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Nagsasa Cove: Nature’s Cradle of Healing and Rebirth

By Adrenaline Romance @AdrenalnRomance

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Rebirth is part of Mother Nature’s cycle. But often, this aspect of the cycle can be so subtle that it evades human perception. Indeed, Mother Nature’s rebirth can take years, decades, or even centuries to become evident. Often, it is necessary to travel far and wide to see how she heals herself after being ravaged by humans or after being a victim of her own uncontrollable temper.

We found a stunning place where we witnessed Mother Nature’s rebirth and healing process in action. That place is the secluded Nagsasa Cove situated at the coast of province of Zambales in Luzon, Philipines.

After a harrowing 45-minute boat ride on choppy waters from Capones Island, we finally entered the embrace of Nagsasa Cove. In contrast to the temperamental attitude of the open West Philippine Sea, the water in the bay fronting the grayish-white shore was calm and serene.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

At last, we set foot on sandy Nagsasa Cove. If you somehow get lost here, don’t worry. There are signs that point to where you came from. Hehehe!

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Colorful tents lined up the sandy, shady spaces beneath the canopies of agoho trees. Tents can be rented for an affordable price at either Nagsasa Cove or at Pundaquit Beach. However, they come in very limited numbers, so we suggest bringing your own.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Our boatman led us to a vacant table where we can finally put down our bags, check if the contents are wet, unpack our supplies, and eat the packed lunch that we bought from San Antonio.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Our boatman set up our rented tents (we decided to rent tents to lighten our load and to make most of our payment) and assured us that he’ll be back early in the morning.

Because it was Holy Week, Nagsasa Cove was loaded with beachgoers just like any other popular beach in the country. Thankfully, it was not as crowded as Anawangin Cove, and the whole place still exuded an airy, free feeling.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

One of the things that allow you to breathe a sigh of relief is this sari-sari store at the beach, a store in the middle of nowhere actually. Here, you can buy cigarettes, simple ingredients, noodles, candies, toiletries, and other stuff that you may need during your stay. The store also has electricity, so you can charge your phone for a relatively hefty price. Best of all, they sell refreshing ice-cold softdrinks!

The bad thing is that all merchandise is sold twice to thrice the normal price. Thus, we suggest you buy everything you need from the mainland.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

After having lunch and re-organizing our things, it was time to hit the waters. The tide was slowly receding but that did not stop us from taking a dip in the warm waters of Nagsasa Cove.

Just check out that spectacular mountain scenery! It makes swimming in an idyllic beach an even more awesome experience.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

A long stretch of powdery golden sand fronting a small forest of agoho trees make up half of Nagsasa Cove’s stretch of shoreline. Also, check out the shore. Do you notice that the sand on Sweetie’s feet is gray?

Well, that’s because it’s not just pure beach sand. The grayish color comes from ash deposits that settled on the land after the cataclysmic eruption of Mt. Pinatubo many years ago. As decades passed, with the help of the sea, the ash crystallized into sand-like particles that give this part of the shore its distinctive gray color.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

The sand of Nagsasa Cove is somewhat like coarse powder partly due to the blanket of volcanic ash that covered the beach many years ago.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

The southern part of the shore is home to Kamp Bira Bira, a resort within Nagsasa Cove. You see, the whole stretch of Nagsasa Cove is divided into resorts. But unlike the shores of Lapu Lapu City in Mactan, Cebu where we live, no ugly sea walls have been erected to demarcate the properties. The result is a long, continuous, beautiful sandy shore where you can walk freely from one end to another.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Outrigger boats of different sizes line bring and fetch beachgoers. They got really busy during this time of the year. Those boats may look flimsy, but they’re actually tough and very stable. They are available for rent at a relatively affordable rate.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Well, on a hot afternoon like this, who can resist not having fun in the water? No one!

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

The underwater landscape is pretty much sandy for a mile or two from the shore. Thus, there aren’t many features such as rocks, fields of sea grass, or corals. However, the gentle waves that lap the shore do form the sand into small, long dunes.

