Mindoro Island is an unspoiled island that's within easy reach from Manila. The town of Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro province is a popular tourist destination with many beach and entertainment facilities.
- 1 Puerto Galera - Wild west style backpacker destination famous mainly for two things — excellent diving and many girly bars — both of which are concentrated in Sabang. The city itself has some hotels, dive companies and other tourist facilities, but most visitors stay in one of two suburbs:
- There are ferries from Batangas City to Puerto Galera.
- 2 San Teodoro - Next to Baco, the other town along the (scenic) route from Calapan to Puerto Galera. San Teodoro is known for its waterfalls, but otherwise, there is nothing to do in this town either.
- 3 Baco - This is one of the two towns along the road from Calapan (the administrative capital) to Puerto Galera. Baco proper houses about 500 people and a series of shops and schools. Despite what Google maps tells you, Baco is on the Western Nautical Highway and not at the beach. Baco is a nice and friendly town, and a good place to buy some groceries but it has nothing of interest to tourists.
- 4 Calapan - The capital with all disadvantages that come with that. The town has a cosy centre, but since nobody does anything about any form of pollution, the air smells always of exhaust fumes and the river and its banks are essentially of plastic bags. The center of town is formed by The City Plaza that holds a stage, a playing field, and the obligatory statue for Rizal, and the public market and city market just at the other side of the San Augustin Aguinaldo bridge. Most restaurants (albeit all of the Jollibee, Inasal, and Chow King style; nothing of western quality) are at the west side of the city market. Calapan has absolutely nothing that is of any interest for tourists. There are ferries from Batangas City to Calapan.
- 5 San Jose - San Jose is an economic hub of Mindoro's western half despite not being the provincial capital, a distinction of the town of Mamburao. San Jose is a hub town; its airport is served by Cebu Pacific five times weekly.
- 6 Roxas (Mindoro) a stopover town on your way to San Jose town, it has ferries to Romblon and to Caticlan on Panay Island.
- 7 Lubang group of islands - Off to the northwest of Mindoro, and included in Mindoro Occidental province. These are relatively isolated — one Japanese soldier held out in the jungle of Lubang from the end of the Pacific War in 1945 until 1974 — but have some fine beaches and dive sites and are now seeing some tourism and development.
Mindoro has two administrative halves. The north-east part is called Oriental Mindoro; the south-west part is called Occidental Mindoro. The boundary of the two provinces roughly follows the mountain range that bisects the island from southeast to northwest.
All towns of any significance are at or near the coast. On Oriental Mindoro you find, driving from the far north-west to the deep south-east, the following towns: Puerto Galera; San Teodoro; Baco; Calapan; Naujan; Victoria; Socorro (of the road: Pola); Pinamalayan; Roxas; Mansalay; Bulalacao. After Bulalacao the road continues to Occidental Mindoro where San Jose is the main town.
The original inhabitants of Mindoro were the people now known as Mangyan. They once held the whole island and were quite populous and prosperous, but today there are only a few hundred thousand left, mostly as isolated highland tribes. Locals are called Mindoreños (or Mindoreñas), and are mostly of Batangas heritage.
Mindoro is a Tagalog-speaking area, with the varieties spoken here generally the same as in the provinces of Batangas, Quezon, and Marinduque, but the most commonly encountered variety spoken throughout the island is the Batangas dialect.
There are also indigenous languages spoken in the island, many endangered to near extinct; some of those are Hanuno'o, with 14,000 native speakers, and Iraya (not to be confused with the Visayan language Karay-a), with 10,000.
To go to Puerto Galera, you will need to receive a digital travel permit before taking the ferry or water taxi. This can be done by first reserving a hotel or accommodation. Then download Puerto Galera Tourist Registration App to generate the one-time tourist QR code. Often, you will need to show this QR code to purchase ferry tickets. Then you need to download and register on the StaySafePH App, which is a COVID-19 tracing app mandated by the government.
The island of Mindoro is accessed by ship from Batangas City to Calapan and Puerto Galera or from Caticlan (Aklan) to Roxas (Oriental Mindoro). Fares in 2016 range from about ₱180-280. The shipping service from Batangas is Ro-Ro (about 3 hours) or fast ferry (about 1.5 hours) with at least one service departing hourly, all day. From Caticlan, there is only a Ro-Ro service to Roxas. The bus from Manila to Batangas takes about 2 hours with a fare in 2016 being about ₱220.
There is also an irregular shipping service between San Jose (Occidental Mindoro) and the northern islands of Palawan.
There are also regular flights from Manila to San Jose (Occidental Mindoro) with Cebu Pacific.
There is a coastal highway that rings the island and connects all the main towns. Most of it is a good road by the standards of provincial areas of the Philippines, well-paved and with good signs for both routes and hazards. By the standards of more developed places it is not great, narrow and often quite hilly and winding. Passing is quite dangerous on much of it and there are quite a few slow vehicles.
There are jeepney and bus services between most of the main towns; the jeepneys are usually cheaper and the buses more comfortable.
The easiest place to reach is Batangas City, accessible by ferry from either Puerto Galera or Calapan. From there, anywhere on Luzon can be reached by road. Both Batangas and Calapan also have ferries to other places; see the city articles for details.