May 6, 2009

The loud chugging sound of the outrigger boat's engine reverberates in my head. I tried to tune it out by watching the bioluminescent phytoplankton lit up like Christmas lights as boat's hull cut through the dark sea. It's 4 in the morning and we are en route to Nagsasa, one of the coves along Zambales' rugged coast in western Luzon. I could barely make out the silhouettes of the huge cliffs as we traced the coast going south from Pundaquit.

The plan to visit Nagsasa was not until the end of May but circumstances beyond my control forced me to reschedule. My friends willingly joined me, "anywhere but here in rainy Manila" was everybody's sentiment.

Nagsasa Cove: Sunrise over the Mountains
sunrise at the back of the cove

We arrived there just in time for sunrise. From Pundaquit its just a 40 minute boat ride passing the coves of Anawangin and Talisayin. Anawangin is not what it used to be - its now too crowded.

There is a camp site on the northern end of the beach (and yes with a well maintained bathroom and CR). Our group was met by Mang Ador, the friendly caretaker of the place. There were only a couple of tents there that morning. I couldn't help but smile when I imagine the "tent city" in Anawangin.

Wildflowers, Rocks, Sea
Nagsasa beach

After setting up our tents and preparing breakfast, I began exploring the place as the rest of the group caught up with their sleep. I can see that its similar to Anawangin, but everything is bigger and wider, and more scenic.

The Wild Horse Creek at the back of the cove looked like its in the Alaskan wilderness.

Wild Horse Creek
wide open spaces

Pine trees lined the river and dot the mountain sides. The local Aetas said that the pine trees began appearing after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.

Bend
untouched shores

I found myself a quiet spot under one of the pine trees and wondered how long this place can stay as it is.

Slanted Pine
picturesque Nagsasa river

By midday we began exploring the beach. The sand is greyish white with patches of black sand.

Long Bangka
Nagsasa bangka

According to the locals, the shoreline was near the mountains before Mt. Pinatubo erupted. After the eruption, tons and tons of volcanic sand were deposited here, making the flat beach that is there today.

Watch Men (Flickr colors)
long stretch of beach

The emerald green waters of the cove will most probably catch your attention once you explore the beach. I could not believe how perfect the weather was that day.

Nagsasa's Crystal Cove
perfect for a midday dip

I am still dazed by the sights I saw there in Nagsasa. I feel lucky to enjoy the place before the hordes of tourists come to this place. I feel sad too, knowing this place will someday go the way of Anawangin. Some folks in other forums already half jokingly remarked that I should share the blame once it happens.

Notes:
The water pump is about 150 meters from the back of the camp site. But the caretakers make sure there is always water in the bath and CR areas. You may camp on the southern end of the beach in the Aeta community, but potable water is difficult. They are quite friendly, they showed us a trail going to a beautiful cascade (story later). You may buy fresh catch if you go to the village early.

View more recent Nagsasa posts here.
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