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tokyomike Puerto Galera - A travel report by Mike
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Puerto Galera,  Philippines - flag Philippines -  Mindoro Oriental
4657 readers

tokyomike's travel reports

A hop skip and jump from Manila to Paradise

  23 votes
OK, “paradise” may be a bit generous of a term to describe this quiet tropical hideaway, but the convenience and the diversity available around Puerto Galera make it a must-see.

Location of Puerto Galera and beaches
Location of Puerto Galera and beaches
If you are in Manila, dreaming of the beach, but too lazy to fly, then Puerto Galera is the place to chill.

The Sea-Kat bus (with transfer to a ferry to Mindoro Island) leaves from the City State Hotel on Mabini at Padre Faura Street at 8AM every day. Just book at the Puerto Galera booking agency in the hotel, pay your 1,200 Pesos ($25) for the round trip, and they will have you sipping San Miguel beers by the beach of your choice before noon.

There are several beaches to choose from. If you want to party all night, then Sabang is the most developed, and is the most diver-friendly. That's where I landed, but I actually stayed two beaches down at Big La Laguna. Much quieter than Sabang, and a better beach, but a long trek home at 3AM when you are having enough problems just walking straight.

My next trip, I stayed right on Sabang. I’d recommend staying at any of the bungalow resorts to the east of the boat landings at Eddy’s Bar (just look to the left as the boat approaches the beach and you’ll see loads of accommodation). Yes, there is nicer accommodation at Little and Big La Laguna, but it is generally over priced given the basic level of rooms and facilities. Or maybe I’m just too spoiled from the price vs. quality in Thailand. Either way, staying on the quiet side of Sabang is the best balance of convenience and quality.

Favourite spots:
Outriggers are the the only way to go! Literally...
Outriggers are the the only way to go! Literally...
Although the beaches are nothing compared with Thailand and (so I hear) with Boracay or Cebu, the Puerto Galera beaches have that perfect balance of blue green, crystal clear water, and deep green lush foothills as a backdrop. Beyond that, as a single traveler, this area draws divers in droves, so you're never at a loss for people to chat with. A nice change from beach areas that cater to lovey-dovey couples or Hippy-dippy weatherman types who are escaping society, reality or both. Sabang sits comfortably in the middle ground.

What's really great:
Off to find Nemo
Off to find Nemo
With about 40 dive sites, shark dives, wreck dives, night dives and excellent visibility, I think a real diver would enjoy spending a few days in Puerto Galera. For a "fake" diver like me (I love it, but I can count my total dives on 2 hands), one dive was enough. In fact, I had a pressure injury to my ear in December in Thailand, so I only wanted one dive to test-drive my ears.

That was all it took to mess me up again.

As I write this, my ear feels normal again, but the doctor at the hospital says that until I get a complete check up, I should avoid diving. While I’m not one to ignore a doctor’s advice, the 20 meter visibility and teeming sea life is something that I have to see at least one more time. My next visit, I will do one of the best dive sites in the world: The Apo Reef on the West Coast of Mindoro Island (Sabang and the neighboring beaches are a part of this island). I’ll either see Manta Rays, or go deaf, whichever comes first.

Resorts along Big La Laguna Beach
Resorts along Big La Laguna Beach
One lesson I learned was that the Philippines is not at the cutting edge of resort booking technology. Even calling numbers on new brochures often led to out-of-order numbers. Web sites were off line. And the only reply I ever got to an E-mail about accommodation in Puerto Galera read, “ Failure delivery.” So much for online booking.

No, the easiest way to get a room is to just show up, and allow the room touts to show you what they have. I was there at peak season, and there was no shortage of available rooms. Ironically, the only places that were always fully booked were the ones that could not be accessed by phone or E-mail. A true Philippine paradox.

The floating bar
The floating bar
But life is not all about relaxation. A person needs to party, too. For many people, the party starts at the floating bar off shore of Captain Gregg’s Dive Resort. You pay a kid about 50 pesos to row you out in a leaky wooden boat that capsizes about 3 times a day: a number directly proportional to the number of drunk people returning from the bar. If you are traveling alone, it’s a great place to hook up with other divers or travelers so you don’t have to drink alone. If nothing else, you can watch the sun set on the beach, from the other way around.

Expecting a go-go bar shot? Sorry. Waaaay too incriminating! lol
Expecting a go-go bar shot? Sorry. Waaaay too incriminating! lol
Partying in the town starts after dark. There are about 5 “discos” along the short main drag of Sabang, and numerous smaller bars. For the uninitiated, a “disco” in the Philippines means an a-go-go bar, but with no nudity. So you can go there and drink and party, or if you’re a guy and are into the bar-girl scene, you can do that, too. There really are no rules it seems in the Philippines. People just like to party.

Other recommendations:
Just a nice place to chill
Just a nice place to chill
On my next trip to Puerto Galera, I plan to rent a motorcycle for a few days and take extended day trips from Sabang. There are plenty of other beaches along the coast, such as White Beach. They are much more relaxed and are simply better beaches than you’ll find in the Sabang area. And there’s an entire, lush, tropical island to be explored beyond that. But be sure to bring a partner or a good book, as relaxation is the name of the game in Puerto Galera.

Published on Saturday April 8th, 2006

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Thu, Sep 28 2006 - 12:37 PM rating by mrscanada

I ejoyed reading this report because my son is diving there now.

Fri, Apr 14 2006 - 02:20 AM rating by downundergal

Witty, entertaining and informative. This is a great report as were the pictures. Well done.

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 10:46 PM rating by gloriajames

Mike, well done! u disappeared for a while from globo and came back with a bang! good report and did u find nemo?? btw.. how about a slideshow on the location??

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 06:18 PM rating by jorgesanchez

Refreshing report!

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 03:53 PM rating by eirekay

Great Report! Sounds like a great dive location!

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 11:14 AM rating by isaacmolina

Now I want to visit Puerto Galera

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 09:46 AM rating by rangutan

My kind of stuff, brillant, more please!

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 09:29 AM rating by mistybleu

Mike cool report with great illustrations.
Well done

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 09:12 AM rating by st.vincent

A good informative personal report Mike. I enjoyed reading it, thanks

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 06:48 AM rating by davidx

Most interesting report on a place where I know nothing. Thanks

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 06:10 AM rating by marianne

well-written and very informative.
Would this be an interesting place for non-divers?

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 05:51 AM rating by frenchfrog

Really well completed report, lots little info's provided. Makes me want to go there! I love diving with the little sharks!

Sat, Apr 08 2006 - 05:20 AM rating by esfahani

Hey Mike! Its a pleasure to be the first one rating or Puerto Galera report!
I really enjoy reading about, because lately the philippine guide books are my "best friends" - I bought my tickets to MNL a week ago, and travel there soon!
Thanks a lot!

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