Pandan Island, Boracay, Puerto Galera
September 2019


This is an abridged description of a short trip to Pandan Island, Boracay and Puerto Galera. I traveled alone, because Joy wanted to stay in Cavite with the kids and I wanted some "adventure". We both flew with Turkish Airline from Berlin via Istanbul to Manila and paid 1320.00 Euro together for the round trip ticket. It was very late when we arrived, so we had to pay another 44.00 Euro for the taxi to get to Buhay na Tubig in Cavite, actually only 20 km to the south. Usually it will cost almost half of it, if you take a taxi the other way around. I calculate the Euro by using the then valid exchange rate of 57 Pesos for 1 Euro.

From Cavite to Pandan Island

This time I traveled the same as I did as a Backpacker many years ago: On "The Cheap" and with a small backpack easy to carry and by using any means of public transport. That was a big change from the "luxury" life with being served and pampered all around at home and watching television all day. Also a big change from the Manila jungle (I also went there before) to the real natural jungle on a small island.

Click the small picture to get it enlarged

Either watching TV all day or relaxing on the beach
I left "Buhay na Tubig" at around 10 a.m. with a jeepney to the Aginaldo Highway (0,16 €), Then I took the van to the Mall of Asia (0.88 €). He passed the new PIX bus station but couldn't let me off. So I had to take a taxi to get there (2.10 €). But unfortunately there was no bus leaving from there to Batangas City or Port. But a shuttle was leaving to the LRT station on Puyat Avenue (0.23 €) where I did pick up the bus to Batangas Port (3.25 €).

I arrived there at about 3 p.m. The ferry to Wawa, the port of Abra de Ilog was leaving at 6 p.m. In the meantime I had lunch (2.10 €) and killed time by reading my book (I always have a book with me) until departure time. The ferry took 2.5 hours and did cost 3.26 € (senior price). After I arrived in Wawa, a bus was already standing there which I boarded and soon it left for San Jose all the way down the west coast of Mindoro. After 2.5 hours I arrived at around 11:30 p.m. in Sablayan. The fare was only 3.86 €.

By writing down the prices I just wanted to show how cheap it was to travel around by public transport. The trip also sounded very complicated. I could not plan it in advance. But with the help of the friendly and helpful Philippinos it is no problem to get around. I did not now beforehand how far I will get on that day and where to sleep the night. I asked the bus conductor to let me off in front of a hotel in Sablayan. And that's what he did. And I was lucky that the reception was still open at 11:30 p.m. The hotel is
Seasons Hotel
P. Urieta Brgy
Occidental Mindoro
Tel.: +63 915 6852585
The standard queen room did cost 20.84 Euro. Look up the internet Seasonshotel to know more.

Pandan Island

Next morning I went directly to the pier for the boat trip to the Pandan Island. I could have walked but the receptionist waved a trike for me to bring me there for 0.18 €. It was just an information stand attended by a lady. We waited around 30 minutes for the boat to arrive from the island bringing back tourists who had been staying there. Also the trip to the island took around 30 minutes and did cost 3.50 €.
From here you can get to North Pandan Island
Passing by South Pandan Island and then landing on North Pandan Island
Now the question is: Why did I want to stay on this island in the first place? It was recommended by Jens Peters, the author of the "Philippinen Reise-Handbuch". He wrote: "North Pandan would be on one of the top items of my personal Philippine hit list". Ok, let's see. There is only one resort on the island which is the
Pandan Island Resort
5104 Sablayan
Occidental Mindoro
Tel.: +63 919 305 7821
To learn more hit The prices you will see there are very high. The dinner buffet is compulsory, but only if there are enough guests. Though, I was the only one and did get a special price: 1000 Peso, i.e. 17,54 €, for one night in a double room.
Behind those palm trees I found my island domicile
View from my porch to the front and to the relaxation area
Helpers were cleaning up the area in front whenever leaves were falling down the trees or debris were swept on the beach. Since it was low season also some refurbishing and new constructions are being done.

The restaurant building was ok and the food was very cheap. For example: Breakfast with two eggs, two sausages, toast and coffee or tea did cost 2.10 €, lunch or dinner with fish or chicken around 4.40 €.

