Due to its close proximity to bustling Manila, Puerto Galera is a popular weekend haunt for city dwellers as well as being firmly on the tourist map for foreign diving enthusiasts. It is approximately a four hour journey from the Philippines’ capital, situated in the northern region of Mindoro. There are a number of different options for getting there. There are daily flights from Manila to San Jose in the south of Mindoro with Asian Spirit or Philippine Airlines, but it is quicker to take a more direct route with a bus and ferry combination.
Travellers will transit through the port city of Batangas south of Manila where numerous outrigger and ferry companies have hourly sailings throughout the day to Puerto Galera. The most hassle free way is to take the SIKAT (website: www.sikatferrybus.com) bus and ferry combination ticket for Php700/one-way, Php1,400/return.
There are cheaper public transport options with BLTB (Pasay City, tel: + 63 2 833 5501) and Tritran Transit (Quezon City, Manila, tel: +63 2 831 4700), although you will have to organise the ferry crossing yourself on arrival at Batangas. Last boats leave around 17:30 so plan to leave central Manila by midday at the latest. There are boats to a number of points in Puerto Galera such as White Beach, Sabang and Balatero Pier.
In Puerto Galera town itself, there are plenty of Jeepneys able to whisk travellers off to other towns and cities in Mindoro; however, the ubiquitous tricycles are a better bet for short journeys from the habour to your hotel. Jeepneys start from the pier at Puerto Galera northwards to Sabang and west to White Beach and as far as Talipanan Beach. The main settlement in north Mindoro is Calapan which is two hours away by jeepney.
Between the main beach settlements, public transport is pretty frequent and visible until late in the evening. It is always possible to find a tricycle hanging around waiting for a fare; however, it becomes a little more problematic for further flung journeys into the hinterland. Other than the main east and west coast roads, public transport is virtually nonexistent and the only option is to hire a vehicle and driver for the day.
This can be arranged through several tour agencies and larger dive resorts. El Galleon Dive Resort (website: www.asiadivers.com) can organise beach hopping trips by land or sea, golf, trekking and day tours by minivan or private car. As there are roll on roll off ferries from the mainland, it is possible to bring a hire car over from Manila. There are virtually no taxis at all in the Puerta Galeraa area.
A Bangca outrigger boat can be chartered to travel between the beach resorts of Puerto Galera from Talipanan Point in the west as far as Sabang in the east, costing around Php500. Fishing and snorkelling charter trips are also a popular day out for many non-diving travellers.
Mindoro has become a popular spot for adventurous mountain biking, especially around the hilly region of Calapan. Less taxing and ideal for a spot of beach hopping is to hire a bicycle if staying in Sabang, La Laguna Beach or White Beach. Rates are around Php150-a-day and discounts are more than likely if hiring for a few consecutive days. Several places from smallish guest houses and tour desks to large beach resorts offer bicycles for rent.