Have you ever heard the wind sing a lullaby? A nature’s lullaby that can totally relax you and slowly lull you to sleep as the breeze softly blows through your face and body. It is an experience like no other as I laid down on my hammock while listening to the wind sing its nature songs. This was a perfect way to chill on a weekend – no crowd, enjoying the sun and sand, and just getting one with nature. It was just another day in paradise and the place is called Silanguin Cove.
San Antonio in northern Zambales is known for its rustic natural beauty composed of scenic mountain ranges and beach coves. Its rugged terrain was once the home of a navy base managed by the United States. The base was later on abandoned following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo.
Along the coast are four scenic coves – Anawangin, Nagsasa, Talisayin, and Silanguin. Anawangin and Nagsasa were the first to catch the attention of travellers because of it amazing pine-laden landscape and proximity from Pundaquit, the jump-off point to these four coves. As the coves are protected by mountain ranges, the coves were able to maintain its rustic ambiance and the best way to experience the place is by camping out.
Touchdown: San Antonio/Pundaquit
Locals of San Antonio were kind of surprised when we answered them that we were headed to Silanguin Cove. It became apparent that the cove was really not as popular as Anawangin or Nagsasa, where we presume most of the visitors were headed to. I guess that was the charm that captivated us when we decided to hold our 8th instaviaje in the more laid-back cove of Silanguin.
Silanguin is the farthest among the four coves along the coast of San Antonio. The 2-hour boat ride, that can get a bit choppy at times, is probably the reason why the cove is not the top choice by travellers. In fact, pictures of Silanguin Cove are not as plenty on Instagram and there are only a couple of travel blogs about it when you compare it to Anawangin or Nagsasa. Unlike the other coves though, Silanguin is known for its light grey sand and its waters are shallow and very calm. It is also known for its mountain ranges that surround it that change hues during sunrise and sunsets.
Just like the other coves, camping is the way to go in Silanguin so before you head off to the cove, make sure that you get all your necessities in San Antonio. There is a small store in Silanguin Cove but expect their prices to be more expensive. It also helps that you have a good contact in Pundaquit as they can assist you with what you will need before you start chilling in Silanguin.
From San Antonio proper, it will be another 20-minute tricycle ride to Pundaquit, the jump-off point to the four coves of San Antonio. The ride will give you a scenic view of the mountain ranges and fields of San Antonio and its bucolic life. The sea journey starts when you see the beautiful seascape along the shores of Pundaquit, with Capones and Camara Island off its coast.
The 2-hour boat ride can be quite an experience. You will be treated with great views of the rugged terrain of San Antonio’s mountains that is periodically interrupted with its scenic coves – Anawangin, Talisay, and Nagsasa. The waves can get choppy at times but it is not something that you would need to worry about. But be forewarned though to waterproof your bags and expect to get wet along the way. It adds up to the experience.
The first sign that you are in Silanguin Cove is when you see the “Lion’s Head”. It is a rock formation at the mouth of Silanguin Cove that, with a little imagination, looks like a lion that guards the mouth of the cove. It is amazing how these rock formations jut out from the sea and complements the seascape. At this point, the calm waters of the cove will welcome you. Not far from the mouth, Silanguin become visible as it opens its arms to you.
Silanguin Cove: Of Sunset and Camp Fires
I did hear the wind sing a lullaby over and over again as I comfortably settled onto my new Aluyan hammock (IG: @aluyanph). I felt how the wind caressed my skin in the middle of the night where I was surrounded by darkness with the only light source coming from campfires and from the caretaker’s house, the only house with electricity. The sound of pine needles rustling with the wind made you feel one with nature. This was camping at its best.
Just a few hours back, I hurriedly rushed to step on the gray sands of Silanguin Cove. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I was completely captivated by its beauty. Silanguin cove was just beautiful from all angles. I described the cove as photogenic. The mountain ranges that surround the cove seemed like a fortress that guard the treasures that it holds within. The waters are friendly as waves lap onto the shores, not crash but laps onto the shores, and it stays that way. The depth of the waters is also ideal for swimming that even those who don’t know how to swim can definitely enjoy it.
Silanguin Cove boasts of fine grey sand that lines its long coast and, just like the other coves, its shores are also populated by pine trees. The cove really stands out because the beautiful view of its coast with the mountain range on its background. There are no mobile phone signals in Silanguin so your phones will only be good for taking pictures and if you want to edit your shots. Other than that, you can just chill out and savor the day pass by in the midst of nature’s beauty.
On our first day, we decided to just simply chill out and enjoy the sun and sand. In no time, we were ready to capture the sunset. We settled down on a spot where we would be able to capture the sun “sink” into the ocean, unaware that the sun was about to give us one of the best shows on earth. It was just amazing to watch the full and round sun, set along the horizon, shifting from yellow to orange to red. We chided that we actually saw the “Miss Saigon” sun in Silanguin.
