A few hours away from Manila, Puerto Galera is a sight to behold with shimmering seas surrounded by a lush of green mountains. It is considered as the best diving site in the Philippines.
We were supposed to be in Caramoan from May 7-11 when a typhoon was forecasted to make a landfall in the island thus cancelling all Caramoan tours and island hopping activities. We tried to push the trip, but the tour company insisted that we see Caramoan some other time. Since our two friends flew all the way from Bacolod, we couldn’t just stay home so we searched instead for places where to spend our summer get-away while considering the path of the typhoon.
We ended up in Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro. Accommodation was booked the night before our trip with no itinerary or a concrete plan how to spend the next three days in the island.
How to get there:
I was so amazed by how convenient this island is for people coming from Manila. We rode the JAM bus from Cubao (their bus terminal is beside GMA7-Kamuning along Edsa highway southbound lane) to Batangas Pier for only 177PHP. It took us 2 hours. From Batangas pier, we got on the boat going to Talipanan which cost us 360PHP (325php fare + 35php environmental fee), travel time is 1 hour. We got off at our accommodation’s beach front.
Note: Stay away from fixers or people who are offering boat rides when getting off the bus. Buy your tickets inside the terminal.
Where to stay:
We called several hotels and inns for available rooms that could accommodate six people while staying within our budget but to no avail. I saw my friend’s post in Instagram and asked about the hotel he stayed at. We ended up in DeLuna Diving Resort in Talipanan Beach, a good 10 minute ride away from the crowded White Beach. We chose their Family Room which can accommodate up to 8 people with free breakfast for 4 and it costs 3600 per night.
I found the place modern while still keeping the whole “homey” vibe. It also helps that Talipanan is such a quiet place with less crowd.
If you’re looking for a night life, then the White Beach is definitely the place. You will also have a lot of choices for budget accommodations and meals. But if you’re looking for a more quiet vacation, then head over to Talipanan. The hotels here are a little pricey but you can do soul-searching while enjoying the beach all to yourself.
Where to eat:
We found DeLuna’s menu very pricey for six people so we decided to walk along the strip of Talipanan and ended up in Luca’s Italian Restaurant at the very end of the beach. It has good reviews in TripAdvisor so we decided to try it ourselves.
For budget meals, walk along the strip of White Beach. There are plenty of stalls and grilled meats/seafood to choose from.
What to do:
Puerto Galera is the top diving site in the Philippines so the main reason why some foreigners flock to the island is to have a good dive into its ocean. But for some (like us) who do not know how to dive, or swim at least, we chose snorkling and island hopping instead.
We hired a boat from Talipanan to another island where we transferred in a smaller boat to take us to the snorkling area. We took their package which included 4 activities for 600PHP (200php each with discount of 200php if you take all four).
1) Snorkling to see the giant clams, 2) See the vast coral community, 3) Feed the fishes and lastly 4) Explore the small cave
After the activities, we asked the boatmen if we could drop by a beach or an island and they agreed but warned us that it would have a desert-like heat and we might get burned from the sun. While seeing the beach with no signs of humanity swimming or basking around, we jumped off the boat and ran around the hot sand.
Overall, the water activities plus the boat rental (to and fro) cost us 1000php each. I guess if we rented the boat from White Beach, we could have saved a lot more. Aside from snorkling, there are also other activities such as Fly Fish, ParaSailing, Jetski and Banana boat.
In the evenings, White Beach is filled with different shows and people flock by the beach to get tables and drink. Most shows consist of skits and lip synching with gays on different outfits. We didn’t join the bandwagon, but we bought 2 Soju bottles and brought it to our accommodation. Apparently, Talipanan has an earlier sleeping time. We arrived at 11:30pm and all lights were off. We were also advised to keep our voices low as we might disturb guests.
The next morning, my friend and I walked along the beach strip to find a place to take photos without too many boats and people around. We saw these rocks where the crashing sound of waves echoed through the area. It was intimidating and amazing at the same time.
We were hesitant to go home on a Sunday afternoon as the waves were really big that you can almost surf on it. Most of the people opted to go home the next day as its expected that the ocean will be wavy and it was pretty scary.
It’s hard to describe Puerto Galera without being biased as I’ve already seen the best (El Nido, Palawan), but in my personal conclusion it was okay for a quick beach-fix. I found it too crowded (given of its close proximity to Manila) especially the White Beach and there’s nothing wrong with that but personally, I’m not too crazy about it. I prefer quieter places which is why I liked Talipanan Beach better. What I appreciate about the island though, is the fact that it’s only a three-hour ride away from Manila, perfect for quick escapes from the hustle and bustle of the city. And I love taking my happy pill so I see myself going back in Talipanan or Lalaguna Beach.
There’s nothing more relaxing than going to the beach with friends. I’ve always thought the beach is my ultimate happy pill and I always have that feeling of never leaving the sand and the salt water. I couldn’t even care much about the tan on my skin, I can look as dark as I could be but they’ll never take the beach away from me.
I have two more beach trips for the remaining weekend of May, one is in Nasugbu or Calatagan and the other one is in Fortune Island, just off the coast of Nasugbu. I’m so psyched to try cliff-diving so let’s cross our fingers that no kill-joy typhoon would ruin our plan.