Shoestring Travelers

Cabongaoan Beach

palms at Cabongaoan Beach, Burgos, Pangasinan

It was a long drive over 4 provinces and a few stretches of rough road before we finally arrived at a beach we had been thinking of visiting as far back as four years ago when it was way below the tourist radar. It was nearing sundown when we finally got to Cabongaoan Beach (Cabo Beach for short) in Burgos, Pangasinan. Expecting a quiet place we were greeted by loud music, animated conversations and the aroma of grilled sea food. There were several other groups of visitors in Cabongaoan Beach that day – proof that the still-pristine beach was no longer a well-kept secret.

sand and rocks at Cabongaoan Beach
Golden-white sand and rocks at Cabongaoan Beach

Cabongaoan Beach is a kilometer-long stretch of golden-white sand beach in the town of Burgos along Pangasinan's western coast. It is located a few kilometers north of better-known Tambobong Beach in Dasol. Since Cabo Beach is on the western coast, it has excellent sunset views. We arrived about an hour before sundown began bathing the horizon in yellow, orange and red hues.

sunset at Cabongaoan Beach
Sunset colors, Cabongaoan Beach

The following morning gave us the opportunity to test Cabo Beach's turquoise waters. Roven's Place – the resort where we spent the night – is located in the middle of the beach, marked by a line of bent coconut palms, Cabo's iconic feature. After breakfast people in our group made for the water, running through the soft, powdery sand straight into the shallow sea. The waters here are crystal-clear, still remarkably pristine despite all the attention Cabo has been getting lately.

bent palm in front of Roven's Place, Cabo Beach
One of the bent palms in front of Roven's Place

An interesting feature of the beach section in front of Roven's is the presence of what looks like a natural breakwater – a coral rock embankment a hundred meters from shore. This rock embankment acts as a protection against strong waves. At low tide it is possible to walk all the way to the rock embankment.

rocks at Cabo Beach
Cabo Beach rocks

There are several interesting rock formations both in the northern and southern portions of Cabo Beach, making for good photo ops. Some of us did an early morning hike to the southern end of Cabo near the small lighthouse perched on a higher elevation overlooking the beach (unfortunately there does not seem to be any clear pathway going to the lighthouse from the beach area). Here rock formations of various shapes and sizes bore mute testimony to the ruggedness of Cabo.

boats from a fishing community at Cabongaoan Beach
Fishing boats at the northern section of Cabo Beach

A cluster of small, colorful fishing boats at Cabo's northern end mark the location of a tiny fishing community. We had our moment of serenity here, just strolling lazily along this beach section. Cabo Beach is large enough so that it is possible to hike a little farther away from your resort to discover a nice, quiet spot far from the crowd.

rocks, turquoise waters and blue skies at Cabo Beach
Cabongaoan's laid-back appeal

The most endearing thing about Cabo Beach, besides its shear natural beauty, is the laid-back, non-touristy feel of the place. Roven's Place has very basic amenities such as a manually-operated deep well pump instead of running water and communal comfort rooms. It is clean and well-maintained, however. Best of all we had a lot of time to talk and bond with friends, something we have looked forward to on this trip.

Getting There

Via public transportation: If you're commuting from Metro Manila, take a bus bound for Alaminos or Bolinao. At Alaminos town proper ride a bus bound for Sta. Cruz, Zambales. Get off at Burgos town proper and rent a tricycle for Cabongaoan Beach. A few sections of the road are still unpaved so prepare for a rough ride.

boat during sunset at Cabo Beach

Via private vehicle: Waze and Google Maps directed us towards the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), then to the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) before taking the exit at Tarlac City or Paniqui Tarlac, before proceeding on to Alaminos. Since that drive will take us through smaller interior roads, we opted to take the longer route through Urdaneta, before driving on through Dagupan and Lingayen before reaching Alaminos (we also wanted to take lunch at Dagupan).

At Alaminos avoid the town proper and take the bypass road to Zambales and on to Burgos town. From Burgos town proper turn right on Bustria or Guiang Street near the elementary school. Keep driving until you pass Barangay Concordia and you see the huge truck tire. A marker points the way to Tambobong Beach in Dasol to the left. The road to Cabongaoan Beach is to the right. The road up to this point is now almost completely paved (although narrow at some sections due to half of the roadway being repaired) except for a considerable stretch of gravel road after Concordia and before the truck tire marker.

There are small sections of the road to Cabo Beach from the truck tire marker that are rough – actually old concreted sections that have lost their wearing surface – but the road as a whole wasn't really bad. It's a bit narrow, though and we once had to backtrack to find a wider section of the road to park the car temporarily when we met a truck headed our way. Estimated total driving time from the Balintawak terminus of the NLEX in Metro Manila (excluding stopovers) is 5.5 to 6 hours.

bent palms at Cabo Beach

Accommodations and Tips

Our resort, Roven's Place (named after owners Ronald and Venus Burlezza), has native-style cottages good for 6 and 12-15 people. We stayed at the 6-person cottage and paid P2000 for an overnight stay. They have larger cottages for 12-15 people. None of the cottages have air conditioning (only electric fans) but it was cool during the evenings. Summers would be a different story, however. Visitors also have the option of pitching tents at specified locations.

Roven's only has communal comfort rooms and bath rooms but the owners keep them clean and supplied with water. There is no running water but there is a deep well pump. Despite the basic amenities, the owners keep their resort clean; Ronald and some of his people regularly remove debris that get washed ashore early in the morning so the beach remains immaculately clean.

The resort does not have a restaurant and you will have to bring your own food. (Some visitors have been able to buy fresh sea food from returning fishermen but this is not always guaranteed especially during the amihan or northeast monsoon season.) Roven's provide cooking utensils; they provided a charcoal-fired clay stove for us. They also have a store nearby where you can buy basic commodities. Their contact numbers are 0927-9957606 and 0906107-8860.

There are other resorts nearby including Cabo Beach Resort which has air conditioned rooms with private toilet and bath as well as native-style huts good for 5-6 and 20 people with communal CRs. Unfortunately we could not locate the resort manager or even a caretaker for more information.

Electricity is 24 hours although phone signals are not that great with only Globe subscribers able to get a signal at Cabo (we were able to upload pictures on Instagram, however).

Visit our Facebook and Flickr pages for ev en more pictures on Cabongaoan Beach.

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