In the restaurant I was joined several times by the owner lady of the resort. She is a Filipina but her late husband was French, thus she lived many years in France. Her two sons were also managing the resort. The conversation was always vere interesting.
Cleaning up the beach Refurbishing some huts
So, what to do except eating: Swimming, of course, and snorkeling. The owner lady told me that giant turtles can be seen at one end of the island. But unfortunately I did not meet any when I snorkeled there. Another pastime was walking back and forth on the beach looking for nice shells and taking photos of the bizarre flotsams.
The view of the beach to the north The view of the beach to the south
The beach with the small Pandan Island at the back The beach with Sablayan on Mindoro at the back
At one end of the beach I also encountered several huts seemingly belonging to another resort. But all the houses look somehow rotten. Later on when I was back in Sablayan I was told by a hotel owner that they also own a resort on Pandan Island where I could stay. Oh my god.
Some more huts of another resort But they are decaying
Just behind those cottages I found the trail into the jungle exactly as I was told by the owner lady. It really was like an untouched rain forest, with roots you stumble over. Unfortunately I did not meet a waran as I was also told that they exist in the woods.
Behind the cottages you are in a jungle with big roots to stumble over
Here you may have a strange encounter meeting a waran like this
What else to do? Many possibilities. One is scuba diving, because there is a dive shop on the premises. They also offer day trips to Apa Island, one of the most famous and spectacular dive spots in the Philippines, not only good for scuba divers but also for snorkelers. Unfortunately, there were not enough people to book a trip. Otherwise I would have joined. Not much left to do. Except that I pampered myself with a one hour shiatsu massage for 11.40 €. The rest of the time I was reading (they had a well stocked library).
Rain clouds are on the way until it pours down cats and dogs
Ok, that was Pandan Island. I only stayed there three nights. I paid another 3.50 € for the boat back to Sablayan. Not far from the Pandan Information stand I found the
Emely Hotel
Gozar Street Sablayan
Occidental Mindoro
Tel.: +63 926 737 4710
where I paid only 4.38 € for the night, small but clean with a common bathroom. Sabalayan has something to offer. First of all I wanted to check another resort called Gustav's Place. So I followed the description to get there. I crossed the hanging bridge to get to the other side of the river. Then I followed the street and then the trail along the coast and beach to the north. But then I gave up. It looked to far to walk. So I went back.
The golden gate bridge leads to and through an oil palm plantation
The "beach" to the south as far as you can see The "beach" to the north but only Gustav's penis to see
One reason to stay another day in Sablayan was that I wanted to learn more about the Mangyan tribe. There are about 50.000 Mangyans still living on Mindoro, mostly in the hills now. In the old times they had been fishermen too living at the coast. But they (and many other indigenes tribes) had to retreat into the interior of the island, when the Philippines were invaded by the Malay people long time ago.

The Malays came by sailboats called balangay, a Malay word. The smallest communities in the Philippines are called Barangay, derived from Balangay. So the people arriving in one boat, usually family members and relatives, settled down in one village in the Philippines and called it barangay.

I saw one of these boats excavated in Butuan on the island of Mindanao. It was 1000 years old. With this kind of boat the Malay people even spread out all over the Pacific as far as Hawaii.

So, the Philippines didn`t exist as one country yet but of many "barangays". Most of them formed compact settlements headed by a chief called Datu. Warfare between them was common practice. In the year 1521 Magellan died in a fight because he took sides and helped Humabon of Cebu to fight against Lapu-Lapu of Mactan, who is now regarded as the first Philippine hero, because he killed a Spaniard.

