Puerto Galera welcomes nature-lovers, adventure-seekers, and free diving and water sports enthusiasts to the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) Drive and Dive Circuit.
The north-westernmost municipality in the province of Oriental Mindoro, Puerto Galera is well known for its numerous dive sites; there are over 40 to choose from. It also has some of the most diverse coral reefs in Asia as it is near the Verde Island Passage, the Center of Marine Shorefish Biodiversity in the World.
To highlight these world-class spots while promoting other destinations, the DOT-MIMAROPA Regional Office developed the Drive and Dive Circuit. This three-day, two-night tour includes at least four dive sites and features the adventure and scenic spots of Puerto Galera.
Since the circuit is focused on exploring famous dive sites in Puerto Galera, Days one and two of the tour will feature the following spots:
- Sabang Wrecks – Depth: 20 meters
Three small boats were sunk here as a means to create artificial reefs, which now houses big schools of batfish, surgeonfish, lionfish, scorpionfish, and stonefish. Since the site has a maximum depth of 20 meters, divers can easily cover all three wrecks in one go. But you can also just pick one and then end the dive on the 12-meter coral reef.
- Canyons – Depth: 30 meters
Three canyons form this site, which makes for a strong drift dive with a lot of action. Various fish like the sweet lips, batfish, trevally, groupers, drummers, and snappers abound, and you can even meet a turtle, octopus, or resting shark if you’re lucky. Big gorgonian fans and pink soft corals also cover the whole area. With a maximum depth of 30 meters and a strong current, it is not recommended for beginners.
- Manila Channel – Depth: 23 meters
The dive starts in this beautiful reef at around five meters. Sloping off to a sandy bottom, it is alive with hard and soft corals, and hundreds of small tropical fish. As you follow the contours of the reef on a flood tide, the clear water from the Verde Island Passage helps you drift into the channel. You then drop off to around 18 meters, moving past a small wall covered with fans and whip corals. Surgeonfish, tuna, snapper, and sweet lips are common in this area, which slopes back up to shallow water after the wall.
- Batangas Channel – Depth: 15 meters
This site is big but shallow. It is covered with staghorn corals, some of the biggest barrel sponges you can find in Puerto Galera, and huge green coral trees. Formations with big table corals can also be found here. This site does often have strong currents and you can cover the whole channel in one dive. The northern part of this dive down to San Antonio Village is recommended, where the corals end, but seahorses can be seen at the bottom.
There is also an option to include diving in Verde Island Passage, since the easiest access to it is from Puerto Galera. It is a strait that connects the West Philippine Sea with Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan Sea. It is considered one of the best diving spots in the country; It is part of the Coral Triangle, which is home to 600 coral types and 2,000 reef fish species and is dubbed as the Amazon of the Ocean.
After the underwater adventure, Day three of the Drive and Dive Circuit is meant for visiting famous spots in Puerto Galera.
Muelle Bay – This bay is listed as one of the most beautiful in the world by the Paris-based Les Plus Belles Baies Du Monde Club. The pier area was refurbished to be the Puerto Galera Muelle Bay Cultural Heritage Park.
Puerto Galera Mangrove Conservation and Eco-Tourism Area – This protected area and conservation site is composed largely of a mangrove forest coupled with reefs and seagrass. The reserve is accessed through a long stretch of well-kept wooden boardwalk where you can exercise the body and mind among quiet surroundings.
Tamaraw Falls – This scenic, three-story high, twin falls is the most accessible in Oriental Mindoro. The water drops from a forested ravine into man-made splash pools off the main Puerto Galera–Calapan Road. There is a picnic area and a larger man-made rock pool for swimming.
Iraya-Mangyan Cultural Village – The Iraya-Mangyan village in Talipanan, Puerto Galera are filled with skilled artisans in basket weaving. On display are a variety of hand-made products, such as baskets, bags, and household items made of local indigenous materials like nito and rattan.
Ponderosa Golf Club – This is a nine-hole golf course where anyone can enjoy the game of golf be it a beginner or a serious golfer. The course has no long drives down the tree-lined fairways, but the club offers a serious challenge to any golfer’s short game. Ponderosa Golf Club’s holes are strategically placed in over 22 hectares of steep mountainside.
Even if you’re not into the sport, you can enjoy the view of the beaches and bays of the island as the course is situated on top of Mount Malasimbo. Ponderosa is popular among hikers, bird-watchers, and mountain biking enthusiasts.
Tour package options
Sample price range for this 3D2N Drive and Dive Tourism Circuit is between Php21,000 and Php30,000 per head for a group of six persons, depending on room category and the Verde Island dive option. It is inclusive of accommodation, six dives with full equipment rental, and full board meals.
Aside from the destinations included in the circuit, Puerto Galera has a lot more to offer, especially those who wish to explore more beach and nature sites—White Beach, Sabang Beach, Haligi Beach, Aninuan Falls, Talipanan Falls, Tukuran Falls, and San Antonio Underwater Cave.
They also have other water sports activities, such as snorkeling, banana boating, kayaking, and jet skiing, plus more fun activities at Puerto Galera Adventure and Recreational Ecopark and X-Treme Sports Philippines Adventure Park. You may have these requested to be included in your customized tour.
The local government of Puerto Galera can refer you to their accredited tour operators. Contact the Municipal Tourism Office at +639606937533 (Tourism Smart Hotline), +639756571972 (Tourism Globe Hotline), or visit Puerto Galera’s official website and Facebook page.
How to get to Puerto Galera
By passenger bus and ferry: Coming from Manila, go to a bus terminal in Cubao, Quezon City or in LRT Buendia area and take a bus going to Batangas Pier. Travel time is 2-3 hours.
Once at the pier, take a ferry that’s headed to Muelle Port, or Balatero, or Calapan. Travel time is about one hour. If you choose Muelle Port or Balatero, you can take a jeep or tricycle from the port to your resort.
If you choose a ferry going to Calapan, upon arrival at the port, you can ride a jeep or passenger van going to Puerto Galera. Travel time is 1 to 1.5 hours.
For easier tour around Puerto Galera, private van rentals can also be arranged with your tour operator.
By personal vehicle: Head to Batangas Pier. You may opt to leave your vehicle at the pier and take a ferry that’s headed to Muelle Port or Balatero. You can also take your vehicle with you if you’ll take the FastCat, a roll-on roll-off sea vessel (RoRo), to Calapan.
By water taxi: A more convenient and faster, but rather costly, option is to rent a private water taxi from Batangas City to Puerto Galera. It costs Php8,000 one way and fits a maximum of 10 passengers. Travel time is only 30 to 40 minutes.
The water taxi docks at Berberabe Port, Batangas City.
All of these tourist destinations have health and safety protocols in place to protect locals and visitors alike. Everyone is expected to comply by wearing face masks, regularly washing their hands, and practicing physical distancing.
To know the latest updates and travel advisories about the Philippines, visit https://www.philippines.travel/safetrip or download the Travel Philippines app at the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.