Between the traffic, heat and humidity, and general stressfulness of living and working in the metro, it’s no wonder we’re all a little keen to escape the rat race every once in a while. Just two and a half to three hours from Metro Manila, Subic is the perfect weekend getaway when you’re in need of a mini vacation. Not only is it convenient for a traveler on a time constraint, but it offers a wealth of experiences designed to energize and inspire you. Below, we’ve listed several things to try in Subic as well as in neighboring areas in Zambales province.
Coves of San Antonio
The dramatic coastline of Zambales features several ashen coves perfect for beach and nature lovers. Some of the most scenic include the Anawangin, Nagsasa, Talisayen, Sampaloc, Silanguin, and Agnain Coves. These vary in popularity and distance from Subic, so get out your map and decide which of these works best with your itinerary.Continue reading below ↓
Baloy, Barretto, Camayan, Manga, and other beaches mean you can take your pick if all you want to do is catch a little sun where the sand meets the sea. Olongapo’s Baloy Beach in particular is popular with local and foreign tourists alike as its proximity to the city center makes it ideal for half-day or day trips. Adventurers may opt for water sports, while others looking to chill and sea- and people-watch can eat and drink at the beachfront hotels or floating bars.
Jetskiing, parasailing, hoverboarding, flyboarding, banana boating, and more—Subic Bay is well-known for water-based adventures, and you’ll have ample opportunity for aquatic thrillseeking. Some of the places to book your wild water adventure at include Networx Jetsports and Whiterock Beach Hotel + Waterpark.Continue reading below ↓
Take a boat out to the islands found within and around Subic Bay. Parola Island is known for the gorgeous views (and photo opportunity areas) afforded by its dramatic rock formations and lighthouse tower. White Castle Island is so named because of the castle structure built on its rocks. Meanwhile Capones Island offers both a gorgeous beach and a historic lighthouse. Bathers and swimmers will enjoy the crystal clear waters around the islands.
This adventure zone is the biggest floating playground in Asia and is sure to bring out your inner child with over 4,000 square meters of romping space. Rediscover fun with the inflatable slides, towers, bridges, human launchers, swings, and giant inflatable animals (including a unicorn that’s five storeys tall).Continue reading below ↓
You don’t have to actually go into Subic Bay proper to partake of its water-based adventures, though. Subic boasts several waterparks with amenities like huge waterslides and wave pools, including Whiterock Beach Hotel + Waterpark, Moonbay Marina Waterpark and Resort, Ocean Adventure, and Adventure Beach Waterpark.
While there are a number of places for divers to check out the varied coral reefs in the Philippines, there are perhaps fewer sites that allow for wreck diving. Subic is one of the best destinations for these (and to get technical diving training). Experienced divers can explore the depths to view the wrecks of ships like the El Capitan and the USS New York, as well as a F4 Phantom fighter plane, among others.Continue reading below ↓
See lions, tigers, crocodiles, huge snakes, and other animals up close at the Zoobic Safari forest adventure park. You can even hand- and bottle-feed some of the big cats found here.
Subic Insectarium and Butterfly Garden
Learn about tropical butterflies, moths, and other insects at this destination. Take the Entomological Trail through the forest to observe butterflies in their natural habitat (along with other insects as well as birds and even the occasional monkey) on the way to the Butterfly Museum, where you can learn about butterflies’ life cycle and other details. For more information, check out butterflygardensubic.com.Continue reading below ↓
Jungle Environmental Survival Training (JEST) Camp Hunger Games
Ever thought about what skills you’d need in a post-apocalypse Philippines? Or what about making it through a show like Survivor? Subic’s JEST Camp offers you the chance to learn survival skills adapted from the techniques of the indigenous people of the area. It’s a perfect place for team building or barkada bonding, with its Jungle Survival Course and Kawayan Kitchen. Plus, wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy birdwatching at the Magaul Bird Park.Continue reading below ↓
Surfing, Boogie Boarding and Skimboarding
Zambales is also known as one of the top surf spots in the Philippines, so if taking a board out onto the water gets you amped, then there are many surfers’ havens in and around Subic for you to check out. And if you’re a grom or beginner, there’s no need to stress as many of these offer lessons for you to take. You’ll be riding those waves in no time!
This trek might not be for the casual hiker as it’s an overnight trip and can mean about hours of hiking before you get to the top. Once you get to the summit of Mt. Balingkilat, the so-called Mountain of Thunder which overlooks Nagsasa Cove, it’s the view, not the hike, that’ll take your breath away. The entry point is at Sitio Cawag Settlement in Subic, and note that you’ll have to arrange for the trek and a guide ahead of time.Continue reading below ↓
Mt. Cinco Picos
Another trek for those who would conquer mountains, the Mt. Cinco Picos (Five Peaks) tour involves a hike of about 20 kilometers back and forth. Traverse forest trails and streams. This is not an adventure for beginner mountaineers, but if you’re surefooted, this can be done as a day hike, and you’ll just love the view over Silanguin Cove.Continue reading below ↓
El Kabayo Waterfalls
You don’t have to trek too far to chase this waterfall—the hike is easy and will only take around 10 to 20 minutes, depending on pace and weather conditions. There’s a picnic area right beside the falls, and it’s a great place to hangout in the morning or afternoon, when it isn’t too hot.
Pamulaklakin Aeta Forest Trail
Looking for a more casual trek? The Pamulaklakin trail in the Binictican Hills are the home to the indigenous tribe known as the Aetas. The trail traverses through a rare untouched rainforest area; guided tours will include a crash course in native survival tactics and the basics of cooking in the wild, like steaming rice inside bamboo stalks or roasting fish over a campfire. Apart from this, you’ll also get to enjoy some very scenic nature vistas from within the rainforest.Continue reading below ↓
Ramon Magsaysay Ancestral House & Museum
Zambales-born Ramon Magsaysay, seventh President of the Philippines, may have only led our country for three years before his tragic death in a plane crash in 1957, but he remains a beloved figure to many. This museum, which is located in his ancestral house in Castillejos, Zambales, celebrates his life, family, death, and legacy.
This freshwater lake about an hour’s drive from Subic was created after the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo. Lahar flows blocked the drainage of the Mapanuepe River, flooding the Mapanuepe Valley and the surrounding areas. You’ll be able to see the trunks and branches of submerged trees if you take a boat out onto the water, not to mention approach the protruding steeple of a sunken church. The lake is believed to be the home of various mythical creatures.
This agritourism spot is a 12.5-hectare mango orchard about 40 minutes from Subic. The orchard offers educational tours and workshops as well as pick-and-pay activities. Plus, you can dine out on mango-themed dishes at the Rosa Café and purchase pasalubong from Lolo David’s Country Store. For more information, visit rosafarms.com.Continue reading below ↓
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without an obligatory nod to the fact that Subic is one of the go-to destinations for duty-free shopping. Stock up on imported food and drinks (including chocolates and booze!), apparel, and other items.