Asia > Southeast Asia > Philippines > Luzon > Mindoro
Mindoro has two administrative halves. The north-east part is called Oriental Mindoro; the south-west part is called Occidental Mindoro.
All towns of any significance are at or near the coast. On Oriental Mindoro you find, driving from the far north-west to the deep south-east, the following towns: Puerto Galera; San Teodoro; Baco; Calapan; Naujan; Victoria; Socorro (of the road: Pola); Pinamalayan; Roxas; Mansalay; Bulalacao. After Bulalacao the road continues to Occidental Mindoro where San Jose is the main town.
The original inhabitants of Mindoro were the people now known as Mangyan. They once held the whole island and were quite populous and prosperous, but today there are only a few hundred thousand left, mostly as isolated highland tribes.
- 1 Puerto Galera - Wild west style backpacker destination with good diving. It is mainly famous for its many girly bars. In the surroundings you find the slightly more upbeat White Beach which is exactly what its name suggests and the more sleazy Sabang where half of the population is working girls. Sabang is also the dive center of northern Mindoro. There are ferries from Batangas to Puerto Galera.
- 2 San Teodoro - Next to baco the other town along the (scenic) route from Calapan to Puerto Galera. San Teodoro is known for its waterfalls, but otherwise, there is nothing to do in this town either.
- 3 Baco - This is one of the two towns along the road from Calapan (the administrative capital) to Puerto Galera (commonly known as Puerto). Baco houses about 500 people and a series of shops and schools. Despite what Google maps tells you, Baco is on the Western Nautical Highway and not at the beach. Baco is a nice and friendly town, and a good place to buy some groceries but it has nothing of interest to tourists.
- 4 Calapan - The capital with all disadvantages that come with that. The town has a cosy centre, but since nobody does anything about any form of pollution, the air smells always of exhaust fumes and the river and its banks are essentially of plastic bags. The center of town is formed by The City Plaza that holds a stage, a playing field, and the obligatory statue for Rizal, and the public market and city market just at the other side of the San Augustin Aguinaldo bridge. Most restaurants (albeit all of the Jollibee, Inasal, and Chow King style; nothing of western quality) are at the west side of the city market. Calapan has absolutely nothing that is of any interest for tourists. There are ferries from Batangas to Calapan.
- 5 San Jose - A major town in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, San Jose is an economic hub of Mindoro's western half despite not being the provincial capital, a distinction of the town of Mamburao. San Jose is a hub town; its airport is served by Cebu Pacific five times weekly.
- 6 Roxas (Mindoro) a stopover town on your way to San Jose city (Occidental Mindoro).
- 7 Sabang (Mindoro)
- White Beach (Mindoro)
- 8 Lubang group of islands - Off to the northwest of Mindoro, and included in Mindoro Occidental province. These are relatively isolated — one Japanese soldier held out in the jungle of Lubang from the end of the Pacific War in 1945 until 1974 — but have some fine beaches and dive sites and are now seeing some tourism and development.
The island of Mindoro is accessed by ship from either Batangas to Calapan and Puerto Galera or from Caticlan (Aklan) to Roxas (Oriental Mindoro). Fares in 2016 range from about ₱180-280. There is also an irregular shipping service between San Jose (Occidental Mindoro) and the northern islands of Palawan.
There are also regular flights from Manila to San Jose (Occidental Mindoro) with Cebu Pacific.
The shipping service from Batangas is Ro-Ro (about 3 hours) or fast ferry (about 1.5 hours) with at least one service departing hourly, all day. From Caticlan, there is only a Ro-Ro service to Roxas.
The bus from Manila to Batangas takes about 2 hours with a fare in 2016 being about ₱220.
There is a coastal highway that rings the island and connects all the main towns. Most of it is a good road by the standards of provincial areas of the Philippines, well-paved and with good signs for both routes and hazards. By the standards of more developed places it is not great, narrow and often quite hilly and winding. Passing is quite dangerous on much of it and there are quite a few slow vehicles.
There are jeepney and bus services between most of the main towns; the jeepneys are usually cheaper and the buses more comfortable.