Located at a distance of just a few hours’ drive from Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is the popular dive destination Puerto Galera, a collection of islands and bays that is famous for its quaint ‘pocket beaches’. What is referred to as Puerto Galera is not just the town by that name but also the dive resorts and towns surrounding it, namely White Beach and Sabang Beach. In 1973 the place was declared a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO.
Location of Puerto Galera
Puerto Galera is a municipality (town) in Oriental Mindoro, a province in the Philippines. It lies on the south-western side of the strait of Isla Verde Passage, which is a very busy shipping lane of the Philippines. The distance from Manila, the capital of the country, to Puerto Galera is 130 km.
What You Can Do in Puerto Galera
The more important beaches of Puerto Galera are White Beach and Sabang Beach. Sabang is one of the barangays (an administrative unit) of Puerto Galera. It has two other beaches besides Sabang Beach, namely, Big La Laguna Beach, and Small La Laguna Beach. The place has wonderful diving sites rich in small critters, with a sprinkling of larger ones like sharks, dolphins, and giant clams, and this makes the place scuba divers’ heaven. However, there are more to see and do in Puerto Galera than just dive and snorkel.
Playing Golf: For those interested in golfing, there is Ponderosa Golf Club located at the end of an hour’s walk from White Beach. The road that leads to the club goes uphill and the walk will provide you with a magnificent view of Puerto Galera.
Yachting: You can get training in sailing a dinghy, and practice the new skill at Puerto Galera Yacht Club.
Water Falls: From White Beach, the distance to Tamaraw Falls is 20 minutes by road. It is interesting to watch the water gushing through the rocks and ending up in a pool beneath a bridge. Another, more secluded waterfall is Talipanan Falls, where you can swim in peace without any disturbance.
Hiking: For those who enjoy hiking, there are lush forests all over Puerto Galera, rich in flora and fauna.
Water Sports: Many resorts arrange parasailing and jet skiing for tourists. The bank of the stream Alag River is especially suitable for kayaking.
Reptile Zoo: This is for those interested in reptiles.
Mangyan People: There are certain nomadic tribes inhabiting the mountainous area of Mindoro. The changes in the rest of the world have scarcely affected them and a study of their lifestyle could be of interest to people interested in history, anthropology, and social sciences.
Muelle Cross: The marble cross known as the Cross at Muelle is a tourist attraction of historical importance as it was put up in memory of the crew of a ship that sank in 1879.
Nightlife: Sabang has plenty of bars, clubs, and wild dancing at night. Its floating bars are very popular. The nightlife at White Beach is less wild and considered more family-oriented.
Best Time to Visit Puerto Galera
From December till May is the best season for visiting Puerto Galera when weather is dry and there is no rain. Of these six months, the high season is from November till March when you have celebrations like Christmas, New Year, a Banana Festival and Music and Arts Festival in March, and St. Joseph’s Day around the same time.
From March to May it is quite hot but days are sunny and visibility is good for divers. It rains from June till October, interspersed now and then with typhoons.
Best Dive Season
Puerto Galera is good for diving almost the year round even though from December till May is the best. Even during the rainy season, typhoons are not too frequent in Puerto Galera because it is protected on most parts by mountains. November, though it is not peak season, is good for divers since rain clears fully by November. Currents are strong in August because of the rains but even then you can have drift dives.
Puerto Galera Dive Resorts
Atlantis Dive Resort (4 star)
Located on the hillocks in Sabang Beach, Atlantis Dive Resort offers many amenities that include restaurant, salon, spa, meeting facility, round-the-clock security, and equipment rental for water-sports. They have a range of PADI courses, covering every aspect of diving, and include recreational dive courses, instructor courses, tech diving, kid’s diving, rescue diving, advance open water diving, adventure diving, and many more. Its liveaboard, Atlantis Azores, can accommodate 16 people.
