Pangasinan’s Beaches

Several years ago Pangasinan was one of those places we would look into whenever we wanted a beach getaway without having to fly or take a long ferry ride. Most of the beaches in the province are a good 5-6 hours drive from Manila – add an hour or so if you’re commuting by bus – but we felt it was worth the long trip.

limestone islets at the Hundred Islands National Park
The Hundred Islands, Alaminos

Pangasinan’s coastline lies to its western and northwestern side, ensuring accessibility to many beaches from anywhere inside the province except its easternmost section. Decades ago the more popular beaches were in the northern coast, in the towns of Lingayen and Dagupan along the Lingayen Gulf. And then there’s the Hundred Islands National Park at Alaminos in the same area.

beach at Marcos Island
A beach at one of the larger islets at the Hundred Islands National Park

The 123 limestone islets of the Hundred Islands are mostly uninhabited and although most are rock outcrops rising from the sea floor, some islets are large enough and contain white sand beaches that can accommodate visitors. Corals and reef fishes, sadly dying out 30 years ago have been making a comeback recently due to conservation efforts.

resort among the coconut palms, Tondol Beach
Tondol Beach, Anda Island

Lying just north of Alaminos is Anda Island and Tondol Beach. Another white sand beach, Tondol is not as well-known as the Hundred Islands or the beaches in Lingayen and Dagupan and we only got to know about it eight years ago. Its long, shallow expanse of white sand makes it stand out among the beaches in the area.

Patar Beach in 2011
Located along the western seaboard of Pangasinan, Patar Beach was almost unknown before the turn of the millennium.

These beaches all lie in the Lingayen Gulf coastline. Their accessibility and popularity are mainly due to the good road network in that section of Pangasinan. In the past 10 years, however, attention has been shifting to a hitherto neglected part of the province – the western seaboard facing the West Philippine Sea. The state of the roads along much of the western coast had prevented travelers from accessing this part of the province except for some adventurous souls, but recent road construction has opened up this area to tourists looking for new places to explore.

the southern portion of Patar Beach in 2011
The quiet southern section of Patar Beach in Bolinao, back in 2011.

At the northern tip of the province is the town of Bolinao. Its beaches face the West Philippine/South China Sea, with Patar Beach being the most popular. Back in 2004 when we first visited, Patar Beach was relatively unknown. The roads going there were unpaved, although graded. Nowadays it has become one of the most popular beaches up north with the major road going there now fully concreted.

sunset view at Cabongaoan Beach
Sundown at Cabongaoan Beach in Burgos

There are actually more stunning white sand beaches along the western Pangasinan coast that only started showing up on the tourism radar this decade. South of Bolinao is the placid town of Burgos and charming Cabongaoan Beach. Often called Cabo Beach for short, its white sand, bent coconut palms and Death Pool have made it a popular destination in the past two years.

bent coconut palm at Cabo Beach
Cabongaoan Beach’s bent palms

Burgos has more relatively unknown beaches south of Cabo Beach including Pao Beach and Paratec Beach, all white sand beaches. And then there’s Masangret Cove and Beach which some say is in Agno but appears as part of Burgos on Google Maps. Masangret Cove may be easily reached by walking north over trails from the Death Pool and Mary Hill at Cabongaoan Beach.

Tambobong Beach, Dasol in 2011 visit.
Tambobong Beach during our first visit in 2011.

South of Burgos town and almost at the southern edge of the province is the municipality of Dasol. Back in the early 2000’s we were intrigued by a travel book that mentioned the Hundred Islands as overrated and suggested the beaches in this town instead. It would take us almost 10 years to do so but we finally visited Tambobong Beach in Dasol in 2011. Despite fronting a fishing village, the beach was remarkably clean and the turquoise waters surprisingly clear.

motorized outrigger at Balinmanok Beach
Balinmanok Beach, also in Dasol town.
Cabacungan Cove
Cabacungan Cove is one of the many coves and beaches to the west and southwest of Tambobong Beach

More beach destinations in Dasol include Balinmanok Beach which is just to the southeast of Tambobong Beach and reachable from the latter via a trike ride, a short boat ride or on foot. To the west/southwest is Cabacungan Cove, a ruggedly beautiful cove with its rock formations and a small cave with an emerald-colored pool.

creamy white sand and coral rocks at Colibra Island, Dasol, Pangasinan
Colibra Island

South of Tambobong Beach is one of the very few islands along the western coast of Pangasinan, Colibra Island. Located outside the protective waters of Dasol Bay, the island can sometimes be a struggle to reach during the amihan or northeast monsoon season because of the strong waves. The thick layers of creamy white sand, coral rocks and crystal clear waters, however, make it a worthwhile destination.

sunset at Tambobong Beach, Dasol, Pangasinan
Almost all the beaches in western Pangasinan face west, making for excellent opportunities for sunset shots like this one in Tambobong Beach, Dasol.

The list goes on. While the road infrastructure to the coastal areas of Dasol and Bolinao have improved, those in the towns of Bani and Agno have yet to experience a similar development. Both towns have a wide array of beaches awaiting explorers. Bani has Surip Beach, Olanen Beach, Alicupen Beach, Barsac Beach and Polipol Island. Agno is already popular for its Umbrella Rocks at Sabangan Beach but it also has Pabrika Beach and Abagatangen Beach. The latter is now receiving many visitors mainly due to a concrete road built in recent years that provide access.

Sometimes though we can’t help but think that road improvements can actually be a two-edged sword. While better roads may make these beach destinations more accessible, it’s actually the remoteness of these beaches that have contributed significantly to their pristine nature. We can only hope that tourists would be more responsible when visiting these destinations.

6 thoughts on “Pangasinan’s Beaches

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    1. You may have already visited them but there’s a lot of other beaches in Bani, Agno and Burgos na hindi pa namin napupuntahan. There’s still a lot of pristine beaches in Western Pangasinan.

    1. Thanks Dea! We last visited Tondol Beach a few years ago.From more recent photos online it seems the place still looks almost the same as when we last visited. They’ve also “discovered” two more islands to the north that may be visited via a short boat ride.

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