Are you itching for a trip but can’t file for leave just yet? Here are some adventures up north you can take with friends that fit in a weekend.
These travels won’t break the bank, too. Depending on your itinerary and travel time, you can leave Metro Manila on Friday night or Saturday morning.
Five Fingers Coves, Mariveles, Bataan
Less than three hours from Metro Manila by ferry and by outrigger boat, Five Fingers Coves promise panoramic hill views, emerald lagoons, picturesque karsts, and quiet beaches perfect for swimming. The coves are named as such because they look like five fingers when viewed from the top.
Hike up Cochino’s Point, one of the five fingers, to catch a view of the sea, the island, and Mt. Mariveles in the distance. Go cliff jumping into one of the coves’ turquoise lagoons or simply swim in the clear waters. Marvel at and walk around the massive rock formations carved by wind and sea. Go camping under one of the coconut trees at Aglaloma Beach and catch the sunset as well as the sunrise the next day, and explore more of Five Fingers’ sights in an unhurried pace.
Island hopping and camping overnight with meals usually cost less than P2000 per person, whether solo or in a group. (READ:5 overnight beach trips for P2,000 or less)
How to get there: Ride the Bataan ferry to Mariveles from Esplanade Seaside Terminal near Mall of Asia. Fare is P499. Travel time is usually a little over one hour. Then take a tricycle to the jumpoff point to Five Fingers, which is just less than 15 minutes away. The boat ride takes around 45 minutes to reach the first cove.
Alternatively, you can take the ferry to Orion (P450), as this route has more schedules. Travel time is less than an hour. You can then take the free shuttle to Mariveles from Orion Port, and the trip will take around 45 minutes.
Budget: Around P3,000 and up
Known as a surf town, Baler is your chance to hit the waves, whether for the first or the nth time (Surf lessons with board rental are P350). It’s not all surfing, though. Take a tricycle tour (P800 for three people) to explore other nature spots in and near Baler. See the massive 600-year-old balete, said to be Asia’s biggest tree (P10 entrance). Visit Diguisit’s beach and rock formations. Trek for a few kilometers to take a dip at the 140-foot Ditumabo Mother Falls. (Entrance is P30, and guide fee is P200). These are just among some of Baler’s natural attractions.
Accommodations in Baler can go as low as P600 for dorm beds and for sharing in rooms for groups. Meals at eateries usually cost P100 and up while meals at restaurants can be P250 or more.
How to get there: Ride a bus to Baler from Cubao EDSA. Fare usually starts at P550. Travel time is 6-7 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Cabanatuan and then a van to Baler.
Budget: Around P3,000 and up
Beyond Pangasinan’s Hundred Islands, the province is blessed with other beautiful beaches and nature spots. The fishing town of Agno particularly has pristine white beaches, among them Abagatanen and Pabrika. Both beaches are in fishing villages.
Aside from its expanse of creamy white sand and clear waters, Abagatanen has a small lagoon on the left side of its cove perfect for swimming.
Thirty minutes away by motorbike from Abagatanen is an even quieter beach, Pabrika. It is an expanse of white sand punctuated with rock formations. Among these rocks is also a clear tidal pool. At low tide, starfish and other colorful marine life can be found on the rock surface. (READ: Jump into ‘Death Pool’ at Cabongaoan Beach in Pangasinan)
For overnight stays, Abagatanen has transient houses and cottages, usually at 1,500 per room. Tent rental is P700. Accommodations usually include free use of kitchen. As there are no restaurants in the area, it is best to bring cooked food or stop by the town’s market first and buy fresh produce to cook at the accommodation. You can also buy from fisherfolk’s fresh catch to add to your food.
Pabrika, having no overnight facilities, is best for a day trip.
How to get there: Take a bus to Agno from EDSA Pasay or Cubao. Get off at the town proper. Fare is usually P440 and up. Travel time is around 6 hours. Alternatively, you can take a bus to Alaminos, then a jeep to Agno.
To go to Abagatanen, take a tricycle (usually P600 for 4 people). To go to the nearby Pabrika Beach from Abagatanen, take a motorbike (usually P250, though there are no fixed rates and final rate will depend on your agreement with the driver, who can also be your guide to the beach).
Mt. Ulap, Itogon, Benguet
Budget: Around P2,000 and up
With its jumpoff just 45 minutes away from Baguio City, Mt. Ulap is a fairly accessible mountain to hike. Though relatively challenging, the trail is still friendly to and has been hiked by beginners. Mt. Ulap is a picturesque mountain, with its slopes and ridges of pine trees, grasslands that change color with the season, unique rock formations, and the Cordillera mountains as backdrop. Hiking at a relaxed pace usually takes 6 to 8 hours. (READ: Forest-bathing: Your La Trinidad, Benguet weekend itinerary)
The registration fee is P50, and the guide fee for an overnight stay is P1,000 (good for 7). Campsite fee is P800 (good for 10 people). For those who need porters, overnight porter fee is P800. It’s best to bring your meals, though there is also a store at the campsite that sells water and cup noodles.
How to get there: From EDSA Cubao, take a bus to Baguio (around P450, 6 to 7 hours). Ride a jeep to Central Mall (usually less than P10), then ride a jeepney to Ampucao (usually less than P40) to register and get a tour guide before climbing. As the local government sets a limit on the number of climbers per day, it is best to register in advance. Contact them on their Facebook page. There are also mobile numbers listed there.
Palaui, Sta. Ana, Cagayan
Budget: Around P4,000 and up
Palaui is best known for its breathtaking views. Trekking up the hill of Palaui’s Cape Engaño lighthouse will give you a 360-degree view of green hills and cliffs, rolling waves, and quiet beaches. Here, it is almost impossible to take a bad photo.
The island is also known for its beaches. CNN Travel ranked Palaui in the top ten of the world’s best beaches.
You won’t run out of natural attractions to explore in Palaui. There are trails to waterfalls at the foot of Cape Engaño’s hill. And, a boat ride away is Anguib Cove, a powdery white beach with calm waters.
If you are staying overnight, island hopping and travel back and forth from Cagayan mainland to Palaui is P3,800, good for 8 people. The island requires an environmental fee of P70. If you are trekking, guide fee is P300 good for 4 people. Homestays usually charge P250 per person overnight. Homecooked meals are around P200 or more. Palaui’s rates usually temporarily increase during Holy Week.
How to get there: Ride a bus from Manila to Tuguegarao. Fare is usually between P600-P900 (If you have the budget, you can also take a flight to Tuguegarao). Then ride a van to Sta. Ana. Travel time is usually 12 hours to Tuguegarao, and another 2 or 3 hours to Sta. Ana. Boat to Palaui takes around 20 minutes. It is best to leave Manila early Friday evening to maximize your time in Palaui. – Rappler.com
Claire Madarang is a writer, researcher, and documenter whose work and wanderlust takes her to adventures like backpacking for 7 weeks and exploring remote islands and bustling cities alike. Follow her adventures, travel tips, and epiphanies on her blog Traveling Light and on her Instagram.