Updated: Aug 7, 2019
VOL. 1 NO.1 DECEMBER 2018
BY: CHRISTIAN FRANCIS ANTONIO | PHOTOS BY: BUTCH GIOVANNI CAPOY
When you talk about Pangasinan, the first thing that comes to mind is the Hundred Islands National Park in Alaminos City. Unknown to many, there's a hidden paradise in the northwestern part of the province - the municipality of Bolinao. It is steadily becoming a tourist draw, thanks to its centuries old church, picturesque lighthouse, majestic waterfalls, mesmerizing caves, and beautiful white sand beach. If you're coming home to the Philippines for a vacation, Bolinao should be part of your bucket list.
If you're planning to do a DIY tour of Bolinao, you should try their tricycle tour. That's because you can get memorable Instagram-worthy snaps, and experience the culture close up with the locals. You'll learn their way of living and discover places that only native tour guides know of. The business of tours run by locals directly supports the families and benefits the community.
Now let's start the adventure! There are three bus companies that offer day and night trips to Bolinao. Victory Liner and Dagupan Bus in Cubao, and FiveStar Bus in Cubao or Pasay. The journey is five to six hours long. We suggest getting the 12 a.m. trip so you'll be greeted by tricycle drivers that you can hire for the tour. Their services range from P1,000 to P1,500. They'll take you to your hotel or they can help you find one if you haven't booked a place yet.
The first stop of the tricycle tour is St. James the Great Parish Church. This Spanish Colonial church was built by Augustinians in 1609. It's made of black coral stones in Renaissance style. You'll also find Adora's Restaurant at the back of the church. Grab a bite there and get a taste of local breakfast. After a filling meal, visit Enchanted Cave. It is open for viewing and swimming. There are two other caves in the area called Cindy's and Wonderful. You may wish to skip these since they look very similar to Enchanted.
After exploring Bolinao's three caves, head over to its trio waterfalls counterpart aptly called Bolinao falls 1,2 and 3. The municipality is basically a farmland so it's surprising to find not just one but three unique waterfalls. The first falls is the highest at around 20 feet. Daredevil jumpers love to hang around this area. It also has the widest basin spanning around 20 meters which is perfect for bamboo floats. If you want a more relaxing experience, visit falls 2. It's more leisurely and laid-back since less people go here. There are many covered areas to hang out. There are more walking trails here so whip out your phone and take some snap shots. Falls 3 is an unspoiled beauty with its calming turquoise water, so you may want to check it out too and take some selfies.
Once you're done refreshing by the falls, go to the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. This Lighthouse was constructed in 1905 by a team of Filipino, American, and Bristish architects to serve as one of the five main lighthouses of the country. The tower stands 101 feet tall atop the Punta Piedra Point. When you're at its viewing deck, you'll see a breathtaking view of the sea, white sand beach, and offshore reefs. The lighthouse is no longer functional but it's still a popular tourist spot. It's considered a cultural heritage site today.
Finally, what's a vacation without getting a tan at the beach? The last destination of your tricycle tour is none other than Bolinao's famous Patar Beach. It's the highlight of your travel. Dubbed as Boracay of the North, Patar beach boasts of white sand and pristine sea water. If you want to take more photos, Patar rock formation is just a walking distance. You can climb the rock formation and see the waves crashing against the rocks.
That's it! Your first day in Bolinao is over. You can spend the next day walking around town and buying pasalubong for your friends and family. There are a lot of restaurants in the area so you don't have to worry about food. Don't forget to try their specialty Binunguey.
In Bolinao, every day is an unforgettable experience. You can bring home memories, not just souvenirs. [K]