For most Filipino families, summer equates to a trip to the beach. This means, it’s almost quite impossible to find a beach resort that’s not packed with crowd. Almost. Until we found a virgin beach resort upnorth in Luzon, Philippines in the province of Pangasinan.
There are actually a lot of beaches in Pangasinan – Bolinao being one of the most famous of them – that boasts white sand beaches with clear waters to match the wonderful surroundings. But, if like me, you’d opt for the off-beaten path, you can take a trip to Villa Balinmanok Resort situated in Dasol, Pangasinan.
How to get to Villa Balinmanok
This paradise is not easy to reach — it’s away from the main thoroughfares and to get there, you have to endure driving through narrow roads.
If coming from Metro Manila, a trip to Dasol will take around five to six hours. To get there, go to either the Victory Liner of Five Star bus terminal in EDSA-Cubao and take a bus bound for Alaminos City. From there, you can take another bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales and ask the conductor to drop you off at Dasol. Another option, though rare, is to take a bus that’s directly bound to Sta. Cruz, Zambales, and again, ask the conductor to drop you off at Dasol.
From Dasol town proper, hail a tricycle and ask the driver to bring you to Villa Balinmanok. The trip from the town proper to the resort would take 45 to 60 minutes, give or take. Upon reaching the gates of Villa Balinmanok, there would be a number of resorts to choose from. We chose to stay at Recudo 2.
The resort: Recudo 2
Since we left Manila late in the evening, we arrived Recudo 2 by around 5 in the morning, where we were surprised to be welcomed by the co-owner, who was addressed to as Mamu, as well as the caretaker, Ate Linda.
It was a simple place, there are a number of nipa huts, and these are of varying kinds for different accommodation needs. There are open cottage, enclosed nipa huts and even air-conditioned villas. These accommodations range from Php 1500 to Php 3000. You can also opt to pitch a tent for Php 200 per night. On top of that, there is an entrance fee of Php 70.
Upon seeing the beach front, we knew we made the right decision to pick this place for a secluded getaway. The white sand and the clear waters welcomed us. The resort felt like a home away from and is ideal for people who just don’t want the pack of crowd and want to enjoy the beauty of nature.
There are even hammocks around the area for if you want to feel the fresh winds while basking in the sun.
Throughout the day, there were about four or five families that arrived; that’s a relatively small number compared to more well-known resorts and those that are closer to Manila.
However, there is a certain disadvantage to the seclusion in this resort — the resort does not sell any kind of food and it’s a must to bring meals that would be enough for the entire trip. The caretaker suggests for visitors to first drop by at the Dasol market to buy food and the Recudo 2 staff will help out with the cooking of the food. I do not doubt this, because we actually ran out of food and asked the caretaker if they’re selling fishes that we could grill. Ate Linda, then offered to sell us fish and even offered to provide us cooked rice. They were also too kind to provide us with hot water for our morning dose of coffee.
What to do?
Since this place is a virgin island, do not expect a lot of activities like a banana boat or a jetski ride. There are none of those here. But as the co-owner would suggest, you can, by all means, explore the entire place.
Walk along the entire shoreline.
The entire shoreline is not a very long walk and could be manageable, while doing that you can appreciate the wonderful trees they have. And this is not even an exaggeration because we have spotted a number of unique-looking trees (apart from the tons of coconut trees) that’s spread near the shore area.
If you go towards the leftmost part (when facing the beach) of the shoreline, you will see a plateau-like formation that’s worth discovering. You just need to be extra careful as some areas have narrow and rocky walk ways. The elevation will give you a perfect view of the beach. At the back portion of the plateau, you will even see much more amazing views of rock formations.
Watch the sunset.
This place is also the best part to watch the sunset. We patiently waited for that moment for the sky to display that orange tint before the darkness falls. And it’s totally worth it.
Another option is to do island hopping, if you’re willing to shed some extra cash, Recudo 2 offers island hopping to three nearby places: Colibra Island, the Crocodile Island and Simbahang Bato. The boat trip will cost you Php 1,500, which is already good for seven people. I highly advise to take advantage of this. Taking a the island hopping trip is definitely worth-it!
You can stop by at Colibra Island, where you can even more appreciate the clear waters. We stopped by and took a dip, though the waves are stronger here, it’s generally safe to take a swim.
Then there’s this Crocodile Island. Our boatman said that we can’t actually stop over at the Crocodile Island because the insides of the rock formation is being inhabited by snakes. Yes, snakes, not crocodiles. Because the reason why it’s called Crocodile Island is because of how it looks like from a certain point of view — the rock formation actually looks like a crocodile indeed.
Our last stop was another rock formation-slash-tunnel-slash cave called Simbahang Bato (when translated in english, it means, a church made out of rock), which is called that simply because it looked like an old church tower.
From this place, we were able to go down from our boat to take some photos. In this area, you can also get into a tiny cave that had marble-looking rocks in stalactite and stalagmite formation.