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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bolinao Pangasinan Philippines

Bolinao is nothing like Boracay and that's the beauty of it. Just like many other beaches all over the country, it has its own charms that will definitely attract its own crowd.

Bolinao at the tip of the Pangasinan peninsula on Lingayen Gulf is sufficiently far from the madding crowd for one to get lost in the beauty and solitude of nature. Yet it is near enough (some 280 kilometers and four-and-a-half hours by car) to reach in a weekend trip on good roads from Manila .

For those who come to have a swim, the waters are crystal clear and the sands of Bolinao are white – well, actually yellowish and grainy unlike the well known sugar powdery white sands of Boracay. In a way, it is actually better because the sand dries off easily and can be brushed off in a few sweeps of the hand. Moreover, it feels good between the feet – sort of therapeutic for the nerve endings on the soles. The crunching sound that the feet make while walking on the sand adds to the awesome experience.

Bolinao Attractions

Bolinao surf – White Beach in Patar may have one of the biggest waves in Northern Luzon and may rival the already popular waves of La Union and Zambales. Pro surfers on their way up north to La Union are encouraged to take a side trip and confirm this.

22-kilometer-long barrier reef offshore, near Santiago Island , offers some wonderful solitary snorkelling. To explore the reef you can rent a banca for the day either at Bolinao wharf (two blocks north of the main road) or at one of the nearby beach resorts.

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse , constructed in 1905 and the second tallest lighthouse in the country. There's an easy path to the base of the building, and the views across the South China Sea are worth the climb.

Enchanted, Cindy and Wonderful Caves for those looking for a break form the salt water, the caves in Patar have freshwater pools for a refreshing swim. The waters of Cindy caves are shallower and safer for children while those in Enchanted caves are already chest deep upon entry to the water.

Diving - Nor far offsore lie a number of old Spanish galleons and Chinese junks that local wisdom says contain treasure. Unfortunately, there are no accredited dive operators in the area except for an unnamed PADI dive center near the town proper, on the road to Patar, so to bring your own equipment may be your only chance of diving here.

There are only a couple of sights in the town itself. The small Bolinao Museum (Mon-Sat 9am-4pm ), on Rizal Street opposite Cape Bolinao High School , contains art, geology, botany and zoology materials collected in the area. The Church of St. James Fortress , also known as Bolinao Church is in the main square close to the museum, built by the Augustinians in 1609, it houses rare wooden statues and an antique altar with Astec masks brought by galleon from Mexico .

Travel Tips

Accommodation- Tourists staying overnight are advised to bring all the essentials – including the toiletries as they might not be available in the rooms. Confirm with the resort beforehand.

Swimming- Safety first! Always observe safety measures especially when new to a swimming area. It is better to swim in the morning when it is low tide and the sea is calmer. The winds pick up in the afternoon and would get chilly by nightfall.

Food- Bring all the consumables you wish to have unless you plan to dine at the resort restaurant. Some resorts charge a corkage fee per head for outside food brought in. Bring your own bottled water, enough for brushing.

Snorkel Equipment- Bring your own as the resort may not have any.

Cape Bolinao Light House - Because of the construction, the road to the Lighthouse is closed and vehicles will have top be left at the foot of the hill. Prepare for a short but serious hiking.

Caving - Tourists start flocking in at around 2pm. Visit the caves in the morning if you want to have the caves to yourselves.

Stop Overs - Every town has a roadside string of vendors selling local delicacies. Don't forget to stop by and sample some treats whether they may be coconut products, fresh catch from the sea or sundried fish.

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