Aura Dive Resort (4 star)
Aura is a beachfront resort located in Small La Laguna Beach. It is within walking distance of Sabang. The resort provides PADI-certified recreational, technical, and professional dive courses of high standard for everyone from beginners to pros, and offers many dive packages. Recreational activities offered by Aura include ziplining, parasailing, shooting, jet skiing, island hopping, go-karting, and buggy tours.
La Laguna Beach Club & Dive Centre (4 star)
As its name implies, the resort is situated on Big La Laguna Beach of Sabang. All its 45 rooms – single, double, and suite rooms – either face the beach or the pool. Its PADI dive centre offers many courses, starting from the PADI Open Water Course for beginners to advanced courses for veterans and instructors, plus IANTD (International Association of Nitrox and Technical Divers) courses that involve training with Trimix, Nitrox, and Gas Blending.
South Sea Divers
The dive shop of South Sea Divers, located in Sabang Beach, was established as early as 1983 and continues to serve tourists by guiding them in good diving and solving every one of their diving problems. It has Deluxe Rooms, Superior Rooms, Standard Fan Rooms, and Lodge Rooms, catering to the varying requirements of tourists. The resort also provides a range of diving packages starting from one night of accommodation and diving, to two weeks of stay and diving.
Infinity Resort (4 star)
Infinity Resort, located in Talipanan Beach, has villas that can accommodate six people, Family rooms for four people, and Deluxe, Executive, and Premier Suite for two. It has a range of facilities that include golf course, billiards, table tennis, fishing, water sports, karaoke, games room, spa, sauna, hot tub, massage parlour, coffee shop, restaurant, round-the-clock reception desk, facilities for handicapped people, conference facilities, and babysitting among other things.
Utopia Resort & Spa (4 star)
A major plus point of Utopia Resort is its strategic location. It is situated at a distance of a kilometre from the centre of the city and some of the landmarks of Puerto Galera like the park Plaza Iluminada San Jose, the charity clinic Misereor Clinic, and the secluded Encenada Beach with its great sites for diving and snorkelling. The resort is cosy and homely, and looks like a natural part of the beach where it is set.
How to Reach Puerto Galera
The airport closest to Puerto Galera is Manila. Manila is well-connected by air to many important cities across the world. However, for those who are on an extended tour of the Philippines or are coming from other parts of the country, Kalibo International Airport and Caticlan Airport are also options to travel to Puerto Galera. Kalibo Airport is connected to important cities of many Asian countries, while Caticlan Airport is a domestic terminal.
Form Manila you have to travel to Batangas by road, for which you can use a public transport or hire an air-conditioned van. Travelling time to Batangas from Manila is about 3 hours even though it could sometimes take much more when weather is bad or traffic is too much. There is also a ferry-bus service offered by Si-Kat where the bus that takes you to Batangas will be transported to Puerto Galera in a boat.
If you are going via Kalibo Airport, the travelling time from Kalibo to Batangas is about 8 hours by bus while from Caticlan it is 6 hours.
The last leg of the journey to Puerto Galera from Batangas has to be in a ferry and the trip will take about one and a quarter of an hour. There are many ferry services that continuously ply the route. Those who prefer to travel by local outrigger boats can move to Terminal 3 and those who prefer Roro ferry can go to Terminal 2. There are three entry points to Puerto Galera, namely, Sabang Pier, White Beach, and Muelle Pier and you can enter through whichever you prefer, depending on the location of your accommodation.
Getting Around in Puerto Galera
Sabang in Puerto Galera is a small place and you will be able to navigate it on foot. However, motorized tricycles, the most common public transport in the Philippines, are aplenty in Puerto Galera and are quite suitable for visiting places of interest. Jeepneys can also be hired for travelling around the island.
Another choice is to rent a motorbike and explore the area. There are motorbike rentals in Sabang and all you have to do for comfortable driving is follow the local road rules.
You can also go from one part of Puerto Galera to the other by hiring a boat.
Scuba Diving in Puerto Galera?
Check out our Puerto Galera dive guide and start planning your next dive trip!