zambales philippines

Make the most out of your Zambales trip. What incredible travel experiences does Zambales have in store? What are the must-see Zambales tourist spots? What is the local food scene like in there? What are the places you absolutely shouldn’t miss when you visit Zambales? Call your travel buddies and pack your bags. Let’s dive into the list of things you should include in your itinerary for your Zambales adventure.

Zambales is one of the top destinations in the Philippines that offers almost everything you desire when it comes to traveling. From chilling on sandy beaches, enjoying an intimate camping/glamping experience, surfing the waves, trekking an untarnished forest landscape, and more. It’s a one-stop travel destination perfect for your adventurous soul!

The province of Zambales is just 3-4 hours off the busy Metro Manila and is nestled in the Central Luzon region in the Philippines. It’s the second-largest province in the region and is home to one of the less crowded populated areas in the country. You can hail buses, vans, jeeps, and tricycles to get around the place. Occasionally, you’ll need to rent a boat for your island-hopping agenda.

The site is more than just a coastal municipality. It’s also known for its historical offerings. The province is the ancestral home of the Philippine’s beloved President, Ramon Magsaysay, who came from Castillejos. You can also visit the legendary Capones Island, which unravels a rich history and spectacular rocky view.

Zambales is the perfect spot for sun-worshipping weekend warriors. Thinking about taking a trip to the province? Catch these famous tourist spots and take note of the things to do when planning your itinerary.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Go Beach- and Island-Hopping in Zambales

When it comes to beaches, Zambales just keeps on giving. If you’re planning to satisfy your hunger for some vitamin sea, you’ll find satisfaction and serenity in one (or three!) of the beaches in Zambales. You can go to these destinations by hiring a boat or availing of an island-hopping tour.

1. Get Cinematic in Capones Island

zambales capones island

You’ll find Capones Island just four kilometers away from Barangay Pundaquit in San Antonio. The island was previously known as “Isla de Gran Capon” during the Spanish era. The island is covered in rocks on one end and white sand on the other. It’s a great attraction for surfers and divers alike.

The island is legendary for its lighthouse which was built in 1890, with Filipino’s bare hands. The famous landmark sits atop the sharp cliff. The tower is perfect for photoshoots since it displays an inviting cinematic scene. The lighthouse has long been guiding vessels to and from Subic Bay and Corregidor.

2. Set Up Camp at Anawangin Cove

Anawangin Cove is one of the most popular camping spots in Zambales. The sheltered bay boasts and ash-colored beach due to the Mt. Pinatubo volcanic eruption. It’s surrounded with a vast, evergreen, and tall Agoho trees similar to pine trees. Imagine if Boracay and Baguio had a baby, this would be it.

This is a go-to place for first-time and experienced campers alike. During weekends, the beach looks like a miniature tent city due to the influx of travelers spending their rest days there. Make sure that you bring everything you need going there since there isn’t anyone selling food and water there. The entrance fee for a day trip is PHP 50.00 and PHP 130.00 for an overnight stay.

3. Camp in the Less Crowded Nagsasa Cove

Similar to Anawangin Cove, Nagsasa Cove is also carpeted with ash-colored sand and surrounded by pine-like Agoho trees. It has all the good things Anawangin is known for, but this one has a more relaxed atmosphere. Hike up the hill to enjoy the breathtaking view. From there, you should see the aqua blue water encircled with nature’s greenery in all its glory.

Despite being a campsite, Nagsasa cove doesn’t get as overcrowded as Anawangin. But since it’s getting more and more hype and tourists every year, it might soon follow the footsteps of its stepsister. The entrance fee in Nagsasa cove costs PHP 50.00 for a day trip and PHP 100.00 for an overnight stay.

4. Enjoy a Silent Retreat in Talisayen Cove

Nagsasa, Anawangin, and Talisayen all come from one fabric, sprinkled by the same volcanic ash. This humble cove in Zambales is the lesser known stepsister of Nagsasa and Anawangin Cove, and often gets overlooked.

What sets Talisayen apart from its stepsisters is its peaceful, quiet, and more laidback atmosphere. This is one of the reasons why it appeals to a different type of travelers, often to those who are more into making their own trail and adventures.

