Puerto Galera: Boracay near Manila

I was going through some pictures and I found these – three years and 25 pounds ago, we went to Puerto Galera. Puerto Galera is this small town in the island of Mindoro, Philippines. It is known for its dive sites and beaches. Puerto Galera, to me, is somewhat the mini Boracay near Manila. I’ve been here a few times, but this is the only trip I could remember. So I thought I’d write about it.

Puerto Galera is this small town in the island of Mindoro, Philippines. It is known for its dive sites and beaches. Puerto Galera, to me, is somewhat the mini Boracay near Manila. If you’ve heard or been to Boracay, you know how nice it is – white sand beach, hotels, parties all night – it’s the same thing. The only difference is, it’s near Manila and the sand is not as fine as Boracay. I love Puerto Galera! It’s easy to get to, and you can just take a day trip if you want.

First things first! Getting to Puerto Galera from Manila is really easy. It takes three hours, tops!

  1. From Manila, you can ride a bus to Batangas Pier. We always take the bus from JAC Liner terminal in Gil Puyat, Pasay, because it’s easier to get to. The Gil Puyat LRT station is right there, and buses pass by there too. From Manila to Batangas Port, it would take you 2 hours tops, with moderate traffic. The bus ticket cost around PHP 200 ($4) per trip.
  2. When you get to Batangas Port, you can get a ticket for the boat. If you’re going to White Beach, you can take the boat to Balatero. If you’re going to Sabang Beach, you can take the boat going to Muelle. You can choose to get one way ticket or roundtrip, but it’s always cheaper to get the roundtrip ticket – it cost around PHP 550.00. The boat ride is 30-45 minutes. The first trip from Manila is at 6am, and the last trip from Puerto Galera is around 3pm. If you’re as crazy as me and this is a day trip for you, then you should ask the boat people as soon as you dock, what time is their last trip and what is the boarding time.
  3. The boat will take you directly to the beaches. When you get there, you need to pay some fees such as environmental fees, terminal fees, etc. It’s been a long time so I don’t really remember how much those are. But it’s around PHP 25 – 125 ($0.50 – $2.50). Most of the Philippines Islands have these fees, especially if it’s a tourist area.

We stayed at Gina’s Hideaway, a place we found on AirBnB. The place had two bedrooms, it comes with Wi-Fi, and it’s a good size. There were four of us that time, so split into four, the price was not that bad per night. They kept the place really clean too, and the host, ate Gina, was really nice and approachable. She really made sure that we did not get lost getting to her place.

Maybe my only concern about this place was, it was a little too far from White Beach, where the happenings are. But ate Gina was kind enough to reserve her tricycle for us. We pay them around PHP 50-80 (it was 20 minutes away) per trip, and they are on-call, if we ever want to get picked up anywhere in the island, they will be there. We have our own Uber-trike! LOL. Also, that time, the signal for the Wi-Fi wasn’t that good inside the house. But we didn’t mind chillin’ by the porch at night – fresh air, quiet night, not gonna complain.

On our first day, we just had lunch by the beach and took some photos. We also did some groceries because it was quite hard to get to the airbnb. I mean, we’re already at the beach, so let’s just make the most of it!

On our second day, we did a little island hopping. Almost every [tourist] beach in the Philippines has island hopping activities. Aside from, of course, island hopping, they usually include snorkeling or diving, and sometimes cave excursions. This had snorkeling and cave excursions. For Island Hopping, they usually cost PHP 1,500 – 2500. This one is the same amount. Normally, PHP 1500 is mainly for renting the boat exclusively for your group. Sometimes they add PHP 100 per person, for the snorkeling gears.

I am not really into snorkeling, but Raine paid for it so I had to do it! Normally, the boat would just stop in the middle of the water for 30 minutes and let you swim around. But then our boat men told us to hold on to the boat handles (?) and they drove around the area. It was way more easier than swimming by yourself. This time I actually enjoyed snorkeling.

After snorkeling, they took us to a cave.

Last stop is at a small island nearby the cave. Of course, more photoshoots happened!

After a long day of touring, we had dinner by the beach. There’s a strip of restaurants and bars by the White Beach. We opted to do some barbecue and fresh fruit shake take outs and eat them by the picnic tables.

After dinner we tried the famous Mindoro Sling! It’s Mindoro’s signature drink. It has Tanduay Rum as its alcohol base, and then some juices. It wasn’t that amazing for me, but it was definitely strong! There are also some night performances happening such as fire dances. If you walk by the shore, you can also have some massages.

This trip happened three years and 25 pounds ago, when I was regularly going to the gym with these ladies. They’ve been my inspiration and also health compass when I was going through a lot that year. I badly miss the Philippines, and I do hope I get to visit these places again. Or maybe find somewhere like this.

