Pangasinan · Philippines · Travel Tales

Bolinao beyond the Beach

I really dislike traveling during Holy Week if it’s not to do our yearly Visita Iglesia simply because there are So. Many. People. taking their vacations as well. I remember a short feature on one of the local primetime TV newscasts about people in Puerto Galera during Holy Thursday. A girl was asked why she was there, and she said, “Nakakapag-reflect ako dito.” She was around so many beachgoers while she was being interviewed. Well…whatever floats your boat, ate.

This was almost the case when we went to Patar Beach in Bolinao, a day after we toured the Hundred Islands. We heard that just a week before, there’d been almost no people there, but when we finally got there on Holy Thursday, there were about a hundred people, and all the cottages were already taken. We walked along the shoreline toward where there were fewer people, but no one was very enthusiastic about swimming anymore.

Thankfully, Bolinao has a lot more adventures to offer.

We first went to the Parish of St. James the Great just across the town hall. Its facade was under construction when we arrived.

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Bolinao Town Hall
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Binungey

We bought the above delicacy just outside the church (which was under construction). Binungey is sticky rice with coconut milk, cooked in bamboo and banana leaves. The woman who sold this to us had to break the bamboo open with a rock.

Our second stop was the Bolinao Lighthouse. Old lighthouses are always so picturesque — the ones in Guimaras and Lobo, Batangas come to mind — and we couldn’t help but grab some photo ops here.

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Bolinao Lighthouse
Bolinao Lighthouse

Next was Patar Beach, which was nearby. As aforementioned, we chose not to linger here for long, so we headed next for the Enchanted Cave. The whole resort is filled with rocks which show that the area was underwater millennia ago.

Entrance to the Resort is P100 while swimming in the cave will set you back P50 pesos more.

Enchanted Cave Resort
Enchanted Cave Resort

There were artificial chlorinated pools around, but the pool in the cave was the real attraction of the place. It’s lit by fluorescent bulbs, and in the light you could see the bright white floor of the cave underneath. Life vests are for rent for P30, but we were dirt poor by then and decided to just hold on to the ropes near the cave walls as we swam.

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Bolinao Town Hall

The shot above entailed myself swimming with my dry bag toward the end of the cave. As I’d always say, “Laging may chance.”

Quite a long ride from the Enchanted Cave is Bolinao Falls. Your vehicle would have to pass through a dirt road for quite a while before getting there. But as I’ve proven one too many times, paradise is always difficult to get to.

Entrance to Bolinao Falls is P25 per head.

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Bolinao Falls

Paradise is also apparently peopled during Holy Week. There were no rafts available for us to hold on to anymore, so we rented lifebuoys (a discounted price of P100 for six lifebuoys). Much of our time there was spent trying to swim against the current just to get under the falls, when we could have easily gone around it (which we did, after a while. Man, we must’ve been so hungry).

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