Puerto Galera is a municipality in the northwesternmost area of Oriental Mindoro and one of the most developed beach resort communities in the Philippines. It is only 3 to 4 hours away from Metro Manila and has a good amount of resorts, inns, and establishments. The clear waters of Puerto Galera are enjoyed by tourists all year round and countless yachts can be seen near the shores as well. Even with the rising popularity of some of the hidden beaches in the Philippines, Puerto Galera is still one of the most visited tropical destinations in the Philippines.
From swimming in its clear waters to sun bathing and lounging on its white sands, there is almost always something tourists can do in Puerto Galera. Just like Boracay, it also has its own White Beach where most of the tourists can be found. The stalls and shops around the beach have souvenirs, beach items, even henna tattoo and massage services. The shores are fringed by bars and pubs where visitors can enjoy the active nightlife. But even with its popularity, White Beach can be quite relaxing and pleasant during off-season months.
Puerto Galera is also a haven for divers. Some of the best dive sites can be found near Sabang Beach. The rich marine life of the town is packed with colorful schools of fish, sharks, sting rays, and lovely coral reefs. There is even a sunken Japanese ship from the Second World War lying around in one of the dive sites.
Getting to Puerto Galera requires a combination of land and sea travel that will take a total of three to four hours. The land travel should take you to Batangas Port where the boats headed for Puerto Galera are docked. Whether you are driving or commuting, getting there is fairly easy.
For those who have private cars, take the SLEX and then the STAR Tollway. Travel time is usually less than two hours, depending on the traffic situation. Once you get to the port, there will be parking lots that offer paid parking spaces where you can leave your vehicles.
For commuters, buses are the transportation of choice when heading to Batangas Port. Bus liners like JAM Liner and ALPS offer daily trips there. JAM Liner's terminals are located in Taft Avenue and Cubao-Kamuning, while the ALPS Bus terminal is located in Cubao.
At Batangas Port, there will be several motorboats there, locally known as lantsas, which will take you to Puerto Galera. There will be boats that will leave every hour. Travel time should take about an hour to an hour and 30 minutes.
How to Get Around
Jeepneys are available in Puerto Galera if you need to get to some of the tourist spots like Tamaraw Falls and the other destinations around town. This is the cheapest mode of public transportation there. If you are traveling on a shoestring budget and want to explore Puerto Galera the way the locals do, then riding a jeepney is the best choice for you.
By Tricycle and Multicab
If you are traveling with friends or officemates, it's best to hire a tricycle or a multicab, especially if you are going to explore Puerto Galera's far-off places. Though renting your own ride is more costly than riding public transportation, splitting the fare among all members of your group will lower the cost.
For those who are availing of island hopping tours or underwater activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, boats will be your mode of transportation toward the dive sites, the beaches, and other destinations included in your tour. Boats are good for a group of about eight people.
What to See
Aside from its gorgeous beaches and dive sites, Puerto Galera also has a few historical landmarks that would appeal to history buffs looking to sightsee.
One of the town's most prized landmarks is the Muelle Cross. This large cross was placed at Muelle Pier in memory of the people that perished during the sinking of the battleship Canonero Mariveles in November 18, 1879. Aside from the cross, Muelle Pier also features another historical landmark—the Black Rice Display Board is a peculiar attraction with an equally peculiar history. The collected grains of charred rice placed inside a cart are thought to be the remnants of burned rice grains from a granary which burned down in the 1800s. Curiously, the grains of rice seem to have been brought from the sea and onto the shore where villagers pick them up and add them to the collection.
Puerto Galera's Catholic Church is also another place you should include in your itinerary when you visit. Before you start your adventure, offer a prayer of thanks for your safe arrival in Puerto Galera and ask for guidance during your trip. If you're in the mood to discover ancient artifacts a la Indiana Jones, there is an excavation museum near the grounds of the church where old relics like Chinese porcelain items are on display.
White Beach and Sabang Beach are Puerto Galera's frontrunners. However, the Small and Big Lalaguna beaches as well as Talipanan Beach are also worthy of a visit. All of them are perfect for swimming and sun bathing.
But if you want to see the untouched beaches and islands, then sign up for an island hopping tour. Not only will you be able to see pristine beaches like Bayanan Beach and Haligi Beach, but you will also be taken to an amazing underwater cave and some snorkeling areas like Coral Garden in San Antonio Island.
In addition, Puerto Galera boasts one of the most beautiful bays in the country and is home to several dive sites that give you a glimpse into the bustling and diverse marine life of the island. Make arrangements for scuba diving at any of the dive centers at Sabang's beachfront and prepare to be amazed by the underwater beauty of The Canyons, Monkey Beach, and Hole in the Wall—just some of the many dive sites there. If you’re a beginner scuba diver, make sure to pick the dive sites that are only applicable to your skill level.
Puerto Galera also has several waterfalls for a different kind of natural wonder. Tamaraw Falls is the most popular and can be reached after less than an hour's journey from the town. You can swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls. Meanwhile, getting to Tukuran Falls requires some trekking or riding a carabao-drawn cart to get there. When you reach the stunning falls, reward yourself with a swim in the glorious waters to soothe your muscles from the tiring trip.
Puerto Galera does not fall short when it comes to offering lots of different activities that cater to the varying needs of local tourists and foreigners that visit this wonderful town. When it comes to dining, entertainment, and nightlife, Sabang Beach and White Beach have got you covered.
