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Thursday, May 2

Bolinao Tour: Tips and Guide

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Seems to be a lost stone in Bolinao. You will be able to see this once you do your Bolinao tour too.
I have already been to Bolinao once back in 2011 and it was a great trip. I was able to experience the golden sands of Patar, walk the shallow seas of Ilog-Malino, enter the hole to the Enchanted Cave, an epic-fail trek to Tara Falls (which we successfully witnessed the second time around!) and see the Bolinao Falls 1. More than a year after, we visited Bolinao for a weekend fun—and to create several video clips we used for a music video (Watch our video clip of Bolinao, Pangasinan here!). This time, I have to tell a crisper guide and some tips for an awesome Bolinao tour you should not miss.

Bolinao Weekend Fun2: Golden Sands & Water Falls

Bolinao has one of the best beaches in Luzon, I swear to God. Before, I was not able to compare it with Tambobong Beach in Dasol, but a few months later, I witnessed the hidden gem of Dasol, Pangasinan, and I must say, Patar is still better than Tambobong (but not to compare it with Collibra Island). This time, it’s Patar versus Pagudpud…and the winner for me is still Patar—I will be posting an Ilocos trip series in the coming few months.

Based on our experience, here are some of our observations you might as well jot down before you go to Bolinao, Pangasinan:
More than 400 years old and still standing, Bolinao Church.
THE TRAVEL. Bolinao is at the western tip of Pangasinan, and from Manila, it takes around 5-6 hours to reach this municipality. From Baguio, we can approximate it to be five hours away, but you have to do cutting trips. There is not much problem if you are coming from Manila since there are buses bound directly to Bolinao. In Baguio you will have to cut trips—Dagupan then Alaminos then Bolinao. The usual bus stops of course were Dau, Tarlac City and Alaminos City.
Built more than a hundred years ago, this lighthouse in Bolinao is the second tallest existing lighthouse in the Philippines.

THE RESORT. There are many resorts in Bolinao, but I always tell you that most of them are not found in Patar, where Patar Beach is located. Patar Beach is the most beautiful beach after all. Resorts are found 15 minutes or more away from the public beach which is around 30 minutes away from Bolinao town.
If you are already tired seeing some white sand beaches, why not go to Patar Beach and see their "colored" sand beach?

THE TRIKE. The most common means of touring in Bolinao is to ride trikes or tricycles. You can also ask for van services when you are already in town. Negotiate with the driver, and do not agree yet with his price. Try to ask other tricycle drivers who are willing to tour you for a cheaper price. I find somehow that P150 (one-way), P300 (balikan) and P1000 (complete package including caves and three falls) are the standard rates. No more.
One of the best water falls backdrops is the one found in Tara, Bolinao.
THE TOURIST SPOTS. First timers have to know that the farthest of all the tourist spots along the way to the beach is the beach itself. Patar Beach is located at the farthest spot of Bolinao. In Tagalog, nasa dulo-dulo. In getting there, you will be able to observe that the three caves—Enchanted, Wonderful and Cindy’s are along the way. The Lighthouse and the seaside rock formations are also along the way. If you plan to check out all of these tourist spots, do not hesitate to instruct the trike driver. Balingasay River, the cleanest river in Luzon, is also along the way. Several resorts are also located beside the road so if you still do not have any bookings at all, try inquiring on each of them. The only tourist spots that are not accessible by the common road was the Tara Falls, Bolinao Falls 1 and Bolinao Falls 2.
This is one of the Bolinao Beaches where you chase the seaweaves and walk on the sea grass.
THE BEACH. Patar Beach can get crowded during summer, but if it’s not summer, then chances are you get Patar Beach by yourself. The beach has communal faucets and bath rooms. But the water coming out was salty (well, I do not have to explain that the aquifer down below it might have been an estuary of fresh groundwater and saline water, and because the shore is sandy, the well that extracts water also extracts sands). There are cottages at rent for P150, which we did rent before, only to find out there are several cottages which can be rented for FREE. The beach has no entrance fee whatsoever, and the cottages are also free.  And it’s the best beach in Luzon after all, isn’t it a big deal? By the way, the water gets rough too and it’s biglang lalim by after noon.
Get your own sky mirror shot in Bolinao, Pangasinan. You cannot get any other places as scenic as this.
THE TIME. Based on my experience, the best things to do in Bolinao is frolicking on the sands of Patar, taking photos of the 1905 Lighthouse, and swimming in the cool waters of Bolinao Falls 2. But you have to know that from the bus terminal, the public beach and the lighthouse are still more than half an hour away, and getting to Bolinao Falls 2 is more than an hour story again. I advise you to be in Bolinao Falls 2 by 3 PM or earlier, so you get to experience it.
Choose the cheapest price of fish in Bolinao. Taste the ones you never tasted before.
THE BUDGET. Bolinao is one of the cheapest destinations to enjoy vacation. I love how the lighthouse was built, how the golden sands were burnt by the golden sunset, and how vortex of the falls sooth my experience. And two days in Bolinao cost us P1,500 per head. We were around 7 when we visited Bolinao. We stayed in a good resort, and booked for a complete package tour (well it’s not really complete but it’s up to you because our limited time did not let us do kayak in Ilog-Malino River nor the Balingasay River). We grilled the fish we bought in their market (and it was fresh-caught!) and eat it. While getting the chance to hear the whispers of sea waves folding above the shores. Bolinao is an easy way to experience beach without reaching the farthest point in Ilocos, but without degrading the quality of the scenes. Well, Bolinao does not have windmills, architecture churches nor heritage villages which I do appreciate when I was in Ilocos, but for a quick escape from the bustling streets or urban life, you will not regret going to Bolinao.

OTHERS. Sunscreen, sunscreen, and sunscreen—or sunburn. You choose. Bolinao is not a city, so do not look for 7-Eleven. People in Bolinao also speak Ilocano, so if you know how to speak Ilocano, go ahead and ask for discounts! Tumawar ka, ading!

There are still things to consider but those are for you to experience already. If you are already decided, go ahead and hit it. Enjoy!

Bolinao Weekend Fun2: Golden Sands & Water Falls Travel Series:

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