Having spent most of my adult life in Southern Tagalog, over the years, I’ve grown tired of the beach and pool resorts in Laguna, Cavite and Batangas. I already know Los Baños and Calamba resorts almost like the back of my hand. Add to that the hordes of tourists that ply the South Expressway each weekend to take a dip at Laguna’s hot springs, and you’ll understand why, when asked for a beach getaway, I would almost always recommend something outside of this region, travel time permitting.
Zambales is an ideal location to get away from it all. Instead of joining the throngs, you’ll be driving the opposite direction. While Subic has been, hands-down, the most popular Zambales destination, a less tourist-infested stretch of beach lies a few more kilometers farther from Manila. The coast of Iba, Zambales is of fine silvery sand: not the white powder of Boracay, but not the gray fine gravel of Batangas, either. The beach is wide, long and most importantly, less populated (except during holidays, of course, when it could receive a lot of the locals).
Where to stay? Iba has yet to make it to Manileños top destinations. Although there are lots of pension-type of places to stay the night, The Palmera Garden Hotel and Beach Resort is one I wouldn’t hesitate recommending. Their website is a bit tacky, but I assure you that the facilites are made in good taste. Don’t expect marble bathtubs and such, but the cottages are clean and charming. For those who abhor sand, they also have a pool, with fountains playing water games that little guests will find fascinating. Ah, and the food! A balanced mix of international and Filipino cuisine, from appetizers to cocktails, their two restaurants will most likely have whatever your tastebuds crave for. Don’t pass up the delectable seafood!
And when you get tired of the Iba coast, you can sign up for a day-trip to go whale watching or hopping on a hundred of the 7,107 islands of the Philippines. Or, if you’re up to the height and the heat, go hiking and check out Pinatubo’s crater. Definitely a good way to round up your visit of Northern Zambales!
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