Coto KIDZ pool in Masinloc Zambales is currently rising its popularity since the release of a Filipino movie My Perfect You starring Gerald Anderson and Pia Wurtzbach– the 2015 Miss Universe winner. But this post is not about a movie review of our Miss Universe, but a beginner’s guide on a Coto Kidz Pool D.I.Y. travel.
Coto Kidz Pool or the Happy Sunshine Camp was a mining site in the 1930’s. It went in a little downfall during the 90’s because of the small demand of the ores produced by the site. After a brief downturn, it continued to operate until mid-2000; the Coto Mines had ceased its operation. Today, the river that had been part of the mining is now a new tourist attraction of Masinloc, Zambales.
The river is the main attraction of the Happy Sunshine Camp. Everyone that goes to the camp wants to soak in the cold and clear waters of the river. There are some dangerous jumping spots but be sure to double check the height of the water before engaging. Snorkeling is also recommended as well as camping and trekking.
Swimming, Cliff Diving and Snorkeling
The Coto Kidz Pool is divided into two parts of a river. The first one will greet you as soon as you arrive the camp. It is shallow and easy to deal with which is excellent for the little ones. They will surely enjoy the cold waters that are flowing through the river.
Mostly, tourists would choose the nearest part of the river. It can also be subdivided into three parts, the common swimming area, the less common area and the remote areas (I just named them! Deal with it!).
The common swimming area is located just a few feet from the two-storey cottage. It is very accessible, and everyone loves diving and playing on that spot. There are shallow parts at Coto Kidz Masinloc as well as an increasingly deeper parts which are suitable for diving and snorkeling.
Just a few feet from that dive spot, an even deeper part of the river awaits the tourists. That is the remote part of the pool. Those who have the guts and life-vest only play on this side of the river. If you don’t have any of these, then you will sit on the first part of the river or try your luck on the remote area.
The remote area is somewhat easy to deal with but you need a little bit of patience, tactics and you must not play there alone. Before you can access the shallow part of the remote area, people need to pass through a couple of slippery and dangerous stones which has a strong current of water on it. Don’t worry; it’s just easy as one-two-and three! But always remember to exercise extreme caution.
On that side, a shallow part awaits and an even more profound diving spot with big rocks. The waters are more apparent compared to the middle part, but the ambiance is a bit scary since it is far away from the civilization. You can’t even hear the shouts of the kids playing on the calm surface.
When we visited Coto Kidz Pool in Zambales, there were a lot of bookings in their rooms. Instead of going home so early, we just continued the night with pitching a tent unplanned. It was a bit harder since we pitched very far from where people gather. We were even on the other side of the river bank where we need to walk on slippery and sharp-ended stones while challenging the harsh current at night.
Even so, it was fun pitching a tent at Coto. It was mesmerizing and it felt like we were very close to the nature.
How to Go to Happy Sunshine Camp
A. Manila Intl Airport – Olongapo (4-5 hrs)
B. Olongapo – Masinloc Zambales (3-4 hrs)
1. Ride a Taxi from MIA to Victory Pasay.
Always start in a Victory Terminal in any point of Manila.
2. Buy a ticket going to Olongapo, Iba, or Sta. Cruz. (Est cost: Pasay-Olongapo: 260-280 PHP (5.2-5.6 USD), Pasay-Sta. Cruz: 400-500 PHP 8-10 USD)
You can visit a few tourist destinations there or take a night of sleep in a hotel.
Why directly Iba or Sta Cruz?
You’ll only need to ride one bus, and it’s much cheaper and faster.
3. Get-off at MASINLOC MALL.
4. Take a few minutes of walk going at the back of the mall and near the shore (yes an ocean!) There you’ll find the jeepneys waiting for passenger and time to pass.
5. Verify and ask the jeepney driver if the vehicle will go to Coto Kidz. (Fare: 60 Pesos or 1.2 USD)
Rates and Expenses
- Olongapo – Masinloc: 201 PHP (4 USD).
- Masinloc Mall – Coto: 60 PHP (1.1 USD)
Coto Kidz Pool Room Rates and Fees
- Maintenance Fee: 200 PHP (2 USD) per group of 10 or less.
- Overnight Tent Pitching: 200 PHP (4 USD)
- Rooms: 700 PHP (14 USD)
- Generator Rental: 500 PHP or 10 USD (gasoline not included)
- Masinloc Mall: Viand was 50 PHP or 1 USD per order, Rice was 10 PHP or 20 cents per cup.
- Coto Camp Site: Viand was 25 PHP (0.5 USD) for a fried Carp (Tilapia), 10 PHP or 20 cents per cup of rice. I recommend buying rice at the last sari-sari store. They gave us one full Styrofoam full of rice which was 10 pesos per order.
