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Rambling around the Islands

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**NOTE: Everyone sees things differently, so if you have recently traveled in the Philippines and you want to share your experiences, e-mail them to me to be included here. Please keep it to "tourist related topics." Detailed descriptions of your nighttime adventures will not be published since they violate Philippine laws concerning uses of the internet.

Also check out our new SURFING IN THE PHILIPPINES page.

 

IBA, ZAMBALES
A great get away for a few days to go to the beach. In fact I like the place so much, I have dedicated a full page with photos.   Since there are photos on the page, it downloads a little slow.  Click to see more about:       

Palmera Garden Beach Resort & Iba.

 

SAN FERNANDO, LA UNION
The town of San Fernando is located about four hours (by car) north of Angeles. This area is popular because of an abundance of hotels located on the South China Sea. Home to a former USAF facility, Wallace Air Station, the area still has several expat orientated girlie bars. The beaches in San Fernando are nowhere near the quality of the beaches that I'm used to elsewhere in the Islands. The water is not clear (it resembles Subic Bay in water quality).  I still find all the hotels here to be a little expensive for what they offer. Additionally, there is very little entertainment here except a ready supply of alcohol (at Angeles City girlie bar prices). Probably the best hotel value is the Coconut Grove. This hotel does have TV's in the room with several local channels. They also have a lawn bowling area. The lawn bowling court is almost always in use in the early mornings and for the cost of a San Miguel or two, someone will usually give you a couple of lessons. On my last trip there was one jet ski operating in front of the Coconut Grove, and there is always the chance for a boat trip -- but unfortunately there are no scenic islands to visit. There is a disco on the main highway. It is really a Filipino place and even if you have your wife or girlfriend, I do not recommend a visit. There is a P25 cover charge, no aircon, poor lighting and lots of guys watching a half dozen girls disco! There are still bars and the Mascote disco at the junction, but there has been problems there recently and the local expats warned me against going there. The VFW has good value meals and it is now much more convenient since it moved onto the main highway across from most of the hotels.
SAN JUAN, LA UNION
About 10 miles north of San Fernando is the small town of San Juan. San Juan is famous as a surfing beach, even though the biggest waves I saw near our hotel were about 3 feet.  For the past few years I have recommended a German managed resort in this town, but the owners are currently out of country and their place is all but closed.

But, a brand new resort right on the beach called Puerto de San Juan has opened in San Juan and the initial reports are 100 percent positive.  This resort has 24 rooms and 12 cottages (all with cable TV, air-conditioning, hot water, etc).   Large swimming pool, sports area with a pool table, restaurant, etc.    Rooms start at P1650 and go up to P4000 for a 2 room unit.

More on this resort after my first visit, ... soon.

Telephone/fax 242-33-30 or 31
HUNDRED ISLANDS
Located 2-3 hours drive north of Angeles near the town of Alaminos, Pangasunan. There are now about a half dozen hotels here, all pretty tacky. There is one large one that was suppose to be completed by January 1997. This is an area with NO nightlife and no TV’s in the hotel rooms. Even in the restaurants, you can not get a rum & coke -- San Miguel beer only. There are several restaurants of poor quality -- the best being Maxine's. 

A medium sized boat (capable of handling 4-5 passengers) to the islands was P400 (go to the point and arrange with the tourist association which is much cheaper than talking direct to the boat drivers). The islands are beautiful. Take a mask and snorkel, not to mention a cooler. The boat driver will find you a private beach and the drop you off, returning at a prearranged time. The water here is clear, but almost devoid of marine life.

SUBIC BAY

Located about 1 hours southwest of Angeles. We have a separate page for information about the SUBIC BAY AREA.

