Puerto Galera: an idyllic and unforgettable escape (Updated Travel Guide)

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Puerto Galera once took the crown as the most popular beach destination South of Metro Manila.

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Puerto Galera once took the crown as the most popular beach destination South of Metro Manila. With its proximity to the capital, sun worshippers and beach lovers flock to Puerto Galera during the dry season (aka summer in the Philippines) or in just about any opportunity that presents itself. 

Coconut trees at Puerto Galera
Getting around Puerto Galera (photo by Dennis Colico)

Puerto Galera: an idyllic and unforgettable escape (Updated Travel Guide)


    In addition to its nearness to Metro Manila, there is no denying that Puerto Galera is one idyllic spot. In fact, it has been dubbed by a number of TripAdvisor reviewers as an alternative to Boracay. It had crystal clear waters and a white beach.

    Sad to say though, Puerto Galera's allure had diminished over the years. Its famed white beach has been reduced with the construction of accommodations and bars near the beach front. The once pristine white sand has turned into an off-white, even a bit grayish color. Still, Puerto Galera is an unforgettable location. Just know where to look or what to ask and you'd be able to see areas of Puerto Galera that have remained pristine.

    Our Puerto Galera experience


    I first went to Puerto Galera in 2007. It was what I call as our very first real barkada summer getaway even if we were just a small group of six. When we arrived at White Beach, we were disappointed with the sand because it was not as white as we had expected. 

    Someone lied to us and told us that it was like Boracay sand. It was not, and it was also littered with many seaweeds and twigs when we got there. The beach was also crowded, both with people and with dingy-looking establishments.

    Welcome marker at Puerto Galera
    Puerto Galera welcome marker (photo by Dennis Colico)

    We asked a tricycle driver if he knew a less-crowded place and he suggested Talipanan Beach. He took us there and introduced us to the owner of GMs Beach Resort. We made the best decision as we were the only guests during that weekend. 

    The owners were really nice and accommodating. Our landlady would go to the market every other morning to ensure that the food that they will serve are made with fresh ingredients. The owners also helped out with booking our island-hopping tour as well as with arranging our guide for the trek to Talipanan Falls. That initial experience at Puerto Galera left a good impression on me.  

    Seven years later, I was back in Puerto Galera. Khris and I had been married for a month and we were on our team summer outing. This time, we stayed in White Beach, got to see new sights, and tried out some new activities.



    How to go to Puerto Galera


    To go to Puerto Galera, I would recommend taking a Jam Liner bus, either in their Cubao or Buendia Station. For my second time in Puerto Galera, we boarded at Jam Liner's Cubao station. We took the first trip going to Batangas Port.

    Pebbly beach at Puerto Galera
    Enjoying the beach at Puerto Galera

    When we arrived at Batangas Port, our group has to secure tickets (around Php100) for the ferry ride to Puerto Galera . From Batangas Port, it was around one hour to get to White Beach. From White Beach, we had to present our tickets and pay for environmental fee at a booth before we were allowed entry. From the White Beach, it was just a few minutes walk to La Solana Suites & Resort, our accommodation for the night.

    Things to do in Puerto Galera


    When in Puerto Galera, it's hard to stay put in one place. It's as if the whole island is begging to be explored. Good things getting around Puerto Galera is easy. If you do not want to be bothered by coming up with an itinerary, you can avail of a tour package where a jeepney can take you around the top sights in Puerto Galera. Take note though that the jeepney tour included only vehicle rental fee, we had to pay separate admission and other fees (like ATV and paintball gear rental) whenever applicable.

    You may also want a do-it-yourself (DIY) itinerary which is fairly easy because getting around Puerto Galera is not hard at all; you can get to places just by riding a tricycle.

    Anyway, however you choose to explore Puerto Galera, here are some of the attractions and activities that you should not miss:

    1. Spend a leisurely morning on the beach


    Morning stroll at Puerto Galera
    Puerto Galera's blue-green water

    One of the best things to do while on the beach is to get up early in the morning before the sun rises. Stroll around the sand, enjoy the cool air and calming waves, and wait for the sun to rise. This is perfect for those who are not fond of going out under the scorching sun. 

