Philippines

The Affordable Alternative to Boracay – Puerto Galera, Philippines

When most of us think about our summer getaways in the Philippines we don’t usually think about Puerto Galera as the go-to place, but in recent years there have been considerable changes which to me have made it a worthwhile place to have your next vacation!

My last trip to Puerto Galera was in 2012 and from then until now I was shocked with how much has changed. During my time there I felt like it had all of the great adventures of Boracay, but much closer and more affordable.

Check out my full guide including the best hotels, restaurants, and activities below.

Puerto Galera Guys
My group of friends enjoying our trip to Puerto Galera

How to get there?

From Manila: Most of you will be coming from Manila so i’ll address that route as the primary means of transportation.

  • Jam Liner is the best bus line that travels from Manila down to Batangas and costs only P170 (Around $3 USD).
  • The main 2 stations in Manila are located here:
    • Pasay Terminal: Located along Buendia Ave near Taft Ave.
    • Cubao Terminal: Located along Edsa near Cubao area just nearby the GMA tower.
  • While there are buses leaving throughout the entire day I suggest to leave in the morning time frame around 4 or 5AM from Manila. That way you dont have to worry if you’ll catch a boat or not and you avoid the crowds.
  • Once you arrive in Batangas port you’ll just follow the signs which say to Puerto Galera to get a boat. There will be many people trying to get your attention to escort you to get tickets and what not, but there is no need to take those as they will just charge you more.
  • Minolo Shipping Lines is my preferred boat to take. It’s affordable and leaves every hour or so. It’s also a large enough boat that i’m not worried about it getting turned over by large waves.
  • Here is a photo of the booth for Minolo so you can easily spot it:
    Minolo Shipping Lines
  • The boat costs P300 one way, or if you book it round trip it’s cheaper at P550 (About $11 USD). Make sure you get the boat going directly to White Beach Puerto Galera as some of the boats make multiple stops prior to White Beach which will waste too much of your time.
  • You will need to also pay a Terminal Fee(P30) and an Environmental Fee(P50) prior to leaving.
  • Boats only go between 7AM and 4PM so make sure you arrive early in the day so you ensure you can catch a boat.

The boat will land directly on the White Beach area of Puerto Galera so there are no other transportation costs.

Returning to Manila is the same in that you’ll take the boat from the beach back to the port. You can purchase your tickets in advance at the booths near the drop off area.

Where to stay in Puerto Galera?

There are many great accommodations in Puerto Galera, but the most difficult part is finding ones which meet your expectations.

There are many of you looking for luxury hotels and others seeking affordable accommodations. I’ve split these out below for you based on my experiences and my friends’ recommendations below:

Affordable Hotels in Puerto Galera: 

  • Mindorinne Oriental Beach Resort Located just along White Beach this is the perfect hotel for those who want an affordable place to stay without having to walk far. The rooms are basic, but everything you’ll need.
  • White Beach Lodge & Restaurant This resort is right on the beach and offers accommodations for either 4 or 6 people. This is a great place for groups to go since they have large rooms with multiple beds.
  • La Solana Suites & Resort Although this place is about a 3-4 minute walk from the beach, it’s great because it has a nice pool available to it’s guests and it’s very quiet throughout the day. The rooms are basic but they have everything you need.
  • Tamaraw Beach Resort Tamaraw is located just along the White Beach and has double rooms good for 4 people. The accommodations are nice and they have a pool that overlooks the beach area.

Luxury Hotels in Puerto Galera: 

  • Aninuan Beach Resort – This beautiful resort isn’t located along the White Beach area, but it’s just a 5 minute walk to a private beach area. Do not let the distance sway you because this resort is beautiful and exactly what you’re looking for if you want a more exclusive experience with your special someone. Great rooms and a beautiful pool overlooking the ocean.
    You can check pricing here.

    Aninuan Beach Resort Puerto Galera
    Aninuan Beach Resort Puerto Galera – Photo from Agoda
  • Marco Vincent Dive Resort Located just a minute from the beach area and offers guests a nice room with a beautiful pool area. The rooms are decorated well, the staff are very friendly and accommodating, and it is considered to be one of the nicest properties within the White Beach area.
    Check the prices here.

Private Island Resort… One worth mentioning… 

  • Fridays Puerto Galera If you want the ultimate luxury beach experience, then Fridays Puerto Galera is definitely the best choice for you. It’s located on a private island with only the resort on it. It’s an exclusive luxury resort and while it costs a bit more, it’s completely worth it. You will be personally chartered to this resort and the staff will take care of setting up all activities you want to do while here. The rooms are absolutely beautiful here.
    You can check pricing here.

    Fridays Beach Resort Puerto Galera
    Fridays Beach Resort Puerto Galera – Taken from Agoda Website

If there are any hotels you think are worth mention, comment below so I can give it a review and add it above.

What activities are there in Puerto Galera?

If you want to just chill on the beach, have some drinks, or take a dip in the ocean you can, but Puerto Galera has an ever growing list of activities for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Here are some of the best activities in Puerto Galera: 

Island Hopping/Snorkeling
One of the most exciting activities in Puerto Galera has to be the island hopping which requires a short van ride to an area with boats docked. Then you and your friends head out to an open water area where you strap on your snorkeling gear and jump in the water while the boat drags you around to see the colorful coral reef below.

You’ll also make a few extra stops at an underground cave that you swim through and a beach area with some amazing rock formations.