THE CAPONES ISLANDS
Located about 20 minutes north of Barrio Baretto near the town of San Antonio, Zambales. The Capones are about one mile off shore in the crystal clear waters of the South China Sea. In the mornings, the water here is often glass smooth, but by afternoon, 2-3 foot waves roll on the sandy beaches. Unfortunately, there are no great hotels on the beach, so it is best to make this a day trip and spend your night in "the Barrio". This is the closest good beach to Manila or Angeles City. When school is out, 5-10 busses from Manila arrive in the small barangay of Pundaquit. A boat for the day to take you out to the islands is P350. The small island has a great high tide swimming beach and the high rocks offer plenty of afternoon shade. A great way to spend the afternoon except for the dynamite fishermen.
CORREGIDOR ISLAND
You can reach the island of Corregidor Island via a hydrofoil from Manila, or by taking a banca boat from the Battan peninsula. Located about 1 - 2 hours drive from Angeles, this is absolutely the best day trip from Angeles City that I have found. On my last trip, we left Angeles at 7 AM, saw everything we wanted to on the island, and we were back before 5 PM. Total cost including a van from Angeles to Bataan was about $100 for the five of us. On the Bataan peninsula we followed the signs for Villa Carmen Beach Resort. Here we found a banca boat to take us over and back for P900. Once on the island we paid a nominal landing fee and then hired a jeep to take us around the island (set fee of P800). The Department of Tourism has really improved the access to much of this island since my last visit about 10 years ago.

Corregidor Page updated Feb 2006

Thirty minutes up the highway from Villa Carmen is the export processing zone in Marliveles Bataan.. The rock formations in the hills around Marliveles are beautiful and the view of Corregidor is spectacular, but there is little to do here except visit Corregidor. We had lunch at the marina in the zone (a little expensive, but acceptable). We found two beach resorts just north of Marliveles, but they showed no signs of maintenance since Mac Arthur departed and the beaches were not very appealing. We took the coast road back from Balanga to Hermosa and there was no sign of beach resorts. So, we ended up spending the night in Barrio Baretto.

1997Corregidor Photos by JC's Mom
BANAUE RICE TERRACES
Located 6-7 hours drive (by private car) on terrible highways northeast of Angeles. This town has changed little since my last visit in 1981. The biggest change is a multitude of "guest houses" offering basic rooms for around P700. There are several places to eat in the town, but no nightlife, in fact, rum & coke is an exotic drink that is not available in any establishment. If you go late at night most places will be out of ice and your beer or coke will be room temp.
BORACAY ISLAND
A few years ago I took my first trip toBoracay. It is a short flight (about 45 minutes) to Caticlan. At Caticlan you catch a tricycle about 300 yards to the beach (P10 per person) and then a banca boat to Boracay Island (P15 per person on the large "taxi" boats).

The resorts range from basic Filipino huts with no screens and a mosquito net over the bed (starting at P250 a day) to aircon resorts (for $150+ a day). The place I stayed was P450 a night, but I didn't like having to crawl under the mosquito net even in the daytime. There are fan rooms that have screens for about the same price--shop around since one place, Alice in Wonderland, advertises fan rooms for $95 a day! Nigi Nigi Noo Noo's near the middle of the strip had a good restaurant that seemed to be the busiest on the strip, and although we tried other places, we thought they had some of the best food around for the price.

The beaches here are world class and they are clean. The sand reaches out well over 100 yards and it is nice to stroll down to the beach even late at night and take a dip without fear of cutting your foot or smashing a toe -- nothing but clean water and silky smooth sand. Over all, there are about 200 hotels and restaurants on about a 2 mile strip of beautiful beach. There are a few discos, but in July everything seemed pretty dead. The place I stayed at had no TV in the rooms or in the dining area, so there was not much to do when you were not on the beach. Most days I couldn't find a newspaper, then on the last day I was there 3-4 vendors came in the restaurant trying to sell papers. We searched for some Tagalog books or magazines and we were finally pointed to a place that rented P5 novels for P3 a day!!! (Hint, take your own entertainment -books, magazines, stereo, cards, etc. and take mosquito repellant since all the restaurants are outdoor and most do not have even one fan).

We experienced a 12 hour brown out one day and the hotel either had no generator or was too cheap to turn it on, but it got very hot under a mosquito net with no fan! The bottom line.......it was the nicest developed tourist beach that I have visited thus far in the Philippines. It was clean and nobody had managed to screw up the beauty of the place -- yet. I'll go back soon!.