    2. Trek to Talipanan Falls


    When I went to Puerto Galera for the first time, our host suggested that we check out Talipanan Falls. Our host arranged for our guide to the trek to the falls. We just walked from GM Beach Resort passed through a Mangyan community, then trekked to the mountain.

    Talipanan Falls at Puerto Galera
    Talipanan Falls

    We made it to Talipanan Falls in about an hour or so. It was just a small falls, nothing really spectacular except that we were the only people that time. At least we were not fighting for space with other people in the pool.

    3. Visit Tamaraw Falls


    I saw Tamaraw Falls during my second time in Puerto Galera as part of our tour. The 423-feet Tamaraw Falls was named in honor of the Tamaraw (Mindoro dwarf buffalo or Bubalus Mindorensis), a critically-endangered land animal that is native in Mindoro.

    Tamaraw Falls in Puerto Galera
    Tamaraw Falls (photo by Dennis Colico)

    The falls is actually one of the must-see tourist attraction in Puerto Galera because of its majestic beauty of cascading water flowing down into a basin. It's also easily accessible as it is beside the main road.

    4. Swim and relax in a secluded beach


    Secluded beach at Puerto Galera
    Escape the crowd and head over to a secluded beach (photo by Dennis Colico)

    Aside from White Beach, Puerto Galera is home to many secluded beaches. Even so, these beaches are easily accessible either as part of island-hopping tours or by simple asking a tricycle driver to take you there. Some of the beaches that I would recommend are Bayanan Beach and Haligi Beach.

    5. Ride an ATV


    Riding an ATV at Puerto Galera
    Riding an ATV at Puerto Galera (photo by Dennis Colico)

    If you love ATVs, then don't miss riding one when in Puerto Galera. This was part of our tour itinerary but please note that the payment for use of the vehicles is separate from the actual tour package. The trail is somewhat easy but it can be slippery at times. Personally, it's not really one of my favorite things to do in Puerto Galera. 

    6. Play paintball


    Playing paintball at Puerto Galera
    Playing paintball (photo by Dennis Colico)

    The paintball game was also part of our tour itinerary but, again, payment for use of the facilities and gears is separate from the actual tour package. It was something that we did not expect to do, especially since we were in a beachside community but it was actually a fun experience. I would have wanted to play some more but only one game was included in our tour package.

    7. Go island-hopping


    I experienced island-hopping during my first visit to Puerto Galera. We arranged the boat through the resort where we were staying at.

    A group of friends enjoying the beach at Puerto Galera
    Fun on the beach (photo by Dennis Colico) 

    The tour was not island-hopping per se -- our boat man just took us out into open water where we snorkeled. After which, we went to Bayanan Beach, which was actually just on the other side of White Beach. Again, boat rental fee is separate from the tour package.
        

    8. Watch the sunset


    Sunset at Puerto Galera
    Sunset at Puerto Galera

    Watching the sunset and relaxing after all the activities is the perfect way to cap your day. The Puerto Galera sunset is also one of the most breathtaking in the Philippines.

    Where to eat in Puerto Galera


    There are endless food and dining options in Puerto Galera. When we did our tour, we opted to bring our own food, including marinated meats that we grilled at the assigned cooking area on the beach side. For dinner, we checked out one of the restaurants in front of White Beach, ordered mostly grilled meats and seafood, and watched performers doing comedy stints while we ate.

    Eating dinner at Puerto Galera
    Dinner at White Beach

    If you want to try out some of the restaurants in Puerto Galera, here are some of the most recommended establishments:

    1. Bikini Floating Bar

    Address: Sabang Beach
    Telephone number: 0915-3983694

    This floating bar and restaurant is best known for its continental cuisines, bar food, and, of course, drinks.

