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The coves of Nagsasa and Anawangin and the tiny island of Capones are three of the most popular beach destinations in Zambales, Philippines, especially if you’re looking to just chill and laze around. Other Zambales beaches are known more for surfing.

My trip to Nagsasa was unforgettable because it was beautiful. Nagsasa is gorgeous. It’s a strange beach because a forest of pines and the looming head of a grassy mountain straddle it. During the summer season, you’ll find the entire mountain covered in brown grass, burnt from the sun’s heat. It’s ugly if you imagine how lovely it would have looked with fresh grass, but by itself, it has a strange, parched beauty– the sort of beauty one might associate with the dreary, dusty poignance of a moonscape.

Preparing breakfast with a backdrop of burnt mountains.

It takes around an hour to get to Nagsasa from the mainland. You take a boat that seats around four people, including the boatmen. The ideal Nagsasa trip is an overnight camp-out. Bring tents, food and a cookset. It’s much more convenient to bring an outdoor stove but the island locals also sell chopped wood for bonfire. Your soulmate for this trip won’t be you travelling buddy but your insect repellent. All kinds of bugs fly in the air and burrow in the sands of Nagsasa.

Almost chalk-white sand!

Truth be told, there’s nothing much to do in Nagsasa. It’s really your job to make the trip extra special, maybe with a sweaty frizbee match, a wild haka-haka bonfire night or a stargazing session with your iPod music on full-blast (I recommend Sondre Lerche and Jeff Buckley). What Nagsasa can do is provide a beautiful setting.

A little inlet by the foot of the mountains

Our bonfire

Those who dream of going to Nagsasa one day should stop dreaming and get a move-on because this paradise is slowly but surely taking its silent leave. It’s about to be inundated, not by a great flood of water, but a great flood of tourists. Nagsasa used to be a secret spot you could take a lone boat to and spend the night listening to the waves with no one else in sight for miles. Now, company’s have outings here and on peak seasons, it’s as packed as a California beach. Peak season is usually from April to June and October to November.

A Nagsasa camp-out is ideal for weekend warriors who are willing to travel on off-season weekends. Forget your tent, forget your bathingsuit (you can swim commando, no one’s going to care!), just don’t forget your buddies. That’s what’ll make or break the trip.

Happy war!