April 25, 2013
Text and photos by Kara Santos
The island fortress of Corregidor is best known as a memorial for the courage, valor, and heroism of its Filipino and American defenders who bravely held their ground against the overwhelming number of invading Japanese forces during World War II.
But if you think Corregidor is just for history buffs and war veterans, think again. In recent years, the island also known as “the Rock” is fast becoming a favorite adventure destination for nature-trippers, families and friends.
For those in Manila for just a short time, Corregidor is ideal for a day trip or overnight trip. Strategically located at the entrance of Manila Bay, about 48 kilometers west of Manila, Corregidor is accessible by 1.5 hour ferry ride aboard Sun Cruises.
If you’ve already done the historical tour of the island or just want to experience it in a different light, try these adventure-packed activities on the island.
If you’re a fan of the reality show The Amazing Race, you’ll be glad to know that you can race through Corregidor’s nature trails, explore the ruins, navigate the fortress’ hidden tunnels and decipher clues just like your favorite teams. The Corregidor Adventure Challenge allows visitors to experience and see the historical hotspots in a different way. It also tests participants’ ingenuity, powers of observation, planning skills and time and resource management skills. The race can take 2.5 to 3.5 hours to complete, depending on the difficulty level set and age group of the participants. This tour is perfect for team-building activities and family reunions.
The sport of mountain biking has enjoyed some popularity in recent years, and Corregidor Island is a great place to bike around. Visitors can bring their own bicycles and pedal their way around the island. Corregidor has a lot of well-paved roads and bike trails that offer a good challenge for mountain biking enthusiasts. Those doing day tours will have roughly 4 hours to bike around the island if they want to catch the daily ferry that departs at 2:00 pm. All-terrain vehicles (ATV) are also available for rent.
Because of its terrain, serene surroundings, and lack of vehicles on the road, Corregidor is also an ideal venue for marathons and fun runs. The Corregidor International half-marathon for seasoned and amateur runners has been held on the island since 2010. The 21-kilometer route brings racers through a demanding combination of paved uphill and downhill slopes and intermittent segments of dirt trails while passing through key historical hotspots.
If you’re not up for a marathon, try exploring the island on foot instead. Take a hike around the woodland trails or walk from one historical destination to the next following a map of the island. First time hikers can enjoy an easy walk through rediscovered trails to forests and hillsides and explore ruins at a more leisurely pace than the tours aboard tranvias. Head to the island’s tail for the best view of Manila Bay. Historical walking tours are also offered for those who prefer to walk around with a guide.
Speed by on the 200-meter long Rocket Zipline that takes guests from the back of Corregidor Inn to the South Beach area of the island in no time. The cable suspended about 20 feet above the ground is a thrilling and safe ride, even for kids.
Corregidor is a sanctuary for wild birds and is a great place to go bird watching. Commune with nature and be the one to spot what could be migratory or resident birds of the island. Birds spotted here include the White-collared Kingfishers, Asian Glossy Starlings, Eurasian Tree Sparrows, Blue Rock, and Philippine Cockatoos, to name a few.
Circle the island aboard outrigger boats, view the neighboring isles like Fort Drum and the scenic coast of Mariveles, and stop by nearby fishing spots by taking the island runabout tour. Kayaking races have also been organized in the past by the Philippine Kayaking Association that takes experienced kayakers from Caylabne Bay in Cavite all the way to Corregidor. Other race legs allow novice and experienced kayakers to explore the beaches and coves of the island itself.
Level up your outdoor skills by camping out on the island and taking a specialized camp training program. Jungle survival and exploration instructors can teach you all you need to know about how to survive outdoors amidst nature and man-made underground caverns.
If you’re staying overnight in Corregidor, one of the optional tours you can take is sunset viewing and the walking tour through the unexplored side of Malinta Tunnel. With just the aid of flashlights, guests can do a night lateral tunnel visit, and traverse the tunnels 1,000-bed hospital area during World War II. At times, guides will ask guests turn off flashlights and walk through the tunnels in complete darkness. This tour is not for the faint-hearted!
The scenic ruins and dramatic landscapes of Corregidor are a good playground for shutterbugs to practice landscape photography. In recent years, the island has also become popular for pre-nuptial, wedding photography, fashion and editorial shoots as well. If you want to take better photos, you might want to join specialized photo tours and workshops that are regularly organized by different groups on the island.
For more details and package routes and tours, visit www.corregidorphilippines.com.
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