Mindoro Island: Complete and Updated Travel Guide | Travel Blog

Mindoro Island is an unspoiled island within easy reach of Manila. It is also home to the tamaraw or Mindoro dwarf buffalo, which is endemic to the island. The tamaraw is a bovine related to the water buffalo (carabao) and is an endangered species.

Haligi Beach, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
Haligi Beach, Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro

A Complete and Updated Travel Guide to Mindoro Island

Mindoro is the seventh largest island in the Philippines by land area.  It is located off the southwestern coast of Luzon and northeast of Palawan. Mindoro is divided into two provinces Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro. San Jose is the largest settlement on the island. The southern coast of Mindoro forms the northeastern extremum of the Sulu Sea. Mount Halcon is the highest point on the island, standing at 8,484 feet (2,586 m) above sea level located in Oriental Mindoro. Mount Baco is the island's second highest mountain with an elevation of 8,163 feet (2,488 m), located in the province of Occidental Mindoro.



How to Get There


By Air:

The only airport on Mindoro is San Jose, in Mindoro Occidental. There are daily flights to/from Manila. Go to Cebu Pacific's webpage to book a flight. It is not practical to fly to Mindoro if your destination is Puerto Galera as it takes seven hours or more to get to Puerto Galera from San Jose. Consider riding a bus from Manila to the Batangas Port Terminal and catching a boat ride to Puerto Princesa.

By Sea:

The island of Mindoro may be accessed by boat from either Batangas (to Calapan and Puerto Galera), from Caticlan (Aklan) to Roxas (Oriental Mindoro), or from Coron to San Jose.

The shipping service from Batangas is Ro-Ro (about 3 hours) or fast ferry (about 1.5 hours), 24/7.

From Coron small boats leave four times weekly. The fare is around 800 peso and the crossing takes approximately 7 hours. A small meal (e.g. chicken adobo) is included in the cost. Be aware that the schedule is subject to change at short notice and the coastguard may not allow the boat to leave in poorer weather.

From Caticlan several RoRo boats leave daily to Roxas, the first at 6:00 am and last at 5:30 pm, although there is also a "tentative" 10:00 pm ferry. Fare is 400 and the crossing takes roughly 3.5 hours.

By Land:

Dimple Star bus company run regular buses and vans between the towns on Mindoro. You can catch a Dimple Star bus from Cubao Station in Manila all the way to San Jose Occidental. Fare is around 1,200 one-way. Plan on arriving in Cubao Station by 5:30 am to ensure you do not miss the bus. The bus will travel down the South Luzon Expressway and stop in areas such as Laguna. Once the bus arrives at the Batangas Port Terminal, you may have a very short amount of time to acquire food at the restaurant shops near the customs area.

The subsequent boat ride is exactly 3 hours from Batangas Port to Abra De Ilog on a Ro Ro (A boat that carries both passengers and automobiles). Usual time of departure is at 12 noon, however as with anything transportation in the Philippines, times are not always strict. It is a beautiful ride and extremely scenic/relaxing. Feel free to go to the top of the boat to photograph the nearby islands.

Once the boat arrives at Abra De Ilog, the Dimple Star bus will take around six hours to reach San Jose Occidental. It will stop on all of the towns in between Abra De Ilog and San Jose to drop off and pick up passengers. Expect the entire travel time from Manila to San Jose to take 16 hours. If you are short on time and you are headed back to Manila, keep in mind the transit back to Manila is much longer as the Dimple Star bus will be hitting afternoon/evening traffic from Batangas all the way into Manila. This trip is an all-day affair. You can expect to leave San Jose Occidental around 4:00 AM and arrive in Manila at 11:00 PM. Expect this trip to take even longer if it's on a Friday or Saturday. Consider flying back to manila as the flight is usually 800 to 1,200 more than the bus and will save you a monumental amount of time. It is common for people to ride Dimple Star to San Jose and fly back to Manila.


What to See


Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro is the famous tourist destination with many beach and entertainment facilities. The rest of the island is underdeveloped and perfect for travelers who like to get away from the crowds and experience a more traditional side of the Philippines.

