It’s already 2 AM and I should be sleeping by now to have that much needed rest because I’ll be travelling by 6 AM on that day. I just close my eyes, hoping that I will doze off anyway, but my spirit is fully awake because of excitement. Why not? In just a few hours, I’ll be travelling to Dingalan ( pronounce as dinga-lan), dubbed as Batanes-of-the-East. If you know me before, you know that going to Batanes is my ultimate travel destination. I had saved for it for so long but due to unforeseen circumstances, I had to post-phone that dream.
Imagine my excitement when I learned about Dingalan. Immediately I contacted a guide to schedule for this adventure, filed a vacation leave from my job, packed my bag days before my scheduled vacation, and planned my itinerary.
So, what to do here? Here are 6 things to do in Dingalan.
6 Things to do in Dingalan
In my experience, we only trek for about 35 minutes, with almost 10 minutes stop along the trail because it rained that day. We took shelter under one big rock for us not to get wet. I took this opportunity to plan the itinerary with my guide. I even managed to snap some pics along the trail. So yeah, you might think that we walked really fast, eh?
(If trekking is not your thing, you may hire a boat from Feeder Port to Sitio White Beach for 800 pesos. Travel time is about 20 minutes.)
In my experience, we hike at dawn because I wanted to witness the sunrise from the lighthouse. We first originally plan to start our hike by 5 AM, but because it was too cold to get out of bed, we started to climb 30 minutes later than the original plan. Talking about too-lazy-to-stick-to-the-plan. hahaha. And because it’s already too late, we needed to hike as fast as we could and we reach the lighthouse in only 15 minutes. I was out of breath when we reach the summit, partly because we run up the slopes and partly because of the view that greeted us at the top. It was not a perfect sunrise that day because of thick clouds over the mighty Pacific Ocean but I still managed to snap some great pics. After some picture taking, we just lie on the grass and watch the sun slowly climb out from the horizon. We even sleep there for like an hour, bathing with the soft kisses of an early morning sun.We eat our packed breakfast at the view deck to regain some strength after a run-up-the-hill hike. A not so warm coffee that my guide prepared the night before and a pack of biscuits and chocolates. Talking about simple things, the experience is simply amazing.
Trek going up to to the light house is free.
If you want to go to mountain view deck, you need to back-trail from the lighthouse down to the road fork located at the foot of the hill. The hike to the view deck features forest trail with an strategically placed rocks that serve as stairs to avoid cutting off trees and a rope to aid your climb. It would normally takes about 35 minutes to reach the summit. The view deck was developed by kuya Buboy, the owner of Lourdes and Buboy Beach Resort, together with the help of local tour guides, with the permission from DENR and the Local Tourism of Dingalan. According to kuya Buboy, they established the trail going up to the view deck to offer an additional activities to those who love hiking when the Local Government padlocked the entrance of the lighthouse because of some tourist that vandalized it. Apparently, one can climb the lighthouse before to have a 360 view of the place.
In my experience, after spending about 2 hours in the lighthouse, we decided to back-trail down to the road fork to start our hike to the view deck. Recharged as we are after a light breakfast, we run up the hill again and reach the summit in only about 20 minutes. Again I was out of breath when we reach the summit not because of exhaustion this time but because the view is totally breathtaking. Im speechless when we reach the summit. The view totally consumed me and I just stand there for like about 5 minutes, doing nothing but trying to take in all this amazing view of this place dubbed as Batanes-of-the-East. It was the same view from the lighthouse but much closer to the mountain cliffs. You can even see the caves below. For about an hour, we just stayed there, feeling the strong gust of the wind in my face and letting the sun kiss my skin, while appreciating this grand vista set before my eyes and contemplating how lucky I am to see it personally.
There is a 50 pesos per group of 5 fee when you want to climb the Mountain View Deck. But if you are going to rent a cottage at Lourdes and Buboy Resort, the climb is free.
4. Swimming at White Beach
The sand is not white but more like a grayish-tone. According to my guide, the sand before was white, that’s why the locals called it Sitio White Beach. But after a couple of strong typhoons that hit the Province of Aurora in the past few years, the sand here turned into the color of what it is today. They speculated that the sand from the ocean floor was washed ashore by strong waves brought by typhoons, mixing with the white sand that this beach had before. Upon closer look, you can still see grains of white sands.
In my experience, the beach itself is an added bonus after a hike to the lighthouse and mountain view deck. If one really wants a white sand beach, there are a lot of places to choose from. For me, a beach is still a beach for whatever color they have. You can still have the same fun swimming here. If it’s any consolation, the family of kuya Buboy who manages the resort are very accommodating. The locals here are very friendly. You can flash your sweetest smile to anyone and surely they will greet you and ask how’s your stay here.
You can rent a cottage for only 500 pesos and they will cook your baon for you, free of charge.
5. Dipping in the cold water of Tanawan Falls and Cliff Jumping
Tanawan Falls is located at Barangay Tanawan. The trek going to the falls is about 15 minutes from the starting point of the road leading to the registration area and another 15 minutes from the registration to the falls. The first half of the trek features an open trail and it offers an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean and a part of the Sierra Madre mountain range. That is the reason why this barangay is called Tanawan. The second part of the trek features a forest trail that leads you to the falls. The Department of Tourism, with the help of the local tour guides, constructed a wooden stairs in the steep part of the trail and a wooden footbridge to reach the falls.
In my experience, we trek directly from Sitio White Beach to Feeder Port where the tricycle of my guide was parked. We travelled for about 20 minutes to reach the starting point of the trek. At the starting point, there’s a sari-sari store where you can leave your bags, and where you can take a bath after your Tanawan Falls adventure for a minimal fee of 20 pesos. We hike for about 15 minutes to reach the registration area. There’s an entrance fee of 20 pesos and another 5 pesos donation if you want to take pictures at the “I Love Tanawan Falls” land mark. I’m lucky because only me and my guide was there that time. I experienced a total commune with nature. We stayed there for about 30 minutes, soaking in the very cold and crystal clear water that came from I-dont-know-where up above the mountains. This is the place where you can hear the nature’s lullaby. The rushing water of the falls, the birds songs that live in the lush forest of Sierra Madre, and the rustling leaves that dance with the winds. This is what life feels like at its purest form.
6. Take your pic at “I Love Dingalan” marker
To complete your visit in this emerging tourist mecca that is Dingalan, taking a photo op in the marker is a great way to finish your adventure.
In my experience, from Barangay Tanawan we travelled up the highway that leads to Gabaldon for around 20 minutes before we reach the marker. Taking pictures is free but you need to log in at the registration located near the marker. We spend about 5 minutes taking photos before we headed back to Dingalan poblacion. We eat lunch in one of the karenderia located near the municipal park. A nilagang baka and fresh buko is already a feast for me and my guide after a very tiring but adventure filled tour. Over lunch, we shared our personal stories. Me, I shared the places where I’ve been to and places where I want to visit. My guide shared his stories living in this beautyful place dubbed as Batanes-of-the- East.
I think its about time for this town to be known for what she is. Because for me this is Batanes-of-the-East no more. This is Dingalan. And I will leave my wanderlust spirit on her bossom, so that I may have the best reason to come back soon.
Desk Warrior Adventurer: Lawrence Corpuz
Renz is a full time graphic artist, part-time adventurer, novice blogger, and an amateur photographer. He is everything but tourist when he is traveling away from home.