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An occasionally belligerent mother of four and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

En Route To Puerto Galera: How To Get There


Puerto Galera was one of the places I visited in my childhood. We didn't exactly live there, but my father was assigned for a couple of months at nearby Calapan, making this beach destination quite accessible.
Puerto Galera's Ilong Island - clear waters, pristine white sand and no crowds to boot!!

Back then, Puerto Galera  (pre-Boracay days) was the weekend destination if you wanted to see more of nature and celebrate your being a water baby.With it's beautiful coves, white sand beaches, clear waters and diverse marine life, it's always a great idea to reconnect with nature here.


Fast forward 30 plus years later, and here I am, with 3 of my 4 kids, bringing them over to see the island's beautiful bays, clear blue waters and pristine white sand.


After a 3 hour drive from Baguio to Manila, we stayed overnight at Phil's family house in Quezon City. We rested a day and drove the next , the whole time using the app, Waze to get us efficiently to the Batangas Port. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to get to the port.


The drive was pleasant, uneventful, with no real nice scenery to speak of. That's basically what you see when you follow the Tagalog Arterial road the moment you exit Manila. Allot around P400 (actually less) for the toll gates and whole lot more if your family's the munchy type (most gas stations have various fast food restaurants, convenience stores and coffee shops).

Beverage break at Starbucks with our munchy crew



Taking a bus from one of the many bus companies that ply this route will set you back around P200 per person (Cubao, Quezon City to Batangas Port).


Once we got to the Batangas port, we went straight to Park and Sail and parked the car for safekeeping.


Parking cost about P155.00/first 24 hours and P6.00/succeeding hour. The structure is open aired but quite near to the pier and ticketing offices. It also offers secure parking 24/7.

The Minolo Shipping Lines ticketing office is at Terminal 3 of the Batangas Port
As planned, we bought tickets for White Beach (the closest drop off point to our resort) at Minolo Shipping Lines. Fare is cheaper if you purchase a round trip ticket. An adult round trip ticket costs around P450 (or P500 one way) with an additional 50 pesos per adult for the environmental fee (kids are free).

terminal fee was useless for us..as soon ad we entered the air conditioned structure, we were heading out to board our boat
There's also a P30 terminal fee for us adults (paid after you book your boat ride). Student discounts are available too, where all our children's fare costing around 350/pax. Don't forget to bring their school IDs.

Here's a look at MSL's Schedule:


BATANGAS TRIPS

- 7 am to 5 pm (every hour) (high and low season)

MUELLE TRIPS

- 6:55 am, 8:20 am, 10:15 am, 11:10 am, 12:30 pm, 1:45 pm and 3:30 pm

- 9:30 am, 2:50 pm, 4:10 pm (OPTIONAL TRIPS during PEAK SEASON)

WHITE BEACH TRIPS

- 6 am, 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 12 pm, 1 pm and 3 pm

- 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm, 5:00 pm (OPTIONAL TRIPS during PEAK SEASON)

there's also a lot of seats in front of  the ticketing booth

Had we taken the car, and rode a RORO (roll on, roll off) type of sea vessel, the journey would have taken us approximately 2 hours, and we would have gotten off at the Muelle Pier in Calapan, Mindoro. This would have been followed by a 1.5 hours drive to get to White Beach and subsequently, our resort, Tribal Hills.

we seriously just breezed through the waiting area
After leaving our car at the Park and Sail parking lot, we took long pump boats instead (fits around 100-150 people) for our 1 hour journey to Puerto Galera's White Beach. The body of water that lies between Luzon and the island of Mindoro is known as the Verde Island Passage and is so called because of Verde Island which sits in the center of the channel midway between Batangas and Puerto Galera.

the boat's interior
welcomed by the beautiful waters at the Sabang Port
Arriving at Puerto Galera, our boat dropped us off at the Sabang Port rather than the shoreline of White Beach. I was a bit worried that we'd be stuck in the area for awhile as our resort's shuttle was not expecting us to come from this area.

Sabang Port
My fears were immediately resolved as the Minolo Shipping Lines has arrangements with various resorts on the island. The brought us to the foot of the hill that our resort was located in, at no extra charge. The resort's shuttle was promptly there, to continue the next short leg of the trip.



taking shade at the makeshift terminal at White Beach. They charge 10 pesos/adult as terminal fee
 Going back to Manila, we departed from the makeshift terminal (actually a hut along the shore of White Beach). The boat stopped by for more passengers at Sabang, and after that, it was smooth sailing from thereon.

Some tips to remember for those who want to head out there via MSL:

1. The boat we rode in are long pump boats. Wear sensible shoes as getting on and off the boat requires to to step on planks. Sure there are handlebars beside em, but a moving boat, acquiring sea legs and planks won't be easy in heels. Wear comfy clothing too. The boats are open air, though shaded. Also, the possibility of you being dropped off at the beach is quite huge. Think of footwear for walking on the sand.The port at Sabang is an actual port, so no sand..but the plank will still be there.

the beautiful white sand and clear waters almost make you forget the long wait for the boat to arrive
2. The plank warning goes double for luggage. Backpacks and handier trolley bags are preferable.

we brought back packs/carry on cases that were also trolley bags

3. Bring your snacks and beverages. The prices of these goods, as commanded by the various vendors boarding the boat are cutthroat indeed. Picture a 15 pesos bottle of water (SRP) sold at 40. Aside from the peddlers, expect beggars sparsely surrounding your boat. As always, be mindful of your things too.
MAX drinking overpriced water (waiting for our the delayed boat to arrive depleted our precious stash of agua)
4. Even if you booked  round trip tickets, it is always prudent to have you or your resort, confirm the tickets at your chosen shipping line. DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS. You might end up boatless or have to wait for a later trip, AFTER your first boat departs without you. Don't lose your return ticket too.


5. There are no seat numbers in the boat. Seating is on a first come, first served basis. There are priority seats for PWDs and Senior Citizens though at the front of the boat.


6. Lastly, the waves are gentler in the morning. I strongly suggest that you book a trip for the morning or early in the afternoon.


It was a pleasant experience indeed, given that it was a  first for my older boys to go on a bigger boat to ferry them between islands.

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!!

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