Puerto Galera is a town on the northeastern coast of Mindoro Island, Philippines. Puerto Galera itself is a fairly small town and not remarkably interesting, but almost all visitors pass through it because it has the ferry terminal, and some come into it for other facilities such as ATMs or supermarkets. However, the main tourist destinations are two beach areas nearby:
Either of those is 20-minute ₱150 (per trike) tricycle ride away. Either has a lot of tourist facilities — bars, restaurants, dive centers, souvenir places, etc. — spread along a lovely beach. Sabang is more developed and somewhat livelier, and has more diving and more girlie bars, White Beach quieter. See the linked articles for details.
Travellers bound for either beach will usually just say they are going to Puerto Galera as it hosts the ferry terminal (to Batangas) through which most people arrive.
The closest major airport is Ninoy Aquino International Airport near Manila on the neighbouring island of Luzon. From there, most people travel by road to get to the port at Batangas, then ferry to Puerto Galera.
A more expensive alternative is to arrive by seaplane. Air Juan fly from Manila airport or Coron to Puerto Galera. Subic Seaplane are primarily a charter airline; at one time they had scheduled flights from Subic, but as of December 2018 those are not available.
There are at least three airports on the island — Calapan, Naujan and Mamburao — but there are no scheduled flights and the fields are primary used for flight training.
Puerto Galera is 90 minutes away from Metro Manila. If you're already in Manila, getting there is pretty easy. Having a car is very convenient, all you need to do is drive through South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Star Tollway and then head to Batangas Pier. From there, you can either park your car and ride a ferry going to Puerto Galera or have your car ride a RoRo (roll on, roll off) ship bound to Calapan so you could take your car with you to Puerto Galera. Its distance from Puerto Galera is about 51 km and takes about 1½-hour land drive with concreted zigzag road.
Puerto Galera is easily accessible from areas around Manila. Most tourists prefer to take a JAM transit or DLTB bus - from its terminals along EDSA Cubao. These ply every hour between Cubao or Buendia in Manila and Puerto Galera pier. The Sikat tourist service operates one trip per day and is convenient for people staying in Manila close to Ermita.
- JAM transit, DLTB and Sikat tourist service, ☏ . Buses run every hour from the Manila (Quezon city) Cubao bus terminal. JAM transit is among the popular bus services. DLTB too runs buses every about 2 hours. These cost about ₱200 per trip. Sikat leaves at 8:30AM daily from the City State Tower Hotel on Mabini Street, Ermita, Manila. The round trip ticket costs ₱1400 and includes both bus and ferry to either Sabang Beach or Puerto Galera. It reaches Sabang at 1 PM. For the adventurous traveler, go to LRT-1 Gil Puyat station in Manila and from there, you will see buses and shuttle services going to the Batangas pier. It cost around ₱197 from Buendia to Batangas pier. There will be 1 stop at a Jeepney Terminal, about 10 minutes before the pier. There are no bathrooms on the JAM bus. When you get to Batangas pier, all you need to do is to ride a ferry boat going to Puerto Galera. Sabang pier has been closed and the two closest piers to Sabang are Muelle port, on the east side, and Balatero port, on the west side. In 2018, the local authorities banned all small wooden-hulled boats from depositing tourists directly at White Beach.
Scheduled ferries arrive at Puerto Galera mostly from Batangas City but also from other islands. At the Batangas pier, ignore all the porters and touts and walk past them to the ticket area where there are several windows where you can buy ferry tickets. From there, most people immediately depart for Sabang (known for scuba diving) or White Beach, a stretch of white sand with many small restaurants and bars.
Crossing the waters between Batangas Port and White Beach can be a thrill by itself, especially during the meeting of the tides when the sea can be quite rough. The first half of the journey is smooth. However, the boatmen know these waters very well, so there is no need to be hysterical. Buy a round trip ferry ticket to avoid a fully booked ferry on your return. Returning on a Sunday without reserving a ticket can leave you stranded with no options from Muelle or Balatero. You will have to go to Calapan to return to Batangas.
Puerto Galera port is in a sheltered bay which serves as a "hurricane hole" for yachts, and many cruisers come for the diving or other attractions as well. There are usually twenty or so yachts in the harbor, mostly sailboats.
