Surfing in Zambales: How to Get There

Zambales or “Zamba” is one the best surfing areas that is nearest to Manila. It is a very popular destination not only because of the quality surfing it offers, but also of its close proximity and easy commute. In fact, it is a favorite among city-based surfers because getting there is fast and easy and is ideal for a day trip. Getting there only takes 2-3 hours so one can leave early morning, surf the entire day and be back home by nighttime. Of course, one can stay overnight. Or for two nights. Or maybe a week. Doesn’t really matter, its just close to home anyway.

Getting to Zambales by BUS:

The Victory Liner offers the most consistent bus trips to Zambales. They have 3 terminals but their Caloocan station is always the safest choice. Purchase a ticket to IBA, the capital of Zambales, and you will pass by all the known “surfing” towns. The 3 hour ride is pretty much smooth and it covers a rest stop at Pampanga. The bus stopover, Double Happiness, offers good food and comfort rooms and should also be an indicator of the time elapsed and the remainder of the travel. The last short stopover would be at the Victory Liner station in Olongapo wherein the bus will wait for incoming passengers. After that, its straight to Zambales.

You Have Now Entered Zambales, What Now?

Zambales boasts a long, really long coastline. There are many places wherein one can go surfing here. Below are some major towns and their surf spots that readily awaits the surfer. Just remember to ask the bus conductor to drop you off at the following towns:

1. San Antonio – here is where you’ll find the village of Pundakit that has the famed surf called spot “Magic Left”. It got it’s name because a left-handed magician surfs there. No, just kidding. Magic Left is a picturesque left-hander that’s situated just below serene rolling hills with flowing waterfalls. And the waves here work like magic. Why? Better find it out yourself. Reaching the village just needs a tricycle ride from the town plaza, costs P50 per head. Ask to be dropped off at the “Garahe”, literally the main garage for vehicle parking and is located at the end of Pundakit road. From here you carry your board and walk a short distance to the Magic Left (not to mention crossing a river). There are other great spots here as well, all walking distance from one another.

this is the author atop the hills of Pundakit

2. San Narciso – the spot here is just right in front of the Crystal Beach Resort, which is also a good resort for camping and for group and family outings. It also nests a sanctuary for Philippine marine turtles. Much like any town in Zambales, tricycles abound plenty from the main town capitol.

3. San Felipe - the spot is called “High 5 Lahar” or simply “Lahar” in the area of Liwaliwa. This is usually where the waves are consistent when the other spots mentioned aren’t working. Now if you’re in San Felipe everybody must know this surfing spot although it’s just quite tricky to find the place since the road going there is quite hidden from the main highway. If commuting, better get off at San Narciso and just ride a tricycle to San Felipe and be directed to Liwliwa. It can be costly however, P100 per head.

*There are many other towns in Zambales that has waves for surfing. IBA for example, is also known for having good, friendly waves. But aside from surfing, SKIMBOARDING is also a big sport here and skimboarders from around the country regularly hold events and competitions in Zambales. Man, you would not believe how awesome these skimboarders are.

How Much is the Fare?

Buy a ticket to IBA, and tell the conductor where to drop you off.

What Are the Schedules?

Is this picture big?

Getting to Zambales by Car

If you’re not poor like me, you’d probably have a 4×4 with your boards strapped to the rack. Also, maybe you’d give me a ride. Dude, please. Anyway, getting to Zambales from Manila is easier than say, getting to Shaw Blvd in Pasig coming from Sampaloc, Manila on a rainy rush hour. Good luck with that. For private vehicles, below are directions that will get you surfing Zambales in no time:

1. Take the NLEX.

2. Continue driving to SCTEX (new road connecting NLEX to different parts of Central Luzon). You will eventually reach the SBMA.

3. From Subic, take Kalaklan Gate and turn left from the exit to Zambales

4. Head straight passing by Olongapo City, Castillejos, and San Marcelino.

5. Refer to map for the target destination

Getting Back to Manila

Some say there are buses coming from the North that will pass by Zambales that go straight to Manila. I have never seen that bus, ever. The best way is to catch the non-aircon bus on its way to Olongapo that’s usually available all day and night. Just be patient though, the intervals can be long. Prepare to get familiar with Zambales waiting sheds. Now from Olongapo, find your way to the aforementioned Victory Liner station and go buy your ticket to Manila. Fare is now only P200. I am not sure what time the last trip is, but be sure to come before 9:30pm just to be safe. You don’t want to spend the night in a bus station. Travel time going back home is usually a little faster but that depends on a clogged NLEX.

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There you go. I recently went to San Antonio and had an awesome time surfing at the Magic Left.  And it felt like it was a surf trip without much hassle and I wasn’t really that spent when I got home. Definitely will hit Zambales regularly. But then again, there is much, much more to do here besides surfing. Camping, hiking, fishing, island hopping, etc. This province is full of adventure and we are so lucky to have it close by. All it takes is 3 hours, 3 hours till Zamba.