A 35-minute boat ride from the grey sands of Brgy. Pundaquit in San Antonio, Zambales through a craggy coastline of dramatic cliffs and rolling grass mountains will take you to the much-raved Anawangin Cove. This secluded stretch of salt-and-pepper sand sandwiched by the South China Sea and a freshwater lake-river, bordered by a thick pine forest, makes one unique landscape.
But I was not very impressed by the place. Perhaps the digitally-enhanced photos I browsed through Flickr.com heightened my expectations. Or perhaps it was just the usual summer rush. The coniferous forest was crowded with pitched tents and campers, and trash littered the otherwise immaculate beach: I guess the “lost beach” has been found. A visit during the off-peak season will definitely offer a serene and more satisfying vista. Nonetheless, wading across the brackish backwaters where mudskippers hopped across gnarly tree stumps and green muck was a peaceful endeavor. While the steady climb up the western edge of the cove provided a stunning panoramic view of the place.
To get to Anawangin Cove, take a Victory Liner bus (4 hours, P231) at EDSA, Cubao station (+632 7274534) bound for Iba, Zambales, and alight at San Antonio town proper, where one can catch a tricycle (P20/head) to Brgy. Pundaquit–the jump-off point to the outlying attractions of southern Zambales: Anawangin Cove, Capones Island and Camara Islands. We rented a spartan bamboo cottage (P1,400/night), good for 4-6 persons at Megan’s Paradisio Resort (+639194808520).
At the beach, many boatmen will offer you their bancas. We reserved a ride from Mang Florante (+639108053388), who owns a spacious outrigger named Carmelita that accommodates up to 10 passengers. He charged P350/head for a return trip to the cove and the islands.