Situated at the west central part of Luzon, Pangasinan boasts gorgeous islands and hilly terrains alike. It's not just a stopover when going to Baguio or La Union. It's home to several spots that are perfect for recreational activities—from swimming and trekking to simple sightseeing.
It might be impossible to tour all of Hundred Islands in one day, but it’s definitely the top reason to keep coming back to Pangasinan. Among the 120+ islands of the national park and protected area, the developed tourist spots you can easily access are Governor Island, Quezon Island, and Children's Island.
The Municipality of Anda is home to peaceful white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. The most famous one is Tondol Beach, where you can go island-hopping to the nearby secluded beaches and sandbars. PSA: There are direct bus trips to Anda, so commuters won’t find it difficult to get there.
The shape of the edges of Panacalan Island changes depending on the season, but regardless of the tide, you can lounge around at the white beach. Just take a boat from Brgy. Sablig in Macalaeng, Anda to reach the island. The locals have been keeping the surrounding marine sanctuary safe, so you can spot some starfish, sea urchin, and other flappers around the area.
Patar Beach is one of the more well-known pristine beaches in Bolinao, Pangasinan, and you can reach it by riding a tricycle from the Bolinao town proper. (You can also take a detour and see the Cape Bolinao Lighthouse on the way.) The unspoiled public beach (read: free entrance) can get crowded during summer weekends, so it’s best to visit on off-peak days if you don’t like swimming with so many strangers.
If you’re looking for less crowded sights, head to another coastal municipality: Sual. Its crown jewel is Masamerey Beach in Brgy. Baybay Norte with its powdery sand and blue waters. If you’re not a fan of “roughing it” in public beaches, you can check into Masamirey Cove. Aside from easy access to the beach, you can take a dip in their pool, rent kayaks, or simply take in the view in a cozy room.
San Carlos City
The City of San Carlos, aka Binalatongan, lies at the heart of Pangasinan. During your day trip to the beach, you can stop by here to buy your essentials, such as picnic items, toiletries, and spare clothes. Make sure to drop by Saint Dominic de Guzman Parish Church, which has stood for more than 420 years already, and appreciate the nice view of the clean city atop its Bell Tower.
One tourist spot that’s worth a visit in Pangasinan is the Enchanted Cave with its stunning aquamarine spring water. The entrance fee to the underground river has been increasing over the years to keep up with the maintenance amid the volume of visitors. Unlike other dank and smelly caves elsewhere, the Enchanted Cave is well-lit and effectively ventilated.
Balungao Hilltop Adventure
If you’re up for other adrenaline-pumping activities, head to Balungao Hilltop Adventure on Mt. Balungao. You can go ziplining and fly over the trees or drive an ATV on the paved roads of the mountain. You can also take a refreshing dip in their pools with hot or cold spring waters. There are also complete adventure packages you can avail of if you want to try all of the place’s highlights.
There are actually three Bolinao Falls you can explore—all of them feature cold, refreshing pools you’ll love to swim in, especially in the summer heat. Bolinao Falls 1 allows you to go cliff diving if you’re looking for that kind of thrill, while Bolinao Falls 2 and 3 are perfect for rafting and leisurely swimming. If you want to visit all three falls (plus the nearby Patar Beach and Enchanted Cave), you may arrange for day tours with the local tricycle drivers in the Bolinao town proper.
This usual stopover when you’re going to Baguio City has some best-kept secrets, and one of them is Antong Falls. Clear water cascades down in nine layers through this bouldery natural attraction in Sison, Pangasinan. The untouched beauty will surely be worth the 30-minute trek from the jump-off point in Brgy. Inmalog (a trike away from the Sison town proper).
Perhaps the grandest-looking falls among those in this list, Busay Falls can be found in Brgy. Calebeng, Bani, Pangasinan. You can take a bus bound for Bolinao and ask to be dropped off at Tiep Elementary School in Bani, where you can take a trike to Busay Falls (you’ll have to register as a visitor in the Calebeng barangay hall). Tall boulders covered in delightful green foliage with a series of cascades greet you once you reach the place.
Natividad Sky Plaza
This public park and view deck allows you to wonder at the breathtaking Caraballo Mountains. If you have a lot of energy, Sky Plaza can be your jump-off point for another famous landmark, Ayat ni Apo Jesus. Trek up and once you get to the top, you’ll find yourself under the wings of the outstretched arms of the 40-feet replica of an iconic statue in Brazil called Christ the Redeemer.
Our Lady of Manaoag
Another famous local pilgrimage site is the shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag—more formally known as the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag. The image housed in the church is said to be miraculous, so you can pray for your personal intentions there. Aside from prayer, reflection, and a leisurely stroll around the churchyard, you can try the local Manaoag tupig, a sticky rice cake with coconut.
Aquatica Marina Water Park
This beachfront waterpark along the Lingayen coast is perfect if you’re traveling with your entire family. The kids (or kids at heart) will love the fun water slides. Enjoy riding the wave pool, zip down the slides, or simply laze around at the adjacent El Puerto Marina Beach Resort. To soothe your muscles after all the thrilling activities, you can book a massage appointment at the resort’s spa.
Lingayen Gulf Baywalk
It’s like Manila’s famous Baywalk, and it allows locals and tourists to take strolls, jog, and just chill. There are plans to extend the Lingayen Gulf Baywalk up to La Union, so locals from there and Pangasinan alike can appreciate the coastal areas of their provinces. Once you get tired of walking or taking selfies, grab a bite at the nearby restaurants like Chatanoga or Beach Cafe (unli barbecue, seafood, and rice, anyone?)
The City of Dagupan hosts two fiestas that foodies from anywhere would love. One is the Bangus Festival every April, where the locals dress up, hold parades, and grill tons of fresh milk-fish. Also in April, a festival for pigar pigar is held to celebrate the town’s signature dish of stir fried beef with cabbage. For a complete summer escapade, get your dose of vitamin sea at Tondaligan Blue Beach.
This city goes beyond just a bagsakan for fresh agricultural produce from nearby provinces. When you’re in Urdaneta, drop by the impressive Urdaneta Park Landmark Monument or admire the panoramic view of the Cabaruan, Sugcong, and Oltama Rolling Hills. Try the bangus sisig and spicy butter shrimp at Matutina’s Seafood, too. You can also time your visit in March for the Dumayo Festival or in December for the local fiestas.
Sunflower Maze Farm
Built by the Allied Botanical Corporation (ABC) and local farmers, this Insta-famous farm houses more than 4,000 species of sunflowers (plus other floral blooms). Summer is the best time to visit, as the sunflowers will be in full bloom. FYI: The maze is open from February 17 to May 17, but year-round, the other flowers will be wonderful to look at and take photos of! For a fee, you can even harvest fresh crops if you wish, too.
Visit the town of Burgos for another sun, sea, and sand adventure. There, you’ll find the Cabongaoan White Sand Beach with quiet, pristine coasts and blue-green waters. Aside from this slice of paradise, you’ll find the curious “Death Pool,” a deep tidal pool where huge waves crash against the rocks bordering it. While you’re there, you can take a side trip to Cacupangan Cave for a spelunking adventure.
Any other recommended destinations for a Pangasinan itinerary?
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