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Puerto Galera: Island Hopping, Caving, Snorkeling

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Puerto Galera has long been the go-to destination for a quick getaway. A weekend beach bumming fix, some swimming and snorkeling. Only 4 hours from Manila, you can take a 3-hour bus ride from Buendia (Makati) bound for Batangas City (port). From there, it's a swift transfer to the boat for another 1-hour ride.
This time, a new activity has been included to the usual island hopping tour -underwater caving. We got excited and curious about this. The cave is supposedly shallow and clear, plus you don't have to trek too far to reach it. From our hotel, Tamaraw Beach Resort, we negotiated a rate of around Php600 per person for Island Hopping tour. This includes: 2-way tricycle ride to/from hotel
Boat rides to 3 stops (with safety vest)
Guide to the cave (boatman)
Swimming at White Beach
Snorkeling / Fish feeding
Snorkeling gear rental: add Php100
From the sandbar, we were ushered to a mini boat. 3 persons can fit perfectly, including the boatman. There's no roof so best to take a huge hat and sunglasses. Bring water too. And food if you must. This will be like your personal taxi.
From the sandbar, we sailed past islands, greenish-blue waters, and low-flying birds. Very fascinating experience.
It was high tide and a bit wavy, but nothing we can't handle. The wind and the sea, perfect stress reliever.
We arrived at the cove where boats were parked, people with shiny orange vests huddle in one spot. We didn't know that was the entrance to the cave. Seemingly no stairs nor any clear paths to get there. Because there's none lol.
You have to climb these sharp-edged rock boulders and cling to plant twigs or tree branches. Make sure to balance yourself as you don't want to scrape yourself. We did get a few scratches but nothing salt water can't fix. Our boatman went on first and we followed. This is NOT advisable for the elderly! You literally have to fend for yourself as you climb. There are no safety nets or stepping stones. There's a long bamboo placed horizontally like a rod (in some areas). You can hold on those for balance.
Well, it was high tide. And deep. But we swam and frolicked, together with about 20 other people hehe.. When it's low tide there's more room as the other part of the cave can be accessed. During our visit, we were limited to one part only.
On our way back, it's the same process. Our boatman then took us back to our ride and we're off to Medio Island Long Beach.
It's a long stretch of white sand, and we spent about an hour (or more) here, ha! We just went crazy with the super clear waters, practicing our strokes and just laughing our hearts out. See, we were the only guests at the time. Some boats came and left, and we're still there playing, snorkeling (albeit no fishes), and taking underwater photos of our stupid selves.
The boatman somehow had the courage to ask us to get going haha! It was supposedly a 20-30 min stop only. We're off to the last part, Snorkeling. We stopped by a store perched by a rocky part of an island. Our boatman secured us some flakes (crackers). They ran out of bread. This is to attract the fishies and we can meet them up close!
I love this experience. I haven't tried swimming in deep waters before as I'm a coward. But I bravely jumped (with floating vest) and held on the boat's raft. The boatman revved the engine on, and slowly dragged us around the reefs. We were treated to an underwater show of endless beauty. The number of fishes were overwhelming, you'd feel like smiling and crying at the same time.
Also, don't forget to pop some crackers every now and then. Them fishes love their crumbs. Just crumble a few and they'll come swarming in your direction.
I love that the boats will drag you around the corals so you can see every bit, without exhausting yourself. Other snorkeling tours don't have this. But I guess it depends on the geo of the area. Here, you can easily see the reefs below, but if you swim for them it's way deeper than it looks.
We headed to the 2nd snorkeling spot (extra Php200 per person), where our boatman promised that we'll see some giant clams. Although the clams were uninteresting and not giant at all, there were some big fishes here that would not fit in an aquarium. Quite scary, but a good-scary feeling. A boat filled with scuba divers came. I spotted one diving just below us.
After our fun adventure, we giddily headed back to the sandbar and hopped on our tricycle to get back to the hotel. Surprisingly, I didn't get hungry the whole time. I did eat some of the crackers for the fishes.
The whole tour took about 3hours. I definitely recommend this! Pick your best companion and you'll certainly have a blast. Be sure to come during summer. I'm not sure how well the snorkeling would work out if it's raining, or how clear the waters will be. Plus raindrops on your camera! (yikes)

Puerto Galera: Island Hopping, Caving, Snorkeling
  • You can ask your hotel if they facilitate this kind of tour, or just ask local tricycle drivers. They're mostly in-partnership with boatmen for this package. 
  • Haggle, haggle, haggle. It works.

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