Life Lessons From My First Solo Travel To The Most Famous Cove In Luzon


Traveling alone affords the individual solitude in order to step out of society’s role-playing games” (Cameron Carstin).

It has been a couple of years since I got bitten by the travel bug so that the Wandering Feet & Mind in me went on and on to travel some of the most beautiful parts of the Philippines. Not only that I had enjoyed each of those travels but learned countless lessons that are truly valuable.

One day, I realized that my travels are monotonous. When I say monotonous it means I had always traveled with a group. But do not get me wrong, traveling with a group will always be funnier, safer, and cheaper. I just thought breaking the monotony will give me something new to discover.

Three months ago, I happened to read a post about traveling solo by one of my favorite Pinoy travel bloggers. It inspired me to do the same for a change. To realize that plan of uncovering something new. It was high time for the Wandering Feet & Mind to be given a break after veering away from traveling (i.e., hiking and swimming) since the semester started.

After just a week or immediately after the last day of the first semester, I realized that head trip. I picked the most famous cove in Luzon, Anawangin Cove, as a destination for it is a perfect spot for both hiking and swimming.

To be honest, I had been frequenting the province of Zambales since 2009 but always ignored the inkling of setting foot on said cove. The reason is I read a long time ago that the place is no longer as halcyon and attractive as before because of its exposure to tourists. It has been a crowded place since. I am not saying though I am against tourism; in fact, I am supporting it with all my might. The problem lies to rubbernecks who are not environmentally conscious. It is just unfortunate that there are more irresponsible ones than what is most needed in today’s collapsing ecosystem. There are more of those who regard tourist spots as private playgrounds for littering and frolicking like there is no tomorrow.

I thanked the mountains for teaching me to see things in a higher perspective. The green leaves of the trees and grasses over the mountains taught me to appreciate and respect what is left on the earth’s surface and to live by the mountaineer’s creed: To take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, and kill nothing but time. There is still so much to be saved for future generations and the beautiful places I presented to the world via this blog are attestations to that. At any rate, I went to Anawagin Cove on a weekend last October.

I arrived at Pundaquit’s wharf early in the morning but I had to wait until seven o’clock to be entertained by boatmen for the bargaining. The rental fee ranges from P800-P1500. So when one boatman approached me for the dicker, I utilized my negotiation skills to evade the minimum charge. My goal was to at least bate a hundred pesos. Fortunately, I got double of what I initially wanted because the boatman gave in to my P600 offer. I seized the deal for a ferry back and forth plus a side trip to Camara Island. I never knew I could do that. Talking about learning something new.

A few minutes before “my” boat headed to Anawangin, I had the privilege of witnessing a fluvial parade. Though it is not something as lavish as the annual fluvial parades such as the Calumpit Libad Festival or Pagoda sa Wawa (which are both held in Bulacan province) where decorated pagodas are stars of the scene, I was amazed because it was the first time.

The small lump in the background of the photo above is Camara Islet where I will be spending a brief excursion off the main route of my itinerary.

I got only three favorites to show from Camara: the distant horizon, the pile of stones, and rock boulders.

Following in time of savoring the islet, I and the boatman zoomed off to the journey’s end. It took me an hour to reach the most illustrious cove.

What greeted me upon descending from the boat was the boscage of verdant pine trees that made me feel like I were in the western part of the globe. Kudos to the people behind the zone’s upkeep because they disproved the bad impression I have, instantly!

Just when I was about to ask how this beauty was formed, the boatman initiated that many of the pine trees were actually planted after the Mount Pinatubo eruption although they were already in the place prior. He added that before the eruption, the place was used to be flooded by rocks. The almost white sands and earth that were spewed by Mount Pinatubo covered those rocks and so the beautiful beach and camping site you see.

The cove’s beauty can definitely persuade a traveler to wander around in a jiffy so I did to feel what it is like to be in a crowd where no one knows me. This time, there is no camera at hand. Gallivanting around gave me that feeling of intense liberation that was overpowering. I could not help myself shouting for joy literally and figuratively. There’s a superb feeling of comfort amid the cattle who do not have my past to hold against me. I did what I wanted to do and I was amazed at the spontaneity that flowed within. I would eat, guffaw, rest, or lie down when I wish to. No pressure, no worries, just a plain spirit on the loose. The chain was temporarily broken when I decided to traipse across the piedmont mountains of Mount Pundaquit standing majestically in sight. After turning my old Kodak camera on, for scenery capture on my way to the hills, a warning telling that the battery is drained popped out of the screen. Instead of fretting, I decided to just reach the top of one of the hills to fulfill that part of my itinerary. At that moment, it was already scorching hot so I charged the batteries by exposing them directly to the blazing rays.