- Water: Summit and Absolute 1L: 40 PHP (0.8 USD) . But I recommend buying the 20L blue container with faucet for only 40 PHP.
Going to Coto Mines from Masinloc
- 1200 HRS – First Trip
- 1400 HRS – Second Trip
- 1800 HRS – Third Trip
From Coto to Masinloc Proper
- 0700 HRS –
- 0800 HRS- **trip schedule varies**
- 0900 HRS-
- 1200 HRS-
- 1600 HRS-
Rent a Jeepney – 3000 PHP back and forth
BoWT Itinerary and Time Table
- 0700 : (Meet-up) Olongapo City
- 0710 : (Food) Breakfast at Jollibee Rotonda Olongapo
- 0740 : (Arrived) Victory Terminal Olongapo
- 0755 : (Arrived) Bus from Cubao going to Sta. Cruz
- 0810 : (Depart) From Olongapo to Masinloc (Fare: 201 PHP or 4 USD)
- 1140 : (Arrived) Masinloc Mall
- 1145 : (Food) Bought Lunch at Masinloc Mall (Viand: 50 PHP (1USD), Rice: 10 PHP (5 cents))
- 1150 : (Arrived) Jeepney Terminal at the Back of Masinloc Mall
- 1210 : (Depart) From Terminal going to Coto Kidz (Fare: 60 PHP or 1.1 USD)
- 1400 : (Arrived) Coto Kidz Pool Masinloc
- *set a camp for overnight*
- *next day*
- 0910 : (Depart) From Coto Kidz to Masinloc Mall
- 1030 : (Arrived) Masinloc Mall
- 1100 : (Food) Lunch
- 1220 : (Depart) From Masinloc Mall to Olongapo
- 1600 : (Arrive) Victory Olongapo Terminal
Where and What to Eat
When in Coto, there are just a few food stalls or mini cafe in the vicinity. When we visited Coto Kidz, we were forced to walk from Happy Sunshine Camp to the Campsite area, it was very rocky and a little bit dangerous if nightfall has fallen.
We were able to find someone who can cook a viand for us, a Tilapia (Carp) for 25 pesos each piece and 10 pesos of rice per serving.
When going to Coto, there are a few stops that might be significant interest in your palate. Restaurants from Olongapo, San Felipe, and a few cafes in Masinloc are easily accessible by private and public transportation.
A. Where to Eat in Olongapo City
1. Wings Squad
Would you like a restaurant that serves different specialties in chicken wings? Wings Squad is a newly opened cafe just at the back side of SM Olongapo. Their flavored chicken wings pack a punch on their customer’s palate as everyone digs on their order.
2. Bayside Cafe
A Cafe which is just near the second gate of SBMA. It is just located on the national highway and in front of James L. Gordon hospital. They serve a variety of dishes that can satisfy your cravings for a budget price.
3. Fortune Hongkong Restaurant
FHR specializes in seafood and some Chinese cuisines. They have an excellent dining style where a group of guests can enjoy. They also have a VIP room where 10-20 people can enjoy it with a catered menu. Read More.
4. Seoul Restaurant
A Korean restaurant lies inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone which serves probably the best Samgyeopsal in town. The menu is a bit pricey compared to their competitions, but the taste of their cuisine is unmatched!
5. Ma’am Olives Cafe
Another cafe has just opened just near the SM City Olongapo. Their restaurant is fresh in the eyes of their customers as well as the ambiance of the cafe inside. They serve awesomely delicious food at a low price but watch your patience because sometimes the serving takes time.
B. Where to Eat in Masinloc
When we were in Masinloc, it was tough for us to find a restaurant. But instead, you can find a couple of karinderyas inside the Masinloc Mall. Before going to Coto, you can head inside the Masinloc Mall on the second floor and buy your foods for lunch or dinner.
I recommend buying anything what you can while you are still there.
Where to Stay
Some rooms can be rented while in Coto for a night, but they are insufficient. You need to contact the caretaker first before taking reservations. When we were in Coto, we just pitched a tent, and nothing was paid except the 200 peso fee per tent.
Meanwhile, you can take a night in a hotel at Olongapo if you want.
A. Olongapo Hotels
1. Jade Hotel
A hotel just near the Unity Round About in Olongapo which offers a very affordable fee per night for only 700-800 pesos or 14-16 USD. They also have an eat-all-you-can restaurant on the ground floor which makes it very accessible to their guests.
2. West Corner Hotel
WCH has free Wi-Fi for a night’s check-in. It is just a few minutes walk from the Victory Terminal where public transporters find it very easy to go there. It is also a budget hotel where travelers can enjoy their nights.