I guess… Silanguin offers going back to basics kind of vacation. As the darkness of the night started to envelope the cove and with no cellular signal, the best way to spend the evening is by sharing stories with friends by the campfire over grilled marshmallows. Not to mention, lying down the sand to watch the millions of stars twinkling on the night sky.
Mornings were as magnificent as the sunsets. It was nice to watch the mountain ranges and hills shift colors from brown to orange to red as the morning rays hits its surface. It was a serene moment. It was like the sun promising us that it was going to be another great day.
As Silanguin Cove is not as popular like the other coves, we had to get guides to help us explore the place. The challenge was to find a good spot where we can have a full view of the cove and to check out one of the two waterfalls in the area. The guide knew exactly where to bring us but to get there was a challenge.
We figured that the small hill nearby would be a good vantage point. The problem was there are no established trails to the top. The guides knew a way and it was not an easy one. We trekked to the foot of the hill and that was when we realized that we had to traverse the side of the mountain that had an almost 80-degree angle on incline. To make the challenge more exciting, we had to make our own trail through loose rocks with nothing much to hold on to.
After much huffing puffing and sliding, we all managed to get to the “Viajero View Deck” where we got to see the top view of Silanguin Cove. It was just as beautiful from the top as when you are face-to-face with the cove. The grey shores looked like white sand from the top and the blue waters of the cove complemented the mountains and hills surrounding the cove. The view of the cove was all worth the cuts and scratches that we got from the ascent.
Since the trail was set-up by our team so do not be surprised if locals would term it as the “Viajero Trail” as we prodded them to name it as such.
The pa-Falls Waterfalls
From the “Viajero View Deck”, our next challenge was the traverse down to the trail to one of its waterfalls in the area. The traverse down proved to be challenging but easier as gravity was working with us. We slipped and stumbled down as we found our way to the actual trail to the falls.
From the base of the hill, it took us another 45 minutes to hike across fields and riverbeds. We were fortunate to meet an Aeta family along the way. Meeting them actually reminded me that we were in Zambales as I had moments when I actually thought that we were somewhere in Visayas. The family lives modestly in a makeshift shelter and were a shy bunch that we had to convince them to have a picture with us.
After hiking, we reached an area where you find huge boulders and a small pool. We got excited as we felt that we were near. Our guide then points at the pool and said that the falls is located there and the pool was its base. We were shocked. They then explained that, because it was summer and because of El Nino, water has dried up. They said that you only get to see its beauty during the rainy season.
It was sad to see that state of the “waterfall”. We were excited to see and bath in it and our excitement was crushed with the sad reality that environmental issues have reduced it to slabs of rocks. We hope that what our guide said was true that it comes alive during the rainy season. We did enjoy the cool and clean waters of a nearby spring where we drank its waters.
Eye Opener: Slash and Burn
#iV8_Silanguin stands out because it was an instaviaje that brought us face-to-face with environmental issues. As we were hiking back to the cove, we passed by an area where it was evident that it was just recently burned down. It was a sad case of slash-and-burn by locals where they burn down an area for planting purposes. This is harmful to the environment because once the land yields smaller produce, the local would burn another patch of land from where he will transfer.
It was heart-wrenching to see that such practices still exist at this times when supposedly we are more advanced in knowledge and technology. I think as travellers, we have that obligation to orient locals of their roles in having a sustainable and earth-friendly way of living. We can also use our power in social media to raise awareness for local governments to address such issues.
Silanguin Cove is a photogenic tourist destination. It looks good at whatever angle and whatever time of the day that you decide to capture it. The shoreline, that glistens under the sun, and the mountain ranges complement each other that it gives you a perfect view of nature’s beauty. You will definitely appreciate the beauty of nature in Silanguin. It did help that the cove did not attract huge crowds that, at one point, we had the whole stretch of its shoreline for ourselves. It was the perfect weekend to kick-off our summer.
However, there is also the sad reality that the cove and the locals needs the attention from the local government to curb behaviors that harm the environment. The Slash-and-Burn culture needs to be addressed, as you can see burnt parcels of land along the mountain ranges, as it does more harm than good to Silanguin Cove. Locals needs to work hand in hand to develop a sustainable way of life where tourism can play a huge part in it.
Getting there: I figured that the fastest way to getting there is to take a bus to Olongapo via SCTEX (Php245 per head). Victory Liner have regular trips to Olongapo. From Olongapo, you then take a regular bus to Iba or Sta. Cruz and ask the driver to drop you off at San Antonio town proper(Php40 per head). You can then hire a tricycle to Pundaquit (Php30 per head).
You can get in touch with Kuya Boyette of Puerto Silanguin for boat arrangements and arrangements in Silanguin Cove. His guy, Kuya Junjun, was the best as he REALLY took care of us. You can reach them at +63949 1663103.
Marc del Rosario
I believe in education, entrepreneurship, and caring for the environment.