I woke up at 5am the next morning on our 2nd day in Pangasinan. I was ready to go see the sunrise at the lighthouse. Not everyone was as ready as I was – the unfortunate thing about touring with the family is that while I may not have to pay for anything, when it comes to the itinerary, we never know what may happen, especially because I have two younger brothers who don’t really like waking up at 5am in the morning.
We missed the sunrise, but no matter, I was ready for a day of Bolinao fun.
The first place we went to was the famed Lighthouse or Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. It was closed so we couldn’t come up. The caretaker came about a few minutes later and offered to borrow the key so that he could open it for us. We said yes, but if we stayed too long to wait, we’d miss our whole itinerary.
We took some pictures and then headed off to Patar Beach.
Patar Beach is better than the beach in front of Bing’s, although if you prefer less waves, Patar Beach shouldn’t be on your list. Unlike Bing’s beach, there’s no ledge in Patar and the rough waves go all the way to the shore. However, the beach and shores of Patar Beach is cleaner and smoother than it is on the other side. You won’t have to worry about stepping on rocks or corals while swimming. It is, advisable for younger swimmers to be watched at all times, just to be on the safe side.
I didn’t swim, but I did savor a little bit of soft sand and bought souvenirs for my friends. Souvenirs at Patar Beach are the same rate as most tourist spots.
On the way back to Bing’s Beach Resort, we went to Cindy’s Cave. I guess I got used to caves being a historical and natural place so when we entered Cindy’s Cave, which is a cave, really, but very much developed, I got a little disappointed. The mystery and natural beauty of the cave was ripped off by the fact that the cave now has entrance fees, and it has cemented stairs and railings and a developed picnic area inside the cave. I’ve always been fascinated by caves, but if the caves are like these, it really rips off the natural charm of a natural land formation.
Cindy’s Cave rates are below:
The cave hosts a freshwater stream inside with shallow and clean but very cold water. The cave is about a 15 meters long and 10 meters wide in my estimation although I’m probably pretty bad at that. 15 meters long because the cave and the stream goes farther than I had wanted to check out (somebody screamed “snake” and I was out of there – even if it was only a joke).
There are lights inside and some tables and chairs. Outside, there are also tables and chairs and a bathroom for those who swam inside the cave.
The owner of the cave told us a story about some men who had come to the cave once upon a time to steal gold that was hidden inside the cave. It was lucky that the owner was not there at that time or he would have been killed and thus, nobody to share the story with tourists anymore. He even showed us the part of the cave where the men had dug but is now refilled and covered for safety measures (check the left hand side of the cave, facing the cave, below the rails). I love a little history.
Anyway, we didn’t swim much, just took some pictures and then headed off to Enchanted Cave.
Our experience at Enchanted Cave was disappointing. It costs P70 per person to go inside (P50 if you don’t swim) and you have to be guided by someone inside for the length of your stay. If Cindy’s Cave’s development had ripped out its natural beauty and charm, there wasn’t any left with Enchanted Cave, except for the fact that I may just be a little curious.
Here are the rates for Enchanted Cave:
When we inquired with the men or the guides, he was irritated for some reason while talking to Kuya Chris (who was with us) and when we changed the number of people going in, he got even more irritated. That, in turn, got Kuya Chris mad because of his lack of customer service that ended in most of us not wanting to go inside anymore. Since I wanted a full Bolinao experience, I went inside, despite the fact that I really wanted to do something to make him even madder.
When we went up to the cave which was preceded by tables and chairs, a souvenir shop, fountain and swings and hammocks, the cave was filled with people. I mean – filled with people. I can barely breathe inside with all the tourists and their guides hanging around.
Enchanted Cave, I asked why the staff and the guides why they called it Enchanted Cave and no one knew why, has a pool inside, only their freshwater stream is deeper than that of Cindy’s Cave. The guide says water can go up to 14ft deep inside the cave.
We didn’t stay long nor did we wish to swim.
I’d have loved to visit Wonderful Cave, but after the two misfortunes, no one but me was feeling the curiosity anymore of the unexplored cave. Besides, I didn’t have money anymore to spend for the entrance fee of Wonderful Cave.
Slightly disappointed, we went back to Bing’s Beach Resort to swim for a bit in shallow waters before heading back to the town.
At 1pm, we headed back to Bolinao town for lunch with Kuya Chris’ family. We didn’t even get to visit any waterfalls or go to The Redeemer’s Cross because everyone had gone haywire with how the tour was going and how we had been treated at Enchanted Cave.
A little tragic? Yes, so we ended the tour with a visit to the Bolinao Marine Laboratory, The Marine Science Institute of the University of the Philippines.
BML is the official marine station of MSL that serves as the base for research for the activities of MSI, including visiting scientists, students and even other institutions. BML is also the place for coastal resource management activities of Bolinao.
The station is where they grow corals until they can put back the corals and animals to their rightful place in the sea. In their lab, they also have a pawikan or a turtle and lobster in their outside hatchery that they found when it was still a baby and helped the sea animals grow. The institute does have plans to bring back the animals to the sea as well.
There is also a freshwater stream near the institute that they have no idea where it comes from – especially since the institute is located right next to the beach.
At the end of the day, we just went to the Bolinao Church for the Holy Thursday mass and play.
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