When planning a vacation, our family almost always picks a place in the northern part of the country as our destination, never mind our proximity to nice beaches where we live in Southern Tagalog. This is partly due to the north being my first home, and partly because we want a significant enough change of scenery and vibe when going on a trip. Most recently, we went to Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel, and a pleasant change of scenery and vibe it was.
Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel wasn’t even in our plans until we had already settled into our accommodation in Olongapo City last week. We booked a bed and breakfast in Barangay Barretto, home to many resorts, thinking we’d get our beach fix there. However, after taking a stroll on our first day along the barangay’s famed and packed-to-the-hilt Baloy Beach, we ultimately realized we were less than enthused about being on the beach with so many people.
Back in our accommodation that night, I scoured Facebook and Google for resorts in the area that appeared to attract thinner crowds. After coming up with a shortlist, we settled on Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel. Since we were booked in our bed and breakfast in Barretto for the entire trip, the logical and practical option for us was to go on a day tour at the resort rather than getting us a room there.
Getting to Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel
Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel is over 20 kilometers away from where we were staying in Barangay Barretto in Olongapo City. It is situated at Camayan Wharf in the Ilanin Forest West district of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. Going there, we passed through the special economic zone’s central business district and then took Argonaut Highway, where we drove past the Subic Bay International Airport. It was a pleasant drive because when we were not being treated to calming ocean views, we were swaddled by nature. It was, after all, a vast forest we were in.
If you’re driving from Manila, the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX), and the Subic Freeport Expressway will take you there. If toll roads are not an option for you, the fastest way to get to the resort is via San Fernando, Pampanga coming from Bulacan.
All this time we were under the impression that Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel is part of Olongapo. Only when we had come home in Laguna and I did some research did we find out that the resort is, in fact, located in Morong, Bataan. The geography of Subic, Olongapo, and Morong as separate entities vis-a-vis their constitution of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone can be quite confusing to the uninitiated.
Camayan Beach Resort entrance fee and modes of payment
For day tours at the resort, the entrance fee for adults is Php 500 while that for kids is Php 420. A Php 20 environmental fee for each guest is also required at the gate. These fees are to be paid at the cashier’s window to the right of the resort’s entrance. They accept cash and credit and debit card payments for entrance. The environmental fee, however, can be paid only in cash.
Accommodations and cottages at Camayan Beach Resort
Apart from the entrance fee, which is higher than the average of the fees charged by resorts at Baloy Beach, the rates of the accommodations at Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel are another reason why fewer people go there.
Their Superior rooms each cost Php 8,800 per night for two people. They have a floor area of 29.25 square meters and offer a view of either landscaped gardens or the ocean.
Slightly more spacious at 34 square meters are the Deluxe rooms, which each cost Php 9,400 per night for two people. In addition to the bigger floor area, these rooms also come with a private veranda, from which you get a view of the ocean and the sunset.
The Superior and Deluxe rooms alike can accommodate up to five people, with each additional adult charged Php 1,100 and each additional kid charged Php 400.
These rooms are furnished with two queen-size beds, a writing desk, and a minibar. Their amenities include cable TV with HD channels and complementary internet access. The rooms also come with coffee and tea and premium toiletries.
If you’re looking for real luxury, though, go for one of the resort’s Sunset suites. With an area of 68 square meters, the accommodations feature a studio-type living space and a spacious private veranda equipped with sun loungers. The suites are furnished with a king-size bed and a walk-in closet, with a jacuzzi bath and a rain shower to boot. These suites offer panoramic views of Subic Bay and the sunset.
Two people can experience the lavish goodness these suites make possible for Php 14,100 a night. A maximum of four people can be accommodated per suite, with additional occupants charged the same rate as those in other room types. All the amenities that come with the other rooms can be availed of in these luxurious suites.
If you’re going on a day tour as we did, you have the option to rent a cabana for Php 2,000, which we didn’t. There were only three of us, and we felt that the good we could get out of renting a cabana wasn’t enough to justify that rate.
Although day-tour guests may opt not to rent a cabana, they can, however, lounge only in areas that are not in front of the cottages, presumably so as not to hinder the fun of those who are renting. The thing is that the stretch of cabanas covers much of the length of the beach. That means you can lay your mat and other belongings only on either end of the beach, and these areas are rocky and hence less conducive to swimming or snorkeling. If you’re not renting, you have to steer clear of the frontage of the cabanas regardless of whether or not they are occupied. Talk about maximizing profit at the expense of the enjoyment of people who can’t or aren’t willing to pay more than they already have.
They rent out tables and chairs if you have no beach mat with you. The tables are Php 600 each while the beach lounge chairs are Php 150 each.
The Beach at Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel
If I have to rate our experience at Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel, I say it’s high enough to have made me want to go back, regardless of being made to feel like we didn’t pay enough to deserve having the utmost fun there. And that high rating is because of the essentials: the pristine beach, the turquoise sea, the lush forest hugging the shore, and the not-so-distant mountains on the opposite coastline looking like they’re putting on a show despite being all still. I was so taken with the beauty of it all that I told my wife it was probably the best beach we’d ever been to.
The beach was also regularly cleaned. Several times during our eight-hour stay at Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel crewmembers came out to the beach to sweep the sand and gather unwanted objects – mostly fallen leaves and branches – for proper disposal. Apart from the couple of plastic wrappers I picked up and disposed of, the beach was generally not dirty.
You can rent swimming and snorkeling accessories and equipment from the resort. Other activities available are beach volleyball, frisbee, and kayaking. You can also request to go on a bay cruise if you feel like it.
The food at Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel
One other thing we thoroughly enjoyed at the resort was the food, prepared and served at its restaurant, The Reef. We had their carbonara, margherita pizza, fried chicken with fries on the side, and blue lemonade. They were all so tasty and filling, and for a resort that charges high rates, their food was not too expensive. We paid around Php 1,200 for our lunch.
If you’re not fond of big crowds and appreciate the immaculate beauty of nature, Camayan Beach Resort and Hotel is the place for you. But to enjoy it to the fullest on a day tour, it might be best to rent one of their cabanas. Unless, of course, they revise their policies and start allowing guests to lounge in any reasonable area of the beach.
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