In this desert of underwater sand, there are still tidbits of life. We saw this nice, stingless jellyfish swimming around.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Oh yes, if we could only live the rest of our lives like this without worrying about responsibilities! While others enjoyed the beach, I took a very relaxing nap on our hammock.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

At around 5:00 PM, our chefs Sir Jigz and Sweetie, prepared our traditional Filipino dinner. We were about to buy firewood at the store (which was pretty expensive) to light up the grill when a local kid passed by. He shook his head after seeing us desperately trying to start a flame. He led us to the back of the beach where we found piles upon piles of dried agoho branches, which can be used to light up a fire.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Sir Jigz and I were talking about mountaineering stuff when Sweetie suddenly let out a squeal of delight and told us to grab our cameras. Sure enough, she saw the magnificent, orange sunset of Nagsasa Cove. Sir Jigz and I raced to the shore and took photos of one of Mother Nature’s greatest artworks.

The serenity and beauty of Nagsasa Cove’s sunset filled our souls with peace and wonder.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

We were treated to a picture-perfect moment of the setting sun. Actually, this was one of the few times in our adventuring career when we saw the entirety of the sun’s disc as it bids farewell to a day. It was simply fantastic!

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Doesn’t that traditional dinner look mouthwatering? We prepared grilled pork; salted eggs with tomatoes; sautéed bagoong (pieces garlic and onions sauteed in shrimp sauce); and fresh vegetables dipped in very hot and spicy vinegar-soy sauce.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Bon appétit! After finishing our simple but sumptuous dinner, we cleaned up our plates, took a bath, and went to bed. We were dead tired; it took us only a few minutes before we drifted to unconsciousness even though the rest of the beach was still very much alive and kicking.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

We woke up to a gorgeous morning scene of golden mountains and blue skies. Sans the throngs of people, it is definitely paradise here in Nagsasa Cove.

According to some locals we talked to, Nagsasa Cove was originally a barren, sandy shore that is dotted here and there with bare rocks. Then a few years after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo and the ash has settled down, agoho trees and other vegetation suddenly sprouted in this otherwise barren shore. Indeed, Mother Nature finds a way to breathe life.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

While Sir Jigz and Maam Efrylle went up the hill to take photos of early morning scenes, Sweetie and I prepared tocino (sweetened pork slices), scrambled eggs, and tuna for breakfast.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

When the duo returned an hour later, they bought with them a few guests, an old Aeta woman together with her grandchildren who came all the way from their mountain village in the province of Pampanga to sell their wares. She told us stories of her life, tales of local culture, and even amusing jokes.

We bought some of her merchandise which includes a luffa sponge made from the bark of a tree and seeds of some sort. She said the seeds can be brewed into coffee that can cure stomachaches, headaches, sore limbs, jaundice, and other discomforts. Amazing!

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

After breakfast, Sweetie and I decided to climb up a nearby hill at the southern bend of the cove. Yesterday afternoon, we saw this hill from the shore and thought that we could see an encompassing view of Nagsasa Cove at the top.

The soil on the hill has a reddish tint, which means it is full of iron.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

After passing a “tunnel” of vegetation, we came to a very exposed, grassy part of the trail. Even at an early 7:00 AM, the sun was already searing hot, and we were drenched in sweat.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Going up the hill’s summit involved a short 15-minute but steep climb up a trail of loose soil. Oh, don’t worry about getting lost. You can’t because the trail is clearly marked.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

After a little while, we reached the hill’s peak, which offered no shade from the burning sun. Check out the reddish soil and the ragged red rocks.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

The red soil and rocks as well as the golden hay-like grass give the hill and the surrounding mountains of the Pundaquit range a distinctive golden, reddish brown color. From afar, we thought the bare slopes were the results of years of deforestation. Upon closer look, the bareness was actually natural. Nature is simply amazing!

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

At the hill’s summit and with a cloudless sky, we can see the vast expanse of the West Philippine Sea. Suddenly, we felt so small and insignificant while we stand enthralled by Mother Nature. At the same time, we felt special and needed; it is up to us, humans, to preserve paradises like these.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

The top of the hill offers an excellent vantage on the bay that sheltered Nagsasa Cove from the unpredictable temper of the West Philippine Sea. As you can see, the bay is quite deep as evidenced by the deep blue water.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

The magnificent, golden brown Pundaquit Range acts as a wall that keeps the coves of Zambales secret treasures. At times, we thought of them as the Himalayas of this part of Luzon, and they are great venues for mountaineering and trekking.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

After having our fill with the breathtaking sights, it was time to get back to the shore. It was time to pack up and get ready for the journey to Pundaquit Beach.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

As we went down, we could see the entirety of Nagsasa Cove. Just look at how well protected this beautiful cove is.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Near the bottom edge of the hill, some jagged rocks break down the monotony of the seemingly endless fields of sand under the sea.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

After 15 minutes, we were all packed up and ready to depart Nagsasa Cove. The girls took refuge at a shady area provided by an awning’s shadow while Sir Jigz and I kept a lookout on our outrigger boat.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

(Photo credits: Jigz Santiago)

Yes, for the past two days, we were mountaineers turned into beacheneers. Hehehe!

