If there’s one thing the Philippines won’t have a shortage of, it’s the number of options for island hopping. There are just so many you can choose from and you don’t always need a plane ticket to get to them!
Take Zambales for example. It takes around four to five hours to get to the province from Manila, which is not bad at all! The trip is scenic and bearing through the traffic is a small price to pay considering how Zambales is like a gateway to islands and coves waiting for you to explore.
In this rundown, we list five of those islands you can visit in Zambales on your next day trip or overnight adventure!
1. Capones Island
While Zambales will always be known for Anawangin Cove and Nagsasa Cove, its offshore islands still have many to offer tourists. The most popular of which is the Capones Island in the town of San Antonio. In his looloo review, Jacob N. says it’s “definitely one of the best islands” he’s seen in the Philippines!
While you can snorkel or just swim while you’re on the island, don’t miss out on its famous attraction, the Capones Island Lighthouse (otherwise known as the Faro de Punta Capones). It’s unfortunately no longer open to public, but it’s still worth taking the time to visit and admire this piece of Spanish architecture.
As for the beach, the shores of Capones Island can get really rocky so if you’re not comfortable walking barefoot on rough ground, make sure to bring the appropriate footwear. Also remember that there are no commercial establishments and resorts available here so bring everything you need with you!
Commuter’s guide to the Capones Island: Ride a bus bound for either Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and ask to be dropped off in the town of San Antonio. From there, you can take a tricycle to the barangays of Pundaquit or San Miguel where you can charter a boat to Capones Island. Boat rates are standard and begin at ₱1,000 per boat for 1-4 persons. This includes a trip to Anawangin Cove. If you’re only planning to visit Capones Island, rates are at ₱200 per person for a minimum of six persons.
Capones Island can be found in San Antonio, Zambales.
2. Potipot Island
It only takes a short boat ride (around 10-15 minutes) from the Zambales mainland to reach the paradise called Potipot Island. It doesn’t take long to explore this small island either but as they say, big things come in small packages. “Nothing compares to the beauty of Potipot,” says Carla Victoria T. in her looloo review. “Every inch of me loved this island!”
If you want to do more than just lounge on the island’s cream-colored sand or take Instagram-worthy photos, you can enjoy its pristine waters by kayaking! Rates are at ₱300 per hour.
Take note that there are no resorts on the island, but you are allowed to go camping overnight (you gotta pay an entrance fee!). It also has basic bathing and toilet facilities. And by basic, we mean you need to get water from the deep well when you shower. Definitely not for picky travellers but it definitely adds to the back-to-basics charm of Potipot Island.
Commuter’s guide to Potipot Island: Take a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and get off at Barangay Uacon in Candelaria. You can then walk or ride a tricycle to the nearby resorts where you can arrange for a boat to take you to Potipot Island.
Potipot Island can be found in Candelaria, Zambales.
3. Camara Island
Camara Island is one of the islands you can partner up with Capones Island in your island hopping itinerary. Also located in the town of San Antonio, Camara Island is comprised of two rock islets separated by a sandbar.
There are multiple rock formations near and on the island itself but be very careful if you decide to climb them! “There’s no trail,” Noelle A. narrates in her looloo review. “In order to get to the top of the rock formation, you’ll have to vertically climb up some tree branches and rocks, which were all a bit slippery.”
If you find that climbing these rock formations isn’t worth the risk, try snorkeling instead. Camara’s clear water makes it ideal to spot fishes and other marine life lingering in the area!
Commuter’s guide to Camara Island: It’s basically the same as Capones Island. Get on a bus bound for either Iba or Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and go down in the town of San Antonio. From there, you can take a tricycle to the barangays of Pundaquit or San Miguel where you can charter a boat suited to your itinerary.
Camara Island can be found in San Antonio, Zambales.
4. Magalawa Island
Magalawa Island in Palauig, Zambales is known among locals as the Island of Stars. Wondering why? Nope, it’s not referring to the stars you see in the night sky. It’s more about the stars you see underwater! So if you’re fond of starfish, this island is the right one for you to visit!
Unlike the other islands in this rundown, there are two resorts available on Magalawa Island: Magalawa Island Armada Resort and Magalawa Island Ruiz Resort. Your take off point at the Luan Port will depend on which resort you’ll be staying at so don’t forget to properly coordinate your boat ride to avoid any delays and hassles!
Commuter’s guide to Magalawa Island: Take a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and go down when you reach the Radio Veritas road in Barangay Pangolingan, Palauig. From there, ride a tricycle to Luan Port and charter a boat depending on which resort you’ll be staying at.
Magalawa Island can be found in Palauig, Zambales.
5. Hermana Menor
The island of Hermana Menor, which is located in Sta. Cruz, is actually one half of a pair of sister islands. Unlike its big sister, the Hermana Mayor, Hermana Menor (little sister) is open for the public to visit. However, take note that this island is privately owned and camping is not allowed. You’ll also have to pay an entrance fee of ₱100 per head to get to the island.
Declared a Marine Life Sanctuary in 2004, it’s an ideal place if you want to go snorkeling and see some fishes and other marine life. If swimming and snorkeling isn’t your thing, there’s a small forest on the island where you can spot animals freely roaming. You can also find a sandbar that’s perfect for your Instagram feed!
There are no stores or any other commercial establishments on Hermana Menor and its facilities are very back-to-basic so remember to bring everything you need!
Commuter’s guide to Hermana Menor: Ride a bus that’s bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and then alight at the Petron gas station in Barangay Lipay. From there, you can take a tricycle to the port where you can charter a boat to Hermana Menor. Rates are at ₱1,300 to ₱1,500.
Hermana Menor can be found in Santa Cruz, Zambales.