A Real Ocean Adventure

This is the last of three features on discovering Subic Bay Freeport – a terrific place and I encourage everyone to visit.

The Dolphins at Ocean Adventure

The Dolphins at Ocean Adventure

If it’s thrilling dolphin, sea lion and marine shows you want to see, there’s no need to traipse over to Ocean Park in Hong Kong. Save all that overseas travel money and head to Ocean Adventure in Subic Bay.

Ocean Adventure is Southeast Asia’s only open water Marine Park. It’s fun for the whole family. Animals live and play in a natural setting of clear water swarming with marine life, coral reefs, and a lovely white sand beach.

A close encounter with a dolphin

A close encounter with a dolphin

Ocean Adventure features four main shows – a Walk on the Wild Side, amazing Kenyan acrobats, Sea Lion Marine Patrol and the main attraction, the Dolphin Fiends show.

We started with the Walk on the Wild Side show. Not only is this entertaining, it’s very educational. You get close-up views of the wildlife of the forest and meet some amazing creatures including bats, pythons and owls. You’ll also see how members of the Aeta tribe make fire using just bamboo sticks.

From there it was over to see an amazing troupe of Kenyan acrobats. Boy, talk about being fit. Their act was one breathtaking move after another.

I’d seen them at breakfast in the nearby Camayan Beach Resort and surprised them by speaking a few words of Swahili which I learnt as a child from my father, who was stationed in Kenya during WWII.

After a leisurely lunch it was on to the Sea Lion Marine Patrol. It’s impressive to see just how many tricks a sea lion can do. It was certainly a lot of action and fun.

Ocean Adventure at Subic Bay

Ocean Adventure at Subic Bay

Highlight of the visit was the Dolphin Friends show. We really enjoyed this presentation which is packed with action. We certainly learnt a lot about these highly intelligent and spectacular animals. I’ve seen the shows at Ocean Park in Hong Kong. The Ocean Adventure shows are every bit as thrilling.

Not only do visitors get the chance to see these brilliant creatures in action, but for a small additional fee, you can actually have a one-on-one encounter with them. Treats include swimming with a dolphin, meeting a dolphin in shallow water and even diving with dolphins. Now that’s something you don’t get to do in Hong Kong.

But Ocean Adventure is not all just about fun. There is a very serious conservation side to the operation.

The Ocean Adventure Rescue and Rehabilitation Program is an important part of the park’s commitment to conservation and education. It works closely with the non-profit Wildlife in Need (WIN) to care for sick, injured, or confiscated animals.

To date Ocean Adventure and WIN have received and cared for hundreds of animals including whales, dolphins, sea turtles, monkeys and a variety of birds and reptiles.

A bottle-nose dolphin at Ocean Adventure

A bottle-nose dolphin at Ocean Adventure

It’s heartening to know that all of their dolphins are rescued animals. Some came from the drive fishery in Japan where they were literally hours away from being slaughtered. Others were rescued when they came ashore sick and injured in local Philippine waters and once rehabilitated were unlikely to survive if released.

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Hazel Stuart hosted a lunch

British TV documentary film maker and Bacolod resident Hazel Stuart hosted a lunch on Thursday for Msgr. Gigi Gaston (r), who this week is cerebrating his 54th year as a priest. Joining them for the lunch was British national and Bacolod resident Robert Harland.

British TV documentary film maker and Bacolod resident Hazel Stuart hosted a lunch on Thursday for Msgr. Gigi Gaston (r), who this week is cerebrating his 54th year as a priest. Joining them for the lunch was British national and Bacolod resident Robert Harland.

More Subic Discoveries

In this second of three articles about Subic Bay Freeport, there’s one spot that really is a “must see” attraction for all visitors.

Set in 25 hectares of the lush Ilanin Forest, the Zoobic Safari is a wonderful nature theme park offering visitors a unique opportunity to experience exotic animals roaming in their natural habitat.

Zoobic's Tiger Safari - the only one of its kind in the Philippines

Zoobic’s Tiger Safari – the only one of its kind in the Philippines

It even features a Tiger Safari – the only one of its kind in the Philippines – where tigers freely roam an enclosed area. Visitors can get close to these remarkable beasts from the security of fully protected Jeepneys.

We started our tour in the main hall where one of the park’s knowledgeable guides briefed us. While waiting, there were opportunities to see some of the tigers in cages.

One of the magnificent tigers at the Zoobic Safari

One of the magnificent tigers at the Zoobic Safari

After the briefing, our first port of call was the Zoobic Park, a special petting zoo and animal observation area set in a tropical jungle environment where visitors are introduced to a wide variety of fascinating animals and birds, including deer, ostriches, albino caribou, a bear, monkeys, an eagle, miniature horses, ducks, guinea pigs and ferrets.

From there, we moved to the Serpentarium. Housed in an old US military bunker, visitors can see many different species of snakes including some mean-looking pythons.

An entertaining and educational animal show

An entertaining and educational animal show

We then enjoyed an entertaining and educational animal show in which park rangers show visitors exotic animals and birds. Lots of audience participation.

From there we jumped aboard a Zoobic special ‘train’ which took us to other parts of the park. First stop was the much-awaited Tiger Safari. Sitting comfortably in a caged Jeepney we entered the Tigers’ sanctuary.

Wow! There in front of us was a huge tiger taking  a bath. He paid us little attention as he wallowed in the water. Immediately, another tiger appeared and another and yet another. What an experience.

If you’ve bought a dressed chicken for the tiger’s merienda, park guides tie the bird and throw it outside the vehicle. The tiger then chases the chicken adding to the thrill of the ride before quaffing it at close range.

After that thrilling experience you get to see the tigers up close in their caged areas called Close Encounter. They really are magnificent beasts, but I wouldn’t want to meet one on a dark night!

The adventure is almost over, but wait. There’s more to come.

Next is the Animal Muzoolum, a small museum of  fossils and from there, we walked to Aeta’s Trail where tribe members perform a short show of their traditional dances.

The Aeta's Trail

The Aeta’s Trail

The last thrill of our visit was Croco Loco where we saw an amazing sight of a pit of over 200 crocodiles. We had fun with pieces of chicken on a fishing pole dangling them over these mighty creatures and waiting for one to quickly snap and enjoy a tasty snack.

One of the 200 crocs in the Croco Loco

One of the 200 crocs in the Croco Loco

What a day. If you are planning to visit the Subic Bay area, this really is an attraction not to be missed.