A cancelled trip among friends to Southern Visayas made me consider going to Puerto Galera as an alternative. I initially wanted to push through with the cancelled trip even if it meant traveling solo, but the recent events in Marawi and Resorts World made me feel wary of going. The boyfriend offered to come with me but as it was a few days before our travel date, the airline prices were so expensive. So where to go without needing to get on a plane? My sister suggested Puerto Galera since she was there a few weeks ago. I was supposed to have 8 vacation days, but I shortened it to 4 days for Puerto Galera.
Good thing I have a kaladkarin boyfriend and is game for almost-last minute trips 🙂
How to go to Puerto Galera from Metro Manila:
We headed to Jam Transit Terminal located in Cubao where we found buses headed to Batangas Port. It took us 3 hours to reach the port because we encountered Friday morning traffic in EDSA.
Upon reaching Batangas Port, there are a LOT of agents(?) who will forcefully pester you to avail their services. They don’t ask for money as it is their job to get customers for their respective shipping lines. They will guide you to their ticketing booth where you can buy tickets to Puerto Galera. We bought tickets to White Beach from Minolo Shipping Lines as they seemed to have the most favorable reviews online. We also had to pay a separate terminal fee.
While having the agents to guide you where to go once in Batangas Port is convenient, I advice you not to entrust your luggage to them. We made the mistake of not getting our bags fast enough and the agents who guided us wouldn’t give back our bags. After we bought the tickets, they went into the pasalubong center which I thought was on the way to the boarding area. But no. One of the agents asked us to buy overpriced and tasteless pasalubong from their stall. Only once we bought some that they gave our bags back. So persistent. And then we found out that the boarding area was in another building. Boyfriend and I wondered exactly what happened while we were waiting for our boarding call.
It is a 2-hour sea journey from the port for Puerto Galera. In our case, the boat stopped at Muelle Bay where free shuttles of Minolo were waiting to take us to White Beach. A stall was propped up near the docking area to collect environmental fees from the arriving passengers. The driver asked us where we would be staying and dropped each group to the nearest point in White Beach. Since we were staying in a different area, the driver texted our hotel to pick us up in White Beach. I didn’t have to text the hotel to inform them we’ve arrived.
While searching for our accommodations, I considered these criteria: boyfriend wanted somewhere with a pool and I wanted somewhere not located in White Beach because I read that it can get noisy at night. I searched and searched until I found Tribal Hills Mountain Resort. Their promo page indicated that their off peak season rates are in effect (60% off). That made them within our budget range so I reserved a room immediately!
I reserved through their email address. After a few pleasant email exchanges and paying the downpayment through Paypal, our room was already reserved 🙂
I loved the location of the resort. It is located on a hilltop offering a wonderful view of the surrounding hills from our terrace and of the beach from their Tree Tops restaurant. It was quiet and it felt like we were the only people there. Although I loved the location, I discovered that I hated going out of our room late at night. I encountered a few large frogs and grasshoppers on my way to the pool on the first night when I couldn’t sleep. They had me running back to our room immediately. LOL.
The staff were also very attentive. Everytime we would leave our room, they would ask us if we needed anything or if we wanted to go to the beach. Since it was off peak season and they only have few guests, the drivers were always available to drop us off or to pick us up from the nearby beaches. The shuttle was free as long as the destination was White Beach, Aninuan Beach or Talipanan Beach.
The food was delicious! They cook our orders from scratch so we had to wait longer than usual for our food to arrive but it is always worth the wait. 🙂
The 4D/3N Itinerary:
We got to finally settle in our room at Tribal Hills at around 1 PM. We rested for about half an hour before we couldn’t ignore our growling stomachs anymore. We headed to Tree Tops Restaurant, ordered Bicol Epxress and requested the chef to make it super spicy. Eating late lunch with an awesome view of the beach and a tasty serving of Bicol Express was enough to recharge us.
Our first and only destination of the day was Talipanan Beach. The shuttle took us to the nearest drop off point and we walked the rest of the way. The road was under construction and vehicles would have a hard time plying the uneven dirt road to Talipanan Beach.
An afternoon in Talipanan Beach is so serene. There were only a few people and the calm waters made it perfect for swimming. We just had to be careful not to go too far from the shore as there is a point where the water immediately becomes too deep. We both don’t know how to swim. LOL.
For dinner, we headed to Luca Cucina Italiana which was a well-known establishment in Talipanan Beach. The food is cooked by an Italian so the food is authentic and yummy 🙂 We ate in the dark though since moths started coming in. We ordered the Lucas Pizza which was a bestseller according to the staff, and a plate of fries. The pizza was huge for just the 2 of us and we only finished half. We took the rest home to eat for breakfast the next day 🙂
We woke up late because we didn’t hear our alarms. But we still had enough time to complete the activities we planned for the day. We asked to be taken to White Beach so we can find Bucks Motorbike Rental (0975 894 4913 – White Beach branch). Boyfriend already called the store the night before to reserve a motorbike for us. The usual rate for a 24-hour rental is Php 500 but he was able to haggle it down to Php 450. Rental for big bikes is Php 800 for 24 hours. They only needed a government ID so we can rent a motorbike and the helmets that came with it.
Our first stop was Tamaraw Falls which was the farthest in our list of places to go. Boyfriend was lovingthe drive because there were only a few vehicles on the road and enjoyed the sharp curves. He was having too much fun until I told him to drive more cautiously.
After about 30 minutes, we arrived at Tamaraw Falls. It is easily accessible as it is located just beside the highway. There are swimming and picnic facilities in the area but we just stayed for 15 minutes to admire the scenery.