Other than swimming and sunbathing, this cove serves as an excellent spot for stargazing. While there, challenge your friends to spot the brightest stars and constellations. It’s a fun way to spend the night! Entrance fee to the cove is at PHP 100.00 per pax for an overnight stay.

5. Stop Over at Camara Island

Camara Island is just 10-20 minutes off Pundaquit. It’s a rocky spot with a short stretch of sand that serves as a fantastic backdrop for taking pictures. It’s a small island that’s no bigger than the size of a football field. It may be humble in size, but it has an astonishing view of Pundaquit and its scenic mountains.

Overnight camping here is prohibited, and drinking isn’t allowed. Since it’s a relatively small island, the most exciting activity you can do here is snorkeling. The island is perfect as the first stop to your island-hopping tour in Zambales. The entrance here is free, so might as well ask your boatman to stop over for some quick photo-op and viewing experience.

Have Fun Inflatable Island and Other Kid-friendly Tourist Spots in Zambales

Zambales is a destination for more than just beaches and islands. From an inflatable island to a wildlife farm, you’ll find activities perfect for people of all ages. Here are some tourist attractions you wouldn’t want to miss with your family:

1. Splash and Play at Inflatable Island

zambales inflatable island

Get ready to get wet at the biggest and wildest floating theme park in Asia found in Subic Bay, Zambales. Inflatable Island has grown even massive since it opened in 2017. It now stretches to the size of 10 whole basketball courts combined side by side. Being a one-of-a-kind attraction that’s just crazy fun, it’s now become favorite Zambales tourist spot.

Inflatable Island is essentially a big playground set above the open sea in Subic built for kids and kids-at-heart. From shaky bridges to the crowd favorite Tarzan swing, you’ll never run out of obstacles here. The biggest attraction yet? The gigantic unicorn that is just cuteness overload!

And when you feel tired or in need of a break, you can plop down at the island’s pink or yellow bean bags. If you prefer to lay rest completely, they have a Sunflower Lounge area complete with pillows and a comfy mattress.

2. Experience Fun Farming in Rosa Farms

Zambales is home to the Philippine Carabao Mango. Feeling excited to come pick, smell, and savor on some sweet mangoes? Well, find your way to Rosa Farms. It’s a 12.5-hectare mango orchard situated along the National Highway in San Marcelino-San Antonio Boundary, Zambales. The farm is accessible through a private vehicle and via public transport.

The mangoes, the herb garden, the swing, the country store, and the café, there’s so much goodness offered there. The best time to visit is during mango harvest seasons. The farm has a “Pick & Pay” program, which lets guests pick mangoes straight from the trees. It’s perfect for mango-hungry kids and adults!

On regular days, guests can come to the farm free of charge. During exclusive events, they charge a participation fee of PHP 1,500.00 (PHP 700.00 for children) per head.

3. Enjoy the World of Horsemanship in El Kabayo Stables

El Kabayo is arguably the best place to learn and go horseback riding in the country. The establishment is tucked in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales and is home to healthy and friendly horses. The ranch is simply captivating with its well-kept lawns, huge ground space, and country-style building.

The stables are supervised by Wildlife In Need, a non-government organization that specializes in animal care and welfare. All proceeds acquired from the riding activities go straight to the care and well-being of the beautiful horses.

You can avail of horseback riding lessons and a guided ride through the lush forest of El Kabayo falls. Whether you’re keen for equestrian or simply want to hang out with horses, feel free to escape on horseback in El Kabayo Stables. Horse riding is priced at PHP 370.00 for 30 minutes and PHP 770.00 for an hour.

4. Go Back in Time at Ramon Magsaysay Museum

Go on a side trip and experience Zambales’ historical side with the beloved former Philippine President, Ramon Magsaysay’s ancestral house, in the town of Castillejos. The house was restored and converted into a museum back in 1990. The National Historical Institute reconstructed and renovated it in 1999 after it was severely destroyed by the Mt. Pinatubo eruption in 1991.

The modest yet charming two-level structure contains memorabilia and some personal remembrance about the former president, such as pictures and medals. Some of Ramon Magsaysay’s sharp Barong Tagalogs are displayed in the historical site. You can also find his vintage Presidential car, the Willy Jeep, in the museum.