Within the town or either beach area (White Beach or Sabang), walking is the usual means of transport; distances are short and the terrain reasonably level. Walking from town to either beach is possible, but rarely done; the roads are steep, winding and not entirely safe for pedestrians. It takes about an hour to cover the 5 km, about 3 miles.
At the harbor you will find lots of people trying to get you to ride with their tricycle; this is the usual way to get to either beach. The official rate from the mayor's office is ₱25 per person; drivers may ask for anything up to about ₱250 per trike but can usually be bargained down to about ₱50 per person. You may have to share the ride with 3-4 people, or pay something like ₱150 to get a trike to yourself.
At Muelle Port, there is a jeepney to Sabang town for ₱20 at the main road. After dark, the rates are higher (for example, instead of ₱20 you pay ₱50). Some hotels can arrange a free fastcraft ferry shuttle to White Beach, like Minolo Shipping Lines.
In Sabang there are 3 motorcycle rental providers. For ₱500 you can rent a scooter for the whole day. You have to mind the local traffic rules, of course.
- Beaches: White Beach is a good alternative to Boracay if you do not have much money or time. Other beaches include Talipanan Beach, Bayanan Beach, Haligi Beach, Long Beach, Panlilio Beach, Coco Beach, La Laguna Beach, Encenada Beach, Bulabod Beach, Boquete Island and San Antonio Island. About 32 beaches are found around Puerto Galera meaning there's a lot to choose from. Avoid April and May when room rates rise triple or double of the ordinary price because many flock to the beaches during the long weekend in Holy Week. The waters of Puerto Galera are home to giant clams as well as dolphins and corals.
- Lush Forests: The forests of Puerto Galera are home to many flora such as orchids, birds and fauna such as orchids and waterfalls.
- Tamaraw Falls (15 km from Puerto Galera on the road of Calapan). Tamaraw Falls is a 25 minute ride from White Beach by rented van. The water from the Falls collects into a pool under a bridge. It is quite cold and invigorating. A few meters up from the pool, one can enjoy the pounding waters that gush through the boulders. A few kilometers down the road is a beautiful beach.
- Coral Reefs
- Hidden Valley. A paradise lost and is off the beaten track, ask your hotel for directions to get to there.
- Mangyan Village. A group of nomadic peoples living in the mountains of Mindoro, they're the natives of Mindoro however now the Tagalogs form majority of the population. They have struggled in preserving their culture by avoiding outside and modern wester influences. To see them, a reliable guide is needed. Respect and behavior is a must when visiting them just like how you want people to behave when they visit your home.
- Alag Riverbank. Get to Alag riverbank by jeepney passing scenic views of the mountains by jeepney. This is the best spot to Kayak, depending on how fast the river flows the trip might last for 3-4 hours.
- Muelle Bay. A beautiful hidden hideout. It has a natural harbor where most ferries and boats dock, the bay is lined by a row of shops, bars and restaurants, enjoy the scenic view of the bay while having lunch or a romantic dinner. Get your cameras ready!
- Reptile Zoo. Not to be missed by reptile lovers, it has a set of snakes, crocodiles and lizards.
Accredited masseuses can give you massage right on the beach. To prevent hanky-panky, in-room massage, other than in an especially designated room at the hotel, is prohibited. Aside from Scuba Diving, golf is also another activity, a golf course is available.
Most visitors to Puerto Galera are attracted by the excellent scuba diving provided by the protected marine sanctuary. There are a number of dive shops in the area (estimated at around 35) that provide access to a macro (i.e. small life) heaven. The dive sites that feature a large variety of small sea life with the occasional shark or turtle. Several sites are drift dives and often turn into (strong) current dives with the best diving (for coral and small life) being at 20m or 60 feet. Almost all of the dive sites are within a 10 minute boat ride of Sabang which allows you to spend your surface interval on the shore and it also allows most shops to offer as many as four dive trips (single tank) each day. Prices for a single dive are US$26-32 for a single tank dive, including equipment rental, boat and dive guide, with discounts for more dives and if you have your own equipment.
