The concept of holiday getaways and going to the beach are extremely synonymous with each other. Not a small amount of music and references in popular culture have been made between the two.

From classic songs such as On the beach by Neil Young and Kokomo by the Beach Boys (whose entire act in fact, centered around the beach theme which in turn inspired the whole surfer sub-culture that persists to this day) to movies like the Adam Sandler – Drew Barrymore Romantic Comedy 50 First dates, the animated Pixar movie Finding Nemo, and the classic Steven Spielberg summer blockbuster Jaws, the appeal of beaches has permeated the entire subconscious of popular media.

Indeed, the trend has even penetrated into the small screen with the David Hasselhoff-led television series Baywatch and the more recent (and way more angst filled and melodramatic) The O.C.. But this development is actually much older than the mediums mentioned – older than television and films.

Famed Scottish novelist and travel writer Robert Louis Stevenson became famous for his beach-centric work “Treasure Island” and “The Beach of Falesá”. In fact, the cultural phenomena that is “going to the beach” can be traced back to the 17th century, when Dutch seascape paintings inspired travelers and art connoisseurs to seaside towns to see and experience the sights for themselves. This development was further aided by the fact that many doctors during the time began prescribing bathing in the cold sea as a countermeasure for medical conditions.

In modern times, going to the beach is usually relegated to the summer months but this is not the case for a tropical country like the Philippines. Indeed, aside from the few months (usually around August) when the climate tends to be on the rainy side of things, going to the beach can be a year-round activity in this country.

And with the Subic Bay Freeport becoming a top tourist destination (declared as top four in the country and top one in the region by the Philippine Department of Tourism), it is with no embellishment to claim that the place never lacks for hotels and resorts. In fact, with such a wide array and variety of accommodations to choose from, where should the average weekend warrior / beach-goer should prioritize to go to?

It is with this reason in mind that this list of the best beach resorts in the Freeport was created. In order to stay as objective as possible, the rankings are going be determined via the following five criteria, from one (1) to ten (10) with ten being the best:

  • Service
    • The courtesy and attentiveness displayed by the facility staff to the guest
  • Food & Beverage
    • The overall quality of the food and beverage offerings, the time it took to prepare and the variety of selection
  • Building and Grounds
    • The physical condition of the structure and the conveniences provided in it, such as parking areas, fitness facilities, swimming pools, and business centers. It also includes the both the exterior’s and the interior’s aesthetic appeal, safety considerations and overall cleanliness
  • Rooms
    • The quality of the rooms themselves and the conveniences within, including but not limited to: beds and beddings, kitchen facilities, internet access, personal items, towels, recreational area(s), and general cleanliness.
  • Beach and View
    • The proximity of the facility to the beach and related facilities and how visually charming the view from within the hotel’s individual rooms is.

So with no further ado, here are the top ten beach resorts in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, as told by us:

  1. Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel

    Camayan Beach was formerly known as Miracle Beach during the days of the US Naval presence in Subic Bay Freeport. The management team of Ocean Adventure, one of the most well-known theme parks in the area, assumed responsibility for then-Miracle Beach, in December, 2002.

    It was in July, 2005 when the first hotel building structure was completed that Camayan Beach Resort opened itself for business.

    The facility is a very unique and fascinating combination of the best qualities of Subic Bay: the lush green forests of West Ilanin and the glittering sandy shores of Subic Bay.

    Their dive shop is a proud member of Green Fins and Reef Check, programs designed to monitor and protect the fragile marine environment. Their knowledgeable beach staff helpfully inform guests on how to treat marine life respectfully.

    The hotel also works closely with the NGO Wildlife in Need to protect marine and forest animals. Because their beach is a well established sea turtle nesting site, they are apparently dedicated to carefully monitoring sea turtle activity, protect nests, and collecting data on emerging hatchlings.

    Moreover, Camayan Beach Resort is the only privately-owned business in Subic Bay to build and operate their own sewage treatment plant, ensuring that their advocacy to protect the environment is something they take to heart

    Guests are sure to appreciate convenient onsite amenities such as barbecue grills and a dedicated picnic area. The waters appear to be quite pristine and are very inviting and the landscaping is well manicured. The view from the veranda alone, may be very well worth the price alone.

    The beach though is open to the general public during the day so it might get a bit crowded especially during long weekends or holidays or worse – the rentable bamboo huts might be full by the time you get there. As with most other beach resorts in the area, guests can bring their own food and beverages for a small cover charge.

