Puerto Galera is a coastal town located in the Northern part of Mindoro Island. This place is well-know as one of the best destinations in the Philippines and Asia for scuba diving, as it holds a large variety of diving spots.
Furthermore, Puerto Galera was designated a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973 and is part of the “Most Beautiful Bays in the World” club. And rightfully so! We are talking about crystal clear waters surrounded by white sand beaches and large green forests.
The city is only 3.5 – 4 hours from Manila by land and sea. Because of its reputation and easy access many people go spend their weekends, in addition to the tourists going for the diving experience. It results in Puerto Galera getting really crowded on weekends.
The city itself doesn’t have much to offer. The main attractions are Sabang Beach and White Beach. Foreigners will tend to go in Sabang while locals will stay in White Beach.
How to get to Puerto Galera
Getting to Puerto Galera is relatively easy as it is very close to Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
1. By Air
Flying to Puerto Galera will take you only 30mins by seaplane. Only one airline connects Manila to Puerto Galera: Air Juan. The company has daily flights twice a day. Although, the travel time is short, a round-trip ticket will cost you no less than PHP 9,000 (US $180).
2. By land and Sea
This is by far the best option for most of us. You will need to take a bus from Manila to Batangas Pier (via Calabarzon). From the Pier, you can take a ferry to Puerto Galera. You will find all the details below.
Manila-Batangas Pier by Bus
JAM Bus liner has regular trips to Batangas Pier for less than PHP 200 (US $4). They have two terminals in Manila: one in Buendia LRT (the nearest one to the airport) and one in Cubao. Bus trips start at midnight and run until 10:30pm. There is one bus every 30mins approximately and it will take 1.5 – 2 hours depending on the traffic to get to the Pier. You can check the bus schedule and fares here.
Note that the earlier you leave the better. You can’t book your bus ahead. It’s a first come, first served. Besides, Manila becomes a traffic nightmare past 7:30 a.m. and until 9:30 p.m.
Once you arrived at the Batangas Pier, head straight to terminal 3 and ignore the touts trying to sell you tickets or carry your bags.
Batangas Pier-Puerto Galera by Ferry.
At the terminal, head to the counter to secure your ticket. Once again, it’s a first come, first served! We recommend using Minolo Shipping Lines. We only used their services and they are very professional. Choose Muelle Port as your destination if you heading to Sabang.
The ride lasts around 1.5 hours depending on the sea. If you chose White Beach, the boat will drop you directly on the beach. If for some reasons, they couldn’t drop you on the beach, they will provide you with free transportation.
A round trip costs around PHP 550 (US $11). You will also have to pay additional fees: the terminal fee: PHP 50 (US $1); and the environmental fee: PHP 50 (US $1).
Take note that will need to pay an exit fee of PHP 10 (US $0.20) when taking the ferry back to Batangas Pier.
You can check all the fares and ferry schedule here.
Once you have arrived, you can get a jeepney or a tricycle to get around Puerto Galera and to your hotel. Make sure to agree on the price before you climb in it! A tricycle shouldn’t be more than PHP 250 (US $5) to go from White Beach to Sabang.
What to do in Puerto Galera
Here is a list of the different activities you can do in Puerto Galera:
This should be the main reason of your trip to Puerto Galera if you’re not living in the Philippines. As we mentioned, Puerto Galera is one of the top diving spots of the Philippines and we included in our top 5 diving spots in the Philippines. From diving in shipwrecks at different depths, to the coral garden, the shark cave and the giant clams, it is the perfect place for both beginner and advanced divers. You can find a list of the different diving spots here.
Aside from great diving, the Philippines is one of the cheapest country to get your PADI certification. We actually got ours in Puerto Galera for PHP 16,000 (US $315). We recommend contacting Pacific Divers in White Beach. They are great with first timers who are a little anxious about their first dive. You can check their rates here.
The 3 main spots to go snorkeling are San Antonio Underwater Cave, the Coral Garden and the Giant Clams site. You can either include snorkeling while going island hopping or you can just rent a boat for PHP 300 (US $6) to snorkel in the Coral Garden. Note that including snorkeling in your island hopping tour will cost extra PHP 200 (US $4) for each snorkeling site you wish to visit.
