As someone who’s called Bataan home for most of her formative years, the invitation to visit my hometown comes up quite often with college friends and co-workers. To my chagrin, I would often be met by the following questions:
“Bataan? Ang layo naman sa Manila nu’n!” (Bataan? But that’s so far from Manila!)
“Ano ba ang makikita sa Bataan?” (What is there exactly to see in Bataan?)
Many of my clueless yet well-meaning friends from Manila seem to think that Bataan is some distant backwater where one would spend half a day traveling by car or would need a plane to reach, while they have no problem making plans in places like Zambales, which is actually farther and the towns more distantly spaced.
Of course, I would point out the errors in their misconceptions by saying, a. Bataan is only two hours and thirty minutes away from Manila by car, and b.) There are lots of sights to see in Bataan, actually, mainly beaches. Bataan is after all a peninsula, meaning the entire province is surrounded by water. And though its tourism flies slightly under the radar, it would be completely false to say that there is nothing to see in this nature-filled province. This small peninsula would seem to have it all, from mountains worth hiking, to waterfalls that are calling to be explored, and everything else in between. To the outdoorsy types, Bataan is a quick getaway from Manila to fulfill your craving for adventure!
Mariveles is a seaside town in Bataan, known for its freeport area where designer bags and other products are being manufactured. But there’s more to their industrial zone, like the Five Fingers, a series of coves to the west of Mariveles, that look like five fingers spread out.
Mariveles’ Five Fingers have recently gone viral on social media, and has even sparked interest among media outlets, hailing it as the next adventure destination. There is good reason to explore the Five Fingers, its proximity to Manila being one of them. In fact, you can even clearly see Manila Bay from the coast of Mariveles! While there are no ferry services as of the moment, there are talks of reviving the ferry shuttling to and from Manila Bay, which would only last about 30 to 45 minutes.
Our tour for the weekend is Mariveles local Rustan Jalos Padua, a petrol safety engineer by day, and founder of the community page Bataan Weather Page on Facebook by night. It was his page that first published the beautiful drone shots of the Mariveles Five Fingers, which we also wrote about here. Since then, he has been getting non-stop inquiries about what has been dubbed, “The Batanes of the West”, so he decided to form a tour group that would show visitors the natural and untouched beauty of these coves.
We met up at a fast food joint in Mariveles, which was right beside the zero-kilometer marker for the World War II Death March, another landmark in the town. After a few words on the historical monument, we headed off to Porto del Sol, the jump-off point to the coves, boarding a local bangka.
So, what exactly can you do at the Five Fingers? Here are just some of the land and water adventures we took on:
As implied by the name, there are five of the “fingers” or coves to be explored, as well as nearby rock structures. The cove-to-cove adventure touches base on the following locations: Talaga Beach, Apatot Cove, Pulong Kawayan Cove, Tinanlakan Cove, and Nagbintana Arch. You can swim by the lagoon, take a walk on the light-colored sand, and even explore underwater rivers.
After leaving the port, 10 minutes later we landed in the quiet Apatot Cove, which was also home to all colorful kinds of sea life nearby the shore. Rustan’s group will provide snorkeling masks, but you can bring your own if you’d like.
The marine scene comes to life underneath the pristine waters, with different schools of fish swimming about. If you’re not a good swimmer, then it’s best to snorkel with a life vest so you can just float away and enjoy the view.
At the Tinanlakan Cliff by the beautiful Natsu Lagoon is a site for cliff diving that’s sure to bring adrenaline rushes to brave souls. There are several heights you can jump from, with cliffs that are 10-foot and 15-foot high. If you’re up for a real adventure, YOLO away and cannonball from a 40-foot high cliff!
In addition to cliff diving, there are several rock formations you can climb to get a good view of the sea.
Sightseeing and Nature Photography
Mariveles’ Five Fingers and other nearby areas are a treasure trove for nature photographers, with many naturally photogenic locations providing for breathtaking pictures.
Bataan is also home to migratory pawikans, or sea turtles, with the Pawikan Conservation Center as the main sanctuary for these endangered creatures. If you are lucky, you can witness the hatching of pawikan eggs, which are in season around January-February. The hatchlings are released to the sea, and if they survive their sea journey, they will always come back to where they came from as mature pawikans, laying their own eggs in return as the cycle repeats.
An action-packed trip calls for a hefty lunch break, and we had just that at the Talain Cove, with a sumptuous boodle feast, as we were served the freshest catch of the day — crab, shrimp, and steamed rice, with fresh watermelon to finish the meal off.
The tour wasn’t over yet, as we had one last stop to make: the famed “Batanes of the West”, where you can watch the sunset overlooking the horizon. It’s the perfect ending to an awe-filled day.
You can watch the video posted by Bataan Weather Page:
A trip to Bataan will renew your senses and let you marvel at some of the country’s best spots. Best of all, this can be done over the weekend. You may check in at the nearby The Oriental Bataan for a true paradisiacal experience, or you can even do a quick drive back to Manila afterward!
Rustan’s group offers the Mariveles Five Fingers tour on weekdays and weekends. You may check out their Facebook page, Bataan Weather Page for inquiries on rates and schedules.
Mariveles Five Fingers
Contact Rustan Padua at facebook.com/BataanWeatherPage for inquiries
Tag a friend you’re doing this cove-to-cove adventure this weekend![fb_instant_article_ad_01]?