Forty years later the Spaniards came back with Lopez de Legazpi to finally conquer and colonize all of the Philippines, then named after the Spanish king Philip. Ok this was some history. Read more in the internet. It's very interesting. Now back to the Mangians. They had to suffer from the Malays and subsequently the Malays had to suffer from the Spaniards. The wall painting of the Mangian Monument in the middle of town shows the Philippine version of their history.
The history of the Mangians,
The Mangian museum is just around the corner. The door was opened for me by a very friendly guy I had a very good conversation with. A nice lady then showed me around the exhibits. I asked her whether I can visit a real Mangian village and she directed me to the tourist office close-by.
The Mangian museum shows very interesting exhibits
The friendly lady in the tourist office told me that I need a guide to visit a Mangian village. She promised to call me if she gets one for the next day. While waiting for the call I strolled through town and looked around and then took a trike to get to the Parola Park south of Sabalayan.
Here I'd like to play Here you can pray
The Parola Park was a nice place on a hill. Here you can slide with a zipline 1.7 km down and over the water to the South Pandan Island. From there you would have to take a boat to get back or walk back during low tide. I didn't dare.
The famous zipline to the South Pandan Island
The Zipline station Starting from this tower A fun for the whole family
A little stonehenge of the Mindoros? A canon to defend against the moros
That's it of Sablayan. The lady from the tourist office didn´t call and I tried in vain. So, no Mangian village. So, I was leaving next day by a trike to the van station where I did get one right away going to San Jose around 100 km down south. The fare was 2.45€. There I changed to another one going to Bulalacao half way to Roxas on the east side of Mindoro. Almost same distance to Roxas and thus same full price, even if you get off before. I asked the driver to be dropped off at the Ro-Ro Pier just before the town of Bulalacao. The next ship to Caticlan was leaving at 10 p.m. I did not want to take it because arriving in the middle of the night is no fun. So I stayed overnight at the
Filipa Lodge & Beach Resort
Occidental Mindoro
Tel.: +63 9287057035
in order to get away next morning at 10 a.m. A had a nice room with a nice view from the balcony and paid 17.55 € for the night. I was the only guest and dinner was prepared just for me. With some snacks before and drinks I paid altogether only 8.45 €. There was still time to take a trike to look around in the town of Bulalacao. The only reason to stay here would be to do some island hopping. There are eight small islands in the bay. You have to ask around how to get there.
Here I stayed in Bulalacao View to my ship to Caticlan?
Next morning I walked to the pier and bought a ticket for 10.53 € for the FastCat trip to Caticlan, the town opposite Boracay. That was first class for only 1.05 € more. It included a snack with a drink. Then I was the only passenger in the first class section, but I couldn't stay there because the aircon was too cold. so I joined the other passengers in the economy class.
No, it is this one The FastCat
First class empty except me The economy class with snack bar
After three hours I arrived in Caticlan at the ferry pier. The boats leaving to Boracay during low season are supposed to leave from the port a couple of miles north, where it was not so windy and thus no rough sea. A trike driver offered me to bring me there for 1.75 € but I declined. So I walked along the harbor road and after 50 meters I saw a sign "Boat to Boracay". I was told to hurry because the boat is ready to leave. I paid 0.88 € for the boat trip, 1.75 € Terminal Fee, 1.32 € Environmental Fee.

Before I bought the ticket I was asked whether I have a hotel booking on Boracay. I said that I don't. That's it, no further questions asked. As a matter of fact the policy introduced by President Duterte was that the tourists coming to Boracay are limited, thus controlled by pre-bookings. But this is probably not strictly handled or the limit has not been reached.
Another boat from Caticlan Getting off on Boracay
The boat ride was a little rough because of the waves. Inside we were save but also locked in. No jumping off the boat if it sinks. But after 20 minutes we safely arrived at the southern Cagban pier. Getting off was shaky but the crew gave a helping hand.

After disembarking a motorbike driver rushed me to the southern part of the beach for 0.70 €. From there I walked up north and asked at every hotel or resort for a cheap room until I found one at
Morning Star Resort
Station 3
Malay, Aklan Province
Tel.: +63 36 288 3108
right in front of the beach. The en suite room with hot water and aircon did cost 21.05 € per night. Boracay with its beaches and more than one hundred hotels or resorts is the most well know tourist spot in the Philippines. The island is only 7 km long and 1 km wide. It was "detected" by Western back packers in the seventies

The back packers are long gone. At first the Filipino tourists took over. They used to regard their homeland not worth to travel around, rather going abroad if they could afford. But they changed their mind: What the foreigners like must be good for Filipinos too. But also more and more people from all over the world visited this island which still is a gem especially with its 4 km long white beach.
Boracay south beach looks empty Boracay north beach not much better
When I arrived it was low season. Because not that much of the rain but of the wind blowing from the west, i.e. hitting the beach. Most open front beach walk restaurants were shielded by large plastic walls, transparent or not, in front. So the island was not that much crowded.
Live guard has not much to do The beach walk is not crowded yet
Also the boatman waits for customers Maybe they are potential customers
According to the Department of Tourism 80% of foreign tourists arriving last year and up to September this year (2019) were coming from Korea and China where Chinese are still less than the Koreans but catching up every year. They both have been substituting the westerners and Japanese over the years who are getting less and less. I tried to talk to some, but they could not speak English.

So I was happy when I met an Australian couple in a pub next to the Swiss Inn. We had a lot of talking with a lot of fun after a lot of rum and coke drinks. It was midnight when I stumbled to my Morning Star Resort just around the corner.