San Jose Occidental in Occidental Mindoro is the largest town on the island of Mindoro. It is virtually on the complete opposite side of Puerto Galera. There is not much to do here besides kill time and enjoy the scenery near by Magsaysay which is a mountain town.

Naujan Lake is a freshwater lake in the Philippines located in the northeastern corner of the province of Oriental Mindoro on Mindoro Island. The lake is the fifth largest in the country and the main geographical feature of the Naujan Lake National Park.


What to Do


Scuba diving

  • Apo Reef - Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro is the gateway to Pandan Island and the world-famous dive site of Apo Reef. There is only one resort on the island - book ahead or bring your own hammock. The dive shop run day trips to Apo several times a week. There is apparently one ATM in town (open Monday-Friday until 3pm) that accepts international VISA Cards.
  • Verde Island Passage - A strait that separates the islands of Luzon and Mindoro, connecting the South China Sea with the Tayabas Bay and the Sibuyan

Hiking

  • Mount Halcon - Verdant mountain with hiking trails. Lush mountain peak known for its challenging hiking routes with sweeping views at its summit.

Swimming

  • Talipanan Beach - Tranquil shore with lodging & dining. Peaceful coastline with white sand & ocean views, plus waterfront hotels & restaurants.
  • Tamaraw Falls - Picturesque falls that allow swimming. This scenic waterfall features artificial pools at the base that allow visitors to swim.
  • Aninuan Beach - Tranquil sand beach with lodging. Relaxed sand & shingle beach, a popular place to watch the sunset, with several resorts.
  • Tukuran Falls - Scenic jungle cascades & swimming holes. Set in the jungle, this natural attraction features gentle waterfalls & areas for swimming.
  • Bayanan Beach - Scenic cove with a tranquil vibe. Crescent-shaped beach with fine, white sand, clear waters & a backdrop of lush foliage.
  • Aroma Beach - A beach in San Jose Occidental. It is a beach for locals and not necessarily one of interest for tourists. The sand is a bit coarse and the water gets deep very quickly. Ideally this is a place to jump in the water when it's hot.


Where to Eat and Drink


There are local restaurants in the major towns. Outside of Puerto Galera options are somewhat limited, although you will find local bars everywhere. There are a few bars on Aroma Beach in San Jose Occidental.


Where to Buy


Gaisano Capital San Jose is a shopping center located in San Jose Occidental. There is a supermarket where you can purchase any general item you need from snacks and drinks (especially Gatorade), vegetables and meats, to soap and laundry detergent. There is a small liquor store inside as well. Other shops in the shopping area include clothing stores and various native restaurants.

ATM

Although ATMs are a rarity on the island of Mindoro, there are several scattered around the towns. Carrying extra cash is advisable, however ATMs do not consistently work, have money in them, or remain accessible 24/7.

There's an ATM in San Jose that accepts foreign VISA cards, located outside Philippine Bank and accessible 24/7. There was also reportedly an ATM in Sablayan, as mentioned above.

If you are in San Jose Occidental, go to the Gaisano Capital San Jose. They do have an ATM on site and it's a safe area. This ATM does accept international cards (Verified to accept U.S. Bank cards). The shopping center closes after 8:00 PM daily.

There are atleast 10+ ATMs in the town of San Jose, many with international banking connections.


Cities and Towns in Mindoro


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.

  1. Puerto Galera - Wild west style backpacker destination with good diving. In the surroundings you find the slightly more upbeat White Beach which is exactly what its name suggests. Sabang is also the dive center of northern Mindoro. There are ferries from Batangas 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 (commonly known as Puerto). Baco 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.

  4. Calapan - The capital. 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 are at the west side of the city market. There are ferries from Batangas to Calapan.

  5. San Jose - A major town in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro, 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 city (Occidental Mindoro).


Where to Go Next


Off to the northwest of Mindoro, and included in Mindoro Occidental province, are the Lubang group of islands. 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.


Booking


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