I stayed at the hilltop for hours till I got enamored by the blue waters of the beach. My sweating, tired body was magnetized; I hurried and surrendered to the blue element. I dived, floated, frolicked, and swam in the clear waters like I am the only person in the place. When I settled to the shoreline, the sun was just about to set. I have always admired the exquisite beauty of the sunset so I used the sun-charged batteries right away to capture it.

At night, I watched the diamonds in the sky while lying down on the sands with hands under my head. I could not deny the sense of inner peace I was feeling as I was looking at the bright stars just like whenever I look at the vast horizon of the sea, listen to the waves of the ocean, or watch the sun as it sets or rises. Doing any of these has always been my best way of recharging.

I frittered the night by letting my body kissed by the earth while covered in a blanket. I did not bring a tent to avoid a heavy pack.

The next day, I dipped myself again in the inviting waters of the beach and took another long saunter before I bid goodbye to the cove.

Traveling alone is something I had never done before and I must say I reveled in it so much! I promised to do it again and probably again…and again. This trip paved the way for me to redefine my connection to nature with just me. It let me off the hook of all expectations of me for I did not have to explain, listen, or argue to anyone. There was just but full indulgence of myself. I did not have to meet someone else’s needs. I had no particular schedule, no lesson plans, no phones, no worries, meetings or deadlines, papers, and exams.

Indeed, traveling alone made me step out of society’s role-playing games. But, above all, it helped me develop a sense of higher awareness. I saw the need to double my efforts in taking care of myself. From now on, I need to be extra aware of my surroundings. I ought to be extra cautious of my actions to avoid falling into the pit of whatever danger lurking in the wilderness because I have my wife and children waiting for me. I also realized that giving myself a little distance from my family strengthens the love I have for them.

The only thing I could consider downside of this endeavor is the dreading single supplement and stuff. However it may be, the invaluable lessons that I learned from the experience made it all worth it.

For more information (how to get to the place, where to stay, tips, other activities, etc.), visit this website: www.lakwatsero.com.

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66 thoughts on “Life Lessons From My First Solo Travel To The Most Famous Cove In Luzon

  1. this is one of my dream destination (though it may take long pa, tatlo na i-enroll ko this June) what word which is less malicious than envious? heheh

    congrats Sony, I love this self-containment of yours 🙂

    Like

    • Inggit? hehe … I can’t find the exact nor the better term too. Salamat, Jon!

      BTW, do you have plans to climb Mount Manalmon? If so, kelan? Baka kako pwedeng sumabit sa iyo or sa inyo …

      Like

  2. Wow, what a beautiful experience you had their my friend and you traveled solo, how cool is that? or should I say, how challenging is that? Congrats! I mean I have traveled solo too, before but not like this, mountaineering, great job!

    Like

    • It’s more fun in the Philippines than anywhere else in the world!

      😉

      PS

      Have you heard of the controversy surrounding our new slogan of the DOT for its tourism campaign?
      If I were to create one for the same, I am most likely to give this: “It’s more green in the Philippines.” Hehe …

      Like

  3. Now I’m envious! What a beautiful place to be. As I marvel with each photos and read your narration, for a moment I felt that I was transformed to an enchanted place of bliss and amazing works of nature. There was this Cove I ventured in Bacolod during internship, it was also breathtaking, just far from the city. I wish one day, I get to explore again. I plan to go home this year and visit as many beaches and islands as possible. I’m excited to show my son how wonderful the Philippines is. Wishing you and your family a blessed New Year!

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  4. Amazingly beautiful Sony! Your words equally compliment the stunning photos. This place looks like paradise on earth. That being said, I can understand how important it is to keep it that way. I get your point about the tourists. On the one hand, they benefit the economy. Yet, it’s vitally important to preserve that precious piece of paradise for future generations. I love it when you wrote, “ The green leaves of the trees and grasses on the mountains taught me to appreciate and respect what is left on the earth’s surface and to live by the mountaineer’s creed – to take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and kill nothing but time.” Now that is what I call soulful writing Sony! Very heartfelt and beautiful post Sony. 🙂

    Like

    • Like one of my favorite bloggers said in a similar post, “Tourism is truly a double-edged sword. On one hand, the locals are thrilled with the influx of tourists because it means more income for them. But on the other hand, more tourists mean more garbage, more destruction, more misuse of natural resources.” There lies the problem. However, I am happy to announce that the locals are doing a great job at maintaining the cleanliness and orderliness of the place. Thanks for the compliment, Donna! That coming from you is something I should definitely be thankful for.

