Puerto Galera During All Soul’s Day
It was another long weekend of 2018! November 1 and 2, All Saints Day and All Souls Day respectively fell on a Thursday and Friday meaning we had 4 consecutive days of vacation from school and work. We traditionally go to our grandparents’ grave during November 1 but we decided to miss it for the first time this year. We visited on November 4 instead after this 3D2N family trip to Puerto Galera.
All Saints Day normally means armageddon of cars going home from the metro to the provinces. We thought traffic would be a major cause for concern but it wasn’t. We left Bulacan at 4:30AM and reached Batangas Port around 7AM. EDSA was also such a breeze when we went home on November 3. Undas, therefore, is a good time to road trip to Batangas. You know the worst time to visit Batangas? During Holy Week.
This trip was my fourth time to Puerto Galera but my first time with family. I’ve tried island hopping before so this time, in consideration to my mother who doesn’t know how to swim, we opted to do land tours instead (Tamaraw Falls, Mangyan Village, etc.)
Ferry Experience & Batangas Port
Batangas Port posed the unforeseen challenge. We were aiming to go to White Beach (not Sabang). Now there are various ways to go to White Beach. There are ferry trips from Batangas port to Muelle or Balatero, both a few minutes worth of land travel away from White Beach, and of course the trip that goes directly to White Beach.
By 7AM we were already lining up for tickets but all the trips in the morning were already fully booked! The earliest trip we can book leaves at 1:30PM but we have to line up on some really long, tangled lines whose counter will only open when 9:30AM strikes! It meant we had to line up for more than 3 freaking hours and it wasn’t even direct to White Beach. That 1:30PM was for Muelle. For the trip that leaves at 2:30PM so we could purchase the ticket right away, pay the terminal fee through again some really long,tangled lines (good thing my father is a senior citizen), and wait on the passenger’s terminal.
We chose 2:30PM and stayed from 7:30AM – 2:00PM inside the port. Excruciating hours may be for some but the thing with traveling with people you love is that you can utilize the time to already bond in the most uncomfortable of places. We just pretended we were waiting for an international flight. We also found this Greenwhich booth which only sold limited flavors of pizza but was gracious to take our orders from the real physical store outside the port and had our orders delivered to us! Instant pizza party!
Originally, we were to stay at an Airbnb house for one night and spend 2D1N in Puerto Galera. Because of this unexpected events, we decided to extend our stay for one more night. It was off season in Puerto Galera so booking another hotel was easy and relatively cheap. We also had to extend our parking duration at a private house we discovered near Batangas Port. Batangas port has its own legit parking spaces but the lines were long. There are private properties which offer parking spaces for Php200/night on a walking distance from the port so we parked in one of those and skipped the long lines.
Travel time was 1 hour 15 minutes from Batangas Port to White Beach.
On the third day, the tour guide we’ve befriended offered to buy ferry tickets for us, back to Batangas port. He actually got the tickets at Php300/head from Atienza Interisland (directly to the pier) but because of some confusing turn of events, I found out when we were seated that we have boarded the wrong ferry which was Starlite! Travel time took 2 hours.
Itinerary and Budget
The idea of this entire family trip to Puerto Galera is to relax. We made sure not to load our days with too much activity. Most times are spent on White Beach, swimming, watching the sunrise and sunset, those kind of “boring” things. Sometimes, boring is what we like.
White Beach is where the night life of Puerto Galera is. Sabang is more popularly known as the quieter one. It therefore depends on what you want or need at the moment. Sabang has its own charm plus you can still visit White Beach from there by riding a tricycle. It’s just that for first-timers like the rest of my family, I recommend White Beach as colloquially, when you say Puerto Galera it refers to this stretch of photogenic white sand and blue sea.
Expect comedy bars, live accoustic bands, fire dancing, sand castles, massages by the beach. My parents exclaimed that they enjoyed the night ! It’s probably their first time in a comedy bar and first time to witness the fire dance.
Places of Interest
Two minutes after you set foot on White Beach, you will be offered different types of customize-able land tours or island hopping tours for your group. Your own hotel or accommodation might even offer packaged tours so exploring this town of Oriental Mindoro won’t really be a problem. We found our angel for this tour in the person of Victor, vice president of one tricycle association in White Beach. He offered us the land tour which he topped with the best added services like fetching us from hotel to the local market, buying the ferry tickets back to Batangas port, tricycle rides, etc. Lots of smaller beaches, mangrove site, and overlooking spots are located along the way. We just chose not to stop at every place. There are more photos of the tourist spots in Puerto Galera here.
