Last weekend, my family and I had a chance to make a quick getaway to Morong, Bataan. There were 8 1/2 of us (7 adults, 1 teenager and a little boy who loves the beach). It was a rare treat for everyone to be in the same place, at the same time. And while the trip was short (just 24 hours!), we were able to squeeze in a bit of island-hopping and snorkeling before heading back to Manila.
Bataan is famous for its part in Philippine history, particularly during the Second World War. Its strategic location as a peninsula facing the West Philippine Sea made it a suitable stronghold for Philippine and American forces. That is, before they were overwhelmed by Japanese troops in what is now known as the Battle of Bataan. The defeat became the starting point of the infamous Bataan Death March.
Today, apart from its historical significance, Bataan is also an ideal location for eco-tourism. The province is blessed with beautiful beaches. Morong, in particular, has a wonderful coastline dotted with beach resorts. For this trip, we stayed in Coralview Beach Resort, a very nice private resort tucked within a 2.7-hectare property.
The resort was really nice but we were more interested in exploring the area. So we booked a boat trip that would take us to the Pawikan Sanctuary, a small white beach island and a snorkeling site.
Our first stop was the Pawikan Sanctuary, a marine reserve managed by the Pawikan Conservation Program. Its aim is to facilitate the conservation and breeding of Pawikans or Sea Turtles.
Those who volunteer here as guides used to be Pawikan poachers. But they have now mended their old ways.:) Today, they not only help disseminate information about these beautiful creatures, they also show tourists how the Pawikans breed and get released at sea. Unfortunately, we arrived a day too late as the recently hatched baby turtles were released the day before. But looking around the facility was quite interesting. Incidentally, the Pawikan is my favorite sea creature. I love it so much that I had one tattooed on my leg.
Next on our itinerary was the smallest white sand beach I’ve ever stepped on.
After spending about twenty minutes on the island (where we paid PHP30/boat entrance fee to help with the upkeep and maintenance), we headed to the snorkeling site where corals were bountiful.
Mushroom had a nasty cut on his knee so he didn’t want to get into the water. But he was happy to watch his uncles and Lolo enjoy their snorkeling time.
No starfish was harmed during this trip. We quickly put the starfish back into the water right after Mushroom touched it. I promise!
Overall, the trip was an eyeopener for me. I worked in Bataan a million years ago but never got to explore the peninsula. I didn’t realize there was so much to see! In the end, our stay was a bit bitin. We barely even scratched the surface! I would have wanted to see Las Casas Filipinas or Mount Samat National Shrine. But I guess that’s for another weekend getaway.;)
How To Get There
Morong, Bataan is only 3 1/2 to 4 hours away from Manila, depending on traffic.
To get there , take NLEX, exit at San Fernando, pass Lubao (Pampanga), go straight until the Dinalupihan (Bataan) junction, turn right and go further until the Subic Tipo Expressway entrance to the left.
Go inside SBMA, follow the highway running parallel to Subic Bay at the right, pass the airport, follow the sharp left curve of the road at the end of the airport compound, pass Triboa Bay (APEC Villas, follow the winding road until you exit SBMA via its South (Morong) Gate.
Once outside, follow the winding road until you reach a junction. Turn right at this first corner, this is the road going to Morong, Bataan town proper. Once you reach the town, turn right going to the town hall, then turn left after the church. The entrance to Coralview is at the end of that road. (source: Coralview Beach Resort)