The Port of Subic Bay boasts that it is the “Pearl of the Orient,” but visitors must know where to look to find the pearl. Scuba diving is growing in popularity in all of the Philippines, but less so at Subic Bay. When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, the Port of Subic Bay was hard hit. Everything was covered by a meter of ash, and a typhoon came within days to turn the ash to mud. Many buildings collapsed, and much of the underwater coral was killed. B
Before the eruption (and someday again), Subic Bay was as clear as crystal, with at least 40 meters visibility. Since the eruption, visibility is questionable, and many of the species of marine life that lived there have vanished. A few turtles still nest there, but the sharks and dolphins have found better waters. Each year, the situation improves. The coral is slowly recovering, and more turtles and rays return every year to the Port of Subic Bay. The number of diving centers is also growing.
The Port of Subic Bay offers many wrecks and reefs for divers, and most of the sites are within 20 minutes of the dive centers. Ships sank in Subic Bay over the entire World War II period. At least 25 Japanese ships sank during the war and, although some have been removed for salvage, many remain. At the entrance of the Bay near Grande Island are the remains of a Spanish-American War wreck, the San Quintin. Outside the bay and outside diving range in deep waters are a Spanish Galleon and a 16th Century Chinese Junk.
The Port of Subic Bay has many beaches. Although they are not the white-sand beaches of Panay Island to the south, they are definitely worth a visit. Most of the tourist-oriented hotels line the beach strip near Barrio Baretto with rooms that literally look over the beach and the sea. The three beaches near the Port of Subic Bay’s International Airport are very calm with mild waves good for all ages to enjoy.
The Port of Subic Bay’s Forest Adventure Park is home to the Zoobic Safari. Covering 25 hectares of land, the area contains a variety of habitats (from forest to grasslands) and wildlife. Highlights include the Zoobic Park petting zoo where you can interact with deer, ostrich, carabao, bears, monkeys, miniature horses, and many more in a tropical jungle. The Savannah area features potbellies, wild boars, guinea fowl, and ostrich. The Serpentarium contains a wide range of cold-blooded creatures like snakes, iguanas, and turtles. The Close Encounter allows you to get two feet away from Bengal and Siberian tigers, and the Tiger Safari is a jeep-ride through a fenced area where tigers roam relatively free. Other attractions include the Honey Bee Farm, Rodent World, the Animal Bone Museum, and the Egg-Ziting Story.
While the Port of Subic Bay is not a major stop for cruise vessels, travelers who want to visit Subic Bay and the Zambala region can find a list of scheduled cruises that go to Manila on the Cruise Compete website.