For me, these past year, out of all the places I’ve been to, I think Bataan has been the most impressive. When you say Bataan, the first image you get is the fact that the place has great value when it comes to historical reasons. There are landmarks everywhere, Death March marks along the road, friendship statues, images, establishments built to remember what happened in Bataan during the time of the Japanese reign.
However, there is one part of Bataan that no ordinary tourist would’ve wondered or thought about. Commonly, when you say Philippine beach – it is always Boracay, Palawan or Bohol that comes into your mind. To my surprise, Bataan impressed with very a very clean beach with shallow shores and a very lively marine life. Although the beach wasn’t the pristine white sand everyone else dreams of, you must also understand that the sand isn’t the only thing to consider when you’re going to the beach. Just because the beach has white sand doesn’t mean it has swimmable shores with soft seafloors (Cagbalete Island) or if the beach has beautiful limestone rocks and fine sand doesn’t mean it has shallow and safe shores (Borawan Island). Sometimes, the beauty of a beach lies in its simplicity and cleanliness and how safe and swimmable it may be for you and your family.
Bataan’s beaches in Morong boasts of an almost untouched wide beachfront. There aren’t any bars or clubs around so it’s less likely for you to find much trash along the beaches like bottles of beer or any other party stuff. While resorts may run the shoreline, they are located a long back into the beachfront so they provide a really nice and wide beach area to play around and lounge during the day. The sand is grayish, not so black but not white either, very fine and so soft that every time you step out into the sand, you sink quick.
The beach in Bataan reminded me a lot of Papua New Guinea’s beaches. They weren’t white sand, but you’d still enjoy the place anyway. The sand in the water was darker, but it was still the same very soft sand so you won’t have to keep worrying about stepping on any harmful corals or rocks. The water was clear, you can immediately see the smoothness and cleanliness of the seabed and sometimes, some small fish that wonder the shallow areas of the beach.
The best thing about Bataan’s beach along Morong was that there was no sudden drop. You can walk the waters and be quite far from the beach but the water would still be quite shallow and the sand still smooth. While there are some areas in Morong beach that have jellyfish near the shore, the rest of the shorelines are still all very swimmable.
I didn’t realize Bataan had some islands around the area of even a place where they can snorkel so imagine my surprise when I found out.
Boatmen in Bataan are everywhere so you can just inquire with the men and the kids that go around the area. The current rate for island hopping in Bataan is around P1200 – P2000 depending on how many people there are in your group. The Bataan island hopping includes a visit to the Pawikan Conservation Center, the snorkel area and if you’re more adventurous a 30 minute boat ride to the White Beach (here in the Philippines, White Beaches are suddenly becoming very popular – even just the name!).
We paid P1400 for a family of 6, snorkels included to the Pawikan Conservation Center and snorkel site. We had wanted to go to White Beach but my parents weren’t very accustomed to boat rides so the long ride may be a little shocking.
The ride to the Pawikan Conservation Center takes about 15 – 20 minutes passing through Morong’s shoreline and the many resorts along the way. While you can ride a boat to the Sanctuary, it is also accessible by land. The entrance fee to the Pawikan Conservation Center is P20 per head. If you’re lucky, during the mating season, you can find huge sized pawikans near the shores.
The Pawikan Conservation Center adopts these pawikans that are left on the shore by the parents. They are put into good shelters, fed well and when they’ve grown and learned to take care of themselves, they are release into the ocean.
Pawikans, or in English, turtles, are greatly in danger especially some of their specific classifications.
In the Conservation Center, they provide you a small farm with 3 pawikans where you can take pictures while holding the pawikans. These turtles are actually really heavy, so don’t mistake them for tiny and lightweight. Make sure to stay clear away from the mouth of a turtle, because according to the boatman, a turtle’s bite is dangerous as they can bite off your finger. In the farm, one of the turtles was so huge that he couldn’t even swim anymore so he only went up for air whenever he could.
Another turtle swam around but was very heavy and the smallest pawikan was lighter, but its hands and feet were also lighter to flap, so, when I held it, he flapped his arms so much hitting my hand and causing my hand to hurt – even turned red for awhile.
The farm also built a pawikan life cycle statue for visitors to gather and see the cycle of a turtle and to get a glimpse of how big a pawikan can grow to be.
It was such a nice thing to know and it’s kind of disappointing to know that their species are slowly dying. The Pawikan Conservation Center is truly doing their best to conserve these turtles.
The center also offers an Adopt a Pawikan program where you can help to save your own pawikan.
After awhile at the Pawikan Conservation Center, we headed off to the snorkeling site which was nearer to our resort than the center had been.
I’m in love with light bluish green waters where you can see the seafloor even from above. I saw these waters only in Boracay, El Nido and in some parts of Hundred Islands. I never thought I’d see that in Bataan. Beautiful, bluegreen waters greeted us in the midst of the sea when the boatmen stopped. There were a few other boats around the area with snorkelers as well so I felt okay about snorkeling there.
My siblings are all first timers so I enjoyed giving them a short tour around – even if it was just around the boat. Like all times I’ve snorkeled, I was once again, amazed by the underwater world.
I couldn’t get pictures of any fish, however, I was able to get some shots of the beautiful corals Bataan had. My siblings also enjoyed taking photographs underwater, thanks to our underwater camera.
I remembered how tiring it was to snorkel. We only snorkeled for about an hour or so and then my Dad, who was feeling sea sick urged us to go back to the resort.
For a few hours in the sea part of Bataan, I was contented. I enjoyed seeing the turtles, even having my own one on one time with them, enjoyed learning about them and I definitely enjoyed getting to snorkel again. Maybe the next time I go to Bataan, I can visit their White Beach.
I didn’t get the boatman’s number, but you can just choose from the many boatmen who linger along the shores. If you happen to be in an established resort, you could ask the front desk for help.
If you visit Bataan, there’s also a big chance you can get a beautiful Bataan sunset.