Hi everyone! My friends and I just recently got back from our trip to San Antonio, Zambales to climb Mt. Cinco Picos, my 46th mountain, and chill at the beach below it in Silanguin Cove with a side trip to Camara Island and Pundaquit Beach. Yup, we pretty much visited a lot of places and it felt like such a long and relaxing vacation even though we were only there for two days and one night.
Elevation: 881+ MASL
Location: Cawag, Subic, Zambales
Difficulty: 3/9, Major Climb
Trek to Summit: 4 hours
Even though we only climbed one mountain in Cawag, I still had so much fun considering I have not gone to the beach in so long. Read on below for the story of this trip.
For those planning a quick and relaxing getaway in Cawag, kindly refer to the tables below for the transportation details and cost breakdown:
|VEHICLE||FROM||TO||TOTAL PER PERSON (7pax)||ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME|
|Bus (Victory Liner)||Pasay||Subic Town Proper||Php 236||3 hours|
|Tricycle||Subic Town Proper||Jump-off||Php 100||30 min|
|TOTAL||Php 336||3hrs 30min|
|VEHICLE||FROM||TO||TOTAL PER PERSON (7 pax)||ESTIMATED TRAVEL TIME|
|Boat||Silanguin Cove||Pundaquit Beach||Php 429
|Tricycle||Pundaquit Beach||San Antonio||Php 35||15 min|
|Bus||San Antonio||Olongapo||Php 48||1hr 10min|
|Bus (Victory Liner)||Olongapo||Cubao||Php 230||4hrs|
|TOTAL||Php 742||7hrs 25min|
|DESCRIPTION||AMOUNT||TOTAL PER PERSON (7 pax)|
|Guide Fee (Mt. Cinco Picos Overnight = Php1,000)||Php 1,000||Php 143|
|Registration Fee||Php 60||Php 60|
|Entrance Fee (Silanguin Cove)||Php 100||Php 100|
|Cottage Fee||Php 200||Php 29|
|Food||Php 1,225||Php 175|
SAFE BUDGET: Php2,000
Contact Person/Number: Tom Ablong (0907-473-7117 / 0909-373-2926)
Day 1 (Summit to Sea)
Our group met at Victory Liner in Pasay where we bought the 12:00AM bus tickets to Subic Town Proper. After settling down in the bus, we all tried to get some rest. We expected a travel time of about four hours tops but surprisingly, we arrived an hour earlier even though the bus made several stopovers.
We alighted in Subic Town Proper and went straight to the police station to register our names. Note that all groups should present two copies of their letter of intent that contains the itinerary, names of the hikers and contact numbers. We were not able to prepare this beforehand so our registration took a bit longer than usual (since we still had to write the letter).
After securing the approval to hike, we went to a nearby Jollibee to eat breakfast and buy our packed lunch while waiting for our chartered tricycle to pick us up.
We had one stopover during the tricycle ride to register our names and meet our guide, kuya Tom. Afterwards, it was a straight ride to the jump-off.
After the final preparations (with CR break of course) and prayers for guidance, we started the trek a little before 6:00AM so we had to use our headlights to aid us along the trail.
The first part of the trail involved gradual assaults along a rocky and oftentimes sandy terrain. This part is also vastly open with no trees which pretty much gave us clarity of why people always swore to the heat of the Cawag mountains. Luckily, it was still early so we were still trekking comfortably.
After a while, kuya Tom pointed us to the different Cawag mountains. The first that came to view was Mt. Balingkilat followed by Mt. Naulaw, Mt. Bira-Bira, Mt. Dayungan and finally, Mt. Cinco Picos (which, for me, looks like a crown with all its peaks).
Little by little, we noticed how uncomfortable we felt because of the heat of the sun and the absence of wind. “So this is what they mean by Cawag being extremely hot” we thought. To affirm the heat as well was the pile of burnt tall grasses around us. Kuya Tom said that because of the extreme heat conditions at the mountains, the grasses oftentimes burn though they grow back again once it rains – he said it was just a cycle of burning and growing back again. Though this was pretty alarming to me because forest fires may occur at any time.
We decided to take a quick break along a river before the next part of the trail which is said to have steeper assaults. The water here was clear and cold and this made the atmosphere more relaxing.
We continued the trek to a more harsh trail comprised of thick and long tall grasses and small bamboos. The heat was also getting unbearable but it was a good thing that it was already windy at this part. At the same time, we enjoyed the view of the surrounding mountains and the sight of Olongapo Port on one side.
After about four hours of trekking, we finally reached the summit of Mt. Cinco Picos that overlooks the beautiful Silanguin Cove. We were all quick to put our bags down to take photos and eat snacks. It was also here when the rest of the group surprised me with mini cakes and a happy birthday streamer by tricking me into posing for a photo with my back against them as they prepared the surprise. It really caught me off-guard but I was extremely happy at their simple yet very thoughtful gesture.