Guest Input:  

I have been to Boracay on a couple of occasions during the last two years.  The B&B  is a good and inexpensive place to stay.  The owner is Bill Mangus an American.  He and his wife have been there many years.  

Another good place to stay is the Laguna de Boracay.  It is on the other side of the concrete road and has its own beach.  The price runs about $100-125 a day.  The "rooms" are 1 and 2 bedroom apartments.              Paul M Hart

PUERTO GALERA
It has been several years since I have been to Puerto Galera.  My impression was nice clean water, but the town wasn't as nice as Boracay.  Here is a write up from a frequent visitor to the area: 
Guest Input: I'm a divemaster with lots of experience in Puerto Galera.  Some of it in the bars and some in the water, and I think you will really enjoy the place.  There are many cheap places to stay in Sabang and the other beaches, but if you want to party it is better to stay in Sabang as it is close to the bars.  The best place to stay that I have found is called Sabang Inn (0912-311-4335) Local.  Intl (0063912-3114335).  The rooms are new and done up very nicely with 21" TV, kitchen, ref, sofa set, toilet, gas stove.  They are very nice and overlook the water.  The rooms on the 2nd floor have balconies, 1st floor have porches.  The price in Oct 97 was 300 pesos a night.  Big Apple is not to bad either with small rooms for P350 and bigger rooms for P500.  The rooms are not as nice but they do have a swimming pool.  Transportation: The easiest way to get there from Manila is the Sikat ferry/bus  which leaves the Sundowner Hotel in Ermita every morning at 9:00AM.  The cost is P300 and it includes the bus ride from Ermita to Batangas and the Ferryboat ride to Peurto Galera.  Once you arrive in Peurto you will need to take another small bangka boat to Sabang for about P150.  From Angeles you can rent a van and have hime drive you straight to the pier in Batangas for about P2000.  The ride is about five hours.  The boat ride from Batangas to Sabang or Peurto is about 1 1/2 hours.  The boat schedule is as follows:
Bangka's to Sabang  9:30 AM  10AM  12PM 2:30PM  The fare is 60 pesos     The one I usually take is the 12PM boat called the "Sabang Princess".  It is a double decker Banka and is fast and comfortable, and they serve beer onboard. Diving is usually the same price in all the shops, but I reccomend Asia Divers.  You can contact them via Email at   asiadive@mozcom.com     Contact Tommy Soderstrom on the availability of group rates for diving.   He is a good friend of mine and he will assist you any way he can. They also have lodging at El Galleon for about P600.  Tommy can help you with that as well. --    Jimmy Walker
LEYTE
Guest Input July 2001

I recently ... last week spent some time in Leyte. We stayed at Mac Arthur Park resort it has the best tropical scenery I have every encounter yet in the PI. We visit Angeles city (relatives) about every two years and stay for about one month each time. The resort is quiet and the beaches are very clean, rooms are all have A/C if you are not tempered to the tropics. We stayed 4 nights and it cost about $36.50 a night. Only draw back was the dinning was kinda pricey and limited. Those of you who are unattached will find it loanly. I recommend that you bring a quest. One can fly or take a bus I have never taken the bus but some/all my relations do, it takes about two days and costs about $50.00. We choose to fly " Cebu Pacific" round trip was just over $115.00/ person, plus ride to Domestic airport. The resort is about 1/4 miles from Mac Arthur landing park and is pleasant walk along the beach. I have some pictures but they don't do the resort justice.
Bernie

 

MANILA BUDGET HOTEL INFO
Kanumayan Tourist Inn

2284 Taft Ave

Tel. 521-11-61 to 66

German/Swiss Mgmt

Small Swimming Pool

Aircon Rooms

Economy Rooms P1000 +
La Corona - Best Western

1166 M.H. del Pilar

Tel. 502631

Clean Hotel

Aircon Rooms

Refrigerators

Standard $75 +

US Military Discount

Prince Inn

On Libertad

TV - Movies

Clean Rooms

Aircon

P 600+ in 1996
City Garden Hotel

Located on A. Mabini

3 Star Hotel

Refrigerator

Aircon

Was $43 in 1996