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Through the 20th century, Subic Bay, about 100km northwest of Manila, was known largely only to US Navy personnel, having been until 1992 the site of a 262 square mile base the US had taken from the Spanish. Fast-forward to the 21st century and the area has reinvented itself as a popular tourist spot offering extreme sports, ocean parks, safaris and plenty of duty-free shopping – as well as excellent wreck diving. The old base is today the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, a tax- and duty-free zone, with restaurants, shops and hotels located in the Central Business District. Tourist attractions – largely theme parks (Ocean Adventure, Tree Top Adventure, Zoobic Safari…) and beaches – are found a few kilometres south.
Thanks to its proximity to the capital, Subic is a popular destination among Manileños, offering a smattering of hotels largely in the mid-range bracket. Among them are a handful of standout spots though, from those aimed at cycling fans and families to spots with private beaches and bars in lighthouses. Here’s our pick of the bunch.