1. Capones Island, Zambales
Just a four-hour ride from Metro Manila plus a 15 minute boat ride from Pundaquit, Zambales, is Capones, a roughly 2-kilometer long island surrounded by white sand and clear blue waters. There are no commercial establishments on this island (bye-bye, clubbing!), but there is an old Spanish-era lighthouse that has a spectacular view of the island and ocean. That, and the weather-beaten, vintage lighthouse structure itself is Instagram-worthy.
No commercial establishments mean no hostels so ready your #GirlScout skills and prepare to set up camp. Just bring your own camping equipment, food, and water. Maybe your barkada can even turn this trip into a party with DIY S'mores and chismis! Just remember to pick up your trash and leave the island as pristine as you found it.
And if you don’t want to camp out, you can always return to Pundaquit, where you can find a lot of clean and affordable hostels.
Standard boat rate is P800 plus an additional P500 for an overnight stay on the island. You can also rent a tent that’s good for two people (P400 a night). [via Pundaquit.com]
2. San Juan, La Union
Known as the Surfing Capital of Northern Luzon, La Union is a favorite weekend get-away destination because it’s just five hours away from Metro Manila by land. If you want to surf, head over to Urbiztondo beach, perfect for surfers of every level.
If you want to learn how to ride the waves, the price for a board + instructor is pretty decent at P400 an hour (you can get a discount if you come in groups). If you just need a board, rental is at P200.
Accommodations near the beach are plenty. The Circle Hostel, roughly 200 kilometers away from the beach, is a popular choice among backpackers and barkadas. With their motto “There Are No Strangers,” The Circle Hostel makes sure you’ll expand your, ahem, circle of friends. There’s a bunk room with forty-five single beds, thirty-five hammock spaces, and a chill common lounge space—all at affordable student-friendly rates. [via Thecirclehostel.com]
For more things to do at La Union, check out this blog’s comprehensive travel guide.
3. Baler, Aurora
Though only six hours away from the city, Baler remains a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Of course, no trip to Baler is complete without trying out surfing on Sabang Beach. Bring your own surfboards or rent one for P200 an hour or a half-day rate of P800. You can also hire an instructor for P350 an hour.
If surfing isn't your barkada's thing, take a trek to the Dimatubo Waterfalls, the biggest waterfalls in Baler. Getting to the falls involves an hour or so hike through the forest of Sierra Madre, but the view of the crystal-clear falls makes it all #WorthIt!
Baler is slowly becoming a top tourist destination, so lots of transient houses at affordable prices have sprung all over the place—perfect for groups. Get there early and catch the sunrise rising over Sabang.
For more things to do in Baler, check out this blog post.
4. Calatagan, Batangas
Every weekend warrior knows about Batangas; you can drive over there, chill at a beautiful beach, then come back home in time for the Monday rush hour. A nice peaceful getaway is Calatagan, if your group just wants to bum on a beach at a price that won’t stress you out.
A popular destination in Calatagan is Burot Beach, a property currently being developed by a private company. You can enter the beach for a small fee of P65. Because it’s still being developed, there are no hotels or accommodations, but the beach does offer clear waters, fine sand, and interesting rock formations for impromptu photo shoots. There are also cottages for groups of friends to stay in and relax. This beach is perfect if you’re just looking for a quick escape and plan on returning to the city on the same day.