- Blue Ribbon Dive Resort (Small Lalaguna Beach), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Blue Ribbon Dive Resort started as a small dive shop then a year later took over the neighboring Sunsplash Resort. They offer some very good value dive packages, and have a team of very friendly yet professional staff. It has been upgraded to a 5-Star PADI dive resort. The gear is very well maintained, and they also off 'Floro-Diving', night diving with a blue light, which special goggles that show the fluorescence underwater. They are very camera friendly, and enjoy finding the critters that make Puerto Galera famous. They offer all PADI courses up to Assistant Instructor, with all the specialties. Their restaurant offers live music every night, a themed buffet every night, including Indian, Mexican, Thai and Seafood. The mixed fruit shake here is also amazing. They are on the tranquil beach of Small Lalaguna, a 5-minute walk from the nightlife in Sabang.
- Big La Laguna Beach Resorts (Big Lalaguna Beach), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Big La Laguna Beach Resorts has 2 resorts in the stunningly beautiful bay of Big La Laguna. The resorts are Campbell's Beach Resort and Scandi Divers Resort. Both resorts offer a wide variety of rooms to suit all budgets; from cozy beachfront rooms, to 3-bedroom suites, and everything in between. The rooms are all clean and comfortable, and most of them are beachfront. Scandi Dive Resort has a very professional dive center, with very experienced staff and friendly staff. Aside from fun dives, they do dive courses from beginners all the way up to instructors. The location of these resorts it what really makes them special; Big La Laguna Bay is very quiet and peaceful, with a pristine beach and some of the best views in Puerto Galera. It's a great place for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on the beach. Be sure to visit Scandi's Skybar, which has a large terrace upstairs. Perfect for enjoying the sunsets whilst enjoying a cocktail or two!
- Frontier Scuba (west Sabang Beach), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Run by Rick Kirkham, one of the most experienced instructors in the Philippines, this 5-Star Instructor Training Center is one the busiest, smaller dive centers. They offer complete packages with guided diving, transfers, accommodation and meals. The attached restauarant Hemingway's is consistently voted the best restaurant in Puerto Galera. They offer the complete range of recreational dive courses from Discover Scuba (experience a dive), PADI Open Water, PADI Divemaster and SDI Instructor courses. TDI technical diver and instructor courses are offered up to Advanced Wreck and Advanced Trimix. Nitrox, trimix, sodasorb and rebreather tanks are available to rent
- Badladz Adventure Divers (next to Muelle Pier), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Small dive shop, operated by a very friendly instructors. They offer all PADI courses from beginner intro dives right through to Assistant Instructor at very reasonable prices with group discounts and multiple day diving discounts. Also available are snorkelling trips, kayak rental and Beach BBQs.
- Sea Rider Dive Center, Small La Laguna Beach, ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Locally owned with an excellent instructor, friendly and helpful staff. ₱900 per dive.
- South Sea Divers (Sabang Beach), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the first dive shops in the area, founded in 1983. Experienced and knowable shop with lively staff. Owner sky is very inviting and will answer any diving or even give you cool anecdotes about life in Sabang. The atmosphere truly adds to your vacation. Proper shop with everything you could want and all the gear you may need. Learn to dive or just go on a fun dive. Tech courses offered as well.
- Ponderosa Golf Club (20 minutes from City). Another great thing to do in Puerto is to trek till Ponderaso Golf, from White Beach take the road going to Puerto, walk about 15 mins, then you will see a sign for Ponderosa Golf. The road is uphill and provides a fantastic view of Puerto Galera, after an hour of healthy walking you'll be rewarded with good food at the golf club. Bring plenty water with you and protect yourself from the sun.
- Stairway Foundation, Barangay Aninuan. International NGO working with street children and victims of child sexual abuse. Visitors can tour the center and learn about the issue of child sexual abuse and how Stairway uses creative expressions in order to raise awareness.
- ATM machines (MAX Bank Sabang Beach & PNB Bank Puerto Galera Town). 24-hour ATM. There are three ATMs: two in Puerto Galera town, and one in Sabang beach, that accept international cards. (Maximum withdrawal ₱10000 per transaction.) ₱200 fee for overseas cards.