Upstate New York Adventure: Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a city (apparently lol) in Niagara County, New York State. Niagara Falls State Park was recognized as the oldest state park in the United States. For the second part of our mini honeymoon, we drove up to Niagara Falls! 🙂

Can I just say — I googled Niagara Falls and these are new knowledge for me. LOL, let me share with you: Niagara Falls is a city (apparently lol) in Niagara County, New York State. Niagara Falls State Park was recognized as the oldest state park in the United States. The falls are shared with Canada. You can literally see Canada on the other side of the river. Niagara Falls has 3 waterfalls – the Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and a portion of Horseshoe falls.

Following our Green Lakes Park trip, we went further up to see the famous Niagara Falls! It is 7 hours away from New York City and around 4 hours away from Syracuse. After we checked out from the hotel at Syracuse, we drove up and arrived at Niagara Falls around 2pm. We decided to book a room at the Sheraton Niagara Falls. Going back a week before we left home, I was browsing through Groupon travel promos and I found a good deal for $70/night at Sheraton Niagara Falls. But then, Gerald saw a certain room that he liked so we decided to book that instead. We also had a special rate from Marriot Bonvoy, Marriot’s loyalty program, since we registered for it.

So we parked our car at the hotel’s parking lot. It cost around $20 per day. And since we were too early for the 4pm check-in time, we decided to take a stroll around Niagara Falls State Park. It was a ten-minute walk from the hotel.

We explored the park for two hours, did the trails and saw some views. Gerald wanted to take me down the river but we were worried that all the attractions might not be open during that time — but luckily, the boats’ operations went back on three days before we arrived! You have no idea how happy I was! I thought it would be a waste to travel seven hours and not see everything. So anyway — We immediately bought our tickets for Maid of the Mist Boat Tour for the next day. They have trips from 9:00am to 5:00pm. It was easy getting the tickets too! You just log on to their site and purchase the tickets.

the two hour stroll made us really hungry, exhausted and thirsty. We walked to find a place to eat and sit. We found this Chinese Restaurant called Royal Dragon by Rainbow Boulevard. It was the best Chinese food I have ever tasted. We had the Chicken Fried Rice – it was tasty, not too oily, a really good amount of serving for I think $12, we wished we just shared the meal. Also, the service was really good and they served the food really fast. Up until today, Gerald cannot forget about that place. I really hope they open a branch in the city.

Anyway, it was already 4:30pm and the hotel haven’t called us yet. The check in was supposed to be 4:00pm. We didn’t really mind since they said they are thoroughly sanitizing the place. We headed back anyway, and we were just in time! We were just happy to finally be able to lay down and rest — oh and by the way, we booked the Spa Suite so we were excited to see that too. To our surprise, our room was absolutely… just wow! —

I really thought it was expensive to be paying almost $200 per night, but Gerald was okay with it. He said it’s cheap to have a room like this. It’s just sad that I cannot have my breakfast buffet or room service, still! Originally, when you book this room, you’ll have access to the exclusive Club Lounge, daily breakfast and happy hour, as well as HydroSpa with VIP treatment for personalized experience. We just enjoyed the night together watching episodes of #90DayFiance with wine! It was the perfect first day in Niagara Falls.

As soon as we woke up, at 11am, we prepared for Niagara Falls! The hotel restaurant was closed, so we just went to Starbucks, which was down at the lobby connected to the hotel, and had coffee and some bacon and eggs sandwich. Oh, so if you want to go down the river and closer to the falls, please remember the following

1.You will be wet. The falls’ mist will get you wet, like it’s a shower. We didn’t really know what to wear, if there is anything proper to wear. So we just opted to wear shorts, shirt and sneakers. Maid of the Mist will give you disposal raincoats anyway, so you’ll be fine.

2. Wear your mask, and observe protocols. For the pandemic, at least. It was quite hard to wear masks and have them wet when we are on the boat. Take them out to take photos, then breathe. It was a little bit challenging, and I was super scared to drop my mask. LOL. Avoid staying on the edge and always watch your step. It gets a little bit slippery and the boat rails are safe enough to keep you on the boat, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra careful.

3. Maybe a good tip to stay at the back of the boat so see the Horseshoe falls fully. People are going to crowd in all sides of the boat but if there are two of you, stand your ground. The boat is going to turn around going back anyway, so you’ll see everything twice. As for me, I was just speechless and mesmerized, so I didn’t get to take really good pictures. I did take good videos though.

4. Stay for the viewing deck. After the tour, you will be led to the viewing deck to get a better view of the falls and the whole park. We had to stay for another 5 minutes because it was just so beautiful for me, I wanted to look at the view one more time.

