Cabangan, Zambales: Unplugged in Club Monet
Zambales was coined after its earliest inhabitants - the Zambals - whom the Spanish found worshipping anitos (spirits). It was one of the first provinces created during the Hispanic rule and by 16th century. This place is also home to the Philippines' 7th president, Ramon Magsaysay - a man loved by the nation during his reign. Now, it has been touched by civilization & modernization; yet it has still preserved its rustic ambiance, natural beauty, and feel good vibe. Its coastlines are famous for its sandy beaches with waves that have become a surf haven for some.
The first time Bobby and I went to Zambales was in 2014 where we retreated with some of our couple friends to unwind, rekindle our spirits and appreciate slow-living. Three years after, we have our little boy in tow. We try to visit places we once explored as a couple, similar to what we did with our La Union trip. Anyway, we drove all the way to Cabangan, an hour away from the usual go-to places such as Liw-Liwa, San Antonio or San Narciso (home of the Crystal Beach).
WHERE WE STAYED
We checked in Club Monet Beach Resort, a cozy greek-inspired resort that opens up to this beautiful beachfront. There weren't a lot of people when we went (which was good for us), and the staff were really accommodating.
We got a A/C room with a balcony, and requested for an extra mattress to serve as Y's floor-bed (spent around P 2,500 for the room). The place was pretty okay - no insects, but there were some ants. Good thing I had some peppermint oil to ward off critters.
The stay comes with a free breakfast - they served hotsilog and coffee / iced tea! You better tell them what time you plan on having breakfast since they'll cook it a few minutes before you do. Pero masarap yung pagkain. Wish we could have eaten more (since there aren't a lot of places you can eat in and you'd have to drive out to the main road to access some local restaurants or kainans).
When we arrived, we went right straight to the beach. In fairness, the waves were massive by the shore - but I think it's more fit for skim-boarding rather than surfing. Yñigo loved being by the shore, and it took a while for him to get close to the water, but [at least] he tried.
We spent time drawing ABCs and random things on the sand to pair learning with having fun. In fact, while Bobby would throw himself at the waves, and I was relaxing / working on some things, Yñigo would run off to a spot. He would try looking for shells, building stuff with sand, or observing the little critters he would see (crabs, or insects).
The morning after, Yñigo and I stayed in one of the huts by the beach, whipped out our watercoloring tools and started painting.
At some point, he took out his sandals (by himself), got the cup and started digging and being one with the sand. How cute, right?
Before leaving, we actually went behind to see what was there, and look - Club Monet's by a river!
There were fishing nets, and life thriving in here!
Club Monet exceeded our expectations. Though the resort isn't as luxurious as other Santorini-inspired resorts in the Philippines, they did win us with the vibe, the location. Imagine being in between a river and a beachfront? You can read a book by the river (make sure to put insect repellant for safety), or get a tan in the beach. Your kids can run around their garden (yeah they have one too), or build sand castles for days!
We've always been a family who appreciates simple things and don't mind beaten places. Not saying that our standards are low (trust us, we'd tell you if we had any complaints), but this place is good if you and your family are looking for a place to be off the radar, and a space to experience & appreciate slow, island living!