(UPDATED MARCH 2019) Sweeping hills and grassy cliffs. The deep turquoise of lagoons merging with the seas’ blues. Long white beaches in quiet coves. The outline of islands and mountains in the distance.
These are the usual picturesque sights at Five Fingers in Mariveles, Bataan, and is named as such by a local because the Five Fingers coves look like fingers from a bird’s eye view.
Mariveles is reached fastest via a one-hour direct ferry ride from Mall of Asia’s sea terminal in Manila. Our group took the earlier 630 am trip to Orion, Bataan, then a 45-minute shuttle to Mariveles. Typical travel option is by bus, though that would normally take at least four hours. At Mariveles town, the jump-off point to Five Fingers can be reached by tricycle.
As we will be staying at a hotel that night, my friends and I opted for a Five Fingers day tour, though overnight camping is also possible. We had made arrangements with Mariveles Five Fingers Tour by Bataan Weather Page (BWP). The first first Five Fingers tour organizer as well as the group recommended by Bataan’s Tourism Office to us and to other tourists, Mariveles Five Fingers Tour by BWP was founded by Rustan Jalos Padua, the local who named Five Fingers. They also lead community activities like beach cleanups, which I appreciate as someone who tries to opt for environment-friendly travel options when I can. The tour organizer’s normal rate for the day tour is P1,299 inclusive of buffet lunch and a snack, while the overnight camping tour is P1,995 with three meals and a snack. There is also a shorter day tour with just a packed lunch for P999.
After registering our names, getting briefed, and donning our life jackets, we made our way to our boat for our cove hopping adventure. A 45-minute boat ride took us to the first finger, Cochino’s Point, where we trekked for around 20 minutes to see a picture-perfect view of hills, cliffs, sea, and Mt. Mariveles in the distance. “Cochino” in Spanish means “pig.”
The second finger is Talaga Point. Here, we stopped for Natsu Lagoon and its 20-foot cliff from which you can jump to the lagoon. “Natsu” in Japanese means summer, which is quite appropriate as the lagoon is perfect for swimming in the summer heat!
After Natsu, we relaxed and swam a bit at Apatot Cove‘s beach, named as such because of the abundant apatot trees in the area.
The hills above Apatot Cove usually offer a picturesque view from the top, but during our visit the hills were razed by fire from the summer heat. Hopefully the hills turn green again come rainy season.
The third finger is known as Hornos Point or Puntang Mahaba, being the longest finger among the five. Here, we passed by Pebble Cave and also Nagmandala Rock, which our guide Yves said is popular for shoots like prenups.
The fourth finger or ring finger is Naiklec Point, and the place to visit here is Mawakis Cove. We just passed by as our group was raring for lunch already, though our guide gave us light sandwich snacks along the way.
For the fifth finger, Longos Kawayan Point, we made a brief stop at Tinanlakan Lagoon, famous for its 40-foot cliff jump. We did not jump ourselves, but just took in the view of the clear waters.
It would take more than 40 minutes to reach the lunch area and also the beach camping site, Aglaloma Beach.
After lunch, we went back to explore more of the fifth finger. We went to the area of Nagbintana Arch, named as such because of the arching passage in the rock formation. Also around the area is a unique ophiolite rock formation called Latain Point. This is my favorite among the rock formations we saw at Five Fingers.
After exploring Latain, we swam for a bit in the nearby clear waters.
As we went on our way back to the mainland, the late afternoon sun kept painting the hills and cliffs around us golden as our group sang songs and laughed on the boat. But when sunset came, we all watched in silence and basked in its colors.
It was a short yet memorable day of swimming, trekking, relaxing, and just spending time with friends.
Summary of tour and rates:
Visit Mariveles Five Fingers Tour by BWP or contact +639663501881 / +63915 248 3726 for questions and reservations. If you are going solo or with only a small group, Saturdays and Sundays are open for joiner tours.
DAY TOUR (what we experienced) – P1299 with trained guide, life vests, first aid kit for emergency, light sandwich snack and lunch with unlimited seafood. They also have an economy rate of P999 for a shorter day tour and with a packed lunch instead of a buffet lunch. Sometimes they have flash sales like P777 for tour to selected sites with no lunch so check their Facebook page above for updates.
OVERNIGHT CAMPING – P1995. Same as above plus campsite entrance fee and dinner on first day and breakfast the next day. Sometimes they also have games and performances like fire dances. Overnight camping is perfect if you want to explore more. During the day tour, we were not able to go to the caves because of our limited time.
How to get there:
Take a one-hour ferry from Mall of Asia Pasay sea terminal to Mariveles (P499) at 11:30 am then take a tricycle to the jump-off point. This is perfect if you are spending overnight at Five Fingers. If you are only going on a day trip and will stay in Mariveles town proper overnight, go on an earlier trip from Mall of Asia to Orion (P450) then take the 45-minute free shuttle to Mariveles. From there, take a tricycle. Here is my account of our ferry experience and how to book: Review: Manila-Bataan ferry ride in less than an hour for P450
Kindly note, though, that the Manila to Mariveles route and vice versa is sometimes not available and the Manila to Orion route is more regular.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to Mariveles from Cubao bus terminals for around P280. Travel time, though, usually takes more than 4 hours.