Puerto Galera is the northwestern most municipality in the province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. It is located at the southwestern end of the Isla Verde Passage, about 130 kilometers (81 mi) south of Manila. This coastal town is well-known among tourists for its numerous pocket beaches and many snorkeling and Scuba diving spots. The area was designated a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973 and has some of the most diverse coral reef diving in Asia. The marine environment has benefited in recent years from the influx of tourist dollars. This has seen a huge reduction in the number of fishermen in the area, as they gain higher revenue from tourists. – www.wikipedia.org
October of 2010, during my semestral break from school, I was invited by a friend to have a vacation in Puerto Galera for a while. I was 20, in the peak of my youth, very eager to experience something new, who am I to refuse such offer. So I packed my things, was so excited for the said trip.
Crazy Day 1 – October 19, I booked a flight at Cebu Pacific Air to Manila, stayed for a day at my friend’s place, the day after we were all set to go to Puerto Galera where my friend’s father’s yacht was docked. We almost got lost on our way to Buendia Station. We rode a bus bound to Quiapo when we’re suppose to get the one bound to Makati. It was a very crazy day, We rode three busses and MRT just to get to Buendia Bus station, where Batangas bound busses are found. It was already noon time, when we were able to get in a bus bound to Batangas port, and get in a boat to Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. The trip to Batangas took us three hours and two hours boat ride to Puerto Galera. Got there by 6pm at Muelle Pier looked for a nearby hotel to check in at Badladz Beach Resort for the night. AT 7pm we dined out at the bar near the hotel and met new faces, had some beer with our new acquaintance and played some billiards. Our new acquaintance were all good people, they’re oldies but still very jamming. They even invited us for a bbq party at Puerto Galera yacht Club the night after. At 10pm we called it a night and went back to our room.
Day 2 – Life in a Yacht (October 21, 2010) We woke up at 9am it was a bit late. Had some american breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant. After 15 minutes or so, my friend’s dad fetched us on a dinghy and we were off to the yacht, where we stayed for our entire stay. I was a bit surprised when I first saw the boat, it was beautiful. It looked small on the outside, but the interior was big. Her name is Cosmos, a catamaran. I was left awed when I first stepped in the boat, it was very luxurious – a dream come true. Bes (my friend’s dad) was very accommodating and friendly. we shared a story or two, he was a great host. We spent the rest of the day resting, just stayed in our room and unpacked our stuff. The at around 6 pm we started preparing ourselves, had to go to Puerto Galera yacht Club, for the “Barbecue Friday”, eating dinner there. The reception in the restaurant was great, the people and the yacht club members were all so friendly, to the extent that the Commodore (sort of the highest rank among club members) of the Yacht Club personally welcomed us, he even mention our names. I really didn’t know that he was the commodore, he talked to us as if he was just an ordinary member of the club. Later did I found out what he was and I admired him, very hospitable host, very humble and down-to-earth. The best thing in the PGYC was that the people were all approachable and friendly. We made a lot of friends that night. We even played pool with them. Later that night, dinner was served, I ordered Baby back ribs it was so delicious, superb taste. At some point I had some beer and gin tonic. Then we went back to the yacht, we gazed at the stars as we lay on the roof of the boat, my first day in the sea had come to an end. It was a dream came true, just laying there under the stars and the moon, enjoying the night chill.
Life in c : Oct. 23-28, 2010 – the days gone by very fast, with our daily routine and activities there were never dull moment. We always wake up around 10am, tired from our nightly movie marathon. Then we would eat bread and fruits for breakfast. We would watch different TV Series while the sun was on its peak. Then off to Puerto Galera yacht Club for Lunch, the food and drinks are pretty expensive but that’s how it was, they’re used to living that lifestyle and I had to deal with it during my entire stay. I think what made that vacation memorable are the activities we did during our stay. I pretty much made a lot of “first” in Puerto Galera, here’s a list of activities we did:
1. Early morning tennis game at nearby clubhouse – we woke up earlier than usual, prep the dinghy and went ashore just two minutes across where Cosmos was anchored. We played lawn tennis at Elizabeth Hideaway Hotel, what’s funny about that morning was they were looking for someone who they thought went missing the night before. He lives in a yacht near the Cosmos, the night before while we were star-gazing we heard some commotion in their Yacht (two people arguing). I also thought he committed suicide or something, the yacht club member commissioned a group of divers to look for him underwater, in trying to retrieve the body thinking he drowned. It turned out, the man was just in Sabang (Red District), too drunk to go home.
2. Participated in a soccer clinic for kids – The yacht club sponsored a soccer clinic for kids, the participant was mostly children of foreigners who chose to settle in Puerto Galera and married a Filipina. It was all fun, watching the kids having a good time and making friends with other kids is such a great sight to watch.
3. Went snorkeling; my first free dive experience – we borrowed Bes’s dinghy and went to a fish sanctuary just 10 minutes ride. It was fun, my very first snorkeling experience with all the gears (Snorkel, goggles and fins). The sun was on its peak we were on our swimming attire, we loved our sun-kissed skin, The marine life was highly diverse, corals and the fished were breathtaking.
