The thriving municipality of Puerto Galera, hemmed in by jungle-clad promontories plummeting into delightful pockets of beaches and coves, lures weekenders from the exhaust centers of Manila. Resting on the southwestern edge of Isla Verde Passage in Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Galera harbors diverse coral reefs ideal for snorkeling and diving, reason why it was recognized as a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973.
Although Puerto Galera is famous to tourists for its nightlife, this bountiful town has more up its sleeve. I hope this travel blog provides you with information you need when planning a trip to Puerto Galera.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN PUERTO GALERA
ISLAND HOPPING TOUR
What makes island hopping one of the top things to do in Puerto Galera?
Puerto Galera island hopping tour is one of the top activities you should not miss. You can charter a boat for a standard rate of Php 1,500 (good for 8 persons) at the port in Sabang, but usually, touts/boat agents – holding laminated cardboard with photos of the snorkeling sites and islands – will approach you when you’re in White Beach. Pretty much like the persistent touts in Panglao, Bohol.
Puerto Galera Island Hopping Tour includes: trip to Bayanan Beach, Sandbar Island, Haligi Beach and snorkeling at Coral Garden. Take note that if you wish to go snorkeling, prepare to shell out another Php 200 per person for the small boat (per site) that will take you to the snorkeling site. So if you are visiting the Coral Garden, Giant Clams and San Antonio Island underwater cave that’s PHP 600 (SGD 17/USD 12) per person for the 3 sites for the small boats.
The boatmen at Coral Garden are the fisher folks of the island. It’s an additional livelihood for these people, so by availing of those small boats paddled by the locals, you are actually helping their community. Several years ago, fishing was banned in the area so they can revive the marine life here and turn the Coral Garden into a snorkeling/diving spot. Thankfully, their efforts have paid off, today, tourists can enjoy swimming with rainbow-hued fishes here roaming around colossal coral plates! It’s definitely one of the best snorkeling experience I’ve had in the Philippines.
Another highlight of the island hopping tour in Puerto Galera is snorkeling around the giant clams. As you might have surmised, visitors will encounter colossal clams and throngs of fishes when snorkeling.
Puerto Galera island hopping also includes a visit to San Antonio Island where Long Beach is located as well as the majestic underwater cave. Tourists need to climb craggy rocks to get inside the cave with a waist-deep emerald green water.
Unfortunately, because it was habagat season (August) when we visited, the waves were really mad, so we failed to visit the underwater cave in San Antonio Island.
Puerto Galera Island Hopping Tour Rate – PHP 1, 500 ( SGD 41 / USD 30)for 1 boat (good 1- 8 persons)
Small Boats for Coral Garden + Giant Clams + Underwater Cave – PHP 600 ( SGD 17/USD 12)
DIVING IN PUERTO GALERA
What makes diving one of the top things to do in Puerto Galera?
Diving in Puerto Galera is undoubtedly one of the top things to do when you visit. You will never run out of diving options as several dive centers and resorts around White Beach offer dive course as well as Puerto Galera diving packages in the best dive sites.
Puerto Galera Dive rates starts at Php 1,300 (USD 29) per person
HANG OUT AT WHITE BEACH
Why is hanging out at Whote Beach one of the top things to do in Puerto Galera?
White Beach is the most famous beach in Puerto Galera, so yes, expect it to be crowded especially on weekends and holidays! The coast is sprinkled with resorts, bars and restaurants that have never stopped expanding, thus, it is a convenient place to stay since everything you need is here but it can get quite noisy as it is pretty popular for its nightlife.
By day, aside from swimming and getting a tan, you can try the water sports such as jet ski, kayak and banana boat ride offered by some resorts. At night, you can go bar hopping, listen to live bands while drinking with friends and you can also watch the talented local fire dancers perform!
But for those who just want a quiet and less crowded beach in Puerto Galera, do check out the neighboring Aninuan Beach, Palangan Beach or the picturesque Talipanan Beach which other travel blogs raved about. But my personal favorite is the empty nameless beach on the other side of Coral Garden.
SLURP DOWN A GLASS OF MINDORO SLING
Why trying a glass of Mindoro Sling one of the top things to do in Puerto Galera?
While in Puerto Galera, have a sip of the iconic cocktail aptly named as Mindoro Sling! This cherry-red alcoholic drink consists of Tanduay rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, mango juice, grenadine syrup and sprite is very popular for a reason. It is such a buzz that even some beach resorts in Puerto Galera offer tutorials on how to make a Mindoro Sling on their Bar Mixing Lesson.
