Latest Stories

Discovering Subic Bay’s hidden coves



Once a naval base that was the home of the US Seventh Fleet, the Subic Bay Freeport Zone is now a major tourist destination in the country. The fact that it is only a few hours drive from Metro Manila adds to its appeal.

The free port zone encompasses an area of over 67,000 hectares, larger than Singapore, with some 18,000 hectares developed for ecotourism.

The attractions at Subic are many: a virgin forest with seven hidden falls; a jungle survival training camp of the indigenous Aetas; a Bat Kingdom; Tiger Safari; beaches, aquasports, a slew of hotels, resorts and restaurants; a yacht club (for members only); high-end village resorts, malls, duty-free shops, swimming pools and what-have-you—including one (marketing@lighthousesubic.com)  which has a real lighthouse.

The above are more or less what the domestic and foreign tourists visit when they go to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

UP mountaineer– surfer by the bay

What is not generally known is that along the coastal areas of the bay, accessible only by boat, are numerous beach coves which can give A-listed tourist areas like El Nido and Coron in Palawan and Caramoan in Camarines Sur a run for their money.

These coves go by such names as Tago (hidden) Beach, where a forest ranger is assigned; Rock Bottom Beach; and Sunset Cove, which has three beaches. But most of these are uninhabited and, not being islands, are spread out along the coast of Zambales.

These are full of trees, dense in some spots, and different from those species normally found in the province. Forest cover is thick.

One of the leading hotels is The Lighthouse. “The sand is white but it is not fine,” observed Zed Avecilla, front office manager of the Lighthouse Marina Resort. “Sobrang malaking butil (the grains are very large).”

Plain view

FOREST cover, white sand and aquasports. PHOTO BY AMADÍS MA. GUERRERO

And so off we went to check out some of the coves, in a speedboat manned by Zed.

Along the way we saw two resorts, one of them owned by businessman Tonyboy

Cojuangco, but these were not “hidden,” for they were in plain view, accessible by land and sea and presumably had their own clientele.

We could also see Grande Island, a well-known tourist destination, and Capones Island, once like Corregidor a stronghold of the US navy. Parts of Capones have become unsightly, as

documented by Zed, vandalized and littered with trash. Storms have also brought debris to the shore. And Grande Island itself is said to be not as well-maintained as before.

Tago (hidden) Beach from a distance. PHOTO BY AMADÍS MA. GUERRERO

Soon we could see Tago Beach from a distance, and then we linked up with a yacht being used by the hotelier’s friends, some of them UP Mountaineers’ Club members and also surfers and kayakers. The speedboat approached a scenic, uninhabited and apparently nameless island.

There was a well-maintained forest, limestone cliffs and a wide expanse of white-sand beach. The waters became shallow, filled with corals, so the boat had to anchor at a certain distance.

Some surfed, kayaked, swam or just lazed around, enjoying the tropical scenery and seascape.

And there was a lunchbox provided by the resort, delicious adobo and rice.

One boathand was bitten by a seahorse on one knee, and there was a little blood. “Ihian mo (urinate over it),” Zed suggested. That, after all, was the cure for this kind of wound. And the fellow did just that.

Zed and other resort officials have documented at least eight of these coastal beach coves, and have initiated talks with the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) with a view to promoting these.

“We must promote, preserve and protect these coves,” the hotel manager said. “It’s time for something new in Subic. We must also educate the tourists, the fishermen. We must educate the people and in the process help the locals, the community. We don’t want what happened to Capones Island to happen here.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Subic Bay , Travel

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  3. This is not just a farm
  4. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  5. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  6. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week?
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. The truffled mac ‘n’ cheese, eggs benedict, chicken leg confit are excellent
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  5. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  6. South Koreans crave Asia’s smelliest fish
  7. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Ex-Givenchy model fights for ‘Yolanda’ survivors


  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Classmates celebrating 60th birthday among missing in ferry sinking
  • Sports

  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council