4. Boat ride to Sabang – one afternoon we decided to find another place to eat, so we went to Muelle pier and rented a boat to Sabang. The boat ride was about 30 minutes, it was kinda scary, we were in an open water, the waves were huge to the point that it almost flip the boat. The ride was fun too, we get to see some famous resorts along the way. I must say, the Coco Beach Island Resort was quite an impressive place to stay, I bet staying there would cost much too. Upon our arrival in Sabang, we instantly went straight to La Laguna Beach Club, the food there was great we had pasta, played some pool, and drink some beer. Then we stroll along the shore, the white sand was very fine. I noticed some famous hotel in Sabang, the likes of; Atlantis Dive Resort, Portofino Beach Resort, Blue Ribbon Dive Resort, etc.. Sabang is very famous to tourists, and as expected the foods and drinks were very expensive. After sometime, we decided to rent a motorcycle and went home.
5. Watched movie outside the boat under the moonlight and the twinkling stars – One time we decided to watch a movie outside the boat, the sea breeze was very cold but still a memorable experience, shared a beer or two, and chips.
6. We would asked Bes to take us to the port and stroll around we usually eat fruits on the boat, luckily the market was just a walk away from the port. We would walk for minutes and haggle for prices in the fruit market, buy some home-made wheat bread and stack some beer, it was fun really.
All Souls Regatta (Oct. 29, 2010) – not an ordinary day in Puerto Galera, specifically at the yacht club. It marked the 1st day of the “All Souls Regatta 2010″, a yacht race. Another first for me, not only that I can witness a yacht race for the first time, but I am actually part of the race. We sailed in one of the yacht named Lenny 2. It was surreal, so unbelievable. Never did I expect I will experience such adventure in my lifetime. On the day of the regatta, we woke up earlier than the usual time, bought some snacks and drinks, had some sun screen and we were ready for the race. The sun was so hot but it didn’t bother us in any way. We started to sail at around noon as the race begun. All along I thought sailing was as easy as abc… no it wasn’t, In fact it was very difficult. You have to be one with the wind, and know when to pull down you sails. All the participating yacht, (more or less 20 yacht) had to follow one route, a very difficult route. All in all, it was a fun, memorable, tiring experience. I loved the afternoon sea breeze, the tan, the new acquaintances I met while in the race, the new experience, the huge gigantic waves, the adrenaline, the excitement.
It was FUN spelled all caps, in bold letters! After five hours, we could have won the 3rd prize for the first day if we weren’t got stock maneuvering the sail at the last phase of the race. What’s important was we finished the race safely. Then we went back to the boat to change our damp clothes,then we’re bound to the yacht club for a dinner celebration.-for the successful day 1. The beer was on the house, the food was superb, fun-filled night. Everybody was all ecstatic and in festive mood. I almost decided to stay for the 2nd day of the race, It’s just that my flight back to Cebu was scheduled on the 1st of November, had to go back to Manila in time for my flight. I was kinda upset at the end of the night.
Goodbye paradise (Oct. 30) – Woke up a little upset, turned between going back to Manila and staying for the regatta. My friend was asking me to stay, I really liked to stay, I still want to join the second day of the race. But then I thought it was a waste of resources if I’d stayed, we would have to go to Sabang to reschedule my flight (too much of a hassle). What we originally planned before we went to Puerto Galera was that we’ll be going back to Manila together, we didn’t expect the regatta and so my friend decided to stay. I borrowed the key of the condo and went back to Manila alone. For the last time we borrowed the dinghy to the port, I decided to take the fastest route (motor-ride to Sabang). When I got their I bought a ticket for a boat ride to Batangas, I still had enough time so I went to the market nearby and bought several Puerto Galera souvenir shirts. I didn’t notice the time while I was in the market, next thing I knew, I was running towards the pier! I almost got lost but I made it on time. Then there was the one and a half boat ride to Batangas port, my seatmate was kinda annoying kept on conversing with me and I didn’t want to be rude. Finally Batangas! Noticed a lot of people in queue, only then when I realized it was the last day of October, many people go to their respective provinces for the UNDAS. What a luck I had that day, my seatmate was the same person I was sitting with back in the boat, the entire trip I pretended sleeping just so I won’t feel obligated to converse with him. I was in a bus bound to Buendia, another three-hour bus ride, it was a long ride. Around 5 in the afternoon when finally we stopped at Buendia station, then decided to take a jeepney. For experience purposes I pretended to know the street of Manila. Luckily, Baclaran church is such a popular place that I didn’t have a hard time looking for it. From there, I knew my way back to the condo. I settled my things in the room and went back down to eat my early dinner. I was a bit lonely, alone in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar faces. I knew I missed a lot during the second day of the regatta. My phone wasn’t working that time, I can’t even text or call. My loneliest day ever in Manila. I decided to sleep early that night but luck wasn’t on my side, I didn’t feel sleepy at all. So I drafted a letter to my friend, to show how grateful I am for the experience and left it on the reading table. Morning came, ETD 0800HR – it was that time again to say goodbye to Manila, and prepped myself for the holidays back in my province. Such a great vacation, that was – indeed, It was a week-long in paradise.
Looking back to 2010, I wished I had captured those moments in Puerto Galera, wished I was able to freeze those memories in an image, I wished Gopro cameras are already available that time. Nevertheless, I have them all saved in my mind and there they will stay forever.
For complete list of hotel you can stay in Puerto Galera, you can check out www.agoda.com. You can also check out Lonely Planet (Philippines), for details of the corresponding destination listed! Enjoy your travels!
You can also read the following article for more blogs about Puerto Galera ;