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Ocean Adventure at Subic
Entrance to the Park
Ocean Adventure is located at the edge of Subic Bay in the Philippines. Surrounded by pristine jungle which runs down to the golden sandy beaches it is a 'must visit' for anyone on holiday on Luzon island in the Philippines.
With road improvements Subic Bay is now just two hours away from Manila by public transport and forty five minutes from Angeles. The beaches of Subic Bay are the nearest 'clean water' to Manila. It is clean too, crystal clear and mainly sheltered, making the area an ideal place to dive or snorkle.
This visit took place in March 2009. My last visit was about two years previous.
Ocean Adventure is primarily an Educational Experience offering visitors the chance to view displays given by a variety of Cetaceans and Sealions. There is also a small aquarium and a rescue centre for native mammals and birds.
By very virtue of its location the park offers protection to some of the surrounding jungle which is amongst the best in this area of the Philippines. Olive Ridley turtles actually nest on the beaches within Ocean Adventure.
The Ocean Adventure team take an active role in mammal marine strandings and their expertise has ensured that these are professionally managed.
Neat Paths within the Park
A Shining Example
Having visited no less than 26 public animal collections in the Philippines I can say without a shadow of doubt that this is the most all round professional operation that I have come across. True, it is a commercial operation but unlike so many of its genre it is not pure exploitation. Here animals are extremely well cared for and act as ambassadors in taking a role in putting forward a message.
I will admit it. I had an indirect involvement with dolphins within the UK. I managed Cleethorpes Zoo and Aquarium for a time and my girlfriend was a trainer at Flamingo Park Zoo. 'Cuddles' the UK's first Killer Whale nearly killed me...out of affection, I might add. Although I came to appreciate the extreme caring and dedication the staff had for their marine charges I was always less than happy with the accommodation provided for them. I always thought the dolphins and whales deserved something bigger...and better. I never made a secret of my thoughts on this.
Here in Ocean Adventure I am delighted to see Cetaceans with more than enough space in beautifully clear deep natural seawater. These are backed up by professional caring trainers, well equipped knowledgeable vets and a team who act with a sense of responsibility. I see them pick litter where dropped...regardless of rank. They observe, they question the unfamiliar, are helpful and polite.
View over main performance enclosure
Some of the holding pens
Education and Signage
Signage within Ocean Adventure is excellent. It is neat, clear, informative and interesting. I would like to have seen more 'mind bite' signs to catch those too lazy to read.
The show commentaries were in English and were very clear. They complemented the signs but added that all too important touch of humour that is so critical to the learning process.
The Sealion show was excellent with the introduction and finale by the sealions themselves a memorable experience.
A secluded beach
The aquarium at Ocean Adventure is much smaller than many but it more than makes up for this by being of such high quality. Here the aquariums are vibrant, decorated and alive rather than being just glass boxes full of water. Whereas I was quite pleased with my visit to Manila Ocean Park the aquarium staff there would learn a lot by visiting here.
Tank in Ocean Adventure Aquarium
Multipurpose cages at WIN
Ocean Adventure also operates a small terrestrial zoo where wildlife from the surrounding area are exhibited. Many of these are 'rescues', and where possible these are returned to the wild. Whilst they are in the park they have an important educational role.
At the time of my visit the 'zoo' area was being redeveloped and the animals were being held elsewhere. I did however go and visit and found that this 'off show' housing was vastly superior to practically anything on offer in Manila Zoo.
Camayan Beach Resort
Right next door and associated with Ocean Adventure is the Camayan Beach Resort. This offers first class accommodation, and excellent restaurant, a beautiful beach as well as facilities to dive or canoe...or just chill out. A big plus is free WiFi in all the rooms. This is so often essental today and to be honest I cannot see how hotels get away charging for such an amenity.
Camayan Beach Resort
Somewhere to chill out
Sunset in Subic
I have two criticisms
I have just two criticisms about Ocean Adventure and approach both these from the viewpoint of an average Manilan.
The first is that it is easy enough to arrive in Subic or Olongapo but it is difficult to reach Ocean Adventure from there. It is not a five minute drive but more like half an hour and there is no regular public transport...in fact you would be lucky to find any at all. Taxis are available but they are in the region of 350 Pesos which is well more than you would pay on a bus journey from Manila.
The second is the cost of entry to the park. It is well beyond the means of the average Filipino. The 100 mile catchment area for Ocean Adventure has something in the region of 22 Million people. Of these it is doubtful that less than a tenth could actually afford the entrance fee.
I find it sad that just down the road from the finest animal collection in the Philippines is located on of the worst at 'Zoobic Safari'. This has no connection with Ocean Adventure and is an example of pure animal exploitation. Interesting to note though that they did send staff to the Zookeeper Training Workshop unlike the infamous Manila Zoo.
But Ocean Adventure? Brilliant! Well worth a visit.