Next evening I went to the German owned Kurt & Magz Bar and Restaurant where I ate German Bratwurst with potato salad (5.10 €) and a half a liter mug with draft beer (1,00 €). The German owner was not there, so no chance to speak German. But I had again an English conversation with three English guys. What fun again and this time with a lot of beers until midnight. It was a very cordially farewell with a bear hug when we parted.
Many coming from Korea or China It's hard to distinguish between them
These girls do not wear a hat and thus may not be Korean or Chinese
During the day I walked along the beach and the main street. Even in the middle of the island many new hotels have been erected mostly for the Korean/Chinese travel groups. I do not understand why tourists can stay at an air polluted and noisy road caused by motor bikes, still. President Duterte was not strict enough. The few electric cars will not improve the environment. But at least the jeepneys have been banned.
From this rock at the front of the beach to the hotels on main street
President Duterte had ordered the closure of the island for six month in 2018 because of violations of building and sewerage regulations by business establishments. Some illegally built houses had to be demolished and many hotels and restaurants had to be closed for violating environmental laws. Also the number of residents had to be restricted as well as the number of tourists as I have already mentioned before.

And a lot of other restrictions were imposed on the beach, the beach walk, and even in the streets, like: No smoking, no drinking alcohol, no partying, no plastic cups, no plastic straws, no umbrella, no beach bed or chair, no barbecue. no pets, no gamble, even no vomiting, no littering anyway There are some pavilions for smokers scattered around.
Some hotels must be rebuilt Also some parts have still to be cleaned
Many of the old resorts have already been cleared with an Environmental Compliance Certificate. Also the Paradise Bay Beach Resort where Joy and I stayed in December 2003. But unfortunately it was closed now. I was knocking at the gate and a guard let me in. A caretaker lady let me look around. What a pity. This place must have been closed down for a long time. I was told that it will be re-opened soon, but no maintenance has been done yet.
Our old resort is closed Here we stayed long time ago
The view in 2019 from our room The view in 2003 from our room
Our room second from right in 2019 The view to the rooms in the back in 2003
More photos of the old time with the rooms in the back
I continued to walk around along the beach and found a new nice building just next "door". There was nobody around to ask what kind of this building was supposed to be. Only a lot of kids were playing in front
A new building beside the Paradise Bay Beach Resort Children playing on an outrigger boat in front
Then I went by motorbike to the Puka Beach on the northern tip of Boracay. I remembered it as a most beautiful deserted beach in 2003 we only could reach by boat. But now it looked completely different. I could get only on a small part of the beach with half finished buildings of a resort in the back. The long beach supposedly to the left was blocked by souvenir stalls stretching into the water line. I did not investigate this further so I went back to the White Beach.
This is Puka Beach in the year 2019
Souvenir stalls blocked the way to the long beach now This was the long Puka Beach in the year 2003
After two nights only I left Boracay. This time leaving from the western Tambisaan pier going to the northern pier of Caticlan (boat fare 1.00 €). From there I had to take a motorbike now to get to the ferry pier in the south. I just arrived on time for the ferry going to Roxas on Mindoro at 1:00 p.m. I paid 8.77 € for the fare and 1.75 € terminal fee. I actually wanted to take the ferry going all night to Batangas Port, but I didn't want to wait too long until 9:00 p.m.
On the ferry to Roxas inspecting the life boats
The trip lasted around four hours, so I arrived at around 5:00 p.m. in Roxas. I stayed overnight in the Tulip Hotel very close to the pier and paid 19.30 €. There were many hotels to choose from, some were even cheaper. Next day I left in the morning by van from Roxas to Calapan (4.40€), then by jeepney to Puerto Galera (1.40 €), then by trike to White Beach (1,75 €) where I stayed in the
V.M. Beach Resort
White Beach
Puerto Galera
Oriental Mindoro
Tel.: 0917 523 4945
The room had two double beds with aircon, TV, hot water, sea view and did cost 17,55 € per night. The resort is not the best but one of the cheapest.

Not much more to report now. Look up the internet of my other trips to Puerto Galera if you want to know more. I traveled all the way back to Cavite via Batangas Port and Manila. There is no need to take the Sikat Bus from Puerto Galera to Manila or vice versa for 17.55 € one way or 33.35 € return. You can make it less than half of the price with other means of transport and you are more flexible what the schedule is concerned.
Where is this white beach It is in Puerto Galera, of course
Ok, that was my short trip to Mindoro and Boracay. If you want to know more about these places then just look up my previous travel reports or any of the many guidebooks or in the internet.

© WEW Tours

Created December 2019