3. Win Hotel
Win Hotel also packs an unmatched customer service. They have affordable overnight rates and free Wi-Fi as well. They are also just a few minutes walk from the Victory Terminal and very near to Chowking Olongapo.
4. Cherry Midtown Hotel
If you want a classy hotel at a low price, then I recommend going to Cherry Mid Town Hotel. Their price is just a few hundred more than WCH and Win Hotel, but the facilities are fantastic. The rooms are well designed with card key and excellent customer service.
If you want to go on a side trip or a week of travel in Zambales after a Coto trip, then the following attractions below can be a good recommendation.
A resort with a stunning view and infinity pool just a few kilometers from Coto Mines. The road going to D-Farm is only connected to Coto’s. There is an intersection where D-Farm goes left, and Coto’s on the right side.
B. Potipot Island
Enclosed with pristine clear waters and creamy-white sands, the Potipot island might be an excellent choice to visit after long travel from Coto.
C. Hermana Menor
A new attraction in Zambales rises as the Boracay’s 6-month closure has been implemented. Hermana Menor has a long stretch of a white sandbar where tourists can enjoy.
ALSO Read: Hermana Menor Travel Guide
Another island in Zambales is currently earning an extensive amount of fame which lies near in Masinloc. After a ride from Masinloc, and going to Olongapo, a 10-15 minutes bus travel will reach the entrance to Magalawa.
E. Lubong-Nangoloan Falls
If you still want a freshwater travel escape, then going to San Felipe will be a good choice. There are very popular falls in SanFe which can be easily accessed via road. You can even ask a tricycle driver to bring you there for 30 pesos (0.7 USD). After that, a 15-20 minute trek will be needed before reaching the site.
F. Crystal Beach Resort
If you want to experience the love of surfing, then Crystal Beach resort might be your best bet. You don’t need to ride a boat to go there, but just a private vehicle, or tricycle for public transportation.
Contacts in Coto Kidz Pool
- Coto Tourism Department in Facebook : link
- Coto Caretaker (Sir Rogelio) : +63 912 784 8828 (SMART)
- Jeepney Driver (Sir Gil) : +63 909 017 3589
Essential Travel Gears
- Soap and Shampoo
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Rash Guard
- Camera and Accessories (underwater/DSLR)
- SMART Simcards
- Lighter / Match
- Water Jug
- Nylon Rope
- Garbage Bag
It is critical to know the weather of Masinloc especially going to Coto Mines Masinloc. Why do you ask? There is 2-hour travel from Masinloc proper to Coto Mines, and the road is very steep, rocky and in short, dangerous especially when wet.
If you think that the weather is not good, or there is a chance of rain for that day, then I suggest to stop the trip and head back to Masinloc proper or go to your plan B.
You can check AccuWeather Masinloc to see the latest weather forecast.
Cellular and Data Networks
Unfortunately, the only SMART telco has the signal in Coto Mines. If you only hold a TM, SUN or GLOBE sim cards, I suggest purchasing a SMART sim before going to Coto. There is a 7/11 store just across the street of Masinloc Mall where you can buy a SMART sim for 40 PHP (0.8 USD).
- Leave NOTHING but footprints.
- Plan an overnight stay if you don’t have a private vehicle because you’ll most probably arrive there at 2 in the afternoon and needs to go back home at 4.
- Go to Masinloc earlier if you want to ride the Jeepney and sit inside of it. If you are late, then you have to ride on top of the jeep– which is fun, but so intensely hot.
- Contact the caretaker beforehand to book your room efficiently.
- Bring an underwater camera with a dome to take incredible shots.
- Bring a jug of water for cheaper options.
- Buy foods before riding the jeepney.
- Always stay hydrated, it is so hot in Coto especially in summer.
- Bring a life vest and snorkeling gears. It’ll be more enjoyable!
- If you are traveling in a group, write down your names in two clean sheets of papers.
- Don’t bring hazardous materials. You might get a fine as there are three checkpoints.
- If you can, bring dog foods. There are so many cute and adorable doggos that will make your day there!
- If you have significant health problems, you need to cancel your trip. The transport availability is low and the travel time is too long (1.5-2 hrs)
- There were reports of NPA ambush or bridge blowing on the site a few years back. But currently, it is safe to travel going to Coto. To be sure, you can contact the tourism department stated above.
- If you are banned in the site, do not continue your trip. You won’t make it through.
- Coto is a remote area; there might be a few dangerous wild animals on site.
- Big sharp-ended rocks await the tourists of Coto Mines. Be mindful of your children and bring a few medical kits.
Coto Kidz may be located in a very remote area that needs two crazy hours of travel time, but when you go there, the river is so fresh, cold and calming that can take your worries and stresses away. Coto Kidz Pool in Masinloc is currently growing in popularity and is best to visit with a few people on site.