With El Nido, Puerto Galera attracts many expatriates. The impressive number of dream beaches that this small city offers and the proximity to Manila (only 3 hours by boat and bus) make it the perfect location to live in the Philippines. If we can expatriate ourselves by the end of the world tour, it is here that we imagine ourselves the best for the moment.
Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips
Part 1: Travel Diary
The trip Coron – Puerto Galera is one of the longest trips we made, with a small surprise in Calapan, where we are told that there is no bus at this time (20h) to Puerto Galera, while the travel agency in Coron told us that the last bus leaves at 23h. Basically, in the Philippines, everyone knows his small area but that’s all. The information must be requested at each step. So we have to stay one night in Calapan and take a jeepney (old jeeps abandoned by the American army at the end of the second world war) the following day for Puerto Galera.
Puerto Galera is located on the big island Mindoro (which is also a Philippine region). Mindoro is divided into two parts: Western Mindoro, and Eastern Mindoro. In the Philippines, they aren’t very inspired in city names so it is possible to have the same city name for example Sabang for two different regions. For Mindoro, there are 2 San Jose, one located on Western Mindoro, and the second on Eastern Mindoro. So, when you search (for hotels or buses), you absolutely have to type the name of the region too.
In spite of all these galleys to reach this small seaside town, we love it right away. We stay one night at Badladz Dive Resort, not far from the port where the excursion boats leave, not far from the city center where everything happens. And then, to better enjoy the sea, we decide to migrate to the Badladz Beach Resort, 1.5km away, a hotel of the same group overlooking a quiet beach, from where the fishermen leave every morning. We were lucky enough to have the room closest to the beach: what a pleasure to go to bed and wake up with the sound of the sea running aground on the sand!
For the first two days, it rains like hell, which allows me to make progress in learning Spanish, while enjoying the good food in the hotel.
We also took the opportunity to go see a doctor. The tropical climate causes us a lot of worries, it is already the third time since our trip around the world that we see a doctor (in 4 months). The advantage of the Philippines is that everyone speaks English. So even in a “village” clinic, the consultation takes place in English. The doctor, very nice and competent, takes all his time to explain us the why of the how, how to take the medicines, fill in the health form to send back to our insurance, and he even thanks us for coming to the Philippines. All this for 600 pesos (12€) and 800 pesos of medicine (16€); Which reassures us a lot because if we decide to settle here, at least, medical level, there isn’thing to worry about.
The tricycle is more expensive here than in El Nido or Coron, partly because of the terrain (there are quite a few hills to climb) and the proximity to the capital. They seem to see many more tourists because there have been more attempts to inflate the price than in other small towns.
Day 3: Scooter & Kayak
On the third day, we rent a scooter to go around the beaches: Sabang Beach, White Beach, Aninuan Beach.
Here is White Beach, when it is windy, the waves are very strong. The sand is white and fine, it’s the best beach because the others we visited all have a lot of pebbles. What we liked: the Korean restaurant at the end of the beach.
Sabang Beach, in a very lively neighborhood. We came here to book our ticket to Manila and chat with a beautiful employee of a travel agency who went around the world for diving. She tells us that Puerto Galera is the 2nd best destination in the world for diving. Too bad that JB isn’t very inspired to do it. But it is only postponed.
Aninuan Beach, a private beach very well known by Filipinos, you pay 10 pesos per person to access it (0,2€). The sand is full of pebbles but it doesn’t hurt your feet. The owners have a lot of animals: chickens, ducks, dogs, a monkey. They are all adorable. I hate to take pictures postcard style but the beach is really in postcard mode.
And this is the picture from our hotel, Badladz Beach Resort. For 20€ per night we are entitled to this + a small swimming pool. What I like about Badladz hotels is that we don’t have to worry about anything. A scooter? a phone call from the hotel and someone drops the scooter in front of the hotel. A massage? the masseuse comes at the indicated time to massage you in your room.
We rent a kayak for two (300 pesos) and go around the bay. The fishermen’s children greet us and hold on to our kayak but we can’t manage to bring them with us, it’s too heavy 🙂 We all laugh and say goodbye.
In the evening, we have dinner near Hundura in a pizzeria that sells pizzas by the meter. JB almost manages to finish a 50cm pizza while I’m satisfied with a small salad and some skewers bought in the street (yum!).
Day 4 :
Last day in Puerto Galera. Program 100% idleness: beach, swimming pool, hammock. The owner of our hotel is called Sean. He came to the Philippines in 1999 for 2 weeks of vacation and never came back. We fully understand his “cracking” like all the other expatriates (apparently it’s super common that tourists come here and never leave). We saw a lot of houses and apartments for rent by the month, starting at 200€/month. A scooter costs around 400€. In the bui bui, each dish costs 60 pesos (1,2€). The 6 month visa, renewable, costs 100€. And you can stay here as long as you want with a tourist visa, without having to justify your activities. Before leaving the country, you just have to ask for an exit permit (if you have been here for more than 6 months) and that’s it. In case of typhoon, you just have to fly to another region for 50€, or to another country (Vietnam) for 50€. Everybody speaks English, everybody is nice, there are so many things to see. The only negative point is the Internet connection, but in Puerto Galera, the connection is very correct.
Part 2: Practical Tips
How to get there
From Coron: To go from Coron to Puerto Galera, be prepared to do a lot of transportation and admire beautiful landscapes. The Filipinos will help you along the way, don’t worry. Take the boat at 8am (no boat every Thursday & Sunday) to San Jose (Western Mindoro). The trip takes between 5 and 6 hours. A tricycle will take you to the bus terminal. From there, take a bus to Calapan (the trip takes between 6 and 7 hours.). The bus can drop you off in Roxas, and from Roxas you take a bus to Calapan). One night in Calapan and the next day you take a bus or a Jeepney to Puerto Galera (1h). Cost: 1000 pesos/person boat. Tricycle: between 10 and 25 pesos/person. Bus San Jose -> Calapan: 430 pesos/person. Jeepney Calapan -> Puerto Galera: 80 pesos/person.
From Manila: to go from Manila to Puerto Galera, the Sikat company offers combo trips (boat + bus). The bus arrives at the Pier of Batangas, then a boat takes you to Sabang in Puerto Galera. The trip takes 4h30. Cost: 800 pesos/person
From Manila: you can take a seaplane (if there are too many waves, there will be no boat between Batangas and Puerto Galera). This is an excellent alternative if you absolutely have to take a plane from Manila and the weather isn’t good for the boat trip. Cost: 5000 pesos/person. Contact Alona at 0917-824-3551 or a3gbmanagement(at)gmail(dot)com
How to leave Puerto Galera
There is no airport in Puerto Galera so it is better to go to Manila with the company Sikat (4h30 of trip), to take the plane to other cities.
It isn’t advisable to go to Coron from Puerto Galera because it is a galley not possible. But if you still want to do it, go very early to Calapan and then take a bus to San Jose. 5 days a week, there is a boat to Coron at 8am.
- Here, each ride costs 25 pesos/person (shared tricycle), but if you take a parked tricycle, the rate changes to “private tricycle” mode. So you should ride a tricycle on the road instead of taking a parked tricycle because the ride to White Beach (5km) can cost 150 pesos.
- The neighborhood around Hundura Beach is very lively and not very touristy (fishing village), go there to eat, fill up with gasoline or to go to the hairdresser’s
- We highly recommend Badladz, its hotels and apartments for rent by the month
- We saw several houses on the waterfront near Dulangan Beach, it isn’t cut off from the world because there is a school in the area, but it remains quiet and the view is beautiful (see the picture from a restaurant in the surroundings).