Review: Crystal Beach Resort in Zambales, Philippines


Crystal Beach Resort is a fantastic and scenic resort located about four hours west of Manila, in the Philippines. When you travel to the Philippines, the temptation might be to check out the places you’ve heard of – big cities, such as Manila, and even some of the more touristy island destinations known to Westerners, but Crystal Beach Resort is a place you should definitely take the time to check out, with it’s calm, relaxing settings and black sand beaches.

Located in the Zambales province of the Philippines, Crystal Beach Resort is known for lush greenery such as tall pines that line a nice shoreline – site of some of the best surfing in the world. Accommodations are comfortable and relaxing, making Crystal Beach Resort a location that’s popular, although perhaps not as serene and “off-the-path” as other beaches around the area.

Your experience at Crystal Beach Resort really is what you make of it, as the grounds themselves offer plenty of options in the way of accommodations that are all at least reasonably comfortable. If you want to spend “budget” money and get a four or five star experience, you’ll be disappointed. Want that kind of experience? You’ll pay for it, but you’ll get what you want.

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In reality, Crystal Beach Resort has options for all travelers – starting from glamping tents and abednegos, to slightly higher options as small double rooms with air conditioning, all the way to the pricier options of having a double room/apartment that sleeps up to four and has excellent nature views. Even at these rates, however, Crystal Beach Resort isn’t what we would call “expensive” by any stretch of the imagination – with the most expensive accommodations coming in at around $60 USD per night on average.

So, if what you’re looking for is a luxury hotel stay on the beach, keep looking. However, if you’re okay with a down-to-earth stay at a beautiful beach where you can reconnect with nature, you might want to consider Crystal Beach Resort!

What to Do

In the area on and around Crystal Beach Resort, there’s plenty to do to help you enjoy a short or even somewhat lengthy stay.

First, there are great options in terms of food and dining services, which are all at a very reasonable price. There are three times of main serving per day, much like a cruise ship might be, and the quality of the food is delicious – consisting of fresh, local ingredients.

 

In terms of things to do, you’ll have plenty of options including first-class surfing lessons taught by Quiksilver School Academy, island and waterfall tours, nature trekking, and a host of sports including basketball, volleyball, darts, billiards, and more!

In all, the Crystal Beach Resort offers plenty of outdoor activities, which is amazing considering the relative inexpensiveness of a stay at the resort.

How to Get to Crystal Beach Resort

As we’ve mentioned, Crystal Beach Resort is located about four hours west of Manila – but how do you get there?

First, you need to decide what your budget it to get to Crystal Beach Resort, as you’ll most likely be coming in from Manila. The costs of all options are fair at the worst, to inexpensive and cheap and the least. However, the cheaper the option is, the more likely that you may have delays that interfere with your trip.

There are two basic things to decide – do you want to use primarily public transportation, or do you want to take a private car?

Public Transportation

If you take public transportation, you’ll be choosing the cheapest option available for getting from Manila to Crystal Beach Resort. However, this options does come with some uncertainty, and potentially a wide variation in travel time – depending on how well you plan.

You can take any of the main liner stations, but just make sure that you don’t leave out of Manila too late in the day. Ideally, you want to catch one of these lines before noontime. Afterwards, traffic increases, delays get more likely, and if you leave after four or five o’clock it could take you upwards of seven hours to get to Crystal Beach Resort! The main lines you’ll be looking for are Cubao, Pasay, Caloocan, or Sampaloc. There should all take care of most of the trip for you.

Take a bus that is heading toward Iba or Sta, from where you will get off in San Narcisco (the district in which Crystal Beach Resort is actually located). The destination where you’ll be dropped off is San Sebastian Catholic Church. From here, you can take a cycle ride or cab roughly ten minutes to the beach resort!

Private Car

Driving your own car is the more expensive option to get to Crystal Beach Resort, but it’s the one we’d use and the one that is by far the most reliable. We like the flexibility of driving, having the ability to stop when we want, to tak ephotos, and to be in control of the transportation situation when possible.

If you’re driving, you can navigate very easily by using an app such as Google Maps, which has worked for us in even remote areas such as the Yucatan Peninsula. If not, you could pick up a cheap remote GPS, or print out the directions. For us, we always screenshot Google Maps directions before our trip and print them, just so we have them as backup options.

Travel Tips for Travelers Heading to Crystal Beach Resort

If you’re heading to Crystal Beach Resort, there are a few things you should know first. Some of these will come as common sense to anyone who has traveled much abroad, but for others – not so much!

First, while the resort does have a restaurant that is open from 7am to 9pm, food is much cheaper off-site and you don’t sacrifice anything in terms of quality. Sometimes you’ll want to eat at the resort, but definitely don’t eat here every meal. Get out, move around, and explore the area. You should think of Crystal Beach Resort as your jumping off point, but you don’t have to be completely dedicated to staying there the entire time.

Secondly, know what kind of location you want to stay in on-site before you get there. If you end up wanting to camp and can’t because you don’t have the supplies, you’ll be incredibly disappointed. Know what you want to do before you get there, and plan accordingly.

Lastly, you might be debating whether or not staying at Crystal Beach Resort is for you, or whether you should pick another nearby location such as Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar – something a little more historic and family-oriented. Crystal Beach Resort is most definitely better for adults than it is children. It’s a haven for surfers, for adults looking to spend all day on the beach, in the water, and to have a few drinks along the way.

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