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

At 9:00 AM as agreed with our young boatman, our boat arrived at the shore. After waterproofing our packs and covering them with lifejackets to protect them from sea spray, we were ready to depart and begin the next stage of our Holy Week adventure.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

(Photo credits: Jigz Santiago)

Goodbye, Nagsasa Cove! May you stay as beautiful and magnificent as you are. May your visitors accept the crown of responsibility in keeping your shores, mountains, and waters pristine. May the government keep a diligent eye in forever protecting you from man-made degradation and destruction.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

On our way out of the bay, we had another clear glimpse of the slopes that surround Nagsasa Cove. As you can see in the photo below, the rebirth continues as evidenced by the small patches of agoho trees that grew many years after Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption. Agoho trees are not supposed to be endemic here in Nagsasa Cove.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Sea Cliffs

The sea cliffs that line up the coast of Zambales are truly stunning wonders of nature! And because we sailed close to them on the way back to Pundaquit beach, we were able to see them clearly in all their glory.

We spotted this sinister-looking rock outcropping at the entrance of the bay.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Just look at those gorgeous cliffs! If they’re solid, they’d be perfect rock climbing venues.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

A fisherman’s boat passed by one of the lonely, uninhabited rock islets off the coast of Zambales.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Here’s another nearby rock outcropping with a lonely patch of green. We wouldn’t be surprised if this serves as a vantage point for fishermen who harvest the bounties of the West Philippine Sea.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

Here’s a cliff that is around a hundred or more feet high. Tall cliffs like these make perfect homes for gulls, terns, and other seabirds.

Rock climbing, anyone?

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

We cruised by Anawangin Cove, kept secret by the same wall of magnificent mountains that protected Nagsasa Cove. It’s not every day and every place where you can see mountains meeting forests and sandy shores.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

These boats filled with tourists were on their way to either Anawangin or Nagsasa Cove. We silently envied them because they were protected by roofs.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

In some areas, the transition from mountain to sea is immediate but imperceptible. Here, a mountain slope dips into the sea.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

But in some places, the mountain abruptly ends as it meets the sea. Check out the photo below. It looks like a giant cleaver chopped the mountain in half. Also, notice the unusual rock slabs.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

As we neared Pundaquit Beach, our boatman expertly maneuvered his boat between a massive cliff and a gigantic outcropping. We held our breath as he eased the boat between the natural features with only a few feet to spare. Not only that, he had to make sure that the outriggers don’t hit the sharp submerged rocks under the tiny channel.

We clapped and gave a thumbs-up after safely getting through the channel. Great job!

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

After an hour-long boat ride, we finally saw and approached the crowded Pundaquit Beach where the next stage of our journey begins.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

We may be living in a third-world country, but we have first-world ways to put joy and laughter in our lives. Filipino humor never fails to make us smile.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

After a 15-minute tricycle ride back to San Antonio, we boarded a bus to Olongapo City where we plan to take our lunch and take another ride to the source of this destruction and rebirth.

Despite our misgivings due to the fact that we planned this trip in the middle of Holy Week, our Zambales island hopping trip was definitely a great success. We were treated to awesome views and memorable adventures. We were in the company of the coolest fellow adventurers. And most importantly, we were able to witness how Mother Nature healed herself, and that rebirth was perfect.

Nagsasa Cove in Zambales

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Nagsasa Cove: Nature’s Cradle of Healing and Rebirth
Nagsasa Cove: Nature’s Cradle of Healing and Rebirth
Nagsasa Cove: Nature’s Cradle of Healing and Rebirth
Nagsasa Cove: Nature’s Cradle of Healing and Rebirth
Nagsasa Cove: Nature’s Cradle of Healing and Rebirth
Nagsasa Cove: Nature’s Cradle of Healing and Rebirth

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