Saturday, June 11, 2016

Pangasinan: The Crowded Patar Beach in Bolinao

I arrived late in the afternoon and immediately realized that I came at a wrong time the moment I spotted the multitudes of gathering at Patar White Beach in Bolinao, Pangasinan. It was a summer weekend and tourist season was still at its peak. The tricycle driver I hired assisted me in finding a place where I could stay for the night. At first we scouted the cottages along the roadside as he tipped me that it is much cheaper to stay there than those along the beach. But even these modest accommodations were already full.

Left with no choice, we extended our search at the beach front. What I saw was far from what I imagined Patar Beach would be. As described and pictured in many travel blogs, Patar Beach is considered as the Hidden Jewel of the North, serene, untouched and away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. In fact, not a few declared it as the best beach in Pangasinan. While in transit from Dagupan City, I already imagined sitting on the sands and quietly watching the sunset with an ice cold beer in hand. But with what I saw on my arrival, I know I will be having none of that.

The first resort owner we approached offered me her lone available cottage at P1,500.00 for an overnight stay. Looking at the haphazardly built shack, I immediately declined. One thing I hate are resort owners taking advantage of the peak season by overpricing their services. For that price, I could already have an airconditioned room in some other places. After I refused her offer, the cottage was taken  by a group of 18 (!) beachgoers.

The next resort has a cottage available for P1,000.00. I initially agreed to take it and the owner had it cleaned by her staff. Just like the first one, it was a poorly built cottage ("kubo") mostly made up of bamboo and plywood. It stood at the path where most people pass through in going to the beach. Even though it is cheaper than the previous offer, I still felt shortchanged. Jerry, the tricycle driver, told me that during lean season, cottages can be availed for P500.00 or below.

While the cheap looking but overpriced accommodation was being readied, I took the time to check out the beach. Minus the crowd, Patar Beach would have been lovely. I let my feet sink on the soft, golden sands and started to admire the view of the beach and the rolling waves. I knew I would love to stay in this place if I only came here on off-peak days.

But then the crowd was too much for me. I lacked sleep the night before and I know I will never have a good night's rest here in Patar. It was simply not the right time to stay in this beach so I made up my mind and cancelled the accommodation. I then walked back to the road and hired another motorcycle to take me back to the town proper.

How to Get There:

1. Five Star Bus Line, Victory Liner and Dagupan Bus Line have buses from Manila to Bolinao, Pangasinan daily. Check out their companies' websites and Facebook pages for schedule. Travel time is about 5-6 hours.

2. From Bolinao town proper, hire a tricycle in going to Patar Beach. It will cost you P200.00 one way for a tricycle that could fit 3-4 persons. Travel time from Bolinao town to Patar Beach is about 45 minutes.

3. If you want to enjoy the beach, avoid the crowd by going to Patar during lean season.

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