Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro has been a quick getaway for Manileño divers, party animals, and beach bums for years.
Despite its (in)famous reputation, the place still redeems itself if one looks beyond the Sabang streetwalkers and rowdy White Beach touts.
Fortunately, there are still areas where one can experience relative peace and quiet, especially during off-peak season: soaking up the sun at uncrowded Aninuan and Talipanan beaches; learning how the native Mangyan tribespeople weave nito basketry at the Iraya Mangyan Village; and hiking inland to take a dip in hidden waterfalls.
Toast to the golden sunsets of Aninuan Beach
A Mangyan child peeks through hand-made nito basketry at Iraya Mangyan Village
Take a quick hike to Talipanan Falls
HOW TO GET HERE: Catch one of several buses (2 hours; PHP 167.00) that leave for Batangas pier from the corner of Sen. Gil Puyat Ave. (aka Buendia) and Taft Ave in Pasay City, Metro Manila (near LRT-1 Gil Puyat Station). At Batangas Port, ignore the persistent tourist touts (who can be really rude) and go straight to the ticket counters.
Father & Sons Lines have ferries (1 hour; P250-one way, PHP450 – return) that leave for White Beach starting 6:00 AM daily. Last trip from White Beach is 3:30 PM. Additional fees are PHP 50 for environmental fee and P30 for terminal fee.
You don’t need a guide to get to the Iraya Mangyan Village. Just walk or bike down to the end of the paved highway westwards to Talipanan, and before it becomes an uphill dirt road leading to Talipanan Beach, turn left into a forested path that leads to the village. Just ask around and locals will be happy to point the way. From the village, one can hire a village guide to take you to Talipanan Falls (20 minutes) for PHP 200/group.
ACCOMMODATION: I highly recommend Tamaraw Beach Resort at Aninuan Beach – a quiet cove well away from the chaos of popular tourist traps, but just a short 10-minute walk away from White Beach, if you want to join in the party nightlife. A/C double rooms start at PHP 800. And you can also book online! To go to Sabang, one can hop on a tricycle for PHP 100 (3 pax) to Puerto Galera town, then a jeepney for PHP 20.