Puerto Galera, Philippines ' Beauty Beyond Imagining!
It was not until I had been given my first San Miguel that I realised that this place was hot, humid and sticky. My first San Mig didn't even touch the sides. I was back in Manila sitting at the bar in the hotel, after dropping off my bag and putting all my important documents in the safety deposit box. I took some time to reflect on my first visit to this incredibly diverse country.
When you discuss holiday destinations with people, the better trodden paths are the ones most frequented, not many people I know have traveled to the Philippines. Let me tell you, if you enjoy tropical islands with white powdery sand merging into the jungle on one side and then disappearing into the turquoise blue water on the other, then this is the place for you! After all there are 7,107 islands in the Philippines, take your pick!
The Philippines is the third largest English speaking country in the world, which makes getting around so much easier. Tourism has not really taken off like in neighboring Asian countries, like Thailand and Malaysia and the infrastructure is not quite there, which in a way makes it all the more exciting because your holiday will become an adventure, it can drag you down at times but once you arrive at your final destination the trip getting there will be long forgotten.
My journey took me to the resort town of Puerto Galera on the island of Mindoro. Puerto Galera is the port where Spanish Galleons use to take refuge from the might of the typhoons. Letting your imagination wonder a little as you glance around the port, you can almost see the Spanish Galleons swinging on their anchors.
Puerto Galera has recently won the 2005 Most Beautiful Bay in the World Award. It is easy to see why.
Getting to Puerto Galera
From Manila you need to take a bus to Batangas which takes approximately three hours, depending on the time of day and which day it is, the longest it has taken me was seven hours. From Batangas which is south of the Philippine capital of Manila you can catch a ferry across to Puerto Galera which is about an hour to an hour and half. The trip to Batangas is pretty uneventful, the real beauty starts when you get on the ferry. The water is a deep cobalt blue, if you are lucky you may even see dolphins, turtles and flying fish.
The majority of the resorts are centered around the beaches of Sabang, Small La Laguna and Big la Laguna. Sabang is where most of the action is, discos, pubs, restaurants and lots of accommodation. The next beach along is Small La Laguna which has more accommodation and the beach is quite nice. Make sure you stop off at the Point Bar which separates Sabang from Small La Laguna Beach the view is outstanding. Moving further away from Sabang you come to, in my opinion, the pick of the beaches, Big La Laguna Beach. The beach here is beautiful and it a lot quieter than Sabang, with some superior accommodation.
What to do in Puerto Galera'
The main focus here is the water. Scuba diving and snorkeling are the number one pursuits. The scuba diving is first class. There is no swell so swimming is safe, as are other water activities, sailing, windsurfing and kayaking.
Do try and get up to Ponderosa Golf Club for some jungle golf, lots of fun. Trekking is also available and do combine the trek to visit a Mangyan Village. Or you can just curl up on the beach with a good book!
Back to Reality
Pondering over my icy cold San Miguel, my first two week stay in these enchanted islands left me relaxed and ready to get back into the rat race of modern society. My first trip seemed like years ago, but I have visited and lived in this wonderful country on and off for a decade.