A Second Time Around: Liwa in San Felipe, Zambales

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It has been over a year ago when I went to Liw-Liwa to surf as an eager beginner. Until now it still is what I consider to be one of the best days I ever had. I think it’s probably the session after which I decided that I’m going to surf for the rest of my life.

Never been back to Liwa since. I’ve been around a lot. Gone for most weekends. Some trips I just go where the waves are and some trips I really have to be there, for events or competitions.  It was always on my mind to go back to that special place but the surf compass always pointed somewhere else.

Somehow the stars have aligned and I was destined to Liwa for this particular weekend (this was two weeks ago). During the trip I was holding on to a FAITH – the idea of getting stoked the way I got the first time I was there. And like a promise fulfilled, I totally got more than that.

Liw-liwa in San Felipe, Zambales

San Felipe is the town right after San Narciso. If you turn left just before Bobulon Elementary School you will find the road that leads to Liwa. Just keep on heading that road – houses, empty lots, grass, pine trees – until you reach the end of it. What will you see is the photo above.

Much has developed since I was here. Before there weren’t a lot of places to stay for the night except for the S.A.S. huts and their tent pitching areas. Most who go there are beginners out on a day trip and those who do stay are the committed surfers with their tents and sleeping bags.

Today one can find the Circle Hostel. The Circle Hostel is a two story surfer inn that was constructed in a way that conversation and camaraderie between guests are encouraged. The upper floor provides comfortable lodging and a good view of the nature that surrounds. Below are personal lockers for safekeeping. And with colorful and meaningful artwork made by artists and surfers, the Circle Hostel sure is an inviting place to stay.

Another awesome thing at Liwa is the skate bowl. It’s been painted with graffiti too. It’s located at the end of the road where a surfer/skater name DK has settled in. Beside the bowl are huts good for 4 persons. This is where we stayed for the night.

After some time when all this observation of all things new have settled in, the Liwa I knew slowly comes back to me. There may be lots of things happening – skaters carving the bowl, surfers from Manila parking their SUVs – but there’s one thing that didn’t change in this place. It is the PEACE.

Walking around Liwa is zen-like in silence, save from the sound of trick boards landing on concrete and the faint rasta music coming from mini-speakers. But there is peace in that too. The only noise, which is a good noise, are the kamustahan from fellow surfers  mostly comprised of surf talk. Aside from that, the only sound consistently on your ears is the whistling wind brushing against the lush pine trees. Peace indeed.

Lui is a radio talk show personality. But a few words, smiles and nods assures everything is good.

from S.A.S. to the beach

S.A.S. is one of the earliest places who nurtured San Felipe surfing. Everybody went to stay here. Some slept in the huts, some pitched tents and some slept in their cars. It still is the same save from the basketball ring. No surprise there. You don’t need Shaq to bring down a court. A few tomahawk slams from stoked surfers will eventually do the trick.

good for the arms, good for paddling

Carlos and his friends, 3 shakas up

siesta for the oversurfed

accommodation for the stoked

they got boards too

kickin it laid back

and of course we get to the surf

The surf in Liwa works best with swells coming from the North. And the sure fire months would probably during late November to March, as  based on the glassy drool inducing session here.

just this month a glassy left.. and right. photo by the Circle Hostel

and the mountains watch you surf

and Liwa has a beginner spot too. the sandy bottom won’t hurt.

others opt to go lifestylin’

fresh out of Med school, Dra. Julia Pangasinan enjoys Liwa and everything it offers

and here’s Ping. one of the best surfer and friendliest local of Liw-Liwa.

yours truly and my friend Ced back from fishing.

Liwliwa, a lesser known path

The best description of Liwa was told to me by a guy named Paco. While we are at the lineup as the sun sets, he told me this: “Liwa is your surf getaway from the surf scene.” Funny but I totally got what he said. Liwa is so raw and innocent and everything you need is just there. Even amidst the developent the core of Liwa is still the same. It is about the surf, the friendship, the bond, the laughter and the good times that culminates in this little corner of Zambales.

I’ve been around a lot. Been very active in the surfing scene. Or at least I try to. I love what I do to bits and pieces but we all do need a break sometimes. Liwa, for the second time around, gave me more than what I came for and I am so glad I came back.

Looking forward to the 3rd time and I know I’ll see you there.

Liwa like a child. 

*thanks to JC Cui for the photos. Check out the Circle Hostel on Facebook here. They are formally opening this weekend.

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Too Much Water in Liwa

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Zambales was on fire during the last days of March. Just go ask the Crystal boys and their action shots at Crystal Beach. In San Felipe, it was pretty much the same thing. When Z-land is on, it’s on. These maybe the last few swells hitting up Zamba but luckily for us Ping Danila took pictures of the waves and the action that went on, so that those of us who are at home can look at them before we play poker at http://de.partypoker.com or eat dinner. Taken in Liwa on March 26 and 27, the following photos posted are specially dedicated for the wave thirsty.

so gorgeous

sweet ride on the wall

cut back

ang haba



staying low

for this

great shot angle

the Liwa playground

JP on a glassy one

Many thanks to JP de Guzman for sharing the pictures. Huge credits to Ping Danila for the photos. Awesome shots man!

*here at LokalSoul. we love writing about surfing and we love seeing pictures of surfing. basically we love Philippine surfing. please contribute and let’s all share the stoke! ain’t it better this way?

and here’s our Facebook, let’s be friends.

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Surfing in Zambales: How to Get There

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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.


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.

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