See the sunset, and be amazed at the vastness of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) and to make the experience even better, Cape Bolinao Lighthouse is FREE…
Warning – The first time we visited this lighthouse was in 2016 and we were able to climb the lighthouse to the top (great view). This last time we were dissappointed to go all that way just to find the lighthouse gate locked. That is right, you go all that way ( almost 10 Km from the main road) and all you can do is look at it and walk around it. There was a few souvenir shops open and we were able to buy drinks and a few snacks so it wasn’t a total loss.
Currently, Cape Bolinao Lighthouse is managed by the Philippine Coast Guard which means the Coast Guard need to be in the area for the lighthouse to be open.
Inside Cape Bolinao Lighthouse
If you are lucky enough to get inside you will be greeted by a 140 step spiral staircase twisting it’s way up to the Illumination room. When I was here January 2016 I found the stairs were surprisingly easy to climb and I saw quite a few elderly people make the journey to the top when I was there. The combined Filipino, British and American engineers did well when designing it. On this last visit the lighthouse was closed so the only views were from the viewing deck.
This time I was saddened by the amount of graffiti and vandalism that was evident. I’m proud of my country and it’s history and then I see this. If you want to paint your message on a wall, do it at your own house on your own walls… But, enough of that… let’s get back to the lighthouse…
The view from Cape Bolinao Lighthouse viewing deck is excellent, especially at sunset. Overlooking the entire province, on clear days many parts of the Hundred Islands can be clearly seen.
If you also missed buying Binungey in the town, there are locals who sells around the area. There are also a few stalls where you can buy pasalubong like shirts, keychains etc. When we were there we compared the prices and it was slightly cheaper to buy a pasalubong there than in town.
The Light Goes Off
The Cape Bolinao Lighthouse has seen battered by typhoons, seen volcanoes erupt and helped countless ships pass safely in its one hundred plus years since being built. In 2004, after 99 years of service, the beacon lights started to dim until finally going out on November 8. On that day it stopped operating as a lighthouse and became a local tourist attraction and point of interest. Sadly, now it is in need of maintenance and refurbishment to restore it to its former glory and increase its tourist appeal.
In its early days, most of the lighting mechanism, the lanterns and wicks came from England and France making it hard to obtain replacement parts. So, as things started to break, Filipino ingenuity was called upon to fabricate our own replacement parts. In those early days the lighthouse also ran on Kerosene. In 1999, the Philippine Coast Guard received a loan from the Japanese Government and were able to renovate and update the lighthouse. Installing beacon lighting and solar panels were part of that upgrade.
Preservation Of The Cape Bolinao Lighthouse
In June 2005, Mayor Alfonso Celeste entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to “adopt” the Cape Bolinao lighthouse ensuring its preservation and maintenance. Under the MOA, PCG is the sole owner of the lighthouse and has the right to deny entry and is responsible for the regular maintenance of the beacon light and its supporting mechanisms. The local government is to have the responsibility of rehabilitation and maintenance of the immediate vicinity and grounds, provide maintenance personnel, and protect the facilities from vandals. (Source : Icomos Philippines)
Cape Bolinao Lighthouse Declared Cultural Heritage
The Lighthouse proudly stands as testament to the history of the area. It is now part of Philippines Cultural Heritage and even though its beacon doesnt shine for passing ships anymore, hopefully it can become a shining light to remind us of our history. If only it could speak, the stories it would tell…
Cape Bolinao Lighthouse,
Cape Beach Rd,
Bolinao, Pangasinan, Philippines
How to get to Bolinao
- From Pasay or Cubao, take a Bolinao-bound bus and get off at Bolinao bus terminal; fare is around 500 Php for aircon buses, one way; travel time is around 7-8 hours.
- In Bolinao, head off to Church of Saint James. On the side street, in front of Adora’s Restaurant, are tricycles offering Bolinao tour; cost is 600 Php, round trip; tour takes around 4 hours.