      Like

      • So yung 600 Anawangin and Camara, right? Safe bah matulog sa sand or magduyan lang kahit ako lang magisa? Hehe. How much kaya kung kasali ang Nagsasa? Maghihintay ang boat for you pauwi hanggang pagkabukas?

        Like

      • Kaya mo but I would advise na mas ok ang matulog sa hammock. Pero kung pipiliin mo sa sand, wag mong kalimutang magdala ng earth pad. Yes, at mukhang mas mura pa pala dapat “yun”. Tingin ko pag kasali ang Nagsasa 1,000 or with a plus …

        Like

  5. Welcome to the world of solo traveling 🙂
    I agree, may ibang fulfillment when magtravel solo, maraming realizations and learnings. Above all it is liberating, parang hawak mo ang mundo, everything will depend on your own pace.
    More power Sonny! And thanks for linking my blog 🙂

    Like

    • I am yet to call myself a solo traveler, Angel. Maraming salamat for imparting your wisdom here!

      It feels really extra good if world-class travel bloggers takes time to share a piece of their beautiful minds with their fans. In this case, I am the fan and you, Angel, is the world-class traveler.

      Like

  6. One can learn so much when they are on their own… solitude teaches us a lot… this is indeed a very inspiring post, and I like your writing. I wish you less littering and frolicking tourists, and I am 100% with you on your sentiment about taking nothing but pictures and leaving nothing but footprints. Your photos are great, and the sunset makes me wish I was there right now. Well done Sony!

    Like

  7. AMAZING ZAMBALES is it!!! I’ve been to anawangin, capones, camara as well as talisayin woderful great pictures you had! good job

    Like

  8. Thanks for the pingback! I do hope these islands off San Antonio Zambales’ coast is maintained properly. Happy wandering!

    Like

    • Sorry, it took a while for me to attend to your question.

      Pwedeng-pwede mag-overnight dun. The environmental fee is P100. I know it’s something to make you hesitate but I’m sure that’s affordable if Mother Nature begs for it.

      Looking forward to your story for that trip. One thing I can vouch for is that solo travel is an experience of a lifetime.

      Like

  9. What a beautiful journey. The beach, the island experience, the fluvial parade, camping and sunsets…an unforgettable adventure! Thanks for letting us see this amazing trip. I’m like, “when can I do that?” For now Bro, I have this post to enjoy! Ingat!

    Like

    • Like I always say, sharing my stories is my pleasure…

      Anyway, I believe you can do the same there. The “States” have many, many wonderful places where you can just indulge. I know your stand concerning solo travel but, really, you should give it a try.

      Like

    • That’s just disarming! Messages like that “turbocharge” my wandering feet. It’s probably the sweetest. most inspiring words a traveler may ever hear.

      Maraming, maraming salamat sa pagpapapaalala sa akin na nasa tamang daan and aking pagpupursige na enganyuhin ang mga tao na maglakbay para magdiskubre at matuto.

      Like

      • happy to boost your ever itchy wanderer feet 🙂 just continue sharing your travels and moments with nature and I assure you somebody’s hibernating feet will finally take one step

        Like

  10. Beautiful words of enlightenment, incredible pictures, brilliant execution and formatting, and awesome travel destination. GREAT POST, Sony. Thank you!
    I travel alone most of the time. While I still think traveling with group is much more fun, traveling solo truly gives you a lot of freedom and umpteen choices.

    Like

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    • Had a short visit to your site today and I was so happy to know that we have a lot in common. I would be keeping an eye on your blog from here on out.

      Cheers to more adventures in the woods.

      Like

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  16. Hi Sir,

    I was again fascinated by the beauty of this place. Those photos you have posted made me smile as I remember how amazed I was the day I saw those breathtaking views. I went there with a group three years ago.

    I was glad that there’s no electricity there:). I really enjoyed the absence of the sun as it gave chance to the moon to provide just a right amount of light to the souls there who wanted to feel the beauty of the night.

    Bonfire which illuminate the place, comforting and refreshing cold wind, a lullaby produced by chirping sounds everywhere, twinkling stars which entertained the wandering eyes….oh, that’s the place I considered to be almost perfect.

    Thank you for sharing those photos here Sir, I haven’t got the chance to take photos when I was there — haha!

    Like

    • Hello, Janice. I’m so glad to read such an inspiring comment from you. You have transported me back instantly to that place when I was reading your comment. So heartfelt, so true, so natural, so metaphorical. You made me so proud. I wish you could translate that into a story. You certainly have a way with words that’s really captivating. You simply made me feel like I was writing a story about nature immersion.

      It was such delight knowing that you can actually write. I’m encouraging you to give it a try (if you haven’t yet) considering your countless travel experiences to date.

      Like

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