Explorer mode: Serene Surip – Surip Beach, Bani, Pangasinan

“Ma-akar ka talaga.” That’s what a friend of mine told me when she found out that I’m going to embark on another beach exploring adventure.

Ma-akar is a Pangasinense term for someone who’s always about/on the move (aka lakwatchero) and true enough I think it has always been part of my DNA – to explore. I think me and Dora will get along pretty well. Except, I don’t have a backpack that carries everything. Sad.

Anyways, the location on topic is a secluded beach on the outskirts of Bani, Pangasinan. It’s called Surip Beach and it’s situated along the rugged coastline of Sitio Surip, Centro Toma which is about 30 minutes away from the main highway. So as usual, my companions (Shyne, Joel, Jiesan and Benj) and I started off early from San Carlos city, bought some grilled seafoods and meat along the way for our lunch, and continued on to Bani town. Just after the famous zigzag road after Bani town proper, we took a left turn towards the Toma-Colayo Townline.

Now, traversing this road all the way to Surip road was an adventure in itself. You are bound to get lost if you don’t have a comprehensive instruction on how to get to the beach area. Actually, my companions (Shyne and Joel) who’ve visited the place more than 3 times, at some point, weren’t too sure as well on which way to go; so asking directions was a must and knowing how to converse in Ilocano was a great help. That’s for the directions, we haven’t talked about the road yet.

The road was 40% paved (with cracks) and the rest – gravel and stones. Wasn’t sure if Drogo, my trusty and do-it-all Honda City, was up to the task but fortunately it was able to do so, albeit wheezing and puffing afterwards. It was during this time that I wished I had an SUV or a Pickup for this trip instead (I still love you Drogo) and yes, I would recommend you use a vehicle with higher ground clearance and a few more HPs if you plan to go to Surip beach.

So, after a few more minutes of slow-paced driving, we reached a forked road with a big tree in the middle which indicated that we’re just a few hundred meters away from our destination.

After doing the usual obligatory photo session under the tree, we proceeded to the last stage of the journey. After taking the first turn from the forked road, there was a collective “Whoah!” from those of us who haven’t been to the area before upon seeing what was in front of us. It was a sight to behold. Imagine yourself as a young kid, giddy with excitement as you approach the beach.

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We had to make another stop just to admire the view. We were actually on top of hill descending towards the resort and I observed that the road was quite steep so the added HP in your vehicle will be helpful once you leave the resort later.

Joel also mentioned that this is a venue for pilgrimage during holy week. It has the 14 Stations of the Cross scattered along the mountain side. I wondered how many people come here during the holy week. My thoughts were interrupted when Shyne announced, “We’re here!”

Right off the bat, you’ll know that this place is not meant for leisure swimming. The area is surrounded by abundant rock formation along the coastline and trees near the beach area. Though the area is remote and secluded, there are 3 existing semi-private resorts currently in operation. There are a few structural improvements made around the beach area which I reckon was done to ensure the safety of visitors and the beach itself isn’t sandy on most parts so you’ll have to pick the right spot if you intend to do some sunbathing. Nonetheless, the view is still stunning and mesmerizing!

In addition, the coastline is lined with caves that were naturally carved by waves. If you intend to explore these caves and other parts of the reef, these 2 things are a must: thick sandals and polarized sunglasses. Thick sandals – because the rocks are sharp and Polarized sunglasses – because you need to clearly see where you’re stepping on while traversing through the sharp rock formation. Though regular sunglasses are ok, having a polarized lens reduces glare especially when it’s sunny and will be helpful to see through the reef path which can be inundated with saltwater depending on the waves and tides. The reef area that you’ll traverse also is filled with holes so you’ll have to be careful. Safety first. You wouldn’t want to return home with bruises and wounds at the end of your trip, right? But once you observe these simple recommendations, you’ll be rewarded with an unusual experience and breathtaking views.

One thing that I wasn’t able to try was snorkeling because the waves were quite strong during that time. It was not conducive to do any water activities at all. Though the locals mentioned that when the waves were calm, the surrounding reef area was perfect for snorkeling and scuba diving. They mentioned as well, that the coast was thriving with marine life. Lobsters and other crustaceans were abundant in the area. It would have been great to see some of the locals catching crabs or lobsters. Would have bought some from them in a heartbeat.

To sum it all, if you’re looking for a place to bring your family to do fun beach stuff (e.g. building sand castles, camping, etc.), I’d say this is not a perfect place for that. You wouldn’t want to run around chasing after your kids in a place littered with sharp rocks, would you?

BUT! If your aim is to reflect and get some needed peace and quiet, THIS is a perfect place to be. The place is serene and very laid back. It is a place where you can be unplugged from the outside world because you’ll have no choice but to be unplugged since mobile connectivity is close to none in the area. Honestly, in this day and age where social media dominates our attention more than it should, we need to be unplugged once in a while. This can be a time to really reconnect with yourself or with your friends/family to have some real and meaningful conversation. And because of that, I appreciated this place even more. The trip was really worth it.

Sabi nga ni Benj, “Sulit and Trip sa Surip!”

I’d say amen to that.


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