So that’s it! We just went back to the hotel after that. Oh, by the way, that time, the restaurants upstate had indoor dining. But they were by reservations only. We ordered food at The Hard Rock Cafe but since they only take reservations and not walk-in, we cannot stay. I was looking forward to dining in an actual restaurant. But oh well, so we just did take-out. Since I was sad about Hard Rock, Gerald and I had some drinks at The Rainforest Cafe. They had some food too but Gerald wanted Hard Rock food. The next day was our check out day. We just had to go back to Royal Dragon for food on the road.

Maybe this is, to this day, the best place I went to since I came to New York. Maybe next time I can cross the borders! Hoping that will be soon.

Badian Canyoneering and Whale Shark Watching

The reason we went to Cebu is because he wanted to see and swim with the Whale Sharks. Since we are already in Cebu, we also wanted to try the Canyoneering. This one I wanted to try before but it was closed due to some accidents back then. We booked this activity through Klook. Click here to see the exact booking package.

Okay, you all should know by now that I really suck at planning trips. This is the only thing that we did not do DIY and Gerald was the one who planned this, so it went really well.

The reason we went to Cebu is because he wanted to see and swim with the Whale Sharks. Since we are already in Cebu, we also wanted to try the Canyoneering. This one I wanted to try before but it was closed due to some accidents back then. We booked this activity through Klook. Click here to see the exact booking package.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks

Oslob, where the Whale Sharks are, is in South of Cebu. It is four hours away from the city. Swimming with the whale sharks is very time sensitive since they only come out to play during the morning between 6am-9am. So we had to leave the hotel around 3am to be able to make it to 7am.

When we got to the place, there was some briefing. You are not allowed to touch the whale shark; in fact, you are not allowed to be near them for less than a meter. You can only take a picture with them and admire them. If you touch them accidentally, the panic and that causes the water to have big waves. So be careful.

I didn’t want to go down the water because I was scared and this is already my second time. The first time I was there, I guess one of my friends touched the whale shark and it panicked and flipped our boat accidentally. But I had to be a stage girlfriend, lol. I wanted to really get good shots for this moment because he waited a long time for this encounter. So cute. Gerald got a few good shots.

The duration of the encounter with the whale sharks is just 30 minutes. They take you in a small boat; let you swim freely for 30 minutes. Don’t worry, they provide life jackets, snorkeling gears, shoes and the manongs in the boat are very attentive and will be watching over his sakays.

After the encounter, you can rinse yourself. It’s your choice if you want to wash up fully or just rinse. We just rinsed ourselves because we were still going to do Canyoneering. Oh, our package included breakfast after the activity. If you’re doing it DIY, there are actually some stores/restaurants that sell breakfast meals. It’s quite a lot of 200 pesos. Also, they have WI-FI.

Badian Canyoneering

After breakfast, we headed straight to Badian. It’s like two hours from Oslob. We woke up pretty early so we were out the whole ride. The tour guide only woke us up. It was around 10 or 11 in the morning, I think.

Upon arrival, they will give you the gears that you will need – helmets, life vests, and DIY safety gears for your cameras. They tied ours to an empty water bottle. They will take you to the briefing area. Canyoneering is more like a free fall into the waterfalls, rivers, so it’s pretty dangerous. You need to listen to the tour guide and really follow instructions.

After the briefing, some kuyas will take you on a motorcycle ride going to the start of the trail. You have the choice if you want to do the shortcut – a two kilometer zipline and 10 minute walk to the first fall, or you can do the long way – 45 minute trekking. Of course, I wanted to trek! I have severe fear of heights. You’ll see.

So we did the trekking and reached the first jump. It’s like a 6 feet stone, then there’s a lower level, which is around 3 feet. I couldn’t jump the five feet one so the tour guide suggested I go from the lower one. This happened. Gerald couldn’t stop laughing. I’m such a pussy, I know.

The jumps get higher as you go further. We had our own tour guide and he was only taking care of us. He is very nice and he really made sure the two of us were taken cared of. We really listened to his instructions. By the way, wearing the helmet and life vests were a must! They are included in the Klook package too. Well, they are required throughout the tour.

I stopped jumping after the first one, haha! I actually bumped my head because the current was super strong and it pulled me. I fell on a rock and slipped and bumped my head. Good thing our tour guide was quick to hold me. There were also slides which I really enjoyed because they were short and low ones.

The highest jump, you really gotta be careful because there’s like just a very small step and you have to jump really far so you won’t hit any rocks. There were those jumps where you have to run first, as a head start.

Look at my brave baby! He has a fear of heights too, according to him! But he overcame all those that day! 🙂 I am so proud! After the highest waterfall jump, you’re going to take a twenty minute walk to the end of the trek. Everyone can swim and relax there. There is also an eating area. Please, please if you ever come here and eat at the end of the tour, please dispose your trash properly!

So the trip last for three almost four hours. They give us time to shower, clean up and eat. The food was good – there was soup, chicken and rice. After that, our tour guide dropped us off at our hotel. This concludes our trip to Cebu.