Land Tour
While Puerto Galera is mostly well known for it’s beach and water activities, but there is so much to see inland as well! You can either rent a van or tricycle to take you on the land tour which takes about 3-4 hours total including the hour travel time each way.  This includes seeing Tamaraw Falls, photos with the Welcome To Puerto Galera sign, and hanging out at Virgin Beach which has an Inflatable Water Park.

Cost: Van for 4-6 people for P2500($50USD) or tricycle for 2-3 people for P1500($35USD). Additional P300($7USD) each for the Inflatable Water Park.

Carabao Cart
While you’re doing your land tour there is the option to keep going further in land and go to Tukuran Falls which is accomplished by being pulled for 30 minutes in a cart by a Carabao. I never expected that a Carabao could be trained to pull a cart like this, and it was definitely a worthwhile experience to go here.
Carabao Cart Puerto Galera
When you arrive at Tukuran Falls your guide will help you navigate the climb over the rocks around the area until you see multiple cascading small waterfalls on your journey. It’s a perfect place for photos. You’ll end the tour with a walk over the Hanging Bridge.

Costs: Carbao Cart costs P400($10USD) plus  a P50 environmental fee and a tip to the tour guide that joins you. You may need to add extra to your van/tricycle driver as well which you can negotiate with them.

Water Sports
One of the first things you’ll see when you arrive on the beach of Puerto Galera are the water activities. The activity area is at the middle of the White Beach and they have many different activities including the following:

  • Banana Boat – The only goal is for them to knock you off it.
  • Fly-board – (Iron Man Water Activity)
  • Parasailing – Parachute up in the air on the back of a boat
  • Hurricane – Large spinning inflatable tube – Extreme sport!
  • Jet Ski and Sailing
  • Scuba Diving – Many resorts have different groups that teach and take you out to explore the coral reef
  • Wind Surfing – This is all dependent on the wind of course

Each of these activities comes at a different cost, but they are quite affordable and are great for groups!

 

Best food spots in Puerto Galera

While there are alot of food spots in Puerto Galera, as you walk down the beach front where all the restaurants are you may notice a trend… Many of them are owned by the same chain. The great news is that those of the same chain dont have the same food!

Food Trip

This is one of the most commonly seen signs on the island and probably one of the places we ate the most as it was both affordable and good. There are 3 Food Trips on the beachfront:

  • The first one offers many rice meals and sandwiches.
  • The second one is open 24 hours a day and offers all day breakfast and rice meals.
  • The third one has flame grilled meats like chicken, pork, fish, and seafood and also offers the traditional Filipino “boodl fight” which is served on a banana leaf with a heap of rice and different types of grilled meat/seafood. Everyone sits around it and “fight” for food (typically you eat just using your hands – see below)

Pizza and Pasta

Surprisingly there are alot of pizza and pasta places on the island and they are actually really good! Mainly the reason it was good is because they used real cheddar cheese on the pizza. It was quite affordable and large. Perfect thing to go with a few drinks in the evening.

Where to get a fancy meal?

If you want a more fancy dinner with good food and wine, then you’ll want to head down to the farthest end of the beach where you see all the big rocks (thats on the western side of the beach) and go to a place called CasaMia Pizzeria Italiana. Their restaurant is one of the few that are air conditioned and indoor and have really amazing food!

Night Life in Puerto Galera is the Best!

If you’re not sold on going to Puerto Galera after everything above, then I think the night life might be what you’re looking for. There aren’t many truly “party beach” type places in the Philippines except for maybe Boracay, but in Puerto Galera the night life is intense!

Here’s some of the best things to look forward to during the night:

  • Drag Shows: Galera is very well known for it’s drag shows where many “girls” will take to the front of their respective workplace restaurant/bar and put on a show. These shows include dancing, impersonations, or comedy and are definitely worth watching while you enjoy a few drinks and chill.
  • Fire Dancers: When the sun goes down, the fire dancers will come out and they will dance for up to 2-3 hours. You’ll know the fire dancers are out because when you look up and down the beach you’ll see at least 20+ fire dancers at different establishments. I also am a fire dancer so I joined right in!
  • Mindoro Sling: When you go to Puerto Galera, you have to order the Mindoro Sling! It’s the most popular drink and comes in either a pitcher or a tall tower with a dispenser on the bottom. It’s a combination of Rum, Orange Juice, Pineapple Juice, Mango Juice, Lime Juice, Grenadine Syrup and Sprite, and you’ll never think you’re drunk until it’s too late!

Favorite 2 places to hangout at night are:

  • Barracuda: This is by far my favorite place to hangout for two reasons. First reason is that the staff at Barracuda is really funny and make sure it’s an enjoyable time. From their jokes, to them jumping on top of our table dancing, to everything. The second reason is because the fire dancers here are extremely talented and they perform for almost 3 hours making it really entertaining.
    Barracuda Bar Puerto Galera
  • Cafe De Paris: Whether you want a drag show or to see fire dancers, this is a fun place. The staff isn’t as fun as Barracuda but the show is really funny. They also sometimes combine drag and fire dancing together on the beach area. Definitely a go-to place if you want to see their drag show.

Hope you enjoy Puerto Galera as much as I do. If you haven’t gone in the past few years, then I highly suggest you head back very soon and give it another try! You wont be disappointed 🙂

Puerto Galera Sand Sculpture

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