    And of course, it would be remiss of us not to mention that the facility is just beside the Ocean Adventure Theme Park, first open-water marine theme park in Southeast Asia and probably the most well known entertainment facility in the Freeport.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  2. Hotel Kamana Sanctuary Resort and Spa

    Nestled between an old growth rain forest and the gentle Nabasan Bay, Kamana Sanctuary is a unique destination in the Subic Bay Freeport.

    Its best quality is its secluded-ness; it is roughly 30 to 40 minutes away from the Freeport’s Central Business District. It is incredibly serene and you can rest your mind knowing that the stress of city living and it hectic-ness are miles away from you. Waking up to the breath taking view and relaxing sounds of the Ocean is something guests will surely appreciate.

    While it has no in-house spa facility, the hotel does offer an in-room massage service. The masseurs are independent contractors though so the experience might vary wildly from time to time.

    Sadly, Wi-Fi coverage is only available in the restaurant area and does not include any of the rooms at all. And even if you manage to connect through their Wi-Fi, it tends to be somewhat slow and intermittent, although this might be attributable to the isolated location of the hotel.

    Cleanliness also seems to be an issue at times. But such is the case when a resort is so far removed from civilization. Some plant debris may populate the beach line and the water itself at times.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  3. All Hands Beach Subic

    Located in between the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) and the SBITC (Subic Bay International Terminal Corp. Inc.), All Hands Beach Subic is another prime spot for beach-going travelers in the Freeport.

    The beach itself has clear, calm and oft warm waters ideal for any type of beach activities. The lack of any adjacent residential community or inland bodies of water keep the area virtually free from any pollution. The waves don’t get much higher than six (6) inches throughout the day so it is perfect for small children.

    Indeed, the gradually sloping depth of the shoreline also makes All Hands Beach a great swimming location for visitors of all ages.

    There is also a healthy amount of coral reefs in the area, so guests can swim side by side with multitudes of tropical fished. In addition, turtle lovers are in for a delight because marine turtles use the beach as a nesting site annually from around October all the way to February.

    The cabanas for rent along the beach can fit up to ten guests, but since the beach is open to the public during the day, they can easily run out. And the view even from just the huts is truly spectacular.

    It is currently undergoing development by Brighterday Subic Ltd.,Inc.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  4. Segara Villas & Segara Suites

    Segara Villas and Suites is a boutique hotel located at the very South Eastern end of Waterfront Road, all the way across from the Lighthouse Marina Hotel and The Villas. The facility is suffused with modern Asian flair, in particular Balinese. Situated right in front of the port area, the place is an ideal accommodation for business travelers who require a quick and convenient access to the Port of Subic.

    Segara Villas has two varieties of private units to choose from. Both come with a king size bed (with 600 thread count linens), flat screen LCD TV with DVD player, safety deposit box, hair dryer and a mini bar. All villas have been carefully furnished with distinctive color schemes and decorated with beautiful accents handpicked for each room individually. Asian artifacts, vibrant fabrics, and natural textures have been thoughtfully chosen to personalize the space – making n two rooms identical to any.

    Meanwhile, Segara Suites is the more economic alternative choice with about 18 units. All rooms have a private veranda, glass shower stage, in room electronic safe, electric kettle, hair dryer, and 34” LCD TV.

    Overall, the hotel’s Thai style ambiance shines through because of its mostly closed off location. Unlike the heavily hotel populated north eastern end of the boulevard, Segara Villas and Suites are located on the opposite end, in a unique location right across from the port area. While this makes the entrance to the hotel look rather unglamorous and a bit too industrial, any undue impression made by it are immediately overwhelmed by the style and grace that permeate the facilities upon one’s entrance.

    Their massage service is also superb.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  5. Terrace Hotel Subic

    A Mediterranean style accommodation that’s right in the middle of the Waterfront hotel area making it a prime choice for travelers who wish to indulge themselves with all the nightlife amenities offered by the Central Business District.

    The hotel’s best feature is the swimming pool deck at its very top. It is spacious and is perfect for group parties and gatherings. In addition to the child friendly infinity pool in the roof deck, the area also provides a good view of the bay and the Waterfront boulevard. It probably is the best spot to be in during Subic Bay’s annual New Year Fireworks demonstration.

    It is located in what is quite literally the center of nightlife in the Central Business District which is both a boon and bane, depending on your point of view. People who love the nightlife will enjoy hopping from one place to the next, listening to a wide variety of live bands while dining and wining. However, people who might want to have a restful night may find the din and clamor from the many music bars and entertainment centers around a tad too noisy and bothersome.

    Internet speed tends to be quite spotty at times though, and the connection itself is noticeably slower compared to other hotels in the area.

