Mindoro, composed of provinces Mindoro Oriental and Occidental, is the seventh largest island in the Philippines. It takes its current name from "Mina de Oro," which is what the Spanish first called it. The island used to be one province, the division into Oriental and Occidental happening in 1950.
The island is home to the indigenous Mangyan. In the lowlands, inhabitants are a mix of Tagalog and Visayan. Its economy relies mainly on agriculture and tourism. It produces fruits, grains, sugarcane, fish, livestock, and poultry. There are also logging and mining operations in the area. Mindoro is also known for its beaches and dive sites, such as Puerto Galera, Sabang Beach, and Apo Reef National Park. Mount Halcon, the highest peak on the island, is also popular. Mindoro is also known as the home of the tamaraw, a small buffalo endemic to the island.
When to Go
The island is a popular vacation spot, with local tourists flocking to the beaches during the summer months, long weekends, and the Christmas break. Peak season is roughly around December through April. Diving is available all year round, though the waters tend to get rough around June to September.
Things to Do
Mindoro is famous for its beaches, which may not always be white sand, but will always have beautiful waters and excellent views. Beaches include Aroma Beach in San Jose (Occidental), Tayamaan Beach (Occidental), and of course, White Beach in Sabang, Mindoro Oriental.
Mountain biking is fast becoming popular in Mindoro, where one can join local groups, or take on the terrain themselves. Bikers can head to Calapan, which has a bike club, bike shops, and plenty of trails with breathtaking views.
Bodies of Water
The island is dotted with rivers and waterfalls, such as the Calawagan Mini-Falls in Paluan and the Sablayan River in Sablayan, both in Mindoro Occidental, and the Tamaraw Waterfalls in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental.
Mindoro has a lot of caves, a lot of which have yet to be explored. An example of a fairly well-known cave that hasn't been fully explored is LuyangBaga, in Barangay Cabacao, Abra de Ilog. Literally ‘lung cave,' it takes its from the lung-shaped formation hanging near its mouth.
Folks looking for churches will not be disappointed. They can check out the LumangSimbahan in Sablayan, Mindoro Occidental; the Church Within a Church (which, like its name says, is a chapel within an old church) and SimbaBato, both in Najuan, Mindoror Oriental.
Diving & Snorkeling
Mindoro has many beautiful dive spots, the two most famous ones being off Sabang Beach and Apo Reef National Park, both marine sanctuaries. Nearby dive resorts rent equipment and conduct dive tours. Some resorts even offer diving lessons.
Mountaineering & Trekking
Mt. Halcon, the island's highest point, is easy enough for trekkers to climb without the use of climbing gear-but can still be quite a challenge. On a clear day, one can see as far as Mt. Banahaw and Mt. Mayon in Luzon. One can also go on the Tabinay-Talipanan Trail-which involves a two to three day walk through Mindoro's mountainous interior-starting from Puerto Galera, winding through three mountains before ending in Talipan beach.
History buffs can check out the Sablayan Museum in Sablayan, Mindoror Occidental, which showcases the area's rich cultural and biological heritage, and the Heritage Forest Museum at the foot of Mt. Halcon in Mindoro Oriental, dedicated to helping preserve natural resources.
What to Buy
Mindoro has a lot of banana plantations, and consequently, excellent banana chips.
The Benedictine nuns of Salong, Calapan City in Mindoro Oriental make Angel Brittle, which is made of excess dough from communion wafers.
Mention Mindoro and people automatically think Puerto Galera in Mindoro Oriental. The area is famous for its beaches, and is gaining an international reputation as one of the most beautiful coasts in the area.
Sablayan in Mindoro Occidental is home to many natural attractions, such as waterfalls and rivers, as well as man-made ones such as museums and bridges.
Bus/ Car + Boat
One can take the bus or a private vehicle to Mindoro, which connect with pumpboats at the Batangas Pier that dock at Muelle Pier. Bus companies that offer this service are Si-Kat and Island Cruiser. The Si-Kat bus terminal can be found at the Citistate Hotel Tower, while the Island Cruiser terminal is located at the Lotus Garden Hotel, both in A. Mabini, Ermita, Manila. Buses leave Manila at 8am, reach Batangas around 11, and get to Mindoro around 1pm. Fares are an average of Php500 one way.