Dawal Beach Resort/Potipot Island, Zambales

Zambales Travel Blog

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Street from the highway to Dawal Beach Resort
THE PLAN: 5 adults, 3 kids to Potipot Island from May 18-19, 2009. Made reservations at Dawal Beach resort, booked 2 poolside rooms (1,700 each). Day 1 to be spent on resort, Day 2 to be spent on Potipot Island. Estimated expenses: bus fare, accommodations, boat ride, island entrance fee.

GETTING THERE: 3 adults and 3 kids in a car, 2 adults riding the Victory Liner bus. Got to Caloocan station at 5:00 AM since the first bus to Sta. Cruz (according to the website) was scheduled 5:30 AM. Apparently it was 6:30 AM. LOL. I tried calling Victory Liner but no one was answering. So... :P.
Those using private transport got to Dawal 12NN. My nephew and I, the commuters, got there at 1PM. Man, that was a long bus ride.
Beach during the midday - Dawal Side. The patch of green on the right is Potipot Island
I drifted in and out of sleep, but the trip was quite comfortable compared to public transport in general. No big deal about the arrival time either, apparently the check-in time was 2PM.

- GENERAL: The place was HUGE. So huge in fact that I was disappointed with the layout. To get to the beach from the poolside rooms, you'd have to walk the entire distance of the kiddie and adult pool, cross the parking lot and the row of deluxe and standard rooms: NOT something you'd want to do midday while the sun is at its worst.
Friendly staff, though not very helpful. I had to personally haul our stuff from the parking lot to the poolside rooms. Have I mentioned it was blazing hot and the place was huge? But... meh, I guess I needed the exercise. Haha!
Best thing about the place: if you're on a budget, you can bring your own food (corkage is charged only when you bring it to the pool and the restaurant).
There weren't a lot of people during the afternoon (because of the blazing heat), so there was a lot of room on beach to play.

- ROOMS: They ran out of towels so they were only able to deliver them by nighttime. No place where we could hang our clothes to dry either, so I had to request for hangers. There wasn't a phone in the rooms so again I had to walk from our rooms to the front desk (which was by the parking lot). Faaar.
- ROOMS (CR): Clean, but not immaculate. The CR was nice because at least the shower area was separated from the toilet area. Caveat though: not all rooms are designed the same. My only other complaint is that there wasn't a rug inside, so the floor was really wet after coming out of the bath.
Could be better, but hey, it'll do.
Best thing about the room: Bed and air conditioning.
- POOL: Too much chlorine and I didn't like how warm the water was (even though it was nighttime). It was open until midnight though, that's why my family picked it in the first place.
They had 2 pools: for kids and adults. The adult pool had 2 slides, so the kids had fun. My family and I had the pool to ourselves for about an hour, which we used to play pool frisbee. :)
- THE BEACH: The sand on the Dawal beach front was black and fine. The entire point of the trip is to go to Potipot Island, so there weren't a lot of people, which was fine by me. My niece and I spent a couple of hours swimming and then playing frisbee. Not much to see on that side of the beach, but it was good enough for a dip.

POTIPOT ISLAND (despite all my complaining, this is the part that makes the trip worth it)
- GETTING THERE: 6AM is the earliest possible ride to Potipot Island. I scheduled the trip with the front desk the night before, so as to avoid any possible hassle during the morning. It's 400 bucks a ride (round-trip), with a max capacity 6 people.
500 bucks for a tour, though not really needed since you can walk around the island within 30 minutes to an hour. The trip to the island took just about 5 minutes. Hehe.
They cordoned off some areas of the island to:
(1) ensure the boats land in one place, [the place is privately owned so they charge 50 pesos (adult), 25 pesos (child) for a whole day's stay and 100 pesos for overnight, so once you reach the shore, it's easier for the caretaker to approach you],
(2) for people not to swim too far away (the beach floor slopes down rapidly after about 5 meters from the shore), and
(3) there's a section of the island where they grow giant clams, so it's off limits.

My family stayed in the island for about 5 hours, which, in my honest opinion, was too short a time to actually enjoy it.
Anyway, I was able to swim on the two front sides of the island....

The left side beach front had more trees ( = shade) so my family camped on that side, but the sand had small stones so the kids didn't like walking around there because it hurt. That side of the beach had a lot of seaweed, some small clams (the ones used for Capiz) and HUGE starfishes. It was okay to swim there and take a look around but I didn't stay long because I got bored.

The right side was where the kids and I stayed for the most part of the day. The sand had significantly less rocks, and the beach floor didn't steep down as sharply as it did on the left side, so I wasn't that scared to swim a little farther from the shore. There were also huge rocks/some corals at the bottom, which meant fishes. So I spent about 3 hours snorkeling and feeding fish.
It was especially nice because we were the only ones there and the fish weren't too afraid of moving a little closer to the shore so my nephew and niece - who barely knew how to swim that morning - learned to snorkel because they wanted to see the fishes. ^_^

GETTING HOME: Another long bus ride for me and my nephew. We caught the 12NN bus (hailed it from the highway) and got back to Manila 7PM. Our companions riding the car stopped by Subic to go shopping, hehe. When I finally got home, I crawled under my bed and slept for 10 hours. :)

Pardon all the complaining on the first half of the post, I guess I was really stressed because I was the trip organizer and I was tired from the bus ride so the first day was somewhat miserable.
Ah the CR: one of the most important factors when I evaluate the places I stay in. Could be better, but it'll do.
Pardon the lack of the decent paragraph flow as well, I initially planned to narrate the trip using photo captions but my comments were too long. :(

Personally I think my post is a little too negative... I'll try to revise it when I find the time. The trip was really enjoyable, especially having spent it with my family. And the fact that my nephew and niece learned to swim and snorkel while we were there is just... heartwarming and gratifying. I mean, they're 7 and 9 years old, and they found the courage to swim just because they wanted to feed the fish. Imagine that!

Anyway, to anyone who's looking for a relatively cheap vacation, someplace different from Boracay that's still relatively uncommercialized, I'd recommend Potipot Island.
The resort, picture taken from the pool area methinks.

Reminder: if you're going, please don't litter. And please don't bottle up sand or take rocks home. And please don't take home fishes or starfishes or any of the living creatures from the island. :( These are fairly common horror stories about tourists and it's really sad because it's the first step to destroying a naturally beautiful place. And don't rationalize it with "oh one person doing it won't be noticed". Come on, you're smarter than that.
lunedi says:
Great post! Thank you for sharing. Your photos are beautiful. By the way, the reason why there's no phones in the rooms is because there really isn't a stable phone system in the whole town. There's cellphone signals, but for landlines... I don't think any of the phone companies have set up their services there. If there's any available, it's expensive and not feasible for the resort to put a line in each room.

I do appreciate your last paragraph reminding visitors to take care of the place they're visiting. People have a tendency to abuse and mistreat the places they go to, and it's very sad. I hope they take your advice to heart.
Posted on: Aug 19, 2010
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Street from the highway to Dawal B…
Street from the highway to Dawal …
Beach during the midday - Dawal Si…
Beach during the midday - Dawal S…
There werent a lot of people duri…
There weren't a lot of people dur…
Ah the CR: one of the most importa…
Ah the CR: one of the most import…
The resort, picture taken from the…
The resort, picture taken from th…
Sunset on the beach - Dawal side
Sunset on the beach - Dawal side
My niece and I playing frisbee. :)…
My niece and I playing frisbee. :…
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photo by: JeAr