Tips from our Beach Camping Experience at Potipot, Zambales

I can finally use summer + beach trip + overnight camping + white sand + beer + grill + budget + getaway + first time + sun burn in one sentence!

Okay, let’s make that one blog post.

We recently had an overnight camping trip and here are some tips based from our own experience. I included things I wasn’t able to gather from other blogs during my pre-trip research, so I hope this can add to the wealth of information online!

I heard that Potipot was also called the "poor man's Boracay".

I heard that Potipot was also called the “poor man’s Boracay”.

– Located at Barangay Uacon, Candelaria, Zambales
– A 5 to 6 hour road trip from Manila
– A privately-owned island
– With facilities convenient for campers
– Clear waters ideal for swimming
– Beautiful white sand
– Relatively clean and unspoiled

Like I said, we travelled via bus (Victory Liner Pasay Terminal). Make sure your terminal has a direct trip to Sta. Cruz. Be wary of the departure time and get there an hour before to secure tickets. We didn’t do any of these – haha!

Our favorite travel food

Our favorite travel food

We had to take the 1:30 am trip Olongapo instead (P223 each, aircon) and transferred to its connecting trip to Sta. Cruz (P176 each, non-aircon). We were unsure of that move, but that’s when we wanted our adventure to begin. It turned out to be trouble-free in the end.

The locals noticed we were tourists and seemed happy to have us on board.

The locals noticed we were tourists and seemed happy to have us on board.

It took six hours (and endless nagging at the conductor) before we finally got to our destination. Six hours – as in like going to Baguio six hours!

"Dawal na! Yung bababa sa Potipot!" (Aleluyey!)

“Dawal na! Yung bababa sa Potipot!” (Aleluyey!)

I suggest you just sleep for the first five hours and wake up just in time to see the beautiful views, and the conductor’s signal to go down.

By the way, Dawal is the name of a famous beach resort where you should be dropped off. Don’t confuse it as the town name. From there, have a 5-minute boat ride to Potipot Island itself.

Potipot Island can be seen from the mainland and is just 5 minutes away via a bangka (small boat).

Potipot Island can be seen from the mainland and is just 5 minutes away via a bangka (small boat).

Oh, going home, just go back to where you were dropped off at around 10am-12nn and wait for a Victory Liner bus headed to Manila. We chanced by a bus bound for Caloocan at around 11:45 am (P437, aircon).

If you’re planning to bring a car and have no stopovers, you can get there in 5 hours. The way mostly consisted of long straight roads so it’s hard to get lost. I hope to come back and bring a car next time.

NOW YOU’RE THERE – Who’s Aling Minda??
Aling Minda is the caretaker of an almost-abandoned house and your go-to person before you head off to Potipot island itself. She has short hair, brown skin, a friendly face and a funny story on how she got wasted one time drinking red wine.

Boats to take you to and from Potipot Island, owned by Aling Minda

Boats to take you to and from Potipot Island, owned by Aling Minda (P400)

You can also rent/buy other necessities from her – tents, drinking water, ice, beer – just ask!

Contact her if you want to schedule a boat ride in advance.
Aling Minda – 09393233459 (as of May 2013)

We got there on a weekday morning, so we had plenty of camping spots to choose from. I think we only had three neighboring tents in the whole island during our trip! Here’s a description of a perfect camping spot:
1. It’s under the shade of a big tree. The big roots and trunk can also serve as a table or chair.
2. It’s near the waters so you’re close to the sea breeze and gentle waves. Also, you can easily watch over your things while you swim.
3. It’s near a water source – like the freshwater pump (poso) or bathroom. Although, we tried washing our plates in the sea!
4. It’s just the right distance from other campers. The privacy is a must, but it helps to know which direction to run for help in case of an emergency.

One thing we didn't expect - no sea breeze at night! We didn't have a fan. :(

One thing we didn’t expect – no sea breeze at night! We didn’t have a fan. 🙁

There are built-in grilling stations in the island, but we preferred cooking right beside our camping spot.

Pre-marinated pork barbeque, tomatoes and packed rice for lunch

Pre-marinated pork barbeque, tomatoes and packed rice for lunch

Buttered salmon belly and PERFECT charcoal-baked potatoes (under!) for dinner

Buttered salmon belly and PERFECT charcoal-baked potatoes (under!) for dinner

An exciting part of the trip could be the meal planning. Google away! Don’t forget the two indispensable tools you will need – aluminum foil and barbeque sticks. You can improvise the necessities from these two!


Take a sip, take a dip.

Take a sip, take a dip.

Or how about just fall asleep?

Or how about just fall asleep?

Escape, at last.

Anything, for an escape.

Get that fire going before the sun sets.. hurry!

Cook dinner before the sun sets.. hurry!

beach camping bonfire

Before your only source of light is from a bonfire. Beautiful, though.

Wake up, circle the whole island, and pick up all the trash by the shore. Please? :)

Wake up early, circle the whole island, and pick up trash by the shore. You’ll fill four bags like we did. 🙁

Considering an escape? Want to think about nothing else but food and sleep? Curious about camping? Ready for an adventure? Please find time – visit Potipot. 🙂

Let's keep the conversation going!

