I have been to several beach resorts in the Philippines, and it’s easy to compare their facilities, prices and convenience in getting there. Unlike in Puerto Galera, Boracay, or Mactan island where structures mushroom side by side, All Hands Beach resort in the former American naval base slumbers alone on the western side of the Subic Bay free port. It used to be an exclusive swimming area for US naval officers. But it was abandoned when Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991.Other facilities-fuel depot, barracks, warehouses, radar stations, piers, gas pumps, airfield, hangars, etc.-were likewise vacated and turned over to the government.
It took years before the beachfront and swimming area was developed into an affordable resort, which is about three-hour drive from Manila.Or you may commute to Olongapo City by Victory Liner bus which has terminals in Cubao and Pasay in the metropolis. In Olongapo you can rent a taxi or coaster for a few dollars to get to the resort .All Hands Beach has overnight facilities for honeymooners, retirees, and tourists. For picnickers and day-trippers all you have to pay is its entrance fee of about $12 per head. You can bring your own food to the resort.
What I like most about the resort is their swimming area which is marked by small orange-painted wooden buoys on a piece of plastic rope. At the far end or about 10 ft deep, two wooden rafts using empty fuel drums as floaters, are tied down that serve as diving platforms. The last time I was there I swam with my son toward the platforms while my two daughters were paddling the kayaks within the swim area.
If you are adventurous, you may ride tandem on the resort’s jet skis which you could use to explore the bay.Another thing I like about the resort is its vantage point to view the bay particularly the ship building facilities and dry docks of the Hyundai Heavy Industries Inc., one of the biggest outside Korea. The gantry cranes and container ships at the opposite side of the bay could be a reason to stay longer at the beach at sunset. Some evening the bay is aglow with lights from visiting cruise liners or aircraft carriers from the US 7th Fleet based in Hawaii or other foreign navies.You can sleep at the resort soundly at night since there’s not much noise .In the morning you could be awaken by the sound of chirping birds at the adjacent forested area.
As its contribution to the preservation of endangered species, All Hands Beach has a nesting place for porpoises, locally known as pawikan. When the turtles’ eggs are hatched the baby turtles are set free on the beach so they could swim toward the sea. All told, All Hands Beach is just the perfect hideaway for you at least cost.