    Welltz Bar & Resto is Terrace Hotel’s in-house restaurant and serves a variety of meals and drinks.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  6. Moonbay Marina Leisure Resort (The Villas)

    Tucked away in the corner of Waterfront Road is the Moonbay Marina Leisure Resort, also known as the Villas. Influenced by seaside renaissance residences in France and Spain, The Villas has 44 rooms available for guests. Just like the Lighthouse Marina Resort, the Villas also exudes a Mediterranean aura which matches the surroundings well.

    It boasts of a rather sizable pool located at its very center which adorned with the typical umbrella-covered tables and a mini bar. The 44 rooms are set up just like small townhouses surrounding the pool. The pool is temperature regulated so it is very convenient for night swimmers, however, visitors should make it a point to apply insect repellent spray or cream to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes which tend to lurk around during night time. However, since the pool is open to the public during the daytime, it can get somewhat crowded.

    The rooms themselves are quite spacious and are outfitted with a sink, a stove burner, a refrigerator, a toaster oven, and a hot water pot. On the other hand, thee are no dishes, silverware, pots or pans to be used with the other kitchenware. Moreover, there is only one television set per room and is unusually placed inside the bedroom instead of the living room area.

    Another downside is the hotel’s lack of a conference room or anything of the sort so it will not make for good accommodation for a company outing. Although the 10% discount voucher for entrance to Ocean Adventure that is offered to guests at the reception area is quite convenient.

    The hotel also has a good billiard table available to its guests.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  7. The Lighthouse Marina Resort

    In all likelihood, the most iconic entry on this list, being featured in numerous coverages of the the Freeport. Ever since its establishment in 2007, the Lighthouse Marina Hotel has distinguished itself from among its competitors in the densely packed hotel section of the Central Business District. With its three-story and 34-room facility, it has played host to some of the most illustrious dignitaries and affluent visitors to the Freeport.

    Situated right in front of the shores of Subic Bay, the Lighthouse also boasts a swimming pool right beside the bar (which may make taking a dip in the late afternoon a tad uncomfortable when a multitude of people head to the area for a drink). In addition, and since it is located in the hotel-centric area of the Freeport, there is a very convenient access to a wide plethora of entertainment like the Harbor Point Ayala Mall and an array of multi-national restaurants and bars to satisfy one’s craving for the nightlife.

    Within the Lighthouse Hotel itself, is the Sand’s Resto Grill which prides itself on its fusion of fine dining and casual eating. Known for its exotic and palatable Mediterranean dishes, the restaurant has since turned over a new leaf with its new and expanded menu. A particular thing of note are their promotions: grill and pasta buffets which they do every Saturday and the Chef’s special buffet every last Saturday of the month. And while somewhat limited, there is nightly entertainment in the restaurant from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM.

    As mentioned, the lighthouse has its own bar which is the 720° London Music Bar. Located at the very base of the 20-meter lighthouse tower, the bar boasts an extensive wine selection and unique specialty cocktails. The second floor of the bar allows for a panoramic view of Subic Bay, however, the area beyond the hotel is not well maintained and is often overgrown with weeds and littered with trash (though this is not the hotel’s fault)

    The hotel’s iconic structure, that is the actual lighthouse, is sadly not always accessible to patrons (for security reasons most likely). There is however, a Banco de Oro ATM within the hotel premises which is a big plus for weekenders.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  8. Arizona International Hotel

    Situated along the shores of Subic Bay in Barrio Barretto, Olongapo City, Arizona International Hotel offers great accommodation intermingled with a sports bar, dive shop and even its own floating bar.

    With its Australian Management, Arizona prides itself with its 33 well-appointed rooms, an international class restaurant and a variety of entertainment activities suitable for all tastes and budgets.

    The resort’s signature restaurant, South Seas Bar & Grill offers a daily barbeque buffet showcasing imported Australian meats and fresh salads. The restaurant is also the only place in the Barreto area that has a live and fresh seafood bar. And to top it all off, the restaurant is open 24 hours.

    Guests can share their enthusiasm with other sports nuts at Arizona’s Score Bar. Open from sun down until the wee hours of the morning, the bar features a competition class pool table, dart board, and four large flat screens offering sports of all sorts. NRL, Premier League Soccer, NASCAR, American Football, Rugby, UFC, Cricket, F1 and Boxing, just to mention a few.