Another activity to do around Puerto Galera is Island Hopping. You have a good range of options that include several snorkeling sites and remote white powdery beaches. The islands available are: Boquete Island (a sandbar), San Antonio Island, Haligi Beach and Bayanan Beach. Standard price to get a boat is PHP 1,500 (US $30) for a maximum capacity of 8 people.
We haven’t tried the island hopping tours in Puerto Galera therefore we cannot recommend the best option.
Parasailing / Jet skiing / Kayaking / Flyboarding
You will need to go to White Beach to enjoy these activities. Once you rive at the beach, it is pretty easy to find as many touts will come and try to sell you their activities over another.
Parasailing costs PHP 1,500 (US $30) for 1 person and PHP 2,000 (us $40) for a double. Renting a jet ski will cost you PHP 1,000 (US $20) for 30mins. We tried different guys to bargain but they all had the same prices.
The Malasimbo festival is one of the most expected annual music event in the Philippines. It usually happens during late March and early April, and features a mix of electro and indie music. It is an outdoor event held in the grass terraces, overlooking the bay. If you wish to know more about this event, you can check all the details here.
Where to stay
Since Puerto Galera is the main destination for weekend goers and diving enthusiasts, you can expect to find many hotels and places to stay that will fit your requirements and budget.
As we went several times there, we had the opportunity to try the different options.
Option 1: Rent a villa with a group
The first time one of us went to Puerto Galera, we weren’t together yet. Alex went to the Malasimbo festival with a group of friends and rented a villa for the weekend. We wanted to share this experience regardless.
If you are planning to go to Puerto Galera, know that many villas overlooking the bay are available for a very reasonable price, providing you are coming with a group. We strongly advise that you check on Airbnb what is available.
One of the villa Alex stayed at is “Le Manoir des Bougainvilliers” The owner, a former French cook, built this villa over many years. It has a truly unique architecture that mixes several styles inspired by the owner’s multiple travels. Besides, he has great stories to share!
Option 2: The luxury escape
Back when we were living in the Philippines, we were seriously considering getting our PADI certification. We took the leap and went for a weekend in Puerto Galera to get certified. We stayed in a really nice hotel to make this weekend special (It was actually a surprise from Alex).
The hotel we stayed at is Amihan del Sol Resort. We were only 5mins away from the beach using a tricycle.
You can find other luxury resorts by the beach such as Aninuan Beach Resort.
Option 3: The cheap way
You will find many hotels around Sabang and White beach that are very affordable (Again, you want to check on Airbnb as well). The last time we went back to Puerto Galera for another dive, we stayed at the Pacific Divers resort for less than PHP 600 a night (US $12). We got a friendly rate from the owner since we had dived and got certified with him in the past.
Where to eat
You can try one of the restaurants along white beach for authentic Filipino food.
Although, we also enjoy occasional eatings at Pacific Divers and we recommend having dinner at Amami Beach Resort. It’s a little more expensive but the food there is awesome.
We broke down the budget for a normal weekend for 2 in Puerto Galera.
Also, make sure to bring cash before leaving Manila. There are only 3 ATMs in Puerto Galera and they have a tendency to run out of money. Better be ready than sorry! 😉
|Bus trip from Manila-Batangas Pier||Php 168/Pax or US $3.3/Pax|
|Round Trip ticket Batangas Pier-White beach||Php 550/Pax or US $11/Pax|
|Terminal Fees Batangas Pier||Php 50/Pax or US $1/Pax|
|Environmental Fees||Php 50/Pax or US $1/Pax|
|Hotel (1 night)||Php 600 or US $12|
|Two lunches/1 dinner/1 breakfast||Php 1,500/Pax or US $30/Pax|
|Two (2) dives||Php 2,400/Pax or US $47/Pax|
|Exit Fees||Php 10/Pax or US $0.20/Pax|
|Bus trip from Batangas Pier-Manila||Php 168/Pax or US $3.3/Pax|
|Total (based on 2 people)||Php 5196/Pax or US $103/Pax|
With many activities, a lively night life and a large variety of diving spots located only 4 hours traveling from Manila, Puerto Galera is the perfect weekend escape where you can combine relaxation and fun, while enjoying some good food. However, because of its proximity, Puerto Galera gets pretty packed on weekends and prices tend to rise. Make sure to book ahead to avoid any bad surprises.
If you are curious about Puerto Galera, you can check the video of our weekend below!
Have you been to Puerto Galera? What did you try there? Share your experience and feedback with us! We’d love to hear from you! 😉