If you’re looking for beaches near Manila, the Philippine capital, you should definitely consider the province of Pangasinan. The third-largest province in the Philippines is located roughly 160km north of Manila and is around a two- to three-hour drive away from the capital, making it a popular destination for weekend trips.
Pangasinan is home to many natural wonders, including caves, waterfalls, mountains, hills, and, of course, its famous white sand beaches. The province’s coast is not only an attraction but also a source of livelihood for those who farm salt from its rich salt beds.
In fact, the province’s name is derived from the word “panag-asinan,” which means “where salt is made.” This doesn’t necessarily mean their food is salty though—two famous dishes from the province are tupig and puto calasiao, two different kinds of sweet rice cakes.
Check out these Pangasinan tourist spots that you should not miss:
Built by Filipino, American, and British engineers in 1905, Cape Bolinao Lighthouse is one of the five major lighthouses in the Philippines and is the second-highest of these five, bested only by Ilocos Norte’s Cape Bojeador Lighthouse. Standing atop Punta Piedra Point in Barangay Patar in Bolinao, it guided ships cruising in the West Philippine Sea, until its batteries gave out in 2004.
The lighthouse may not be working anymore, but it still attracts many visitors, thanks to its unique architecture and the picturesque views that it offers, making it a perfect spot for picture-taking.
The illumination room and the 140-step spiral staircase may be closed to visitors, but with the lighthouse sitting atop a hill with a 72-m elevation, even just standing at the base gives you scenic views of lush greenery and the sparkling ocean. It’s no wonder that this over-a-century old lighthouse has become one of Bolinao’s most enduring and instantly recognizable icons.
Photo by Our Farm Republic
If you want to learn more about farming and experience what it’s really like to grow and harvest your own produce, visit Our Farm Republic in Barangay Torre II, Mangatarem. The 5.8-ha organic farm is actually both a tourist attraction and training center. While they offer courses and seminars for both new and experienced farmers, there are also several activities for you to try here.
You can go on farm tours, harvest produce to take home, and even learn farm-to-table best practices by picking the ingredients and cooking the food yourself. They offer a variety of dishes including kalabasa (pumpkin) soup, flower salad (which uses edible organic fresh flowers), tinolang manok (chicken and ginger soup), native pork lechon (roasted suckling pig), and desserts including turonopig, a cross between turon (fried banana rolls) and tupig (roasted rice cake wrapped in banana leaves). Vegetarian options are also available if you’re on a plant-based diet.
You can also take home bottled preserves of different fruits and vegetables, as well as dragonfruit, wild cherries, and java plum wine from the farm’s own winery, Santiago Vino Santo. If you want to stay longer, you may opt to stay at Our Farm Republic’s bed and breakfast and wake up the next day with a freshly prepared hearty breakfast and the sounds of nature.
Photo by Tayug Sunflower Eco Park
Located in Barangay C. Lichauco in Tayug, the Tayug Sunflower Eco Park is a haven for those who can’t get enough of flowers. Like its name suggests, the park is home to thousands of flowers, but they’re not all sunflowers. Here, you can also find beds of marigold, petunia, and celosia, as well as other ornamental plants. There are also different kinds of vegetables in the park, which you can pick and harvest on your own for a fee.
The main attraction in this park are the sunflowers, which make for amazing photos. The 2-ha park is home to thousands of sunflower blooms and several sunflower mazes, which feature several photo stops, so you won’t have to wait too long to get your turn to snap those pictures.
Best of all, the sunflowers are continuously planted throughout the year, so you can be sure that there will be blooms no matter when you visit. You can even take part of the experience home with you as the eco-park also sells potted and bloomed flowers, including zinnias, torenia, and of course, sunflowers.
Balingasay River in Bolinao is considered the cleanest river in Pangasinan and one of the cleanest in the Philippines. It is a protected area that is home to 15ha of mangroves, some of which are over a century old. The Bolinao local government was given the Philippines Wetlands Conservation award for protecting the mangroves in the river.
