season or on exceptionally hot days, guides bring you on a shorter route (a 30-minute hike) to the crater.

Mt. Tapulao, whose name means “pine tree,” is another mountain frequented by hikers. Located in Barangay Dampay-Salza, Palauig, it is the tallest mountain in Zambales. Trek on rocky roads through mossy forests and in between Sumatran pine trees masked in fog. It takes over 10 hours to reach the summit, so start early or dedicate a whole weekend to climbing the mountain.

Visit another mountain with a cool name: Mt. Balingkilat, which means “Mountain of Thunder.” It’s a shorter and less taxing hike, taking 3 to 5 hours to reach the summit that overlooks the Subic Bay coastline.

The mountain has few trees, making harsh sun the most challenging part of climbing it. Mountaineering groups suggest hiking Mt. Balingkilat early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the sun.

Beside Mt. Balingkilat is Mt. Cinco Picos, Spanish for “5 Peaks.” The mountain served as training grounds for American troops who were stationed in the former naval base in Subic. The Aetas call it “Tatlong Tirad,” and sought refuge here after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo. It takes about 6 hours to reach the third peak, which is where the trail ends.

For a 360 degree view of Zambales, visit the Faro de Punta Capones Lighthouse. The lighthouse is on Capones Island, which is a 30-minute boat ride from Zambales beach. The boat can’t get too close to the island’s rocky shore, so get ready for a wade through the waters followed by a 30- minute hike up to the lighthouse. The somewhat tedious trip is worth the panoramic view of the Pacific ocean and the surrounding islands.

After climbing mountains, be sure to check out the islands and beaches of Zambales. In the town of Candelaria, you’ll find a tiny island with an interesting name: Potipot. To get to the island, just hop on a bangka (outrigger canoe), which can be found on the shores of Candelaria. In about 10 minutes you’ll reach the island, which can be walked in less than an hour.

Potipot has the usual white sand and crystal clear waters that are found in many Philippine islands. But visitors to this beach don’t seek shade under umbrellas or in cabanas. Instead, you rest under the branches of the island’s naturally growing camachile trees.

Zambales also features unique beaches in the town of San Antonio. Head to San Antonio’s Pundaquit Beach, which is the jumpoff point to Anawangin Cove and Nagsasa Cove. The beaches here draw in a lot of tourists because they’re lined with forests of pine trees. The pine trees sprouted after the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption. The volcanic ash that blanketed the beaches made the sand fertile, allowing pine trees to flourish.

Surf’s up in the towns of San Narciso and San Felipe. These beaches are popular among backpackers, especially because of The Circle Hostel in San Felipe. The hostel’s got that homestay appeal and allows guests to paint art on the walls. They also have tightrope walking and weekly yoga classes, adding a dash of eccentricity to your surf trip.

If you’ve had your fill of beaches, head to the Coto Mines Mountain Resort in Sitio Coto, Masinloc. The resort features the “Kidz Pool,” a shallow pool that forms from the mountain’s waterfall. You can also hike up to the waterfall with the help of a local guide.

Zambales is rich not only in beaches and mountains, but in culture and art as well. After the province was left in devastation due to the Mt. Pinatubo eruption, all efforts were being made to restore and rebuild. But violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata believed that there was no excuse to shun the arts, especially in the farming and fishing communities of Zambales.

Bolipata turned to his alma mater, San Antonio’s Casa San Miguel Center for the Arts, an art school for gifted children of the local community. In 1993, it became a foundation to preserve Zambales’ cultural heritage and promote the arts. The school, originally for violinists and other music students, now houses aspiring visual artists, multimedia artists, photographers, writers, and filmmakers.

Guests can learn about Zambales in Casa San Miguel’s Museum of Community Heritage and dine in the Backstage Cafe. The center also holds concerts and recitals starring its young and gifted students.

Top Rated Restaurants in Zambales Browse All

  1. Texas Joe's House of Ribs
    4.5 Stars
    American
    62 Reviews View
  2. Xtremely Xpresso
    4.3 Stars
    American
    105 Reviews View
  3. Meat Plus Cafe
    4.3 Stars
    Steak
    117 Reviews View
  4. C' Italian Dining
    4.4 Stars
    Italian
    35 Reviews View
  5. Cafe Noelle
    5.0 Stars
    Café
    11 Reviews View
  6. The Coffee Shop
    4.6 Stars
    Filipino
    17 Reviews View
  7. Susie's Cuisine
    4.4 Stars
    Filipino
    26 Reviews View
  8. Matam-ih
    4.5 Stars
    Filipino
    18 Reviews View
  9. Fortune Hongkong Seafood Restaurant
    4.4 Stars
    Chinese
    20 Reviews View
  10. Niji Japanese Restaurant
    4.5 Stars
    Japanese
    14 Reviews View

Top Rated Hotels in Zambales Browse All

  1. Crystal Beach Resort
    4.7 Stars
    Hotel
    17 Reviews View
  2. The Lighthouse Marina Resort
    4.6 Stars
    Hotel
    15 Reviews View
  3. Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino
    4.2 Stars
    Hotel
    30 Reviews View
  4. Holiday Inn Clark
    4.3 Stars
    Hotel
    18 Reviews View
  5. The Circle Hostel Zambales
    4.6 Stars
    Hotel
    8 Reviews View
  6. Kamana Sanctuary Resort and Spa
    4.1 Stars
    Hotel
    16 Reviews View
  7. Camayan Beach Resort
    4.0 Stars
    Hotel
    19 Reviews View
  8. Magalawa Island Armada Resort
    4.4 Stars
    Hotel
    8 Reviews View
  9. Widus Resort and Casino
    3.9 Stars
    Hotel
    20 Reviews View
  10. Segara Villas
    4.4 Stars
    Hotel
    7 Reviews View

Top Rated Places in Zambales Browse All

  1. Mt. Pinatubo
    4.8 Stars
    Great Outdoors
    46 Reviews View
  2. Texas Joe's House of Ribs
    4.5 Stars
    American
    62 Reviews View
  3. Nagsasa Cove
    4.7 Stars
    Great Outdoors
    27 Reviews View
  4. Xtremely Xpresso
    4.3 Stars
    American
    105 Reviews View
  5. Meat Plus Cafe
    4.3 Stars
    Steak
    117 Reviews View
  6. C' Italian Dining
    4.4 Stars
    Italian
    35 Reviews View
  7. Crystal Beach Resort
    4.7 Stars
    Hotel
    17 Reviews View
  8. Cafe Noelle
    5.0 Stars
    Café
    11 Reviews View
  9. Capones Island
    4.5 Stars
    Great Outdoors
    20 Reviews View
  10. The Coffee Shop
    4.6 Stars
    Filipino
    17 Reviews View

Popular Areas in Zambales

  1. Subic Bay Freeport Zone

    Subic Bay Freeport Zone

    213 Places
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  2. Olongapo

    Olongapo

    103 Places
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  3. Subic

    Subic

    27 Places
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  4. San Antonio

    San Antonio

    20 Places
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  5. Iba

    Iba

    13 Places
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  6. San Narciso

    San Narciso

    6 Places
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  7. Palauig

    Palauig

    5 Places
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