Yes, summer’s officially over. I am one of the many who’s affected and sad as going to the beach and road-tripping are best done during dry season. It’s like summer happened so fast and I was left longing for more. But being happy is a choice, so despite the storm and heavy rain, we planned a trip to Puerto Galera.
Actually, I was just a joiner as this trip was planned by my girlfriend and her classmates in a masteral class. They made a 3 days and 2 nights itinerary. But due to unforeseen additional tasks my girlfriend and I decided to go in the afternoon.
It was a rainy (and stormy) afternoon as we drove down to pier and parked the car. By the way, overnight parking here in Batangas pier is P150 per night and P6 per hour thereafter. We went to the ticketing area bound to Mindoro / Puerto Galera (the one on the left). There were a few groups going to the island as well. We fall line on a ticketing counter, but a few minutes later, the cashier announced that the 5pm trip was cancelled as advised by the Coast Guard.
Yes, our trip.was cancelled and it was due to a gale warning and very rough sea. You can still go to Puerto Galera via Roro (big ships). But the travel time is 2 and a half to 3 hours to Calapan and another 1 hour and a half hour via van. Instead of pushing through, we decided to go home and take the first trip next morning.
Still no boats
In the morning, small boats going to puerto galera white beach were banned from sailing again. We had no choice but take fast crafts or RORO vessels to calapan. We chose Super Cat as it has the earliest available departure time and twice faster than the big ships.
My girlfriend and I got separate seats as we are the last passengers who got the last available slots. Lucky! I enjoyed the humid sea breeze on the second floor while my partner sat at the air-conditioned accomodation at the first level.
After 2 hours…
The sea was indeed rough but I managed to take a nap still. After alighting the craft, there were tricycles waiting. The fee from the pier to van terminal was P50 per head. There’s only two of us so we paid P200 for the ride.
At the van terminal, the place was empty and we have to wait for another van to arrive. Thirty minutes have passed until the van came. Travel time was around 1 hour and 30 minutes. Fare is at P150 each. I am a frequent driver but the road from Calapan to Puerto Galera still made me so dizzy, and it’s not my first time here.
At the van terminal…
There was another terminal! what the.. I thought the van will drop us near the white beach but we have to spend another P150 and ~15 minutes on a tricycle. I don’t know the reason for this hassle and I am sure it’s not to help tourists like us.
Finally, we arrived at White Beach Lodge and the rain was still pouring hard. We took a rest, ate lunch and prepared for a showery adventure.
There are plenty of accomodations at Puerto Galera. You can opt to stay near the White Beach, or you can choose nearby resorts such the ones in Tamaraw, Sabang, Sandbar, etc. You can go there every summer and try a new place each time. The price of course, depends on the number of pax it can accomodate. The range is from P500 up tens of thousands per night. For us, a barkada of 7, we paid P7000 for two nights.
Snorkeling at Puerto Galera
Snorkeling is the highlight of our visit, or should I say the only activity we were able to do because of the heavy rain.
We went to the water activities docking area called Minolo Port. I was surprised regarding this one as my previous visits didn’t required us to go here before renting a boat. Maybe it’s just a rule here at the White Beach. I was also shocked at the current rates of snorkeling at P300 each, or P1800 for up to 6persons. The last time I remember at the Sandbar beach, it was below P200 each. The poster shows another P400 per head if you want to go near the corals, giant clam and underwater cave. Oh boy, the rates really went up.
Our boat almost sunk
The rain is still pouring as the boat left Minolo port. The sea was still calm maybe because of the cove. As we go the open water, the waves start to rattle us. We needed to sit down and balance ourselves as the waves rocked our boat. As we go near the cove where the garden of corals were located, the waves were intense and scared all of us even the boatmen.
We were tensed and uneasy as the waves taller than our boat passed by. I caught some footages but it doesn’t justify our actual experience as the action cam has a good gyroscope that minimized the shakes. With the expert maneuvers of our captain, he managed to steer us through another cove called Balatero where we’re going. Relief and gratitude were immediately felt as we see the calmness of the sea. From afar, we can hear other tourists screaming as they cross the rough waters that we conquered.
After our memorable boat ride, small boats approached us and offered their services. P200 per head for a Coral Garden tour. We agreed and transferred to the small boat which can accommodate up to 3 passengers only. It has a rope on one side where snorkelers will hold as the boat traverse the garden of corals.
It still feels like the first time as we sweeped to the beautiful coral garden. You can enjoy the magnificent view without having to dive deep into the waters. There were plenty of species of coral reefs, and with them are various fishes, sponges, sea anemones and other marine life forms.
We went from one spot to another to enjoy the underwater beauty nature has offered. Luckily, we saw a large turtle passing by. But my enjoyment changed into horror as I saw a sea snake nearby. It hid in the corals when it felt my presence but still, it’s a sea snake so I swam away from it. I am not sure if others know how venomous it is. But our boatman knew that sea snakes are afraid of humans and reluctant to bite, unless threatened. I still remember its striped pattern with colors of blue and yellow if I remembered right. They can be found anywhere in the sea not just in Puerto Galera, so it won’t stop me from visiting this marvelous garden of corals again. But I’ll be more careful once I step anywhere in the water. Haha.
Island hopping and giant clam
We didn’t do the trip to giant clam as we’ve seen it before, but if it’s your first time, have a look at the clams and large fishes near it.
Obviously, after that boat-sinking waves in the open sea, we didn’t pursue with island hopping. But if the sea was calmer, we could’ve been to Friday’s island, Haligi beach, San Antonio island, Bayanan beach and Boquete island where the Sand Bar is located.
Thoughts and Tips
1. In this latest visit to Puerto Galera, I think the rates went up. I will not recommend RORO-tricycle-van-tricycle route as it’s very time consuming, dizzying and expensive. The cost one way is P300+P75+P150+P75 = P600. Boat straight to PG White Beach from Batangas pier is P300 + tricycle @P50. If the Boats straight to White Beach is unavailable, then I suggest to cancel your trip and wait for the go signal or go to other beaches around Batangas as there are plenty of alternatives. I also didn’t like that the van terminal is far from the beaches. It could have been closer for the sake of us, tourists.
2. Go in groups to share expenses. Choose an accommodation where you can cook and buy your food beforehand ’cause the prices in their market are steep.
3. Find boats where you can go straight to snorkelling. We did this before and the total cost is just below P200 each. But I think it will be hard and will depend on the accommodation/resort that you chose.
4. Wear aqua shoes. This will prevent you from injuring yourself. The corals are shallow and there are sea urchins as well. But do not step on the corals even though your wearing one.
5. Don’t swim on the beach when the waves are strong. Two of our buddies almost drowned due to a stormy weather back then.
6. Don’t forget your underwater action camera! On our pics, we used SJ6 Legend which performed well during those dim lighting due to the weather.
So there you are. Traveling on a bad weather is not a bad idea at all. We enjoyed snorkelling at Puerto Galera and had a great staycation and bonding with our buddies. Plus the thrilling and memorable experience at the boat. Haha. It’s what we paid for, they said.