For a province whose name translates to “where salt is made”, Pangasinan is indeed home to an abundance of places and stories to savor. Nestled near the Lingayen Gulf and Dasol Bay, it is marked by coastal villages sprinkled with fine salt beds, beaches, islands, caves, rivers, forests, and farmlands. 

While it is most known for being a northern gate to the rest of the Luzon provinces and for its popular beach destinations, Pangasinan teems with more equally thrilling experiences waiting to be discovered. Here’s a checklist of things to discover when in the province.

Bustria Salt Farm in Dasol. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism
Abunciang Salt Farm in Bani. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Mesmerizing salt farms. During the dry season, salt farms in Dasol, Dagupan, Bani and Bolinao are abuzz as salt production booms. Salt ponds are filled with saltwater, which are then dried under the sun. When the temperature peaks in the afternoon, workers begin the salt-scraping process, where the saltwater is methodically raked off of tiled salt beds until it becomes more solid as the water evaporates. The whole process is a mesmerizing sight to behold, even as the sun sets over salt beds. During the wet seasons, some salt ponds are converted into fish ponds.

Bangus at Mesa De Amor. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Watermelon stalls in Bani. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Local seafood and produce. Pangasinan’s abundance of coastal villages has given it a strong agriculture and aquaculture industry. Dagupan is best known for its high-quality bangus (milkfish), and most Pangasinan municipality markets carry a dizzying variety of dried and fresh fish and seafood products such as bagoong (shrimp paste) and alamang (krill). Lingayen is also known for its thick, potent fish sauce, which is sold in bottles and used in a variety of ways such as for dipping, cooking, and flavoring dishes. Bani, on the other hand, has earned the reputation of being the “watermelon capital of the north” – because of its high-quality watermelons grown and sold in different varieties.

Bangrin Mangrove Farm. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
UP-MSI giant clam nursery along Silaki Island. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Educational ecotourism zones. Because of its rich marine resources, Pangasinan boasts underwater wildlife havens as well as mangrove forests. Silaki Island in Bolinao is regarded as the giant clam capital of the Philippines, where the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI)-established Bolinao Marine Laboratory maintains a hatchery for the magnificent clams (Tridacna gigas) locally known as “Taklobo”. The province also has several mangrove forests (bakawan) like the Bangrin Mangrove Farm Marine Protected Area in Bani and the Provincial Mangrove Nursery in Bolinao that don’t only make picturesque walkways, but also serve as outdoor classrooms to learn about the ecological importance of mangroves.

Our Lady of Manaoag. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Pangasinan Provincial Capitol. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism

Heritage and history. Pangasinan contains several points of interest that preserve important historical events and heritage. Perhaps one of the most popular is Our Lady of Manaoag, which was built in 1600 in honor of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag. In Bolinao, another 16th century church stands imposing – the St. James the Great Parish, which has been reinforced throughout time due to damages from earthquakes and a fire, still possesses much of its original black coral facade. The Pangasinan Provincial Capitol itself, completed in 1918, has been declared as one of the eight Architectural Treasures of the Philippines by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

Aerial view of Balungao Hilltop Adventure and Hot Spring. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.
Biker’s Den in San Fabian. Photo courtesy of the Department of Tourism.

Land to sea adventures. Last but not the least, there’s adventure to be found all over the province. The Hundred Islands National Park lets visitors ride a boat around the 124 islands (123 during low tide), and visit some of the islands that are open to tourists. Some islands also let visitors cross from one island to another via hanging bridges, ziplines, and even kayaks which are available for rent. Aside from island-hopping and exploring the famous caves, Pangasinan has a long list of pristine beaches and coves to explore, such as the Balinmanok Cove, Colibra Island, and Tambobong Beach in Dasol, Patar Beach in Bolinao, Depth Pool in Agno, Pangasinan is also home to the cleanest and greenest river in Region 1: The Balingasay River in Bolinao, where guests can take in serene river and mangrove views while feasting on a sumptuous Sungayan Grill meal while floating down the river on a bamboo cottage. 

Discover more destinations to see, experience, and savor in the Ilocos Region. Visit these links to map out your next journey across the Philippines. 

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