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In fact, it was one of the best value for money beach resorts that I have stayed in at that price after 5 months in The Philippines.
I was in Marinduque Island as a short cut to Puerto Galera.
Taking this shortcut meant that I got to see one more island before leaving The Philippines for Mexico.
MY HOTEL TO GASAN BANGKA PIER:
There is only one Bangka going from Gasan Pier on Marinduque to Pinamalayan on Mindoro. This Bangka leaves at 8:00am.
Jeepneys can be very full in The Philippines … in fact, they tend to wait until they are full before departing (this is how they keep the price down).
I didn’t want to take any chances. If a Jeepney was full, I wanted to be able to wait for the next one. I left at 6:00am.
The first Jeepney passed at 6:15am. I had started early enough. It wasn’t full. We arrived in Gasan 30 minutes later at 6:45am. The price was PHP15.
THE BANGKA TO PINAMALAYAN:
I was nice and early and had 1 hour to kill.
There is a small desk amongst the stalls selling the Bangkha tickets. I filled in the log sheet with my personal details and bought my PHP250 ticket.
They started loading the Bangka at 7:30am.
We were all ferried to the Bangka on a small rowboat.
The rowboat costs PHP15 each. It needed to take several trips.
Just before departure, we were handed lifejackets and the Bangka was inspected for safety by the Coast Guard.
The sea was almost flat (you almost always get calmer seas early in the morning – always try and catch an early Bangka if you have a choice).
Even though the seas were flat, it still took us over 3 hours to get to Pinamalayan.
We landed at 11:45am.
PINAMALAYAN TO PUERTO GALERA:
As usual, I walked out of the Terminal and ignored the touts.
I asked around for where to catch a bus to Puerto Galera … I had read online that aircon buses pass through Pinamalayan on their way north … the locals told me that there were no buses and that I needed to catch a Minivan.
Just outside of the terminal I picked up a Trike to the Minivan Terminal. It was about 1-2kms away and the Trike cost PHP15. I slipped him PHP20.
The Minivan Terminal is very small – only big enough to park 2 vans.
The van to Calapan left at 12:15pm. The cost was PHP100. And, to my surprise, it wasn’t full! They usually cram people in like sardines (and don’t leave until they do) … but I had a double seat to myself.
Unlike other Minivans, this one had a roofrack. This meant that my suitcase could go on top and that I wasn’t charged double fare to give my case a seat.
It took 1.5 hours to get to Calapan. We arrived at 1:45pm.
My Minivan dropped me off on the street. The driver pointed to where I caught my connection to Puerto Galera. You just stand on the road junction corner and wait.
5 minutes later, it wasn’t a Minivan that turned up … it was a Jeepney.
My luggage was thrown on top. The Jeepney was full, so I stood on the railings at the back and hung on. Half way to Puerto Galera someone got off – which gave me a seat inside.
PUERTO GALERA TO SABANG BEACH:
The drop off point is in Puerto Galera Town – which was about 5kms away from where I was staying in Sabang Beach.
This is a Trike Tourist Trap. The rule of thumb fare should be no more than PHP60. They all wanted double that.
I walked about 50m away from the drop off point towards Sabang.
I flagged down a Trike. We agreed PHP80.
WHERE TO STAY:
Sabang Beach is where the action is.
There are plenty of Restaurants and Bars to choose from.
Get Online and see who is doing the best deal.
In peak season, Puerto Galera is full and good deals will be hard to find.
Come in Shoulder Season for the best prices … there were plenty of spare rooms and deals to be had when I was there in June.
MY HOTEL – SABANG INN DIVE RESORT:
In the end, I found the Sabang Inn Dive Resort on AsiaTravel.com and booked a ‘Budget Room with Wifi’.
It excluded breakfast.
I booked 5 nights. I needed a break from constant travelling and needed to ‘park’ somewhere for a few days.
The room came with aircon, hot water shower, cable tv, and in-room wifi.
I decided to add 2 more nights to the front of that booking but there were no Budget Rooms left … so, I booked a Standard Room with Wifi for those extra nights at PHP1,300 / night.
When I checked in, they upgraded me for all 7 nights to a Standard Room with Wifi; which was nice of them … they weren’t full.
The ensuite was good but you had to sit sideways on the toilet because there was no leg room.
The cable tv had movie and sports channels.
The in-room wifi signal was good and the speed was good.
They also have a very pleasant Restobar area next to a pool.
The restaurant is mid range with a typical breakfast costing PHP195 and simple meals for PHP225 plus/minus PHP50.
Puerto Galera is a popular holiday destination and riddled with SCUBA Dive shops.
It can get crowded and accommodation expensive in High Season. I would suggest that you come in Shoulder Season.
As with all of the SCUBA Dive destinations that I have found in The Philippines, the prices are higher than normal. It would seem that SCUBA Divers have money … and they raise the prices accordingly.
Sabang Beach is surprisingly small. You can walk around it in 10 minutes.
Puerto Galera has a ‘seedy side’ with a few ‘Girlie Bars’ scattered around.
I was here at the wrong time of year. At this time of year you start getting heavy rains. I did not see the best of Puerto Galera …
The trip from Marinduque Island to Puerto Galera is a long one but an easy one.
It took me 9.5 hours door-to-door and cost PHP535. Two GRANDPAckers should budget PHP1,015.
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