Water activities like water jet ski, parasailing, banana/dragon boat ride, etc. are here. Souvenirs of all types from shirts to mugs to even the ones painted on your skin through henna tattoo are available on the numerous stalls lined up at the beachfront.
Tip: Waves here are not exactly child-friendly. The farthest part of the stretch of White Beach is even prohibited for swimming though watching the beautiful but fatal whirlpool formation here is allowed. There are policemen who patrol the area, implementing the no swimming rule as drowning incidents already happened here.
“A 423 ft drop majestic twin waterfall named after Mindoro Dwarf Buffalo”. There is a designated picnic are at the foot of Tamaraw Falls where supposedly, you can dine with a view of the falls but unfortunately because of the typhoon days before our visit, the water looked a bit brown.
Bluntly, we were a bit disappointed. Near the shore, water is dirty and smelled of gas from the jet ski being rented out. There was floating island which could have been enjoyable if water was clean. The pebble beach was garbage-free though. Another good thing is that unlike White Beach, it’s a bit shady here during noontime until 3pm. We didn’t stay long here.
Our tour guide, as if wanting to make up for our apparent disappointment with Virgin Beach, suggested we drop at this sandbar. The sandbar also has entrance fee which was like Php150 per person, consumable with the small sari-sari stores inside. We requested to be given 10 minutes inside just to take pictures and we were allowed to get in for free.
It’s a cultural village where members of Mangyan tribe, native to Mindoro, are given the opportunity to make livelihood out of various hand-woven items. The village is sponsored by the Ayalas and some of the items they produced are being sold in Ayala Malls. It’s the best place to buy souvenirs. You get to have really quality pieces and help Mangyans, too. Best if you could visit before 5PM so you can witness the Mangyans being schooled how to weave their products. The items sold in the booths are woven from the Mangyan’s own houses outside of this Mangyan Village but they are being taught here.
Overlooking spots where you can take great photos are located along the highway on you way to any of these tourist spots via land tour. At any time during the trip, you may request your driver to stop where it is safe.
We booked two rooms from Rold and Roub Home Suites through Airbnb. The rooms looked and felt brand new. Aubrey, the owner, was also gracious in entertaining all my questions before our stay given that I thought of canceling the entire trip altogether because of the typhoon. It’s not located on the beachfront but is on a walking distance from White Beach. Cooking is allowed for additional fee and though we didn’t need pocket wifi because Globe’s data signal is strong here, I so much appreciated that they provide.
For the second night of our “unplanned” extension, we opted to all stay in one family room at South View Beach Resort. Also good for its price. The staff were kind and attentive to our needs.
Restaurants / Food
We tried Terminal Restaurant which offered complete “-silog meals” at a little over Php100. Inevitably, we ate at random restaurants along the beach front so we could have tables while watching the comedy shows or the live bands. You’ll never go hungry here. There was even a coffee shop and a Chinese restaurant. Just bring enough cash as the two (yes, two) ATM in Puerto Galera are located 30 minutes away from the beach by tricycle. Tip: There is one ATM located in the beach front itself but it’s inside a hotel, exclusive to those who are checked in.
The most memorable meal we had was prepared with the help of our land tour guide, Victor. Guess he got our trust during the land tour. His wife marinated the barbecue we brought to Tamaraw Falls and it was delicious! So the following day, we sought his help to still assist us in going to the palengke and cook lunch for us. He and his wife insisted we eat lunch at their house instead of our hotel knowing that we don’t have plates and utensils. We were reluctant at first but the lunch we had with them and their cute grandson actually turned out to be another memorable activity for the whole family. He fetched us from our hotel to his house, adjacent to a nipa hut which he rents out to tourists at just Php300/night! When we go back to Puerto Galera, we know where to book.
I may never get tired of Puerto Galera. It’s still a different experience each time I go here. New memories, new things to do. Heard from the grapevine, following the transformations of Boracay this year, Puerto Galera might follow suit come 2019. There might be some changes with how tourism is being run here so maybe the next time we visit, it’ll be a totally new experience again -with the same awesome White Beach!