You should pay a quick trip here to find more about why Ramon Magsaysay was well admired and respected by the people. The museum is open to the public from Tuesday to Saturday from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

5. Get Up Close with Wild Animals at Botolan Wildlife Farm

Established in 2000, Botolan Wildlife Farm is a highly rated wildlife sanctuary sitting in the heart of Botolan, Zambales. It’s a family-run sanctuary established in 2000, and is all funded and maintained by the generous family.

The animal ranch stretches to a 55,000-sqm area. The place serves as a habitat for a wide range of exotic animals and plants around the world. You’ll find rare species of animals there, like the Brahminy Kite (a now endangered bird), adorable owls, colorful birds, the Philippines’ Brown Deer, and a Siberian tiger among others.

You should visit and have a look at their exquisite garden and a variety of beautiful animals when you have free time. The grounds and gardens are open daily from 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. The entrance fee costs PHP 85.00 for adults and PHP 75.00 for children.

Stay at Must-Visit Zambales Resorts for Your Family Weekend Trips

If camping isn’t ideal for you, you may find comfort and amenities perfect for your needs at a resort. Here’s a list to help you fast track your search for a nice Zambales beach resort.

1. Escape the City Life at Camayan Beach Resort

It is nestled in Subic, Zambales, right on the outer bat where it’s peaceful and where the rich forest meets with the gray sandy beaches. The resort sits right beside Ocean Adventure. You won’t have to travel far to rediscover nature with your family since you have one right next door.

The resort provides plenty of fun activities, like swimming, hiking, snorkeling, diving, and more. At the end of a tiring day, you can treat yourself to a relaxing massage. Get your much-needed dose of the sun, sand, and sea at this luxurious place.

2. Revel in Comfort at Acea Subic Bay Resort

If you’re looking for a resort snuggled on its own private beach, you’ll be delighted at Acea Subic Bay Resort. The beach doesn’t stretch long, but it oozes soft, fine sands with a magnificent overlooking view of the mountains.

Whatever you need or want to do, the resort is equipped with amenities, facilities, and outdoor and indoor activities for your pleasure. They have a daycare, a game room, indoor and outdoor playground, wet play pool area, a 2,560 square meter pool, gym & fitness rooms, and more. Be bold and try a couple water sports activities you haven’t tried before, perhaps like parasailing and jet skiing.

3. Feel at Home at Crystal Beach Resort

Crystal Beach Resort offers a heavenly stay where nature and comfort is wrapped into one. It is conveniently located in San Narciso Town, Zambales. The place is a favorite hangout for thrill-seekers, especially for surfing enthusiasts and beginners who yearn to ride big waves.

From air-conditioned rooms to glamping tents, the resort offers a variety of lodging options perfect for any families or travelers. Their rooms should be lauded for how it embraces its native roots for it exhibits primitive Nipa hut design elements.

Crystal Beach Resort offers an exciting and adventure-filled experience for their guests. They’re your home away from home for a reasonable price. The best part? They’re a pet-friendly resort! So, feel free to bring your furry friend/s with you for your trip to Zambales.

4. Elevate Your Subic Experience at The Lighthouse Marina Resort

zambales lighthouse marina resort

The Lighthouse Marina Resort is an entrancing lodging option perfect for families who want a world-class comfort at an affordable price. The resort is tucked in at Subic Waterfront and boasts a sleek lighthouse tower that’s just a sight to behold. The 3-story boutique hotel gazes toward the bustling waterfront road and awe-inspiring views of the Subic Bay.

The hotel is ultra modern with its Italian-inspired architecture, while tall palm trees pleasingly surround the resort. It features a swimming pool enough for the guests the hotel can accommodate.

5. Relax at White Castle Beach

Have a limited budget? No worries, White Castle Beach Resort got your back. The resort is conveniently located in Iba, Zambales as it sits within proximity of the Iba Airport. You can enjoy a beachfront view where you can relax, play beach volleyball, and watch the sunset as it turns into dusk.

