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.

Bantayan Island, Cebu

I’ve always wanted to go to Bantayan Island since I saw Camp Sawi. So when Gerald visited Asia, we took a 6-hour bus ride to check one thing off my travel bucketlist!

This is almost a year delayed in posting, I’m so sorry. I’m still writing because this might be useful to some of you guys. Okay, I am not really a travel blogger so I will make this short, simple and as helpful as it can be.

Gerald went to visit me in the Philippines last October. Of course, he stayed in Manila while I work. But we planned the whole two weeks – our first stop in his trip is Bantayan Island in Cebu. I have always wanted to go to Bantayan Island and have been planning to go several times and for some reason, it is always getting postponed. Since Cebu is on our itinerary, Gerald insisted that we go to Bantayan Island. To be honest, I kind of regret it for the main reason that it was a lot of travel time, and we only had three days in Cebu. It was not a smart move but he still enjoyed it so it’s still worth it, I guess. So tip, do not do land travel if you’re only going to this place for three days. Bantayan Island is in North of Cebu and it is 6 hours away.

How to get to Bantayan Island:

  • Go to North Bus Terminal. You can either take a cab or a jeepney. We were staying in Lapu-Lapu City, so we opted to take a cab.
  • Next, you need to ride a bus going to Hagnaya Port. It would take around 4-5 hours travel time going to Hagnaya Port. So it would be best if you go early.
  • Go down at Hagnaya Port and take a ferry going to Santa Fe. The Ferry trip usually takes an hour to 1.5 hours, but since we came late and it was raining, the boat had to go slow so it took us two hours.
  • When you dock at the Santa Fe Port, you can take a tricycle going to your hotel. We booked our hotel and transfer ahead of time.

We stayed at Camp Sawi – or Kota Beach Resort. We took the standard room so there was no television (though I don’t think there is a television in their rooms anyway). I think it’s fine because people would be out all day anyway. The room came with complimentary water for two and an umbrella (which came in very handy because it was raining when we arrived).

We had to transfer rooms because the roof in this one was leaking. It was kind of hard because there was no reception after 7pm, so the guards had to wait for the decision and all that, if we can transfer. They were kind enough to assist us. They transferred us to a room for three since it was the only vacancy. Photos from the resort website.

It rained all night so I was kind of anxious if our trip was really wasted. Good thing we were blessed with good weather the next day. We had free breakfast at the Kadlawon Restobar. Photos from the resort website.

So, our day tour went like this:

1. We had breakfast around 7 in the morning. I can get used to morning like this! The restaurant was right beside the beach and you can see and hear the sea, feel the fresh air. They also have a pool table right outside the restaurant – you know, to chill with your friends at night. Anyway, they had a number of breakfast sets; the traditional Filipino -silog breakfast sets, or the American bacon, eggs and toasts; all of them came with fruits and juice. Photos from the website.

2. We booked an island tour. It cost us PHP 1,500 plus tips. We went snorkeling – Gerald did not really like it. I for one am not a fan of snorkeling because I am scared of what’s under the sea. Haha!

3. We went to the Virgin Island. This is a small island about 30 minutes from the main Bantayan Island. And we had to pay PHP 500/2 heads then I think extra PHP 100/head.

If you ask me, it wasn’t really a virgin island. It has pretty decorations. There were some accommodations in the island. Our tour guide said that each cottage cost around PHP 3,000 for 24 hours. The electricity is only on for a certain number of hours.

According to the tour guide, there were cliffs where we can jump, but we chose not too. We’re saving the cliff diving for Canyoneering.

This cliff was one of the locations for the movie, Camp Sawi. You can actually jump off at some part of this. We chose not to.

We went to swim for like fifteen minutes, just so Gerald can experience the water. He loved it. He said it’s just right for swimming. We wanted to stay a little more but we don’t have much time.

4. Before leaving Bantayan Island, we went to visit The Ruins. To be honest, I expected it to be a little cleaner – Production Design really does Magic!

We had to hurry back to the city because we wanted to have a little tour if we still can. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time for that. We went to the Top of Cebu and tried the infamous Rico’s Lechon!