Puerto Galera is the closest “white beach” to Manila, with the island feel that’s harder to find on the beaches of Luzon and has been a favorite for weekend trips for decades. With low-cost airlines, it has become much more affordable to go to the many other islands in the Philippines and there is a lot of competition – but Puerto Galera still has many fans!
Puerto Galera is located on the North Eastern tip of Mindoro island, facing Manila across the narrow strait. Yet while Anilao has steep cliffs falling into the sea without beaches, Puerto Galera is blessed with soft white sand along its popular White Beach. While it’s not as “white” as Boracay’s famous beach, it’s much nicer than the Northern beaches. And, just like Anilao, there is fantastic diving along the coast that brings tourists from around the world!
In addition to the sandy beaches and diving, Puerto Galera has a reputation as a party beach, drawing young crowds of Filipinos to dance parties on the beach and a slightly older, foreign clientele for naughty nightlife – a little like Pattaya in Thailand. And similar to Pattaya, Puerto Galera has very different faces:
White Beach is party central, with budget hotels and restaurants crowding the beach, loud music playing and vendors touting
banana dragon boat rides, parasailing, jet-skiing and other activities. You have easy access to activities, shops, restaurants, bars at relatively low prices. But you better enjoy the music and action, because you won’t be able to escape it. North of town is Sabang beach, with the naughty nightlife, targeting an older crowd.
And just South of White Beach, you find Aninuan Beach. Most of the beach is occupied by the private residence of one of the wealthiest families in the Philippines, only shared by two hotels, creating a long stretch of peaceful beach with few people using it! It’s such a stark difference from White Beach, like night and day, and you can go for a nice, long walk, lay in the sun or go for a swim in the warm water without any distraction! Each of the hotels has a restaurant, you can schedule activities – or head over to White Beach for more.
Travel Tips: The proximity of Puerto Galera to Manila is a mixed blessing. You can get there easily by bus & ferry for under $20 round trip in about 4-6h, depending on traffic. During weekends and holidays, this trip can turn into a 10h ordeal that destroys much of the experience and is best avoided. There are several bus lines from Manila to Batangas Port, Terminal 3 and three ferry lines going from Batangas to Sabang Beach, Muelle and White Beach.
It’s best to ask your hotel which service they work with – most have arranged a van service from the ferry to the hotel to make it easier. You can find more information here! Or you can book an integrated trip with SiKat,
You can also reach Puerto Galera by seaplane with Air Juan from Manila Bay in 25 minutes for around $200rt. But therein lies the dilemma for Puerto Galera – with cheap flights across Asia, you can get to so many beaches faster than the ferry – or cheaper than the seaplane!
Hotels on Sabang or White Beach are at the lower end of the price range and you should come with low expectations. We stayed at the very good Sunset At Aninuan Beach Resort, but prices are high and value is not as good as other destinations in the Philippines, Indonesia or Thailand.
If you are want to party with young Filipinos on a budget – Puerto Galera’s White Beach has your ticket. Boracay has taken over as the prime party destination these days, is more beautiful and doesn’t cost much more, so I recommend to consider it as an alternative before booking your trip to Puerto Galera! If you are looking for naughty nightlife, you are on your own.
If you are looking for a combination of sandy beach and dive vacation and don’t have a lot of time, the Sunset Aninuan is a good destination, at a price. If you just want to dive, Anilao is a much easier destination. If it’s just the beach you are after, Coron is more beautiful. If you have a little more time or are coming from abroad, beach destinations like Bali or Ko Samui offer a similar experience for less!