There's plenty for families in Subic Bay with several popular wildlife-themed parks south of the Freeport Zone.
Illegal logging was nonexistent in the Freeport Zone during the American years and as a result the area has some fantastically pristine jungle trekking. The Subic Bay Tourism Department can help steer you to walks in the large rainforest south of the SBFZ (you’ll need a private vehicle to reach the area), which also has excellent birdwatching.
A unique activity in Subic Bay is the opportunity to learn jungle survival skills from the indigenous Aeta (‘Aeta’ is the term given to the indigenous Negrito population in the area), who were employed to teach US service officers how to survive in the jungle.
The Cubi district (near the Subic airport) is home to the biggest known roosting site of the world’s largest bats: the Philippine fruit bat and the golden-crowned flying fox. Dubbed the ‘Bat Kingdom’, the roosting site moves around from year to year but it isn’t hard to find; just follow your ears around dusk as hundreds of bats take to the sky.
Wreck diving is one of the big adventure draws in Subic. Of the seven wrecks commonly visited by divers, the USS New York (at a depth of 28m) is the most impressive. The battle cruiser was built in 1891 and was scuttled by American troops in 1941 to keep it out of Japanese hands. The New York wreck is penetrable, but this is a huge ship and it is easy to get fatally lost in the endless corridors and passageways. Appropriate training and an experienced guide are vital.
Other wrecks in the harbour include El Capitan (20m), a well-preserved site favoured by photographers for its general intactness, penetrability and prolific marine life; and the San Quintin (16m), home to larger fish such as wrasse, tangs, glasseyes and sweetlips. Both El Capitan and San Quintin are suitable for beginners. Advanced divers might try the LST (Landing Ship, Tank), an American landing craft at 37m.
The Oryuku Maru (Hell Ship; 20m), in which 1600 US prisoners of war were imprisoned and mistakenly killed during an air attack, was off-limits to divers at the time of research.
Visibility in Subic is not what it is elsewhere in the country. The best time for water clarity is from February to April. Dive prices aren’t bad – P1000 to P1500 for a dive, and P16,000 to P18,000 for an open-water course.
Most of Subic's beaches just south of the SBFZ are enclosed in developed resorts with entrance fees, such as Camayan Beach Resort and All Hands Resort, and are popular with rowdy day trippers on weekends, but they are decent enough if you want to laze on a beach close to Manila.
Barrio Barretto (northwest of the SBFZ) has a nice stretch of sand, but as a sleazy sexpat hang-out it's best avoided. There are some nice beaches further north in Zambales, including Anawanigin Cove, but these are best reached by rented car.
The palm-lined stretch of sand that runs along Waterfront Beach isn't considered suitable for swimming due to pollution from the nearby port.