Liwa – For those surfers, skim boarders, and other beach warriors who keep looking for the next great place to go, start that search in Liwa, Zambales. This community of like-minded eco warriors is one of my favorite places to escape the city.
I first went to Liwa 3 years ago. The resort we went to treated you like family. You ate together, drank together, and cleaned up together. The place wasn’t fancy by any means as we stayed in kubo style buildings made from coco lumber and bamboo.
I normally slept outside in a custom made hammock that zipped closed so the mosquitoes didn’t get you. I absolutely loved the place. If you think of Lilo and Stitch, really this place was like Ohana – Family.
Let me tell you about my favorite place to get away from the city – Liwa.
Where is it?
Liwa is located just near San Felipe in Zambales.
- From Manila, go to any Victory Liner Bus station (Cubao and Pasay are the best but it depends on your location).
- Get on a bus going to Iba. They typically have one leaving every 2-3 hours for just P250 (About $5 USD).
- Do not go all the way to Iba. Get off the bus in San Felipe where you see a big pink market in the city center and a 7 Eleven.
- Flag down any Tricycle driver and request to go to Liwa. They will all know where it is. If you know your resort you’re going to, tell them the exact resort name.
If it’s daytime still when you get to San Felipe, feel free to go inside the market and get snacks prior to going to Liwa as there are only 2 small stores. Also, be sure to use the ATM here as Liwa does not have an ATM nor do most places accept credit cards.
What is the Liwa community like?
One of the best parts about Liwa is the community of like-minded people. They have all come together over the years as a group to support the Leave No Trace mindset in their resorts and on the beach alike.
The overall Leave No Trace theory is that when you go somewhere, leave nothing but footprints behind. Whether it’s your plastic bottle, cigarette butts, or leftover food, take it with you to the proper place to dispose of it.
The Leave No Trace mindset has 7 main aspects which the Liwa community tries every day to uphold and support:
- Plan Ahead and Prepare
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
Liwa has some pretty amazing events as well which are all about supporting environmentally friendly practices.
Liwa Earth Festival
The Liwa Earth Festival is an event which promotes a sustainability mindset and a plastic free world. The event has environmental talks, acoustic music, flow arts, local food and clothing vendors, surf and skim board jam sessions, and much more.
The goal of this festival is at the core of what the Liwa community is about.
If you’re planning to go to Liwa, think of ways that you can help support this in the items you pack.
You can check out more on their Facebook page as well here.
Where to stay in Liwa?
Years ago, Liwa did not have much more than a handful of places to stay. These days, there are quite a few options but I still have my favorites. There are some new ones that hit my list though!
This is one of the newest establishments in Liwa and it’s name says it all: GLAMP – Glamorous Camping.
It’s at the back of the beach and can feel a bit confusing to find, but it’s a very short walk to get to the water. The tents are lifted off the ground with wood slats and they have air conditioning (yes in a tent!).
The tents are especially beautiful at night when it’s all lit up. It’s a great way to experience camping without all the mess.
They have either a small tent (1-3 person) or a big tent (Up to 8 people). While they dont have very many tents yet, it’s still quite new as it was only opened in January 2018. They have a common area to eat, drink and have a great time as well.
Phone: +63 927 505 9020
The Circle Hostel at Liwa, Zambales
If you’re traveling solo or with a group and you want to meet some new friends, The Circle Hostel is the best place to go. They have more than 50 bunk beds and hammocks waiting for you in a completely open style environment.
This place has a huge common area with pillows and blankets all over for you to chill. Every time I’ve visited it’s also full of foreigners telling their crazy travel adventures.
Is it safe? Very! They provide lockers to all the guests to store their personal belongings.
Every night they have a campfire and you can look straight up and see every star in the sky. Across the road from the Circle is a restaurant and store in case you need any snacks (or beer!).
Phone: +63 917 505 4329
Sunny Side Up at Liwa, Zambales
Out of all my travels in the Philippines, Sunny Side Up is my favorite place to stay. The owners of Sunny Side Up treat you like family when you stay here. When it’s time for meals, they prepare food for everyone and you eat family style.
I love my time surfing with the owner’s daughter, playing with their dogs, and enjoying campfires while downing a few beers. They offer home-style kubo accommodations, tents, and hammocks.
Phone: +63 917 548 6956
What to do in Liwa
Liwa isn’t a place to go if you’re looking for big parties and huge attractions, but it definitely is the place to kick back, relax and release any tension you have from the hectic city life.
There are a few great things to try out while you’re here.
- Surfing: Out of all of the activities, surfing in Liwa is one of my favorites. I will be honest that the waves are not consistent unlike other places, but there are typically less people here which makes it easier to catch the waves.
- Surf board lessons – 200 per hour
- Surf board rental – 200 per hour
- Sunrise/Sunset: The sunrises and sunsets in Liwa are amazing to see. We purposefully wake up at 5AM just to stumble out to the beach to watch the sunrise. Below you can see a photo I took with one of the dogs of Liwa.
- Friendship: Liwa barely has any cellular signal, so when you’re here you learn to strengthen the bonds of friendship without any distractions.
- Skate park: The Good Karma resort in Liwa has an awesome mini skate ramp for those adventurous type.
Whether you’re into surfing, reading a book, or getting drunk on the beach, this is one of my personal favorite places to do it.
While you’re in Zambales, there’s so much more to check out. You can read my full Zambales overview here: Zambales Travel Guide.