While on the way back, we stopped by Virgin Mary Beach. We noticed the beach while on the way to the falls and made a mental note to stop on the way back. I had no idea that this was one of the famous beaches in Puerto Galera as well. The water looked so inviting and there were only a few establishments in the area. The people there chose to pitch tents instead.
I also found the beach a bit different because instead of fine sand, small pebbles made up to shore.
Next destination was Sabang Beach which is almost as famous as White Beach. The road going to Sabang was rough and bumpy. Boyfriend commented that a big bike would have been better for this. I honestly found Sabang Beach to be underwhelming. It made sense since Sabang is more famous for its dive sites. After driving around for a bit, we decided to eat lunch somewhere.
Boquete Beach was our next stop. It was originally not included in the day’s itinerary but I found a Facebook post sharing that this was where Sandbar Island was located and was also the jump off point for the snorkeling activities in Puerto Galera. Going here by motorbike meant that we didn’t have to rent a boat for Php 1,500 from White Beach to this area. I don’t know why no one offers package or joiner tours here.
Anyway, there are 3 activities included in the package: snorkeling at Coral Garden, giant clams sightseeing with fish feeding and San Antonio Island Underwater Cave. Each activity costs Php 200. But the staff gave us a discounted price of Php 500 each to do all those activities. We were advised that we couldn’t go to San Antonio Island Underwater Cave because of weather conditions so they’ll be replacing it with the starfish viewing activity.
It took us 2 hours to finish all the activities. We were so amazed by what we saw at Coral Garden and we felt that that alone was worth the Php 500 we paid.
From under the sea, it was time to go up the mountains to Ponderosa Golf Club. Neither of us golf, but we heard Ponderosa offers a magnificent view of Puerto Galera from its view deck. The road was long and winding and our clothes were almost dry by the time we arrived.
The view was amazing so we thought of eating snacks while drinking in the view. Alas, the prices were a bit steep. Php 200 for a sandwich? Nope. We settled 2 small sized chips and a can of soda for Php 80.
After snacks, we checked out the zipline facilities in the area. Although I was so tempted to burn Php 700 for the activity, boyfriend was not keen to do it and I didn’t want to go by myself. Besides, he reminded me that it wasn’t in our budget. LOL. It would have been fun to zip to another mountain/hill while taking in the greenery. Oh well.
Our last destination for the day was the famous White Beach of Puerto Galera. It had a bit of a Boracay vibe because of the unending row of beachfront establishments and crowded buildings just behind it. There were also a number of water activities guests can avail but they were so pricey. Boyfriend wanted to jetski but it was Php 1500 for 30 minutes. It was a fun atmosphere in White Beach but I enjoyed the serenity in Talipanan and Virgin Mary Beach more.
For dinner, we ate at Foodtrip Inasal and availed their See Food Diet Boodle. Boyfriend ate 4 cups of rice while I ate 3 cups of rice. Diet was forgotten as we gobbled down a variety of seafood with rice.
Our purpose for Day 3 was to take a slow pace and just relax. So we woke up late and our only trip for the day was to go to White Beach to buy pasalubong and souvenirs.
Lunch was at Althea’s Kubo because I got roped in by bulalo. However, their bulalo was a bit bland. Overall, it was just an okay experience for us.
Lunch and shopping done, we went back to Tribal Hills to try archery. They have archery facilities there and guests can avail this for an hourly rate of Php 300. The staff kindly agreed to let me and boyfriend take turns in that 1 hour. Archery was fun but frustrating. The arrows I released kept going to all the wrong places. Boyfriend was slightly better than me but neither of us were able to hit the bull’s eye. LOL.
We decided to get an early dinner at Tree Tops Restaurant that evening. When we got to the restaurant, we were greeted by a mesmerizing view of the sunset. The food we ordered that night was the most delicious meal we ate in Puerto Galera ❤
Prior to returning to our rooms, we requested the front desk for 2 things. First was to request for a massage therapist for that night. Tribal Hills doesn’t have it’s own massage therapist but they have contacts to call whenever guests request for massages. The therapist arrived on the time we requested and boyfriend and I took turns for our massage.
Our second request was to have a plate of fries and a pitcher of Mindoro Sling (Puerto Galera’s signature cocktail) be brought to our rooms after our massage. I am not much of a drinker but I liked the taste of Mindoro Sling. It tasted like juice and I barely tasted the alcohol. The combination of our relaxed muscles from the massage and alcohol resulted in a deep sleep that night. 😀
We woke up late but with just enough time to pack our bags, eat some brunch and prepare for our departure. We called Minolo Shipping Lines to confirm the schedules for the boats leaving for Batangas Port that day. We reserved slots for the 3PM departure from White Beach. I thought that the boat would head straight to Batangas Port but we stopped by Muelle Bay first to pick up more passengers.
When we arrived at the port, we followed the signs pointing to the bus stops for Manila. There were several buses to choose from when we arrived. We arrived in Manila later than usual because of traffic, and immediately dropped by Jollibee because we were both so hungry from the trip. We were already talking about our next trip during dinner. LOL.
This was a DIY but not a budget-friendly trip. We splurged on the accommodation and went crazy with food. But we regret none of it 😀
All of our expenses are listed below. Here are some ways to bring the cost down:
- Choose a cheaper accommodation. My sister and her boyfriend stayed at VM Resort in White Beach for Php 800 per night. There are many options in Puerto Galera depending on your budget.
- Travel with friends so you can split the tour fees and food costs with more people.
- Eat at carinderias in Puerto Galera.