    2. Capt'n Gregg's

    Address: Sabang Beach
    Telephone number: (043) 287-3070

    Known for serving some of the best cuisines in the Sabang Beach area. Food is mostly western with some Filipino and a lot of seafood dishes. Alcoholic drinks are also served here.

     3. Relax Restaurant

    Address: Sabang Beach
    Telephone number: 0933-1443610

    If you want good Filipino food, then this is the place to go. Aside from Filipino dishes, there are other Asian selections as well as vegan/vegetarian options on the menu.

    4. Hamsa Bar Lounge Resto

    Address: Calapan North Road
    Telephone number: 0945-6753114

    This restaurant is best known for its Mediterranean food offerings. There is also Asian and Filipino food, and vegan/vegetarian selections.

    5. Verde Divers

    Address: White Beach
    Telephone number: 0939-3031185

    Feast on its selection of Italian and German cuisine, delicious Filipino food, vegan/vegetarian-friendly offerings.

    At La Solana Suites in Puerto Galera
    Activity area of La Solana Suites (photo by Dennis Colico)


    6. Bella Napoli Pizzeria Ristorante

    Address: Sabang Beach
    Telephone number: 0915-3493615

    If you are planning for a romantic date, then this is the place to be. The restaurant offers mainly Italian, Mediterranean, and other European cuisines.

    7. El Galleon Restaurant

    Address: Small La Laguna Beach
    Telephone number: (043) 287-3205

    Enjoy delicious and comforting American and Western cuisines, as well as refreshing drinks and cocktails, in this restaurant.

    8. Resto Veranda

    Address: White Beach
    Telephone number: 0906-5663625

    This beautiful beach side restaurant offers mainly European and Mediterranean cuisines.

    9. Rumulus Place

    Address: White Beach
    Telephone number: 0939-3781667

    This restaurant is best known for offering quality food at good value for money. Most of the dishes here are European and Asian, with many healthy options to chose from.

    10. The Verandah Restaurant

    Address: Small La Laguna Beach
    Telephone number: 0920-9489400

    If you want to eat in a restaurant with cozy interiors, then this restaurant is for you. Guests will be treated to a selection of delicious Western and European cuisines.

    There are many other restaurants in Puerto Galera aside from the ones listed above. There are many small eateries offering delicious local dishes that you might want to try.

    Where to stay in Puerto Galera


    There are quite a number of accommodations to choose from in Puerto Galera because of the huge influx of tourists all year round. 


    We tried La Solana which was just a few meters away from White Beach. It's a budget resort but it is clean and well-maintained, even the restrooms are well cared for as evidenced by the gleaming tiles. We also tried GM's Beach Resort in Talipanan a decade ago and what we liked about our hosts is their hospitality.

    Pool area of La Solana Suites in Puerto Galera
    Pool area of La Solana Suites (photo by Dennis Colico)

    Anyway, if you are looking for the best picks, here are some of the most highly-rated hotels and resorts in Puerto Galera:

    1. Bellevue Cottages

    Address: Sabang Beach
    Telephone number: 0927-0691607

    Bellevue Cottages is in a location that is very near the beach, so if you are considering a hotel near the shore, then this is for you. It has often been described by guests as a friendly family-owned hotel.

    2. Amami Beach Resort

    Address: Talipanan
    Telephone number: 0908-2068534

    Amani Beach Resort is best known for its generally relaxing ambiance and Filipino-themed rooms. It also has easy access to the beach, so if you want to leave the confines of your accommodation and lounge under the sun, you can easily do so.

    3. Sunny Beach Resort

    Address: Talipanan
    Telephone number: 0916-7453931

    This beach side resort is designed to take advantage of the tropical vibe of the island. Sunny Beach Resort has a lot of open spaces to let the sea breeze inside while outside of it, there are beach benches are lined so that guests can easily relax under the sun on a whim.

    Waiting for the sunset at Puerto Galera
    Waiting for sunset

    4. Sandra Taylor Lodge

    Address: White Beach
    Telephone number: 0927-6303990

    This budget hotel is conveniently located in White Beach for easy access to the shore. Sandra Taylor Lodge is also just a few meters away from the beach recreation areas, as such, it is a great hotel for guests who want to be near all the action in Puerto Galera.

