Thursday, January 8, 2015

Travel Guide to Bolinao - an escape awaits at the top of Luzon's Western Peninsula

Bolinao Patar Beach - Schadow1 Expeditions

January 1-3, 2015

Bolinao is the last town at the tip of the province of Pangasinan. The last frontier of the province being at its northernmost tip where there are no other destinations you can go to except to this town. Not much known as compared to the more famous Hundred Islands that is located on the same province, getting to the top of Luzon's western peninsula is a must to discover as it offers far more that what a tourist destination  you can expect from a low-land such as the province of Pangasinan.

Pangasinan is  the most populous of all the provinces in the Ilocos region, due to the reason that it is primarily a flat land with fewer mountains as compared to its neighboring provinces in the Ilocos. Add to it that this province is the regional gateway to Ilocos. It has a distinct dialect called Pangasinense or locally known as Pangalatok. Although similar to Ilokano, its central town including Dagupan, Calasiao, San Carlos, Malasiqui are predominantly speaking Pangalatok whereas the other areas are speaking Ilokano. Although its modern generation are more likely to speak Tagalog than their local dialects.

Bolinao, Pangasinan is a flat land however before you enter the town, one has to traverse a mountainous area not more than 120 meters above sea level to be able to reach it.

The province offers a colorful history, being the melting pot of culture that dates back to the Chinese' dynasty era when Chinese and neighboring Vietnam has always embark by its shores to trade goods during the 10th century. A pre-colonial time of the Philippines when it was once called the Maharlika.

Its northern and nothwestern tip features pristine golden sand beaches and a verdant colored sea as it faces directly west to provide a glaring view of the sunset and its waves are strong due to the vast West Philippine Sea where the waters originate.

Patar Beach

Bolinao Patar Beach - Schadow1 Expeditions

Patar Beach is the famous golden sand beach destination of Bolinao which features fine golden sand, a vibrant sea and and fiery sunset on clear days. Coordinates 16.30282N 119.78179E

When commuting, Patar can be reached via an 18-km tricycle ride from its main town center. There is a public beach to where  you can pitch a tent for Php 250 or with a cottage for Php 300. However when you want a quieter ambiance, you can choose from private resorts with lesser people for a fee. All of the resorts are accessible from along the same road by the shores of Patar ranging from low cost (Php 500) for a night including cottage to Php1200 for a room per night and to a more exclusive hotel at Php 3000 per night. All of the resorts are facing west thereby giving you the same view. What differs is the class of accommodation and the number of visitors.

We stayed a Nelly's White Beach Resort. A not so fancy resort that we chose just to have a more peaceful stay while pitching our tent as compared to the populous public beach. You may contact Nelly Ramirez, the owner at +63 (908) 1059493. You may mention this blog so she can remember.

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse - Schadow1 Expeditions

Near Patar Beach is the Cape Bolinao lighthouse that is used to guide seafarers to signify that they have just passed the tip of Pangasinan peninsula and needs to re-orient their bearing. The 50-meter tall solar powered lighthouse is a great viewpoint to see the stretch of Cape Bolinao and of Patar shores from above. Coordinates 16.30701N 119.78565E

Bolinao Rocks (Patar Rock Formation)

The Bolinao Rocks is considered the natural "breakwater" sturcture of Patar beach as the beautiful rock formations separates Patar from the northern beach shores of Bolinao. Entrance to this place costs Php 70 and and overnight to one of its huts costs Php 300 a night. Coordinates 16.31723N 119.78344E

Enchanted Cave

Bolinao Enchanted Cave - Schadow1 Expeditions

Along the same road, about five kilometers away from Patar Beach is a private resort called Enchanted Cave. This area was discovered at the mid-2000s as a location filled with coral rock formations. Thus signifying that once, this area was below sea level. Subsiding sea levels has exposed this area and became a dry land. Upon development, the initial plan was to only make it a homestay resort but the discovery of an underground cave and water system has given extra credit to the owner, opening the small cave for a fresh water swim to limited number of visitors. Entrance to the resort costs Php150 per pax for sight-seeing and a swim. Although, Php 50 is refundable if you decide not to swim. Personally, the water is cool and clean and you would not regret taking an hour to swim in this natural cave swimming spot. Coordinates 16.3421N 119.8043E

Bolinao Waterfalls

Bolinao Waterfalls - Schadow1 Expeditions

Among the tourist spots along the Patar Area, Bolinao falls is separated from Patar by a wide and undeveloped highland, thus the only way to get here to to get back to the main town and head back south passed the Anda junction between Kilometer 346 and 347 towards Barangay Samang Norte. From the National Road, it is about 6-kilometer of rough road to reach the waterfalls. The area has free cottages good for picnic but not for overnight stay and this falls is a great location for group picnic during breakfast and lunch. Although as this is a public place, it also gets cramped with people easily during a holiday. Entrance to the falls costs Php 50 per pax and a parking fee of Php 20. Coordinates 16.3077N 119.8656E

Bolinao Church (St. James the Great Parish)

Bolinao Church - St. James the Great Parish - Schadow1 Expeditions

A 15th century church built from pulverized coral stones and held together using egg yolks, aside from being a center of Catholic faith in Bolinao also served a protection from invaders during the middle ages of Philippine colonial history. As the topography of Bolinao being at the tip of Luzon's western peninsula, the town is open to sea invaders and pirates from various origins in the southeast asian nations and kingdoms. Coordinates 6.38859N 119.89353E

Authentic Bolinao Food

Bolinao Bunungey - Schadow1 Expeditions

Binungey is Bolinao's signature delicacy. It is a rice cake cooked inside a bamboo trunk and is sweetened using melted raw sugar. Costs 3 pcs for Php 100 for smaller servings and Php 50 per pc for bigger servings.


Bolinao Tricycle - Schadow1 Expeditions

Primary transportation within the town is tricycle. We have acquired the services of Kuya Gerry to tour us around the town for 2 days with his trike and cost us Php 1200. You may contact him at +63 (939) 3369550. Just mention him my name (Ervin) so he can remember.

Having your own vehicle that can take the toll of rough roads is a plus.

Getting to Bolinao from Manila is a easy as taking a bus via Victory Liner or Five Star Bus in Pasay or Cubao. However in times of limited availability of buses, you may ply via buses going to Dagupan and ride another bus via the same liner or via a cheaper non-airconditioned mini bus on Bolinao Express direct to Bolinao coming from Dagupan. Bus route map

Deluxe Airconditioned Bus fare from Manila to Bolinao is Php 459 as of the time of this article was written.

Our trip to Bolinao is part of our 2014 year-end mapping expedition of Batangas to Benguet (Mt. Pulag) to Pangasinan via Calasiao to Dagupan and to Bolinao. Mapping data acquired from the expedition has been contributed to Openstreetmap Philippines with a goal to provide a recently updated, and precise street-level mapping data of the country for use for navigation guidance, tourism, outdoor recreation, and disaster resiliency planning.

Our mapping data is also being compiled regularly to GPS-assisted navigation devices format and can be download for free on our #mapPHL page.

Google Maps (link)
Schadow1 Expeditions Contributions (link)

How to use for your Navigation System (link)

Related Links


  1. Papunta talaga kami ng patar this holy week. Tight Budget kami kaya big help talaga tong blog na to. Very detailed kaya mabbreakdown na yung ibang expenses. Thank you so much. :)

  2. good morning!!! ask ko lng po kung may pic po kyo ng rooms ng Nelly's beach Resort

  3. hope to read more blogs 🙂 very informative. im searching a blog from badoc island, hope to read it 😀