South of the Luzon, about 5 hours from Manila, lies the Mindoro, an island that is visited by only few western tourists. Nonetheless, it has everything to offer what you could wish for in the Philippines: white beaches, romantic islets, corral reefs and a beautiful landscape.
Mindoro is divided into 2 provinces: Mindoro Oriental in the East and Mindoro Occidental in the West. The most popular tourist spot in the Western part is Puerto Galera. However, it is not yet a top destination for backpackers in the Philippines, so you might have to look for a while for cheap accommodation. A popular place is the Happy Buddha Inn, which was unfortunately completely booked when I arrived. A good alternative is Paddy´s Bar in Sabang. Here you can find a room for 2 persons for 350 Pesos (6,50 USD).
Puerto Galera offers a variety of sights, which are, however, quite far from each other. So the best thing is to rent a scooter for 400 Pesos (7,50 USD) a day to explore the area. The roads are well-maintained and riding along the beautiful coast is great fun.
Coming from Sabang, you should head for the Mangrove Reserve, half an hour from the town. There you can walk on wooden planks through a mangrove forest and learn about this vital but endangered ecosystem. The fee of just 30 Pesos (0,50 USD) is well spent as it contributes to the preservation of mangrove forest. I spent about 1 hour there.
The mangroves lie on the way to the Tamaraw-Wasserfällen. You can hardly miss them as they are located right next to the main road. For 30 Pesos (0,50 USD) you can swim in a basin underneath the waterfall. However, I do not think it is worth it. You can also eat at the local restaurant for a fair price.
If you want to see a remote waterfall, you should head towards to the Tukuran-Falls. If you follow the road signs, you will reach a „parking lot“ where you can leave your scooter. You can pay the 25 Pesos (0,50 USD) parking fee, but there is no need to hire a guide that accompanies you to the Waterfalls for 300 Pesos (5,50 USD). The touts there will advise you to hire one in order not to get lost, but this fear is uncalled for. The waterfalls are virtually impossible to miss, all you have to do is follow the river for 30 minutes and cross it 5 times.
The hike to the falls is well worth it, and the landscape with its lush meadows and dense palm trees is nothing short of spectacular. At the waterfalls, in theory you have to pay a fee of 20 Pesos (0,40 USD). However, when I went, there was nobody there to collect it. The climb to the waterfall is slightly slippery, but well doable. As this is a remote waterfall, chances are you will have it all for yourself and can refresh yourself under the cool, clear water.
Back at the parking lot, you still have time to drive to White Beach, the most popular beach in Puerto Galera, and one that is free and open for the public. Of course the beach is not as scenic as many others in Palawan, but it is clean and you have a lot of watersport options there. If you are looking for a less frequented beach, you can climb over the rocks on the left side to get to a more quiet strip.
It should not take you more than one day to visit these 4 sights. If you have more time, you should also visit the Aninuan Falls and Talipanan Beach. All in all, Puerto Galera is well worth the visit. There are not many western tourists and it offers some very beautiful natural sights. If you do not mind that not all information is available online and like to spend your time away from westerners, Puerto Galera could be your perfect getaway.
If you can get a room in a hostel or guest house, a full day in Puerto Galera, including three meal, the scooter rental and the fees mentioned above should cost you about 1250 Pesos (23 USD).
Accommodation: 350 Pesos
Food: 415 Pesos
Transport: 400 Pesos
Fees & Activities: 85 Pesos