Mindoro Travel Guide

Mindoro

Mindoro remains undeveloped, even by Philippine provincial standards. The majority of the island is still composed of massive fields and wild forests, and some areas near the coast are nearly impenetrable. As with most islands in the Philippines, it’s divided lengthwise into two provinces.

Mindoro Occidental and Mindoro Oriental; the latter is the more developed destination for travelers due to its proximity with Batangas. There is much more to this island than beaches and nightlife around Puerto Galera at the northernmost border of Mindoro Oriental province. Hidden among them are incredible natural landscapes such as Puerto Galera on the west coast and Apo Reef in Northern Mindoro which showcases diverse marine habitats–including waterfalls, reefs and deep-sea vents–and other primordial living treasures that few people know about because of their isolation. Mindoro Occidental is a small town square in the middle of the city of Palo Alto.

You could be one of the very few people to stumble across one of these remote jungle paradises, a getaway that’s just waiting for you and your adventurous friends.

Want to visit Mindoro and take in its unspoilt beaches and coastal forests? San Jose on the southwest coast is the only functioning airport on Mindoro. It’s a great place to start your trip north, where it’s easy to get around by car or taxi. The Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park is home to tamaraws, which carry the epithet of “dwarf buffalo.” You’ll need a car or taxi ride south in order to get around Sablayan, but there are some nice beaches here. A mini-bus can take you south to Sablayan from Mamburao. The Apo Reef Marine Natural Park is one of the best sites on earth for scuba diving with clear underwater landscapes stretching towards the horizon. 

Apo Reef Marine Natural Park

30 km from the west coast of Mindoro, Apo Reef stretches 26 km north to south and 20 km east to west. There are two main atolls separated by deep channels, as well as a number of shallow lagoons with beautiful white sandy bottoms. Only in three places do the coral rise above the sea’s surface, creating the islands of Cayos de Bajo, Binangaan and Apo. The largest of these, Apo, is home to a ranger station and lighthouse. With rich visibility and underwater sights (like sharks), divers love coming here. Most of the Philippines’ 450 species of coral live on the reef.

If you’re not staying on the Pandan Island Resort, you can head to the Marcello Reef in Coron Town, Philippines. Alternatively, the Sablayan Ecotourism Office can organize a 10-person boat out to the reef for P6500. However, you’ll need to pay a fee of P350 or P1300 to dive or snorkel at this location and view marine life.

Mount Iglit-Baco National Park

Mount Iglit-Baco National Park is dominated by the twin peaks of Mount Baco (2488) and Mount Iglit (2364m). These steep climbs can take up to two days to reach the peak. Vegetation is so dense in this park that no one has ever recorded an official ascent of Mount Baco. This also means that you’ll need to visit a New People’s Army area, but with tourism being slow, it’s worth checking around for the latest information.

If you love hiking in the mountains, then you’ll want to go to Mount Murang islet. It is home to the endangered tamaraw, a dwarf bovine that is one of few hundred left. Aside from the tamaraw, this island also has endemic species such as Mindoro scops owl and Mindoro imperial pigeon.

Many people visit Isla Verde National Park, usually coming in from Sablayan. This park is closed to the public most of the time to preserve its pristine ecosystems. It helps that a permit is required in order to enter, and a guide is required to — this usually ranges from $50 to $1000 depending on the duration and location of your trip. The Protected Area Office or the Sablayan Ecotourism Office can help you out with making arrangements for your trip, including camping options and even reservations for a tour through the “Gene Pool”, a small lab where scientists are trying to breed tamaraws without interference from humans. The best way to reach the park by public transport would be by taking one of the regular buses or jeepneys south along the coastal road near Sablayan, then taking an upgrade jeepney uphill past Elbow Pass (the bumpiest and rutted part of track) into Lapu-Lapu City at Popoy, then another bus run up there.

