Exploring Bolinao: Waterfalls, a lighthouse, rock formation, a resort, a beach

Bolinao Falls 2. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario.

Bolinao, a third-class municipality in Pangasinan, is renowned as one of Luzon’s premier beach destinations accessible by land. In 2023, it welcomed 400,000 tourists, half of whom stayed overnight, drawn by its scenic spots and charming local culture. 

With its mix of natural wonders and well-kept resorts, Bolinao offers a memorable escape. Whether they’re up for a relaxing time by a beach or a waterfall, exploring historical sites, or simply taking in the beauty of this charming municipality in Pangasinan, Bolinao is a worthy destination to visit.

We explored the place’s diverse tourism offerings during the recent NLEX Lakbay Norte. Here’s a glimpse into six of Bolinao’s captivating destinations:

Bolinao Falls 1. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario.
  1. Bolinao Falls 1

Bolinao Falls 1 is a serene waterfall cascading into a refreshing pool about 10 feet deep at its deepest point. During summer, the flow is gentler, but the beauty of the falls remains undeniable. This spot is known for its crystal-clear waters sourced from upland springs, offering a photogenic setting. A 20-minute drive from the town center, Bolinao Falls 1 is a perfect spot to unwind and enjoy nature. There’s also a Kopi Kubo nearby for coffee and snacks. Travelers can reach the waterfalls via a short walk from the parking area, where they have to pay around P80 to cover parking and environmental charges.

Bolinao Falls 2. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario.
  1. Bolinao Falls 2

Just a three-minute drive from Bolinao Falls 1, Bolinao Falls 2 offers a similar yet distinct experience. The falls are less intimidating, with a wider basin perfect for swimming, even for kids. The water here is just as clear and refreshing, making it a must-visit for travelers. Rafts are available for rent, adding to the fun. The journey to Bolinao Falls 2 is a bit rough, but the destination is worth it. Vendors often sell local snacks like lumpia, making it a delightful spot for a day trip.

Punta Riviera Resort. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario.
  1. Punta Riviera Resort

Punta Riviera Resort, managed by Scottish engineer Dr. Ian McFeat Smith and his Ilocana wife Emilyn A. Respicio, is a blend of natural beauty and modern amenities. Set on a former coconut plantation, the resort features an infinity pool overlooking a lagoon where the Ilog Malino River meets the West Philippine Sea. Guests can explore mangrove-fringed rivers by kayak or stroll across picturesque pedestrian and hanging bridges. The resort’s Mediterranean-style buildings can accommodate up to 300 guests, making it ideal for weddings, events, and family gatherings.

Bolinao Rock Formation. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario.
  1. Bolinao Rock Formation

A favorite among Instagram enthusiasts, the Bolinao Rock Formation offers stunning coastal views. This spot is not just for photos, but for anglers who frequent the area for fishing. Situated along the route to Patar Public Beach, the rock formation provides a picturesque backdrop, especially during sunset. When we visited, a beach wedding was being set up, showcasing its popularity as a romantic venue. The sand here is more yellowish than white, contrary to popular belief, but it’s no less beautiful. The crashing waves and tranquil environment make it a perfect place to relax in a hammock or capture the dramatic scenery during a storm.

Patar Beach. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario.
  1. Patar Beach

Speaking of Patar Beach, it has a powdery yellowish sand, which is worth the visit despite the crowd. The beach’s natural beauty shines through, especially at sunset. It’s an ideal spot for activities like playing an easy game of beach volleyball, as well as leisurely strolls. Beach houses and local stores add to the area’s charm. The shore is impressively clean, proof of local efforts to maintain its pristine condition. Patar Beach is ideal for those seeking picturesque settings for their social media posts or simply to enjoy the fresh sea air and a swim.

Cape Bolinao Lighthouse. Photo by Kenneth M. del Rosario.
  1. Cape Bolinao Lighthouse

Standing as the second-highest lighthouse in the Philippines, Cape Bolinao Lighthouse offers panoramic views of the West Philippine Sea. Though no longer operational, it remains a fascinating historical site. Entrance costs P40 per person, allowing visitors to explore the premises, though climbing the lighthouse is not permitted. The area can get hot, so it’s best to visit in the morning. Despite its need for better maintenance, the lighthouse’s charm and the stunning views it offers make it a worthwhile visit.


Kenneth M. del Rosario
Kenneth has been writing for the Philippine Daily Inquirer for more than 17 years, covering travel, food, motoring, technology, real estate, and business, among others.