Although Pangasinan is more famous for its Hundred Islands in Alaminos, we drove past that and went straight to Bolinao two weeks ago. We wanted a more secluded location and we thought that it would be since it's an hour more away. We were right. Baguio to Bolinao is only around 4 hours away. Manila to Bolinao is 5 hours +++ depending on traffic.
This trip was sudden so we weren't able to book a hotel room in advance. I did check booking.com the night before the trip but we were left with the expensive ones so we decided to just look for a hotel once we got there. And that didn't become a problem at all because there were new hotels that didn't have a website or that weren't on booking sites yet. Also it was a sunny weekend but it was December so there weren't that many tourists. We even had the whole resort to ourselves. We stayed at Sea View. We personally checked out several resorts there but we chose to stay here because the check-in time was 24/7. That means if you checked in at 5 pm, you can check out at 5 pm the next day unlike in most resorts where check-out time is definite (usually 12 pm) no matter what. Also, they allowed us to extend our stay for twelve hours more and we only paid half as well. In most resorts, you'll have to pay full already.
Sorry, we were having too much fun that we forgot to take a photo of the resort during daytime. This was taken after checking out. The man in the photo is the caretaker seeing us off. Rate of the room we got was PhP3000/day.
And before you complain about the room prices, please consider that most of the rooms there are designed to accommodate a large group. The room we got, which was already the smallest at the resort, had two double size beds. Perhaps that's one thing that makes Bolinao more of a local family or group destination.
Please make sure to bring cash with you. As of the first weekend of December 2016, there's only one ATM at the town proper and some hotels don't accept credit or debit cards. Also, there's no 24-hour anything, not even a gas station, in Bolinao.
This is the closest to a convenience store you'll get. Some resorts like the one we stayed at don't have minibars or restaurant so make sure you check such information ahead. Naldo and I always bring food during road trips so that wasn't a problem either.
Most of the online hotel brochures boast of white sand beaches but actually Patar beach sand is mocha-colored which we also love. The color of sand just like skin color doesn't really matter to us. I don't even have a favorite color. I think it's torture to choose just one. So yeah, what's important is that the beach is clean. Thankfully, the stretch was impressively clean and we hope that's also how it is during peak season. What's sad about it though is that the beach that you see in the photo was once a coral reef. The destruction seems recent. :-(
We went to Bolinao just for the beach but we got extra surprises too. Below are other places that you can visit in Bolinao.
The Enchanted Cave is around 5 minutes away from the resort. If you're after the cave pool, the best time to go would be in the morning. The cave pool is natural but it's small - fifteen people is enough to make it crowded.
Here are the fees:
This was at the garden within the Enchanted Cave vicinity.
Cape Bolinao Lighthouse is around ten minutes away from the resort we stayed at. We've only been to two light houses in the country and so far this is our favorite.
Bolinao Falls 1 is about an hour away from the resort we stayed at. Despite the rough road, we really enjoyed going here the most because we saw different kinds of birds we've never seen before. Our favorite was the blue-tailed bee eater. Please check my instagram @mashiloa for the bird photos. I got a cool sunset photo there too. :-)
Also based on our experience, the signs didn't really indicate the way to Bolinao Falls. If it's still the same in your case, please take note of this. Once you reach this fork ↓ (let this building and several hotels signs to its right be your landmark), road on the right goes to Patar Beach and Cape Bolinao Light House. Road on the left goes to Bolinao Falls 1. There won't be any signs on the way either so ask a local if you must.
If you're looking for a very rural escapade, Bolinao might just be the place for you. We'll definitely go back to check out Bangrin Marine Protected Area. Next time, we'll go and spend a day exclusively for bird watching. And we missed the chance to buy "Tupeg", a local delicacy, so we'll come back for that too.
That's it for now! Keep smiling!