You can swim, bird watch, or even try fishing in the river, but one of the most relaxing ways to take it all in is through a river cruise. The cruise is usually a part of Pangasinan tour packages, but visitors who like moving at their own pace can book it on its own. The river cruise usually lasts for about an hour and comes with lunch, so you can completely chill and fill yourself up while taking in the fresh air and the relaxing views of mangroves, fish, and birds. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a monkey near the river banks!
Bolinao Falls is made up of three waterfalls—Bolinao Falls 1, 2, and 3. But don’t let the names fool you—they may not sound spectacular, but they’re actually some of the top Pangasinan tourist spots. Along with Patar Beach, the three falls located in Barangay Samang Norte along Bolinao River are the most visited places in Bolinao. While the falls are accessible via car and don’t require much walking, the roads going there can be rough, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.
All three falls are breathtaking, but they have varying heights, and the tallest is Bolinao Falls 1. Coupled with its turquoise waters, the falls’ elevation makes it the ideal spot for cliff-diving. Bolinao Falls 2 is more suited for swimming and has a pool with varying depths, including shallow spots for children.
Tourists also spend more time here, as there are cottages that visitors can rent and spend the day at. The last waterfall, Bolinao Falls 3, usually has fewer people, so it’s perfect if you’re seeking a more peaceful experience.
Lingayen Beach is most known as the spot where American General Douglas MacArthur landed in 1945 during World War II. It is also famous for its powdery sands, refreshing waters, and overall chill vibe.
Located in the municipality of Lingayen, the capital of the province, this Pangasinan beach is a popular summer destination for Filipinos seeking to relax, unwind, swim, and take in the cool breeze from the ocean. Many restaurants along the beach also serve freshly grilled seafood. It’s also the best place for you to sample Lingayen bagoong, a fish paste that the municipality is known for.
Adrenaline junkies will also enjoy their time at Lingayen Beach, as you can take an all-terrain vehicle drive along the shore during weekends. You can stay at the many resorts along the beach, or if you want to rough it, you can pitch your tent on the camping grounds.
Tondol White Sand Beach in the municipality of Anda has been nicknamed “The Little Boracay of the North,” and this monicker has made it one of the most visited beaches near Manila. Like Boracay, one of the top beach destinations in the Philippines, Tondol has long stretches of fine white sand and clear blue waters.
The beach is perfect for families with children, as the shallow parts of the waters stretch out far from the shore. In fact, the waters here are shallow enough that you can walk to the nearby islets, and during low tide, several sandbars will appear.
If you want a more fun experience, you can time your visit when the inflatable water park is set up in the shallow waters of the beach so you can try the slides, tunnels, and other obstacles that it offers.
Tourists on a day trip can rent cottages along the shore, but if you want to stay longer, you can book accommodations at one of the many resorts and bed and breakfasts near the shore.
Photo by Enchanted Cave
The Enchanted Cave in Bolinao is a good place to cool off if you’re visiting Pangasinan during the summer months. Inside is a pool of clear natural freshwater with an estimated maximum depth of 6ft, making it ideal for a refreshing swim. It is located in a park near Patar Beach.
It is deemed enchanted because locals believe that millions of years ago, Bolinao was actually underwater. This belief is supported by the presence of coral rocks and fossilized clams in the municipality, many of which you’ll see on your way to the entrance to the cave. The fact that the Enchanted Cave in Bolinao is made of coral limestone also supports this theory. This history makes the cave one-of-a-kind and is one of the reasons why it has become a favorite stop amongst tourists.
Outside the cave, you can also swim in an outdoor pool or enjoy the mini waterfalls inside the park. Those who want to extend their stay can rent cabanas in the park.
Less than 1km away from the Enchanted Cave is Patar Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Bolinao and the whole of Pangasinan. Like many beaches near Manila, this beach is popular for those seeking a quick break from the hustle and bustle of the city. Patar Beach in particular is famous for its long stretch of golden sands and clear blue waters that make for a refreshing swim. If you’re a fan of sunsets, Patar Beach will not disappoint as its location just facing the West Philippine Sea gives it amazing sunset views.
