The last time we’ve been to Bataan was ages ago – for a team meeting and overnight stay at the Napocor Housing Village in Bagac. Previous to that we had a team R&R time at the Dambana ng Kagitingan (Shrine of Valor) at Mt. Samat in nearby Pilar town and a visit to one of the gray sand beaches in Bagac just adjacent to the Montemar Beach Resort. For so long after that, Bataan province – even though only 2-3 hours from Metro Manila – held no special appeal to our beach-bumming, island-hopping instincts. That was until we started looking for beach destinations within 3 hours drive from Metro Manila.
Just within the past year, beach destinations such as Laki Beach and the Five Fingers coves in Mariveles Bataan have become popular almost overnight. We thought about both destinations for our next jaunt but decided to reserve those for a joint trip with friends. Our sights turned instead to Playa la Caleta, a previously unknown beach cove off Morong town.
Uncovering Playa la Caleta
Playa la Caleta may be reached by boat from Bagac, a town just south of Morong. We decided to stay overnight at a beachfront resort in Bagac after a brief tour of the towns along the Roman Superhighway and the Gov. J.J. Linao National Road and a visit to the Pawikan (sea turtle) Conservation Center in Morong. The following day we hopped aboard a boat at the resort beachfront for Playa la Caleta.
We made the trip to Playa la Caleta over calm waters in slightly more than 20 minutes, passing by the Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Bagac’s most famous tourist attraction, along the way. The cove features a sandy beach surrounded by turquoise-green waters with a lush forest providing a perfect backdrop.
Some of the blogs or websites that have featured Playa la Caleta have often referred to the white sand beach here. On closer inspection, however, the sand is creamy white in color with a mixture of dark gray sand. It looks very similar to the sand of Anawangin and Nagsasa Coves in Zambales although the latter is actually volcanic material (lahar).
What struck us most about Playa la Caleta’s beach, though, is its clear waters; one can easily see the ripples on the sand below. The beach here also slopes very gradually out towards the sea making it perfect for swimming. We were able to wade a good distance away from the shore with the water remaining waist-deep.
Playa la Caleta is actually the name of the resort developer (Playa la Caleta Waterfront Estates). Despite the place being “developed” it seems the owners have done a good job of keeping the place pristine and clean. The open cottages and huts are native-style and made of wooden materials. New air-conditioned rooms have been built but they blend almost effortlessly with the surroundings.
There’s a lot guests can actually do here. The resort offers water activities including kayaking, paddle boarding and sand-skiing. Miniature Miguelito Island is connected by a sandbar to the southern edge of Playa la Caleta and may be accessed by foot during low tide. It is known for its gorgeous tidal pool although it was submerged when we arrived here. Our boatman said the best time to see it is during the summer when the tides are much lower. Visitors may also try cliff-diving and snorkeling here. For a change of scenery, one may hike the forest behind the beach to a waterfall that during this rainy season was sure to be impressive-looking.
For this trip, however, we were content with swimming in Playa la Caleta’s waters, lazing under the cool shade of the numerous trees along the beach front and simply enjoying the magnificent views. We soon observed a resident Brahminy kite circling overhead, searching for its prey and soon joined by her juvenile infant. We were practically the only ones on the beach this morning allowing us to savor some precious tranquil moments surrounded by God’s beautiful works of art.
Getting There and Other Tips
For the moment, Playa la Caleta may be reached by boat from Bagac town. The resort owners told us that it should be accessible by land soon. They’ve already cleared a parking area along the national road and are completing the finishing touches on a forest road from there to the resort. Soon guests should be able to leave their cars at the parking area and an ATV will drive them to the resort from there.
Bagac from Metro Manila via public transportation:
Take a Genesis or Bataan transit bus to Balanga in Bataan. The Genesis bus terminals are in Pasay (beside the MRT terminal) and Rizal Ave. (Avenida) at the back of the Philippine Rabbit terminal. Bataan Transit terminals are in Rizal Ave. near the Genesis terminal and in Cubao. Fare is P200 and the travel time is about 3 hours.
At Balanga take a jeep to Bagac town (P47). At Bagac town take a trike to any of the resorts along the beach south of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar and arrange to have a boat take you to Playa la Caleta. The boats are usually big enough for 10-12 people. Standard rate is P1,800 for the two-way trip (the boat can wait for you or come back to pick you up).
Bagac from Metro Manila via private vehicle:
Nowadays you simply use any navigation app to guide you. However, it is worth noting that there are 2 main routes to choose from – the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) – Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) route where you exit at Dinalupihan and drive down the Roman Super Highway (N301) to Balanga then onto Bagac town. The other is through the NLEX then exit at San Fernando and on to Lubao, Pampanga and Dinalupihan via the Jose Abad Santos Ave, (the old Olangapo-Gapan Road). The latter is the shorter route but will pass through more thickly populated town centers in Pampanga. Travel time is normally 2-3 hours depending on traffic.