Puerto Galera Philippines is a small coastal town on the island of Mindoro, and is well known among tourists for its numerous pocket beaches, many snorkeling and excellent 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.
Among the famous beaches in Puerto Galera are Sabang Beach and White Beach. Both have extensive beaches with first-class or economy-class accommodations and an active night life with their numerous beach-side bars and restaurants. Sabang beach is the main destination for foreign tourists, while White Beach remains popular with local travelers. Since 2001 White beach has seen tremendous development. New restaurants and places to stay are rapidly encroaching on the beach itself. Puerto Galera town is a pleasant but sleepy Philippine town with few attractions. It has a large central catholic church and a Pier area, with a selection of bistros and cafes.
Above the Beaches
Behind the beaches are the huge and generally unexplored mountain ranges of central Mindoro. A particular local attraction is the nine hole golf course perched on the hillside above White Beach which commands spectacular views over Puerto Galera's natural harbor and the Verde Island Passage. Mangyan tribes are scattered over the mountains sides – some of the more remote tribes have no contact with the outside world. Of the eight tribes on Mindoro, the Iraya are the largest. They are based in the Puerto Galera area.
Best Diving in the Philippines
The diving generally focuses around the areas either side of Escarceo Point which is famous for its current rips. Strong currents are a feature of the diving in Puerto Galera and it is good advice to employ the services of an experienced local guide or dive centre. There are upwards of thirty dive sites all within a 5-10 minute banca ride from Sabang Beach. A variety of wrecks have been sunk over the years in addition to the one genuine wreck of an engine of a WWII Japanese patrol boat.
In the summer of 1998 there was some extensive coral bleaching around Medio Island and a large section of shallow reef ('Coral Gardens') was virtually destroyed. Recent evidence has shown it to be recovering quickly. In May 2006 a large super-typhoon damaged the shallow areas around Escarceo Point. Many of the faster growing coral species were destroyed to a depth of 6m, but represent less than 5% of the coral reef in the area.
A study by the University of the Philippines in the 1980s, found that the Batangas, Puerto Galera area has the highest diversity of marine species in the world. It forms what has become known as the center of the golden triangle – The Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia – renowned for their coral and fish species.
How to Get Here
Puerto Galera is only three and a half hours away from Manila, first you will need to take a bus to the port at Batangas City where you will board a boat.
Tourists can also take the tourist service called the Sikat, from the City State Tower Hotel in Manila to the Batangas City port and then by boat onto Puerto Galera, Sabang Beach of Mindoro Island.