“Life on an island is different. Time doesn’t move hour to hour, but mood to moment. We live by the currents, Plan by the tides and follow the sun.”
Candelaria, Zambales, Philippines
It was about a week prior to Philippine National Labor Day that I heard about this little island situated at the West Philippine sea in Candelaria, Zambales. The closest village to the island is Brgy. Uacon (Wakon). It seems like that this island is really a perfect getaway for another long-weekend this summer in the Northwest Luzon. Just a 5-hour drive from Manila to Zambales, and along the northwest national coastal road you can see this tiny island from the mainland. It got me thinking about what life is like on an island with a very limited resources. Nonetheless, you make a good retreat for yourself.
When you get to the jump-off village at Uacon, you will notice this tiny island with visible white sand beach all around it. This is the only island within the Olongapo-Candelaria Bay. Notice that the bay has brown sand then just about 5 minutes away here’s this tiny little white sand island called Potipot. Yes! Just 5-8 Minutes and you’re there! All visitors are required to wear their life vests. The round trip boat fare is fixed at a very affordable price of Php400 good for up to 6 pax and just inform your boatman what time you will leave the island so he can pick you up the next day. I’ll include all the details below.
Upon arriving at the island, you will immediately notice the white sand beach, the campers and tents beneath the trees. I think the Island is just 1-2 meters above sea level. I think the island is literally flat. The center of the island is a wide plain of sand and trees, no large rock formations so maybe if there’s a typhoon in the area everything here gets wiped out but luckily, no typhoon has ever made to cause major destruction on this island. When you get to the welcome center by the shore, you will pay Php100 if you wish to stay for a day tour, or Php300 for individuals who wish to stay overnight in their tents. There are also cottages, tree houses, and bungalows at a reasonable rate.
Imagine if you seas the day when everyone’s not being crabby, you’ll make shore to smile and take the time to coast and turn off your shell phone then you’ll get a warm and fine relaxation on the island! Oh, even meet new friends!
We pitched our tent about the far-west side of the island to make sure we get the best picture of the sunset and this side of the island is not crowded. Just find the best spot in the shades and a stable ground to stake your tents. A nice view makes your stay worthwhile.
Middle of Nowhere
The life on the island is so simple. You don’t think about work, other plans, neither anything outside this island. You will find yourself sitting on the beach, getting a good shade from the trees, or simply staying inside the tent while reading a book. Swing in a hammock while you listen to the sea water rushing to the shore or enjoy the sea breeze while you take a nap. Put on your earphone if you need to, listen to your favorite playlist and release all your stress.
My friends and I brought along with us our own grill and the best part of it all, you will learn and experience all the island basics of survival. We got dry twigs and branches from the trees around the island and we lit a fire from those.
We got some burnt part for those two, but we immediately perfected it anyway. That’s what I’m telling about. Sometimes you fail, but you have to recognize your failure and make a remediation on the process that is undesirable and so in our case we learned it in an instant that we have to keep an eye on the food that we were grilling and check them out periodically. Team work as you may call it.
In the vicinity there are stores open 24 hours a day. Imagine a wide table with all their goods are displayed on it. Coffee, canned goods, cup noodles, toiletries, hard-boiled eggs, fish, bread, squid, halo-halo, chips, and more. The same stores you can run in to when you need to recharge your smartphones but it costs Php100. Quite expensive ey? Yes, because they are only using a power generator which consumes litters of gasoline. So never forget to bring your own powerbanks. There are a lot of outdoor showers, and Shower/Toilet Cubicles everywhere. You can also buy a good quality hammock for Php220 but just a little haggle and I got it for Php200.
When on the island, you can play cards with friends just like we did. You can also bring a kite because it’s quite windy on the island. Lay and spread your Sidlan bag or sheets on the ground and begin sun worshiping to get a nice tanning session in the afternoon. The best time for swimming is between 7am-10am and 3pm-5pm. The sun sets in the west and is exactly where this island is situated so don’t miss to get your cameras ready because the sunset is breathtaking. The view is picturesque. You can stroll around the island in just 15 minutes and then you’re back from where you first left. How small it is, right?
From the above photo, what can you imagine? It is very peaceful, and quite because it’s not crowded. Remember that there are also people visiting the island but the crowd stays mostly at the east part facing the mainland where stores are just a couple of steps away. If you are the kind of traveler who wants to find a meaningful and a peaceful vacation, stay at the west coast and surely you will enjoy taking photos at on beach, take a glance of the beautiful sunset and end your day with a bonfire.
Keep in mind that the management bans bringing of alcoholic drinks. Such drinks will be confiscated or the worse part is you will pay a painful fine. Always bring some trash bags with you. Leave no trace so others will also enjoy the same experience just like you. There are no strict rules about anything except for alcoholic drinks, so don’t hesitate to bring any camping needs that you think is convenient for you. Make yourself comfortable.
I’d like to thank my friends who accompanied me to this amazing little island in the north. We had so much fun and we learned a lot of lessons all at the same time. Great Travels are made with awesome friends. Make sure to drag them with you everywhere you travel. Solo travelers and DIY buddies, no worries! You’ll get to meet a lot of campers in the area and they are nice people too! Don’t forget to Smile!
How to get to Potipot Island
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From Manila we drove all the way to NLEX, SCTEX, and to Subic freeport. We took some stopovers at NLEX and Subic to stretch out our legs and backs. We left Ortigas Center at 1:30 and arrived at Iba, Zambales at 6 in the morning. We met our boatman/coordinator at 6:30am and he accompanied us to buy some food, and many other things but if you’re planning to visit Potipot island by bus, here’s what you need to know.
Take a bus to Sta. Cruz at Victory Liner Pasay Terminal. The earliest bus departs at 4 o’clock in the morning and the travel time including stopovers is abour 6-7 hours. Alight at Petron Gas Station in fron of the Brgy. Uacon (Wacon) Plaza. You can ask the bus conductor to drop you of at that specific place. There are no other gas stations within 4 kilometers in the area so I’m sure they know that and you won’t get lost. The fare may change from time to time so please check with Victory liner on their website
When you get to Uacon, contact my very accommodating boatman coordinator
Kuya MJ at +63.916.256.5427 I will tell you why. Kuya MJ is very prompt in his responses and if ever you visit Potipot island using a private car, you can park the car in their residence and the fee is Php100 for overnight parking. We even borrowed a set of utensils for only Php250 complete with kitchen knife, plates, glasses, spoon and fork, Ice bucket, Frying pan, and mention other utensils and they’ll add it up upon your request. They also sell 1 gallon of purified water for Php100. Kuya MJ is your all-around POC/Coordinator. If you need chairs and whatsoever just send him a text message and he’ll make it available for you.
Spacious Parking at Kuya MJ’s residence
Php1500 – Kubo/hut (Bungalow)
Php2500 – Modern Bungalow
Php500 – 5 pax
Php300 – 2 pax
Php100 – Banig / Mat
Php1500 each x 3 pax = 4500
Php1600 Gasoline (Full tank)
Php400 Boat (Round trip)
Php900 Overnight Fee (Php300/pax)
Php100 1 Gallon of Purified Water
Php250 Utensils (Rental)
This has been a very memorable experience on the island. Go and explore it too!
Please comment your questions and suggestions and will update this topic from time to time. Happy Summer and Have Fun!
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