There are many restaurants near Muelle Pier, Puerto Galera and Sabang Beach.
- [dead link] Le Bistro D'Agathe, Muelle Pier. A French restaurant.
- Foodtrip sa Galera, White Beach.
Sabang beach at night is famous for girly bars that tend to close just as quickly as they pop up. It also has billiard rooms and discos where you can party into the wee hours of the morning.
Floating Bar - enjoy a beer on a boat off the coast of Sabang.
Puerto Galera has numerous hotels and resorts that tourists can choose from. Tourists will also find many cheap bungalows to stay on white beach. These cost ₱500-1500 a night; you can get better rates during week days.
- Aninuan Beach Resort, ☏ , . US$50.
- Buri Resort & Spa, Cove Area, ☏ . Buri Resort & Spa has 12 villas. From US$140.
- Tamaraw Beach Resort, ☏ . The owners are building a large conference center 5 meters from the main accommodation block and bungalows. On the other side 2 meters away the Sunset at Aninuan hotel is building a 3-floor extension. The access from the road to the beach is now severely restricted and only a small path remains for foot traffic. Best rates on official website start at ₱800.
Puerto Galera TownEdit
- Bahay-Pilpino Pension, Concepcion Street, ☏ . Check-out: noon. Fan single/double rooms. From ₱400.
- Badladz Adventure Resort (Badladz Adventure Resort), Muelle Pier, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Badladz Adventure Resort is located at the quiet end of the main tourist pier. Each room comes with A/C, hot water, cable TV and a overview over the yachts at Puerto Galera Bay. There's free Wi-Fi. A diveshop is part of the resort. From ₱990.
Palangan is a barangay between PG town and Sabang, at the base of the peninsula that has Sabang at the tip.
- Blue Crystal Beach Resort, Palangan (10 minutes from Muelle Piera), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: Noon. Air-conditioned rooms and suites that face their private beach are equipped with bath and shower, cable TV, mini-bar and refrigerator, private terrace, and Wi-Fi. The resort has a scuba diving center, swimming pool and offers a wide range of day trips by boat and jeepney. ₱995 per person per night for double occupancy and ₱895 per person per night for multiple occupancy.
- [dead link] Franklyn Beach Resort, Palangan, ☏ , . Atop a hill overlooking the sea. The stunning sea view is arguably the rooms’ best feature, but the amenities also provide a certain amount of comfort. Each accommodation has Internet access, a ceiling fan, and toilet and shower with hot and cold water. They don't provide internet access, and they didn't have any water in their swimming pool. But other than that, they were really nice and the views were as great as the homepage says (Mar 2011). From ₱1170.
PG has no hospital but there is an urgent care clinic toward the south end of town; there is a turn-off with a sign a bit south of the bus station.
- Immigration Office (in the public market buildiing). Mon, Tue 9AM-4PM, Wed 9-noon. Most visa-related issues can be taken care of by Rudi and Nestor from the Calapan Immigration Office. They hold hours here Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday only open until noon. Xerox services are available nearby, often required for visa extension applications.
There are at least three ATMs in town. Walking from the port, turn left onto the main road and PNB is a short distance on your right. Go past the top of the hill and take the first left, with a sign for Sabang, to reach the other two. Sabang also has some ATMs but White Beach does not.
- Jeepney to Calapan (1hr 15min) leaves from the end of the main road several times daily. Air conditioned mini vans now operate also for the same price and have fewer stops. From Calapan you can take a minivan (3 hr) to Roxas. To get to Calapan from Balatero (west side of PG), take a tricycle (25php per person) to Bayan Jeepney Terminal near the Puerto Galera wet market. 80php to the Calapan City Center and 100php to the Calapan Pier. AC minivans also travel this route and the price is the same as the jeepney. 60-90 minutes. If all the ferries are fully booked at Balatero port, this is the next option to get a ferry to Batangas. Updated June 2019.
- Jeepney/tricycle to Balatero where a boat, M/S Caribbean, leaves daily at 10AM for Abras de Llog, ₱180 one-way, ₱10 terminal fee. Easy entry into Mindoro Occidental. An easier and cheaper option compared to chartering your own pumpboat or going to Abras via Batangas.