Many of the beaches dotted along the western stretch of the Lingayen Gulf, between Bolinao and Dagupan, are working beaches, where people fish in the gulf’s rich waters and mend their nets. The sand is generally grey and unappealing and the water likewise; much of the coral has been destroyed by dynamite and cyanide fishing. It certainly isn’t all bad news though. The gulf’s primary attraction, the Hundred Islands National Park, is worth the trip here alone. There’s more though: at the western end of the gulf around Bolinao you’ll find good beaches and some excellent snorkelling areas, while at the northeastern end of the gulf the capital of La Union province, San Fernando, provides access to beaches and resorts as well as opportunities for trekking and climbing. There is also some excellent surfing if you time it right, with surfers congregating in the resorts of San Juan.
Buses from Manila, run by Five Star and Victory Liner, ply the route along the gulf although you’ll probably need to change bus – with Dagupan one of the main hubs – even if you are passing straight through.