Last weekend, I returned to Bataan for the third time and went as far as Mariveles, a municipality in the southern tip of Bataan peninsula. Formerly known as Village of Kamaya, Mariveles has 18 barangays (villages) and a population of around 127,000 (based on the 2015 consensus). Probably the most popular tourist destination in this part of Bataan is a group of coves called, Five Fingers, named so due to their coastal features similar to the interdigital folds of a hand, at least when you check its aerial view. But we are not going to talk about Five Fingers, I am going to show you what else you can see in Mariveles for a day.
How to get to Mariveles
There are 3 ways in which you can reach Mariveles: drive, take a bus, ride a ferry. Travel time by land takes 3 to 4 hours.
To know your travel options, click the buttons below.
What to see in Mariveles
A few weeks prior, I searched for some of the places that we could visit. I did the due diligence of checking Google maps for each of their location so we don’t go around aimlessly. The plan is to go to the farthest location then drive back so by the time we’re ready to go home, travel time wouldn’t be as long. Here are the key places that we visited.
Bataan Death March Zero Kilometer Marker
When you visit Bataan, you might notice the several kilometer markers on the road, most of them along MacArthur highway. These are not just any ordinary markers but ones that hold a historical significance. In 1942, over 60,000 to 80,000 Filipino and American prisoners of wars walked—a great number of them to their death—along the 160-km stretch of road from Bataan to Pampanga. This point in history is called, the Bataan Death March, one if not the most terrible of atrocities in recollection during the Japanese occupation.
There are 138 markers, 100 of which can be found in Bataan. The remaining markers can be seen in Pampanga (31) and Tarlac (7). There are two Zero KM markers in Bataan, one in Bagac and another one in Mariveles. The marker that we visited is in the Freeport Town of Mariveles, sitting just beside a Jollibee branch. I know the story of Bataan death march from reading the book, Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides years ago. Because of this, I didn’t feel right about taking a selfie in the monument, hence I just stopped to take a picture of the marker.
Indubitably, the most beautiful spot we visited on this day trip is the Panoypoy Cove, also known as the Batanes of the West. It can be found inside a resort called Claubel, weird name, which I’m pretty sure is two names merged into one (maybe Claude and Annabel? Who knows?!). If Claubel is too hard for you to remember, then ask people about “Hawla Beach”, another name for this resort. Why does it have another name? Go figure.
There is a 100-peso ($1.88) entry fee per head and they will tell you that it’s required to rent one of their cottages for ₱500 ($9.39). We had no intention of going swimming or staying there for long, we only wanted to take pictures of the cove. We begged the attendants to let us in without paying the cottage. It took some convincing but they finally let us through. It turns out that we really won’t be needing the cottage because we decided to skip the beach.
We took the path that goes down to the viewing point of the cove. There, on top of the hills, you can see the amazing view of Panoypoy Cove. I haven’t been to Batanes so I can’t make a valid comparison, but I was impressed by the view nonetheless.
My friends and I had to do a little hike across the hill to get to a better spot. I knew that there’s some hiking involved but I wanted to be “extra” and wore a dress and a pair of gladiator sandals. Ill-dressed for the task but highly determined, I started climbing the rocky hill with one of my friends, Patit. We noticed that the mountain is bald and dry, the grasses are more brown than green. Patit wondered what happened to the trees, I echoed her sentiment. I took extra caution, carrying my tripod on my left shoulder, my brown bag on my right, as I walked on the slightly moist stony ground. The trek was short and doesn’t take a lot of effort, at least if I would compare it with all of my previous climbs. Before long, we were already on the other side to gaze at this view.
When everyone else has gathered to this side of the hill, I called for a group photo. As you can see, my friends are as extra as me, lol. By the time we decided to leave, I was nearing dehydration because of the sun. If you’re ever thinking of going there, make sure to bring water and slather on the sunblock.
Address: Porto Del sol, Circle Brgy. Balon Anito
Have you ever been to the mouth of a volcano? Well, you can easily do that in Mariveles by visiting Balon Anito. The locals call it a hot spring, but in reality, it is the mouth of a dormant volcano. True enough, you can see bubbles coming up on the water’s surface. The water is the color of moss and the crater itself is just the size of a regular swimming pool for kids.
