If you are from Cebu or anywhere in the Visayas and Mindanao region, there are two options you could take when going to Zambales to check out the famous Anawangin Cove, Nagsasa Cove and Capones Island.
#1) Through the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)
Upon arriving in Manila, you need to take a bus that travels to Zambales. There should be a couple of buses but I only know of Victory Liner. The earliest trip is at 4:00 am at their Caloocan Terminal. Travel time is approximately 4 hours. Fare is Php 250.00/head.
– You will arrive in San Antonio, Zambales at approximately 8:00 – 9:00 am. This will give you ample time to buy what you need for your camping/day trip in their public market. This will also allow you to visit 2 destinations – Capones Island and a choice between Anawangin Cove or Nagsasa Cove.
– 1 bus ride from the Caloocan terminal to San Antonio, Zambales
It is advisable to visit Capones Island in the morning as the waves tend to get rough in the afternoon. So you can either do this on Day 1 of your trip or simply leave early from your camping site the next day to check out this island. In our case, we chose to visit Anawangin Cove first and we arrived there at around 10:30 in the morning and left for Nagsasa Cove at 3:00pm but was greeted with the scary boat trip going to Nagsasa Cove. We spent the night in Nagsasa Cove and left at around 9am the next day for Capones Island.
Disadvantage: You need to be in Manila in the evening, unless of course you book a flight that will arrive in Manila 2 hours before 4:00am. This means you either wait in the airport before you head off to the bus terminal for the 4am trip or you spend the night at some cheap hostel or stay at a friend’s house.
Though you can still book the first flight to Manila and arrive in Zambales after lunch, you or your boatman may have the tendency to cancel the trip if the waves are too big in the afternoon.
#2) Through the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport, also known as the Clark Airport
Cebu Pacific is most likely going to give away cheap fares for the Cebu to Clark route. This was the route we took when we went to Zambales. We only paid Php 114.00 for the round trip fares which was booked on 2010’s Independence Day promo
Advantage: The time it will take for you to sit in a bus and travel to Zambales will only last for approximately 2 hours.
– Cebu Pacific flights from Cebu to Clark are scheduled once daily. Your usual time of arrival in Clark will be around 6:30 pm onwards. This means you have to spend the night in Clark or Olongapo before you head to Zambales the next day. I would suggest you spend the night in Olongapo since the hostels there are cheaper. You can rent a room for 12 hours at P500, which is good for 2 heads.
– You will ride 2 buses to reach Zambales and this may be inconvenient for those who doesn’t like to transfer buses to reach their destinations.
Bus 1: Dau Bus Terminal in Mabalacat going to Olongapo (Travel time: ~1.5 hours) Fare: Php 130.00
There are vans that will take you to Olongapo at the same rate. The downside is you have to wait for the van to be filled before it leaves the terminal (in our case, we waited for more than 1 hour before the van left). You can also wait for the Victory Liner bus that will pass by the terminal and hop on one. Always ask around to know what time that bus will pass by the terminal.
vans going to Olongapo are waiting outside the DAU Bus Station
Bus 2: Olongapo to San Antonio, Zambales via Victory Liner (Travel time: ~1 hour) Fare: Php 59.00
These buses are the the ones coming from Caloocan so you have to be very quick in getting inside the bus since there will be a lot of people waiting for this trip too. I am not too sure though if there are also designated buses that leaves for Zambales from Olongapo via Victory Liner. Better contact the bus company to inquire.
a very cheap lodge is sitting above the Victory Liner Terminal in Olongapo
There may also be other bus liners that travel to Zambales from Olongapo but I have no knowledge what those are.
On going back, you can ride any bus from San Antonio to Olongapo and ask to be dropped off at the Victory Liner terminal or near it. Then immediately book a ticket going back to Manila since the last trip leaves at 6:10 pm. If you are exiting Clark Airport, it is best to leave San Antonio early and consider the ~1 hr travel time to Olongapo and another ~1.5 hours trip to Clark.
Via Clark Aairport-DAU-Olongapo-San Antonio, Zambales
50.00 – Clark Airport to DAU Bus Station (airconditioned jeepney)
130.00 – DAU to Olongapo (bus or van)
59.00 – Olongapo to San Antonio (bus)
Via San Antonio-Olongapo-DAU-Clark Airport
59.00 – San Antonio to Olongapo (bus)
130.00 – Olongapo to DAU (bus or van) – fare is tentative since we didn’t take this route going back to Clark
7.00 – DAU to Terminal near SM Clark (ask the driver to be dropped off near 7-Eleven)
200.00 – SM Terminal to Clark Airport (rent of non airconditioned jeepney; fare is good for 1 head up to the jeepney’s maximum capacity)
jeepney to Clark Airport
Via Manila-San Antonio, Zambales
250.00 – Caloocan Terminal to San Antonio, Zambales (via SCTEX)
Via San Antonio-Olongapo-Manila
59.00 – San Antonio to Olongapo
240.00 – Olongapo to Pasay Terminal (via SCTEX)
These are bus rates as of February 18-21, 2011. These fares may be subject to change depending on the never ending price increases of transportation here in the Philippines.
So there. After considering what route to take on your Zambales trip, book that flight, plan your IT next and enjoy your adventure!