Mindoro Sling photo by Roslyn (Flickr/Creative Commons)
You can order a pitcher of Mindoro Sling at Mikko’s Bar where it is believed to have been popularized by its owner Mikko, but most bars scattered along White Beach offer this drink too! Just drink moderately if you don’t want to get wasted.
Why is chasing waterfalls one of the top things to do in Puerto Galera?
One of the top things to do while in Puerto Galera is exploring waterfalls. There are four known waterfalls in Puerto Galera (and perhaps more undiscovered)– Tamaraw Falls, Aninuan Falls (which is near White Beach), Tukuran Falls and Talipanan Falls.
Tamaraw Falls photo by Ardee ( Flickr/Creative Commons)
HOW TO GET TO TAMARAW FALLS IN PUERTO GALERA
The most famous waterfall in Puerto Galera is Tamaraw Falls which is about 1 hour and 45 minutes away from White Beach. This can be done by chartering a jeep for the Puerto Galera Inland Tour Package which also includes a side trip to Virgin Beach. Most touts and drivers offer this for PHP 1,500 (SGD 41.40/ USD 30).
To get to Aninuan Falls from White Beach, you can hire a tricycle to the jumping off point and hike about 30-45 minutes. You can also trek from White Beach but you need a guide as it is easy to get lost here.
HOW TO GET TO TALIPANAN FALLS IN PUERTO GALERA
This is a great side trip if you are headed to Mangyan Village as you can just hire a guide there for about Php 200. If you happen to visit Talipanan Beach, this is a great sidetrip, but do get a guide to avoid getting lost.
HOW TO GET TO TUKURAN FALLS IN PUERTO GALERA
Tukuran Falls is a lesser known waterfalls in Puerto Galera, but it is equally enchanting. Touts will offer a multi-cab or jeep tour to the falls for PHP 2,000 (SGD 55/USD 40), good for 8 persons or so. DIY trip or commuting to Tukuran Falls in Puerto Galera is also possible (though it’s quite complex). From White Beach or Tamaraw Falls, you can take a jeep bound for Calapan (fare is about PHP 40/ SGD 0.79/ USD 1.10 ) and alight at San Teodoro Town where you have to hire a tricycle to take you to the jumping off point (parking area in Tukuran) and back to San Teodoro town. Negotiate with the tricycle driver to wait for you, round-trip chartered tricycle usually costs Php 400. Then from there, you have the option to ride a carabao (water buffalo) for PHP 350 (SGD 4/ USD 0.79)which is good for up to 6 persons.
VISIT THE MANGYAN VILLAGE
Why is visiting the Mangyan Village one of the top things to do in Puerto Galera?
Puerta Galera is home to the Irayas, a sub-tribe of the Mangyans, the nomadic indigenous group of photo-Malay origin with curly hair and dark complexion. Based on reports, they were originally living in the coastal areas , and they are believed to have traded with Chinese merchants as early as 1250 AD. Unfortunately, they were pushed into the mountains with the arrival of Christians and Moro settlers. Thankfully, many of them have preserved their traditional culture. Today, the Iraya Mangyans of Puerto Galera have found a home at the Mangyan Village in Sitio Talipanan.
On any given day, tourists can visit this charming village built by Ayala Foundation where the Mangyans can be seen proudly weaving nito vine into handicrafts that are perfect souvenirs. They consign their crafts and many of these handicrafts make their way to Greenbelt 5 Mall in Makati and exported to other countries. I recommend buying handicrafts / souvenirs here to support the livelihood of the Irayas.
WHERE TO STAY IN PUERTO GALERA
Sitio Dalaruan Brgy, Oriental Mindoro, Sabang, Puerto Galera
Aninuan, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
Talipanan, Puerto Galera Oriental Mindoro, Aninuan, Puerto Galera
Barangay Talipanan, Aninuan, Puerto Galera
PUERTO GALERA TRAVEL TIPS
⊗ As in most beaches, sea urchins are present in snorkeling sites, so wear aqua shoes or full-foot fins when snorkeling and please do not step on corals.
⊗ Bring a dry bag to protect your cameras and waterproof pouch for your phone. Or much better if you just bring an underwater camera or action camera for snorkeling and other water sports.
⊗ If you are traveling solo to Puerto Galera and you want to do the island hopping tour but you don’t want to spend Php 1,500 for the boat, try to schedule your trip on a weekend and approach other travelers (preferably those in groups) to join their island hopping and just share the expenses.
⊗ Stack up cash (Philippine currency) before heading to Puerto Galera, there are only 3 ATMs in town. Almost everything is on cash basis here.
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