    The Arizona Floating Bar offers guests a chance to experience all the hospitality and great food offered by Arizona out on the waters of Subic Bay. The two-story facility is a prime spot for drinking with buddies while taking in the magnificent view of the sun setting over the waters of Subic Bay.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  9. Blue Rock Beach Resort

    Blue Rock Beach Resort is another great resort in the Subic Bay – Olongapo area. Located in Baloy, Barretto, it is good place to stay in for people who love live band music.

    All of its 39 rooms are well outfitted with amenities such as cabled flat screen TVs, mini bar, dresser, air-conditioning units, and a private bathroom with hot and cold shower. All rooms are quite spacious and are well stocked with supplies guests will expect from more expensive accommodations.

    The very lobby of Blue Rock exudes character. Its nautical yet homey theme is something to appreciate. In addition, the 24-hour staff can always be counted on to be always attentive and courteous.

    The food in the restaurant is consistently good and both the serving size and overall quality are well worth their price. The big sized servings make their restaurant a perfect choice for large groups of people looking for a good place to have a delicious meal.

    In addition to the beach, Blue Rock also has an outdoor swimming pool that is located close to the bar. In fact, it may be so close, that bar patrons may occasionally be splashed with water.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  10. Wild Orchid Beach Resort

    A picturesque yet still affordable resort that’s set alongside the shores of Subic Bay in Barrio Barretto. The most noticeable characteristic of this resort are their big and spacious facilities; the parking lot is expansive enough that parking is incredibly trouble free, the outdoor swimming pool is large and clean and is great for swimming, and most importantly of all, the rooms themselves are impressively spacious and furnished with all the important amenities guests need for luxury.

    The pool is designed with a tropical garden motif that makes it ideal for outdoor gatherings such as birthday parties or company outings. Indeed, Wild Orchid has a conference room for more formal gatherings like seminars, meetings, or workshops.

    The food served by their restaurant is quite delicious and affordable. However, the preparation of the food though seems to be woefully long – longer than necessary even. The staff, most of whom seem to be new at their jobs, are sometimes inattentive and lack proper management.

    There seems to be quite an issue with maintaining cleanliness in the place. Rubbish seem to clutter the are around the pool every so often and aren’t cleared as soon as it ought to be. Also, the rooms and the main structure itself are quite dated, and it shows from time to time.

    Despite these, the resort still holds a lot of promise and can stand toe to toe with the best resorts in the area. It just really needs to address these issues.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

  11. Special mention / New Contender: ACEA Subic Bay

    A relatively new resort in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, so new in fact, that it is still under development. Nevertheless, this new beach resort is poised to be a top choice by travelers because of its aesthetic appeal and convenient location.

    The rooms are quite spacious and are well equipped. The bathrooms in particular are pretty delightful. The water pressure is more than adequate and the heating system is superb.

    The food that they serve while a bit on the expensive side is quite delicious and the serving is neither too small nor too big. The view from the restaurant is also quite remarkable.

    The fact that it is only recently established is quite apparent in quite a few ways. For one, there are no wait staff in the pool area so it’s virtually impossible to order meals or beverages while lounging there. The options for the breakfast buffet are quite limited and lack variety. The most glaring perhaps is that the welcome beverage that they provide guests seem to be a local powdered iced tea drink – not at all befitting their eminent image and branding.

    Service: ?? out of 10
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    TOTAL / OVERALL RATING: ?? out of 10

Indeed, Subic Bay Freeport is a great choice for beach-goers. With the opening of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) and its connection to the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) which effectively reduces travel time from the Philippine Capital Metro Manila to the Freeport to just roughly two and a half hours, traveling here has never been easier or trouble-free.

While Boracay still holds the top place when it comes to surf and sand, there is something to be said about the ease and convenience of travelling from the National Capital Region to Subic Bay.

And now, the same convenience and speed also applies for travelers from the north, from Tarlac to Baguio, and even all the way from the Ilocos Region. Through the recently completed Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway (TPLEx), travel from the Ilocos Region to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone is less than two and a half hours.

Moreover, Subic Bay outshines the competition when it comes to its multicultural appeal. Its propensity for being the melting point for people of various races, gender, ages, interests and nationalities make it ideal whether for a quick weekend getaway or a venue for events.

Whether its food, drinks, music, accommodation, or just plain culture, the Subic Bay Freeport has got it all inspired by a multitude of influences such as Oriental, American, British, Irish, and of course, the local.

So what do you think? Did we miss your favorite Beach Resort in the Subic Bay – Olongapo area? Or would you like to change or adjust the scores for some of our entries? Leave your comments below to let us know and join in on the discussion.

Just always remember that when it comes to beaches, it always MORE FUN in Subic Bay!

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