    5. Tamaraw Beach Resort

    Address: Aninuan
    Telephone number: 0917-5048679

    This is one of the most highly-rated hotels in Puerto Galera and is often described as similar to a comfortable living space. Tamaraw Beach Resort's location is ideal for those who want an accommodation  near some of the best recreation areas in Puerto Galera. 

    6. Bamboo House Beach Lodge & Restaurant

    Address: Talipanan
    Telephone number: 0917-5620992

    This highly-rated hotel uses mainly local materials to give guests an undeniably Filipino tropical ambiance. Bamboo House's rooms are designed to provide the utmost relaxation to guests.

    Ping pong area at La Solana Suites in Puerto Galera
    Enjoying La Solana Suites' amenities (photo by Dennis Colico)

    7. Fridays Puerto Galera

    Address: Boquete Island
    Telephone number: (02) 8810-2101

    Its secluded location is perfect for those who want to leave behind the hustle and bustle of the beach crowd. The rooms of Fridays Puerto Galera are designed to provide guests a luxurious experience.

    8. ARA Beach Resort

    Address: Talipanan
    Telephone number: 0927-8367000 

    The resort is best-known for providing excellent accommodation to its guests at a pocket-friendly price. As a beachfront property, ARA Beach Resort affords a great view of the crystal clear waters to visitors.

    Group of bloggers on the beach of Puerto Galera
    Group shot (photo by Dennis Colico)

    9. El Canonero Diving & Beach Resort

    Address: Talipanan
    Telephone number: 0915-8454399

    This beachfront property affords an excellent view of the South China Sea. El Canonero Diving and Beach Resort is tucked away from the busy buzz of large crowds so that guests can fully enjoy their stay without the noise.

    10. VM Beach Resort

    Address: White Beach
    Telephone number: 0917-5234945

    If you want to be near all the fun and action in Puerto Galera, then book a room at this beachfront resort. While VM Beach Resort is nowhere near the caliber of luxury resorts, guests may nevertheless expect decent accommodation.

    11. Infinity Resort

    Address: Talipanan
    Telephone number: 0917-7926353 

    Infinity Resort offers modern amenities to guests. It is considered as one of the most luxurious accommodations in Puerto Galera. Nonetheless, Infinity Resort is best-known for its laidback atmosphere and impeccable service.


    How to book your Puerto Galera accommodation via AirBnB


    Another easy option to book your stay at Puerto Galera is through AirBnB. Aside from AirBnB being a reliable booking site, the properties listed there are usually more affordable as compared to other websites, are generally attractive and homey, and sometimes even unique in terms of design and features.

    Here are the steps in booking via Airbnb:

    1. I would suggest using the AirBnB app so that you can easily book anytime and anywhere as long as you have internet connection. If you have not yet downloaded the AirBnB app, go to either Apple App Store or Google Play Store and search for “AirBnB.”

    2. Once you have located it, download and install the AirBnB app.

    3. Register and create your profile here to get up to Php2,200 worth of credits.

    4. Once you have created your profile, log on to the app, then go to “Explore.” In the search field, type "Puerto Galera."

    5. Choose "Places to stay" in the next window.

    6. Then choose the dates of your stay.

    7. Next, enter the number of guests (adults, children, and infants), then click "Search"

    8. A list of available units will appear in the results page. Here, you will see the number of beds, the name of the unit, the price per night, and the rating.

    9. You may click on a unit of your choice to reveal more details such as the rest of the amenities, house rules, location, and detailed reviews, among others. You may also check if the property is available during your planned travel dates.

    10. Once everything is set, you may already proceed with booking at AirBnB. Only credit card payments are accepted by AirBnB, by the way.

    PIN THIS ARTICLE


    Overall, Puerto Galera is still a highly-recommended destination. It might have lost some of its luster but it is still worth considering for an enjoyable beach getaway.

    MAP OF PUERTO GALERA


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