There’s something weirdly romantic about a rocky cliff-strewn island off a mainland coast (think Ko Phi Phi Ley from The Beach). But there’s nothing romantic about Capones Island. It’s not a tropical paradise. It’s rocky. And it’s mostly barren. But it invokes instead a sense of adventure that would appeal to those people who are looking for secret hideaways far from the madding crowd.
Capones Island is a 2-kilometer long bone-shaped volcanic mass located 4 kilometers off the coast of Brgy. Pundaquit in San Antonio, Zambales. To get to the island, you take a short boat ride through the rough waters of the South China Sea. There are no resorts on Capones, but you can camp overnight on the beach as long as there’s no typhoons. If you prefer a study roof over your head, you have to stay among the resorts in Pundaquit. (Pundaquit is also a surfer’s destination, albeit a minor one.)
Although there are no commercial accommodations on the island, there are actually structures there. One is a lighthouse (photo) and the other is an unfinished building (photo). Constructed by the Spanish colonial government, the lighthouse went into operation on July 16, 1890. Today, the lighthouse is unmanned, the adjacent quarters abandoned, and is solar-powered like many other lighthouses in the country. (I guess someone goes to the lighthouse regularly to do maintenance?) There are plans to restore and preserve the lighthouse as part of the Philippine heritage. See this extremely informative EPAFI webpage to learn about that plan and to read up on the history of Faro de Punta Capones. As for the unfinished building, I couldn’t find any information about it and what it was supposed to be.
Photo by a certain Kyuzee2.
The island is surrounded on its sides by white sand beaches and this is where the camping takes place. There are anecdotal stories that the beaches are not permanent and that they shift around all-year round due to the changing weather and sea currents. Check the beaches around in Google Maps; I think there’s a tent pitched at the eastern beach.
Closer to the mainland are the two Camara Islands (east-northeast of Capones in Google Maps), which you can also opt to go to if you want a less rougher boat ride. Interestingly, the two islands, often misnamed as the Camera Islands, are sometimes joined by a sandbar, which appear and disappear just like Capones’ beaches. Furthermore, the EPAFI also has plans to make the waters surrounding the Capones-Camara Islands into a marine sanctuary.
Still intrigued by this island? Read up about Isla de Gran Capones from travel bloggers the Tutubi and Ferdz Decena (also check out his InMotion account). How to get there? WaypointsDotPH to the rescue. Need more pictures? Flickr has tons of them, like this beautiful sunset version of the photo above.