0 thoughts on “Tips from our Beach Camping Experience at Potipot, Zambales

  • bzkie

    Hi just want to say, cool blog!

    I have a few questions though about dun sa potipot island. Kasi nag p-plan kami mag camping there.

    first, may overnight fee ba sa island? and dun ba sa island puwede ka mag camp dun anywhere? or meron talaga siyang designated camp ground?

    second, active pa ba yung number ni Aling Minda? kasi we’re planning to go there around august eh. So habang maaga aga palang, nag p-plan na kami para pag dating ng august relax na kami at mag e-enjoy na lang ng walang problems or hassle. Also, yung boat ride ba, yung p400 na yun back and forth na ba? or p400 papunta then p400 ulit pag sinundo kayo kinabukasan?

    lastly, kung may direct bus pauwi to manila, I think it’s safe to assume na meron ding papunta dung bus na direct diba? and probably same price range din yung trip papunta from cubao? around 450 more or less?

    ayun lang mga katanungan ko 😀 salamat.

  • JC

    May parking ba? Magbabayad pa ba sa dawal beach resort? plan kasi namin mgcamping sa potipot island. problem namin parking and boat transfer to potipot. Nabasa ko kasi sa dawal beach resort daw, I mean RESORT. Ibig sabihin bka may kelangan pa kami iavail sa resort nila or pwede na boat transfer lang sa kanila?

    • Aura Azarcon Post author

      Hi! I suggest you contact Aling Minda, try the cellphone number I posted above. She doesn’t work for dawal beach resort, but she’s a caretaker in the resthouse right next to it. She’s the one who told me she can offer parking space (maybe for a fee). She’s also the contact person for the boatmen.

  • KC

    Hello Aura, I’m planning to go to Potipot this Year. Hehe. I’ve read your post and you mentioned that it turned out to be troublesome when you rode a bus from Olongapo going to Sta. Cruz. Bakit niyo po nasabi? Plan ko kasi since walang direct trip to Sta. Cruz ang terminal na sasakyan ko, sasakay nalang ako sa may Olonggapo. I hope you’ll answer my post. Thank you so much! 🙂


      • KC

        So safe naman kung sasakay ka ng bus going to Sta. Cruz from Olonggapo? Sure na sure yun? Hehe. Marami ba sumasakay papuntang Sta. Cruz? Or it depends sa arrival time?

  • Jethro

    Good day! I read your article. What is the best time to leave manila of were only to stay there for a day trip? And how about going back,may boat back to candelaria and bus to Manila ba anytime? Thanks!

    • Aura Azarcon Post author

      Travel time is 5-6 hours so I suggest you leave Manila at night (around 12 or 1 am) so you can get there in the morning. You can spend the whole day there and just arrange with Aling Minda on what time you want the boat to pick you up the next day. This is not adviseable, but you can leave the island also in the morning, and just chance upon a Manila-bound bus along the highway like we did. (We don’t know the sched of the buses and we didn’t want to travel to the terminal, but a Pasay-bound bus passed by at around 11 am.)

  • gregorioalvin

    Nice article! Very helpful as we’re are going to Candelaria and Potipot Island this month, all the info you gave really helped. Thanks and happy future travels! 🙂

  • Rem

    ask ko lang po if my overnyt fee pa dun if your planning to camp? or yung entrance fee yun na yun? and my bayad ba ang cr dun? and lastly kung may bayad ba si aling minda kung gagawin syang contact person dun. thanks

    • Aura Azarcon Post author

      It’s either day pass or overnight fee. I think the overnight fee was P150 per person, but I’m sorry I’m not sure. Si Aling Minda you only have to pay her services. Like us, we only paid for the boat.

  • John

    Hi, I checked other blogs as well, sabi nila bawal daw yung bonfire, nung nagsetup ba kayo ng bonfire tago? or talagang pwede during your stay? How about the CR? Malinis ba? TIA!

    • Aura Azarcon Post author

      No official posting that says bonfire is not allowed. Ours was a small fire lang and we used it to cook mainly. Walang sumita sa amin.

      CR, it’s just a small cubicle with a shower head and a drum of water. Not stinky so I guess it’s good enough as long as it does the job.

  • Lara Mercado

    May mabibilan ba ng mga foods dun like carinderia ? May malapit naman ba na cr ?? Thank you.. How much is the overnight fee ??

    • Aura Azarcon Post author

      No carinderia. Buy your snacks / meals to cook before going to the island.
      CRs are accessible, depending on where you set up camp.
      Overnight fee hmm I forgot 🙁 Sorry!

  • hermie hemp

    400 boat ride? Mas mura kesa sa anawangin? What other expenses must we prepare for? And how much should ee budget for thevtrip all in all?

    • Aura Azarcon Post author

      Yes cos the island is 5 minutes away only.

      In the island itself there’s an overnight fee. If you want to buy souvenirs, may mga naglalako din ng Potipot keychains etc.

      More or less P1500 per person kami, less if you have more people in your group.