For a day trip, you can rent any of the huts dotted along the beach, but there are also a handful of resorts nearby if you wish to stay longer. You may also camp at the beach and use the public toilets and showers for a fee.
Visitors may also visit the nearby Patar Rock Formation, which will give you breathtaking views of the huge coral cliffs along the coastline.
Cabongaoan Beach is located in the town of Burgos. The trip to the remote beach is not easy and can take up to an hour from the town proper, but once you see its stretch of white sand beach and blue waters, you’ll instantly know that it was worth it.
There are not a lot of accommodations in the vicinity, so it would be best if you plan your trip as early as possible. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also bring a tent and camp at the beach.
In recent years, the beach has become popular among tourists thanks to its Death Pool, a natural pool that requires quite a bit of effort to reach. You’ll need to wear proper footwear as you will have to traverse and climb rock formations with sharp edges. Despite its name, though, the Death Pool is not really dangerous.
Many tourists actually enjoy taking a refreshing dip at the pool. You need to be careful as some of the edges of the pool can be sharp. Its original name was Depth Pool, but some locals started calling it Death Pool, and the intriguing name caught on.
Photo by Our Lady of Manaoag
Pictures of the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag don’t do it justice at all. You might think it’s just like many of the grand churches you can find all over the Philippines, but one of the things that makes this church in Manaoag special is its declaration as a Minor Basilica in 2015. This recognizes the church’s history and architectural value. It is also a canonical affiliate of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome.
Built in 1605, the church has seen millions of devotees and thousands of religious folk still make a pilgrimage to Manaoag every year, especially during the Holy Week. The image of Our Lady of the Rosary of Manaoag, which many Catholics believe to be miraculous, can also be found here.
You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the beauty of the building and the surrounding areas. The church itself is located on top of a hill, and its facade is very picturesque, while the interior features interesting religious paintings.
The Pangasinan Hundred Island National Park in Alaminos is the top Pangasinan destination for locals and international travelers alike. The protected area boasts of 123 islets scattered across Lingayen Gulf. Each islet is uniquely shaped and believed to have been formed millions of years ago, making the view of them even more special and rare. Some of the islands have white sand beaches, while some feature limestone cliffs.
The best way to enjoy the islands is to book Hundred Islands island-hopping tours to take you to some of the main islands, including three of the most popular: Quezon Island, Governor Island, and Children’s Island.
Named after President Manuel L. Quezon, Quezon Island is one of the more developed islands in the park, as it has camping and picnic grounds, as well as small stores where you can buy food from. Governor’s Island is home to a cave you can explore, as well as a viewing deck. As its name suggests, Children’s Island is kid-friendly, with its shallow waters and a calm beach.
If you have enough time, you may also visit the other islands that are open to tourists: Clave Island, Lopez Island, Marcos Island, Monkey Island, Bat Island, and Old Scout Island. You can also try jet-skiing, island-to-island ziplining, helmet-diving, and going on a banana boat ride. Of course, there’s also nothing wrong if you want to have a relaxing and refreshing swim in its waters.
With the majestic views and the many activities, tourists can try, it’s no wonder Hundred Islands National Park sees up to half a million tourists each year!
Plan Your Trip to Pangasinan
If you’re looking for a quick and relaxing getaway, you should consider going on one of the many Pangasinan tours. The province is relatively accessible from anywhere in the country and offers many attractions and activities for any traveler.
Those who want to commune with nature can find some of the most beautiful natural wonders and mountains near Manila here, while those who want to unwind can do so in any of its many breathtaking beaches. A lot of the attractions you can find here are also family-, couple-, and solo traveler-friendly, so you don’t need to worry about whoever you’re traveling with.
It also doesn’t hurt that you can sample (and sometimes even bring home!) many delicious local delicacies on your visit. If you give it a chance, Pangasinan will make you fall in love with traveling all over again.