Where to Eat in Zambales?

zambales restaurants

When you travel to Zambales, expect to get the best of both worlds: extraordinary beaches and amazing food! When in this coastal province, aim to visit more than one Zambales restaurant to get an authentic insight into their food scene. Here are some places you should check out:

1. Enjoy a Selection of Great Food in Sit-n-Bull Bar & Grill

Sit-n-Bull Bar & Grill is an American-style food place that offers great food and amazing drinks for an affordable price. It’s situated in the National Highway in Barrio Barretto in Olongapo. The place has a lively ambiance which seems to make up for the small venue.

They have a vast and great selection of food and drinks. You could eat there every day for months and not get the exact dish twice. And since the resto-bar is American-inspired, their serving portions are, too.

When you dine there, ask about their specials for the day. Those almost always never disappoint. Whether you’re craving for local or Western cuisine, Sit-n-Bull is worth checking out. The food ranges from PHP 100.00 to PHP 370.00 per order.

2. Feast in Tex-Mex in Playa Papagayo Beach Inn & Restaurant

If you’re in the lookout for a lovely place and amazing food, look no further than Playa Papagayo Beach Inn and Restaurant. The site has been serving delightful food for over 47 years. You can track the establishment on the same highway as Sit-n-Bull Bar & Grill. Try visiting both restaurants when you’re there and when you can!

Playa Papagayo’s cozy and rustic theme emits a romantic ambiance. Playa Papagayo is best known for their Tex-Mex food and Thai culinary relish. Their food is served and eaten in the open air, which you’ll find compliments the Subic Bay breeze and view. Worth noting is that they have a separate vegetarian menu.

The place is serene both in the day or night. Dine in at sunset and enjoy basking in the view with a margarita in hand for an amazing time. Their food ranges from PHP 260.00 to PHP 520 per serving.

3. Chomp into Real Deal Steaks in Mango’s Beach Bar & Restaurant

Mango’s Beach Bar & Restaurant is another one-stop resort since it offers lodging and has a restaurant to boot. You can find the establishment in the same area as the previous restaurants, in Barrio Barretto, Olongapo. The restaurant is an intimate area that offers an incredible view of the bay.

The restaurant falls under the high-end category. It’s famous for its mouthwatering, imported steaks and fresh seafood. Their steaks’ quality shows on the plate: well-aged, great cut, and flavorful. Their prices fall around PHP 150.00 to PHP 887.00 per order. It’s a bit steeper than other restaurants, but a little splurge is always worth it when it comes to enjoyable food.

4. Savor the Food and View at The Blue Rock Restaurant

Blue Rock Restaurant is located in Baloy Long Beach in Barrio Barretto. The venue has a beautiful and wide view of the beach. One thing they have that’s just as good as the view is their food. They have an international selection of food, from flavorsome buffalo wings to well-cooked steaks. Moreover, their tasty barbecue and seafood dishes will have you craving for more.

The restaurant comes alive at night with live music to boost your dining experience. When you get the chance, go to the floating bar and ask to get your food served to you there for a terrific experience.

5. Taste a Piece of America at Shamboli’s

Shamboli’s is famous for its east coast-style pizzeria. You can find the pizza place in the National Road of Olongapo. The venue isn’t very big, but it still provides outdoor and indoor seating for diners. This food from the gods, Shamboli’s gods, is available in different selections like New Yorker, Meat Lovers, Vegetarian, and even Pacquiao KO (no kidding!).

Beyond pizzas, the place serves burgers, buffalo wings, and a few Italian entrees. You’ll be surprised at their generous serving sizes and find that they’re reasonably priced. The place may be small, but the ambiance is just warm and inviting. 

If you’re traveling the world to find the best-tasting pizza, Shamboli’s should be on your list. This haven offers a little taste of America in Subic. Their menu prices range from PHP 300.00 to PHP 450.00.

Experience a Blissful Getaway in Zambales!

zambales

You’ll never have to worry about falling short of things to do in Zambales. From mango-picking to island-hopping, Zambales assures you’ll have the best of adventures and experience of your life.

Whether you’re planning for a quick getaway with friends, family, your significant other, or by yourself, this coastal province will never disappoint. It might even surprise you in the most unsuspecting ways.

There you have it! Call your travel buddies and start planning your much-needed vacation here in Zambales. Look into Zambales tours and activities that you can include in your itinerary. It’s high time that you pay attention to this true gem of a paradise in the Philippines.