We only spent about 40 minutes at the summit because of the immense heat. As we prepared for the descent to Silanguin Cove, we just hoped for cloudy skies to at least lessen our direct exposure to the sun. The trail is also comprised of rocks of different sizes and loose land which made our toes relatively hurt.
At a glance, Silanguin Cove looked so near but as they say, looks can be deceiving because no matter how much we trekked, we did not seem to get nearer to the cove. According to kuya Tom, we would know if we were already near the cove if we do not see the sea (get it) anymore. We decided to have lunch somewhere along a shaded part of the trail where the water source is. From here, we still had about an hour to go before reaching the cove.
We resumed our trek after 30 minutes to a much more rocky terrain that technically involved river crossing, though during the time we were there, the river was all dried up. We then reached a small body of water that looked shallow but is apparently really deep. Surprisingly, we saw a lot of fish swimming in it as well and because it was so hot, the water looked extra inviting that kuya Tom could not help but dive and swim in it.
We knew we were already near when the sea was out of our horizon and the terrain became sandy. All we could imagine was how refreshing a glass of soda on the rocks (pun intended) would be. And finally, we arrived at the cove after about two hours and five minutes! It was a short trek but it felt longer because of the draining heat.
Because we were the first group to arrive (a total of two groups), we had the privilege to pick our cottage and as soon as we picked our spot, we put down our bags, took off our shoes and bought those sodas!
I was really happy to be out of my sweaty clothes and into my swimsuit and breezy dress. As my friends and I prepared to swim, kuya Tom and the other locals helped blow air into the balloons that my friends also brought to decorate the cottage for my birthday (so cute).
The cold water felt good on our skin and we swam and played for a bit until such time when it rained that we had to go back to the cottage to wait for the rain to let up before going back to the sea to swim again.
After swimming, we changed back to dry clothes and started pitching our tents. Because it was still too early to prepare for dinner and the atmosphere was so relaxing, everyone decided to take a nap.
I woke up to my hikemates preparing dinner. I helped in preparing one of the dishes as we waited for the sunset. Sadly, we did not get a clear view of the sun because it hid behind the clouds but thankfully, the sunset hues did not disappoint.
It was quick to get dark after sunset and we had to depend on our headlights to help us see the surroundings. After eating our sumptuous dinner, kuya Tom offered to start a campfire for us and what better way to spend the rest of the night than by listening to campfire stories along the shore, under the starry sky.
Initially, the campfire stories revolved around first impressions and life stories until it eventually led to ghost stories of different kinds. At first, I was unafraid but when the stories got deeper and deeper, I started to feel chills because after all, we had no electricity and the cove was really dark and quiet. Apparently everyone else felt tense after a while and nobody dared to go to the restroom alone. Lol. After the campfire, we settled down inside our tents to sleep while some chose to just lay on a mat and sleep under the stars.
Day 2 (Sea to Sea)
Our wake up call was 5:00AM to watch the sunrise but we overslept and got up at around 6:00AM and started the day by drinking a cup of delectable hot chocolate! And to further enjoy this, we walked along the shoreline to feel the soft sand against our feet and the cool breeze against our faces. We also took several photos before going back to the cottage for breakfast.
Our chartered boat was scheduled to pick us up at 10:00AM so we had so much time to spare while waiting. After eating breakfast, each of us found our own spots to relax and/or get some more sleep before finally fixing and repacking our things.
We immediately loaded our bags upon the boat’s arrival a couple of minutes before 10:00AM. We were warned about our things getting extremely wet throughout the boat ride so we chose to keep our bags inside the boat’s storage and just keep our waterproof assault packs with us.
The waves during the first few minutes of the ride were calm so the ride was just steady and smooth and this allowed us to take photos at the edge of the boat. It was after about 40 minutes when the waves came crashing in and we found ourselves getting splashed with sea water NON-STOP. The boatmen were not kidding when they said that they were SURE about us getting soaked. Though we were all soaking wet, as if we just got out of the shower, we were all laughing at the experience as well.
I got really excited when Camara Island came to view. It is just beside Capones Island which is another tourist spot – the only difference is that there is a Php 60 entrance fee in Capones versus the free entrance in Camara. We also passed by all the coves in Zambales: Anawangin, Nagsasa and Talisayin.
We alighted in Camara Island after an hour and fifteen minutes of fun boat ride. Unlike in Silanguin Cove, the sand here is white but rocky with crystal blue waters. In order to get to the other side of the island, we even had to crawl inside a narrow space but it was worth it because of the beautiful view around us.
Apart from the rocky sand, what made moving and swimming around more difficult were the strong waves that swept us away whenever they hit. After taking enough photos, we all swam for a bit before going back to the boat for our final stop in Pundaquit Beach.
It was a quick 25-minute ride from Camara Island to Pundaquit Beach and when we got there, a vendor of different delicacies from Zambales welcomed us with his products that are priced at Php100/5 items. We headed straight to the wash up area to take a bath and fix our things before we rode the tricycle back to the town proper where we ate our lunch and rode a local bus to Olongapo where we secured our bus tickets back to Manila.