The spring is in the back of Balon Anito Barangay Hall and basketball court. People go there to dip their toes because of the alleged healing properties of the water. I entertained thoughts of dipping my feet but the idea of wetting my sandals changed my mind. I did play with water a little with my hands just to know if the water is warm, it is but not as hot as I thought it’d be.
There were no other tourists when we went there. A local told us that if we don’t know how to swim then it’s best not to do it because the spring may be small, but it is deep.
Address: Barangay Balon Anito, Freeport Area of Bataan
San Miguel Lighthouse & San Miguel Peak
The smallest lighthouse I have ever seen can be found on the tip of Sisiman. San Miguel Lighthouse lies on the foot of a small mountain called, San Miguel Peak. My friend, Pancake, climbed this mountain with her son on her previous visit. By the time we reached the place, the sun was at its highest, taking out any thoughts of conquering the peak.
Going to the lighthouse entails a few minutes of walk over a dirt road sandwiched between San Miguel Peak and Sisiman Bay. There are small rundown cottages on the side of the bay, empty saved for one that looks like it’s being used as a place of residence.
Walking at around 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon heat can be oppressing, thus I used my umbrella. It only succeeded in shading the upper part of my body, I had to endure the heat on my feet. At last, we reached the white lighthouse that no visitors are allowed to climb. It looks so small and lonely. On the back of the lighthouse, somebody pitched a tent. I looked at it and wondered how could anyone stay in there under the intense heat of the sun.
I went down to the shore bedecked with huge boulders and rocks to take some photos. The wind that was blowing was a small mercy, but it was not enough to make us want to stay longer. My guesstimate is that we were only there for no more than 15 or 20 minutes.
Address: Barangay Balon Anito, Freeport Area of Bataan
Where to eat in Mariveles
For our lunch, we went to Pupung Grill, a Filipino restaurant. It can be found on the side of Roman Superhighway facing the Mariveles Bay. They serve Filipino food but the area in which we were seated had a Japanese theme going on. I was momentarily disoriented but the place looks decent so I guess, it was no big deal.
We went there after having coffee, thus we were not starving and had the patience to wait for the food. We ordered several dishes for sharing, my most favorite of which is the sinigang na bangus and ensaladang talong. Price range plays between ₱200 to 500 ($3.76 – $9.39).
Address: Ave of the Philippines, Freeport Area of Bataan
Where to get coffee in Mariveles
There is not a lot of cafes in Mariveles to my disappointment. On googling we found Iwahori Coffeeshop, the in-house cafe of Iwahori Guesthouse. It claims that it offers healthy coffee, I was naturally curious. We entered a rather drab looking place, small and aesthetically unimpressive. It doesn’t look anything like the cafes that you can find in the city.
I ordered a cup of hot latte ₱60 ($1.13), which according to the barista is their bestseller. I was disappointed to find out that they are offering instant coffee from a product that came from Malaysia. It’s not that I don’t drink instant coffee, it’s just that it’s supposed to be a cafe, of course, I would expect that at the least they’d serve brewed coffee. There was nothing spectacular about the latte that it got me wondering how it became a bestseller. Nonetheless, I finished my cup in peace, not the best but I’ve had worse. At least the staff was nice to us. We asked them what else we could see in Mariveles but all of their suggestions, save for Five Fingers, were already included in our itinerary.
Address: 156 Lakandula St. Poblacion
We couldn’t find Sisiman Beach, our supposed last stop. It was a little before 3:00 p.m., too early to go home, but that’s what we ended up doing when somewhere along the way it started raining hard. The trip back to the crowded city took longer considering the traffic. Nevertheless, we all agreed, it has been a successful day trip.
This trip pushed through at the request of Pancake who is leaving for Ireland soon. It’s been a long time since our group went somewhere together, it was nice to have a sort of a last hurrah before one of us leave the country for good.
Itinerary & Expenses
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