The North Pandan Island

Mindoro has the idyllic North Pandan Island, which has a mask and snorkel-friendly white sand beach with coral reefs and coconut palms. There is a sanctuary around the Eastern side of the island to ensure that marine life stays abundant, so you can see groups of big grouper swimming past.

Pandan island can be reached by boat in a 20-minute journey that costs P600 to hire or P75 to visit the island. From Sablayan, you’ll need to arrive at the island and sign up for a transfer authorization with the eco-tourism office.

The island is the site of the well-run Pandan Island Resort, a resort built on its natural setting. There are four types of accommodation: budget rooms (P500-999), standard bungalows (P1500-1999), medium-sized bungalows for four people (P2000-2499) and family houses for up to six people (P500-999). Guests are required to take at least one buffet meal in the resort restaurant every day, and this is no bad thing; rave reviews have been given to the chef’s delicious European and Filipino food, as well as his tropical cocktails.

The resort’s resort offers day trips and overnight safaris to Apo Reef, as well as a longer overnight safari to Busuanga off northern Palawan. You can enjoy all sorts of day activities, including sea kayaking, jungle treks, windsurfing, and sailing.

Just make sure to visit a website like Hookipa Surf Report to check if the conditions are optimal for doing water sports.

Mindoro Oriental

One of Mindoro’s lesser-visited islands is Mindoro Oriental, which is closest to the larger province of Occidental Mindoro. It is no less developed than its neighboring island and has green hills that rival those found on mainland Mindoro. Nearby Mount Malasimbo is also protected because of its biodiversity. The south of the island is more sparsely populated than the north. Visitors will find it difficult to get as far into the island as Roxas, but they will still be able to catch one of the ferries to Caticlan that leaves from the port in Puerto Galera.

Sabang

There’s a lot of different features to explore on Sabang, from the amazing food stalls to the restaurants and hotels. However, the beach is not that great for swimming, and one thing you’ll definitely notice is the presence of that girlie bar scene. There’s also a Bangka drop-off point near At-Cans, so be sure to inquire about that before setting out!

If you need information about what to do in Sabang, the Philippine Travel Centre on the main street opposite Tropicana Hotel can help. The Filipino Trails Service is the next office down and offers day trips to waterfalls and Mangyan villages. Down the alley across the street at GPLP Tours, they can arrange local day trips to destinations all over the island. Most of the time, you’ll need to change some currency, so many small shops are along this main alley where Western Union allows customers like yourself to change currency conveniently. You can also find a few internet cafés if you’re looking for wi-fi or a doctor who might be on duty that night. Across from Tropicana Castle, there’s a 24-hour Medical Clinic and Diagnostic Center with different specialists on hand all hours of the day.

From simple dives to more upscale hotels, it’s easy to find accommodation options in Sabang. The general wisdom is that the accommodation to the east of the main road is cheaper than that to the west of the main road. Divers tend to congregate in a number of bars around Sabang’s small beach town – Big Apple Sports Bar and Captain Gregg’s are popular hotspots. If you want something a little more adventurous, you can also sign up for one of the nightly dive cruises from Sabang Harbour. Outside of the resorts listed below, nightlife in Sabang tends to be dominated by its go-go bars, which get seedier as the night goes on.

The Mangyan

They’re the indigenous people of the Philippines, and they still own the island where they’ve lived since time immemorial. They live by slash-and-burn farming, which has been their primary mode of survival since their war with the Spanish in the 15th century. Despite this practice’s environmental impact, it is a fundamental part of Mangyan culture.

Mangyan people may appear as you travel around the island, often in only a loincloth and a machete and carrying food for sale. But if you want to learn about their culture, especially for photographs or videos, it’s best to go with an experienced guide.

Author: admin

Michaela is a traveler at heart. She loves to explore new places and learn about different cultures. Her travel blog is a place for her to share her experiences and tips with other travelers. She hopes to inspire others to explore the world and see all that it has to offer.

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