Summer will not be complete without at least one visit to the beach. Boracay would be the obvious choice for many, but since all flights are fully booked (which means the little island would be crowded, which I hate), we didn’t bother dreaming of going there. Instead, we decided to go to the much closer Puerto Galera.
Now that several expressways are interconnected to Batangas, traveling to Batangas Port is pretty smooth and in fact it’s practically all expressway from SLEX to the port. Buses have also become nice due to competition and the fare is very reasonable. Most buses, if not all, even have free Wi-Fi on board.
The port of Batangas however remains as “overwhelming” as ever. The facilities aren’t so bad, but they are showing signs of aging. They remain functional though, so I didn’t mind, but the number of people trying to sell you things or take you places (simply put, take your money) are just so many it’s ridiculous and down right annoying. Why the port tolerates these degrading activities (which is a bit of a norm in many government facilities) makes me just cringe. If you find yourself confused around here, be very wary of whom to ask and don’t easily trust strangers especially if you’re alone and they’re leading you to places. There are signs all around so it helps that you pay attention to where you’re going if you’re new here.
On the better side of things, the waiting area remains decent. Air conditioning works, but I wasn’t able to check if they have free Wi-Fi. I wished they have a decent paging system though to call passengers or some screen where you can check which gate boards which.
The boat that takes you from Batangas to Puerto Galera is still that oversized wooden “banca” (boat). I kept thinking why fast crafts still do not travel this route, but then I realized that Puerto Galera (white beach) still doesn’t have a pier and boats merely “land” themselves on the beach. It’s good that the beach remains practically unchanged, but it’s quite dangerous if you think about it as big boats go where people swim. It’s also disadvantageous as you can only put so much boats on the beach without occupying so much space.
Upon “landing” in white beach, a huge surprise greeted us: Environmental Usage Fee (EUF). This costs ₱50 per person and is charged upon arrival. I guess this is a new ordinance as this is the first time we had to pay such fees. I don’t really mind the fee as it’s not that much, for as long as it’s used properly. I just didn’t expect the cliché of another government fee for something trivial. Once that’s done however, you’re free to go.
After all the necessary evils, we were finally able to check into our hotel room. Since it’s still the peak season, rates are a bit uncomfortably high (given the amenities) but it’s still relatively reasonable compared to other tourist spots in the country. And since it’s around noon, our first agenda was to eat.
Eating in Puerto Galera is pretty much straight forward–no frills grills, barbecue, tapsilog and other “silog,” and rice meals just about summarizes the food around white beach. If you’re looking for gourmet or fine dining, you’re out of luck. No Starbucks. Not even Jollibee or McDonald’s. With very narrow options and hardly any serious competition, prices are “touristy” despite the low quality.
The early afternoon sun over the tropics is just harsh. After filling our stomachs, we went back to our air conditioned room and took some snooze. Even the beach was hardly occupied. Just that few minutes of exposure to the sun while walking to eat and returning back to the hotel gave us some noticeable tan lines! Getting a tan is one thing, burning your skin is another!
Later that afternoon, we went back to the beach. As I expected, most tourists were avoiding the early afternoon sun as well so as the sun went down, tourists came out. And there were much more tourists than we originally thought.
Puerto Galera turns full 360° after sunset with its vibrant night life. If food choices are a scarcity, alcoholic drinks are not! I think you can find every liquor or concoction you can think of here. And there’s quite some variety of entertainment you can see, free of charge, along white beach. But if you prefer some peace and quiet though, there still remains a section of the beach you can still seek refuge. So you can party as you please one moment and do stargazing the next without going so far.
We woke up the following day pretty much around brunch. No, we didn’t party like it’s the end of the world (but we did enjoy a pitcher of the local “delicacy” called Mindoro Sling). We stayed up quite late on the quiet side of the beach watching the stars. Because the quiet side of the beach is really dark at night it’s just unbelievable how many stars you can see in here. We even had a bonus of seeing quite a lot of shooting stars that night. As such, our first meal is lunch. And as it’s too hot to swim afterwards, I just opted to sleep the early afternoon away.
Late afternoon is a pleasant time to swim, albeit the sun could still be scorching. This time though we decided to go on the other end of the beach to watch the sunset. This rocky end of white beach has always been a favorite spot of mine to watch the sunset, particularly during the “golden hour.” This spot is a good vantage point to take pictures of white beach, and an excellent spot to take selfies! Just be very careful though when going here as the rocks could be quite slippery.
The following day I decided to wake up earlier than the usual, to run on the beach of course! I wanted to run as the sun was rising, but since we slept late again I was only able to wake up past 8 AM! The good thing about running at this time is that I also get to have some tan, but the bad thing is that a lot of people are already on the beach making running quite a challenge. In the end I was only able to run (and walk) from one end of white beach to the other, just a little under a kilometer. Then I took a dip! 😀
A few hours later, our bags are packed and we’re on our way back to Batangas. 😦
I personally think Puerto Galera is very much underrated. Many people don’t consider the white beach of Puerto Galera to be a prime destination because of its inexpensive and sometimes deficient facilities. There are no posh resorts or fancy restaurants, fast food chains and free Wi-Fi are non-existent, even mobile services (for Globe at least) is poor (even making/receiving calls can be a challenge at times). But despite all that I still think highly of this white beach because of one thing that really mattered—the beach! I came to Puerto Galera’s white beach not for the food or beautiful hotel room or Wi-Fi—I came for the beach! And that’s all that matters. So long as the beach remains clean, its waters crystal clear, and its surroundings remain green, I will return.
The white beach of Puerto Galera simply has one of the clearest waters I have ever seen anywhere!
And sunsets here are just spectacular!
Until next time, Puerto Galera! 😀