If you’re visiting Ilocos Sur or Abra, you have to make a stop at Pinsal Falls!
It was JC Dayo, who owns Apo Nena B&B, who recommended for us to go [when we were staying at his B&B]. He said that the falls was perfect if you wanted a quick dip, a change of scenery, and to see what the town of Sta Maria has to offer. However, other folks would say that Pinsal Falls is really part of Abra — though the recommended route to get there is within Sta. Maria.
Dubbed as Ilocos Sur’s best-kept wonders, this 85-foot (26-metre) waterfall is considered as the largest and grandest ones in the whole of Ilocos Region. The waterfall lies among the shady hills and mountains of Barangay Babal-Lasioan in the town of Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur. Crystal clear water cascades down to two natural pools that locals & visitors enjoy during the hot summer. Behind the cascading water of the main falls is a hidden cave where one can swim from.
Legend says that this is the footprint of the legendary Ilocano giant Angalo. He was a mountain of a man in search for his woman, Aran. It is a great love story of two giants who roamed the Ilocos Region looking for each other and Angalo, longing for his love, battered the whole Ilocos Region. Angalo and Aran are believed to be the first man and woman on Earth, alike to Adam and Eve, in Abra mythology.
As time went by, townsfolk claimed the footprints were the very footprints of Angalo, or “Tugot ni Angalo” in Ilocano. One footprint is three meters deep with a width of five meters and a length of 15 meters.
How To Get There
Pinsal Falls is located about 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) on paved road from the municipal hall of Sta. Maria via the Pinsal Falls Road. We took our car going there, which is a 25-30 minute drive from Apo Nena B&B. However, if you’re coming from Manila, it will realistically take around 6-8 hours (including all the stops, traffic, and such).
The Pinsal Falls Road will end at the side of the river, where there is a paved road you can park in.
The falls may also be reached by foot through the town of Pilar, Abra via stone steps in the mountain by the falls. These steps are regularly used by the residents of Pilar to travel to and from the town of Sta. Maria.
What To Expect
There are two ways that you can opt to explore Pinsal Falls: by foot or by crossing the river via boat.
The 300 steps going up the falls, where you would see a cluster of plunge & cascade waterfalls with their own natural pools! However, we were pressed for time, and though we opted to climb a bit, we found a path leading to the base of the waterfalls. From here, you’ll already see a number of cottages you can rent out, and there will be some locals who will rent you life-vests and other swimming gear.
We took a boat to cross. For the boat, they will charge you P 10.00 per person. From there, we looked for a spot to chill. We saw that one of the cottages wasn’t occupied, so we settled for that. We didn’t know who to go to, or who to look for to pay for the cottage… up until we were waiting for a boat to cross back. For the cottage, they charged us P 200.00 but that’s because I haggled. We didn’t stay for more than an hour kasi. Honestly the prices [for the cottages] will vary.
You can take food with you to the cottage. Best if you can bring your own packed meals, chips and drinks. But if you didn’t bring any, there’s a sari-sari store in the area where you ride the boat. There are also a couple of kiosks where you can buy street food and siomai (if you’re lucky to catch them there).
Overall, it was a pleasant experience.
The water was cold! Ohhhh if it’s your first time swimming in fresh water, it might be best to have a life-vest or salbabida with you. I personally am afraid when I cannot see the bottom part of any water formation. The natural pool at the base of the falls is pretty rocky and has several “blind spots”. Yñigo didn’t want to swim because of the water’s temperature, so he mostly spent his time in the cottage with his Tita Adi! Matt, and Bobby swam, while I took a dip and stayed in one place.
Made a video down below so you can see the majestic Pinsal Falls! Credits to Matthew Azada for letting us use the drone shots he took during our visit! Enjoy and ‘til the next blog (and video)!