It was only an overnight trip yet it felt longer because of all the fun things that transpired. Thank you very much to these people for making everything happen:
Kuya Tom – Thank you for safely guiding us to and from the mountain, for setting up the campfire and sharing your stories with us. Ayan, hindi na ako seen-zoned!
Rayford – Thank you for organizing this hike and beach camping trip and for cooking the meals and for spearheading the surprise for me. Bawi sa blog. Haha.
Glaze – Thank you for going despite the fever! Thank you also for all the photos and the fun company.
Jepoy – Thank you for holding my camera and for taking the photos once again!
Enzo – Thank you for coming despite how unwell you were feeling, for documenting the trip through photos from start to finish and for treating me to fish balls and cheese sticks.
Cyril – Morphing time! Thank you for joining us and for being really friendly. I hope you enjoyed your first climb!
Francis – Thank you for finishing the whole trip. I hope the issue about it has been resolved. Thank you also for all the trail food that you shared!
I also made a video that summarizes our whole trip. Most of the things I wrote above can be seen here as well.
Note: I really like the BGM I used here. Thank you to Bearson for making such an awesome remix.
Tips and Observations
- Contact kuya Tom or his dad, the Chieftain in the area, sir Jimmy, for climbs in Cawag.
- Be sure to prepare a letter of intent (2 copies) that contains the itinerary, group members’ names, address and contact details to be surrendered at the police station in Subic Town Proper
- Bring at least 3L of drinking water as there is only one water source along the trail during summer and the water source in Silanguin Cove is not that clean (IMO)
- It gets really hot along the trail. Be sure to put sunblock to avoid sunburn.
- Be wary of forest fire because some parts of the trail tend to burn. Watch out for smokes along the trail too.
- Protect the arms and legs from the tall grass cuts by wearing full leggings and arm sleeves
- The terrain is mostly comprised of rocks and sand and trekking here would be a bit painful to the toes unless equipped with a relatively hard pair of shoes.
- There are a lot of (thin) dogs in Silanguin Cove. It would be nice to spare them food as well.
- There is no cellular signal in Silanguin Cove. Make sure to text important people when you get to the summit of Mt. Cinco Picos.
- Waterproof bags and important gadgets when taking the boat ride from Silanguin Cove to Camara Island/Capones Island/Pundaquit Beach as the waves get really crazy during the ride.
- Currently, there are only three cottages in Silanguin Cove and are in a first come, first serve basis.
Things to bring:
- Layers and change of clothes
- Shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste
- Tissue, wet wipes
- Sun block
- Plastic bags (for trash, dirty clothes, gadgets and to be used as mats)
- Medicine (Paracetamol, Loperamide, Ibuprofen, Loratidine, Phenylpropanolamine HCl/decongestants, etc.)
- Trail Food (biscuits, chips, candies, chocolates, etc)
- Water (at least 3L)
- Lunch, dinner and breakfast food (talk to your group about the arrangement)
- Bag Rain Cover
- Baby Oil
- Sleeping bag
- Trekking Pole
- Mess Kit (Plate, Spoon, Fork, Cup)
12:30AM – ETD Manila to Subic (P236)
3:35AM – ETA Subic Town Port. Register. Breakfast
5:00AM – ETD Subic Town Port via tricycle (P100)
5:30AM – ETA jump off. Final preparations
6:00AM – Start trek
10:00AM – Summit of Mt. Cinco Picos. Photo ops
10:38AM – Start descent to Silanguin Cove
11:30AM – Lunch along the trail
12:00PM – Resume trek
1:05PM – ETA Silanguin Cove. Pitch tents.
9:30PM – Lights out
5:00AM – Wake up call
7:00AM – Breakfast
10:00AM – ETD Silanguin Cove to Camara Island via chartered boat
11:15AM – ETA Camara Island
12:05PM – ETD Camara Island
12:30PM – ETA Pundaquit Beach. Wash up.
1:35PM – ETD Pundaquit Beach via tricycle (P35)
1:50PM – ETA San Antonio Town Proper. Lunch.
2:50PM – ETD San Antonio to Olongapo via local bus (P48)
4:00PM – ETA Victory Liner Olongapo
4:40PM – ETD Olongapo to Cubao
8:10PM – ETA Cubao
I think I got three times darker after this weekend but I have no regrets! February 2017 has indeed been very memorable in so many ways. This trip has made my heart feel really happy and grateful. And while climbing high and difficult mountains is fun, it is also nice to take a break from hiking them and climbing less tedious ones with beach side trips every once in a while.
With summer fast approaching, I think spending time in the beach with fun and good people is a really good idea.
I will be sure to go back in Cawag to hike the other mountains and experience the other coves as well.
Hike with me! 🙂
Thanks for reading!