For thrill-seekers, there is a selection of watersports and attractions to be experienced in Puerto Galera, from parasailing to kayaking to banana boating and water skiing. In addition, Puerto Galera offers one of the longest island-to-island zip-lines in Asia. It is just one of the activities offered at the Puerto Galera Adventure and Recreational Ecopark. Another attraction to try here is the bridge and cargo net climb. For something more extreme, you can also try some of Xtreme Sports Philippines' fun and exhilarating activities like ATV rides, mud kart rides, go kart racing, and paintball. Other sports available include golfing at Ponderosa Golf Club and sailing at Puerto Galera Yacht Club.
Apart from these daring activities, there are also more laidback offerings in Puerto Galera if you seek a relaxing vacation. You can enjoy a massage on the beach, or get a henna tattoo. Hair braiding is also offered on the beachfront.
Events and Festivals
As if Puerto Galera couldn't get any livelier, it also holds some festivals and events that not only hype up the spirit of the locals and the tourists but also help in promoting its tourism.
De Galera Festival is one of the much-awaited events in town. Held from May 9 to 12, this festival gives tribute to its rich and colorful history by offering parades, street dances, contests, and fairs.
Meanwhile, the Malasimbo Arts & Music Festival is an event that both music and art enthusiasts can look forward to. It is held at Mt. Malasimbo's wide grounds. You'll enjoy music performances of both local and international acts as well as amazing art installations from renowned artists.
Where to Eat
Puerto Galera is definitely a haven for food lovers. When you're in White Beach or Sabang Beach, you'll see lots of restaurants left and right, ranging from the pocket-friendly to the posh ones. They offer wide ranges of cuisine to cater to the different tastes of the tourists.
If pocket-friendly yet fulfilling meals are what you seek, Food Trip sa Galera is perfect for you. It is open 24 hours and serves unlimited rice meals. Meanwhile, Luca's Cucina Italiana is well-loved for its authentic Italian food, especially its freshly-prepared pizza. Hemingway's Bistrot is the place to go if you're in the mood for some European food, while Cap'n Greggs Restaurant is also frequented not only for its filling international cuisine but also for its quirky, nautical-themed design.
Carinderia and Food Kiosk
There are also eateries in town for those traveling on a shoestring budget. Be ready to savor quality meals at the comfort of monoblock chairs and tables.
Bars and clubs
It is no secret that Puerto Galera has a bustling nightlife that is sure to attract party animals. While seated at the many bars on White Beach's beachfront, you can enjoy fired-up firedancing performances while sipping Mindoro sling, a one-of-a-kind cocktail that is popular all over Puerto Galera. One of the well-known bars here is Mikko's Bar, which claims to have pioneered the Mindoro sling drink. Meanwhile, the Bikini Floating Bar offers a unique experience as it is found on a barge on the sea. You can reach it after a boat ride.
Where to Shop
Bazaars and Stalls
There's no need to look far for souvenir items as stores and stalls are located all over Puerto Galera. From these shops, you can buy the standard pasalubong items such as Puerto Galera printed t-shirts, mugs, and accessories like bracelets and necklaces. For handicrafts and other interesting items, you can visit the Tree of Life shop.
Puerto Galera's public market is the best place to get the freshest seafood in town. Swing by if you need fresh ingredients for your meals including other items you might need for your trip.
ATMs and Money Changers
You don’t have to worry about not bringing enough cash since there are banks, ATMs, and money changers in Puerto Galera.
Fare: PHP 500.00++
The bus fare to Batangas Pier costs less than PHP 200.00. Meanwhile, lantsa fares are less than PHP 300.00. Buying a roundtrip boat ticket is also cheaper. When it comes to transportation around town, jeepney fares cost PHP 7.00. If you're riding a jeepney to Tamaraw Falls, the fare is about PHP 40.00. Meanwhile, tricycle rides cost as cheap as PHP 25.00 per person for short distances.
Food: PHP 70.00 to PHP 500.00
Food Trip sa Galera offers unlimited rice meals at PHP 150.00. You can also cut costs if you cook your own food, provided that the hotel that you're staying at allows you to do so.
Shopping: PHP 100.00++
Souvenir shirts at Puerto Galera are only around PHP 100.00.
Accommodation: PHP 800.00 to PHP 8,000.00
For backpackers, there are budget inns that offer dormitory-type rooms as well as fan rooms. Meanwhile, for those who want to indulge in luxury during their Puerto Galera vacation, rooms at beachfront resorts go as low as PHP 2,000.00.
Activities: PHP 200.00++
Activities at Puerto Galera are usually cheaper when you go as a group, especially for island hopping tours since you can share the PHP 1,500.00 boat rental among your group. Meanwhile, snorkeling per destination is PHP 200.00 per person (PHP 600.00 for all three snorkeling sites). On the other hand, scuba diving per session is less than PHP 1,500.00 per person. For water sports, banana boat rides are less than PHP 200.00 per person, while parasailing is about PHP 1,500.00 for 20 minutes.
Other Fees and Taxes: PHP 50.00 ++
Batangas Port charges a terminal fee of about PHP 50.00. And if you're going to visit Tamaraw Falls, there is an entrance fee of about PHP 40.00.