- Introduction to Mindoro Oriental
- Overview of the location
- Brief history of the island
- Quick guide about getting there
- Famous Tourist Attractions
- Exploring Puerto Galera and its beautiful beaches
- Visiting the Tamaraw Falls
- Halcon and Dulangan River
- Exploring the Bulalacao town with islands and beaches
- Roaming around the Festive Naujan town
- Unique Cultural Experiences
- Encountering the Mangyan tribes
- Participating in local festivals like Bancathon and Pandang Gitab
- Exploring the local crafts and arts scene
- Learning how to cook local delicacies
- Adventure Tourism
- Iglit-Baco National Park
- Diving and snorkeling in Puerto Galera
- River rafting in Dulangan River
- Island hopping around Bulalacao
- Local Dishes to Try
- Sampling Adobo sa Dilaw (Turmeric Adobo)
- Tasting the local seafood dishes
- Trying out Buko-Pandan dessert
- Dining at the local restaurants
- Where to Stay
- Luxury resorts in Puerto Galera
- Mid-range hotels in Baco and Naujan
- Budget accommodations in Roxas and Calapan
- Homestays for a local experience
- Planning Your Trip
- Best time to visit Mindoro Oriental
- Transportation around Mindoro Oriental
- Budget considerations for the trip
- Health and Safety advice for tourists
- Recommended travel itineraries
Introduction to Mindoro Oriental
Overview of the location
Mindoro Oriental, located in the Luzon island group of the Philippines, is truly a hidden paradise. Sparkling between the azure waters of the Sulu Sea and the South China Sea, it's a treasure trove of stunning landscape vistas intertwined with rich, vibrant culture. It features breathtaking, diverse ecosystems from pristine beaches and coral reefs to verdant mountains and mysterious caves. Beyond its natural wonders, it's home to the Mindoro Mangyan tribes, offering tourists a glimpse of its unique indigenous traditions and history.
Brief history of the island
Mindoro Oriental's history is rich with cultural influence from its original Mangyan inhabitants to Spanish colonization in the 16th century. You can still see the traces of Spanish influence in the form of old churches and heritage structures scattered across the island. The island was also a strategic location during World War II, where it became a battleground between Japanese and American forces. Filipino guerilla fighters also played a significant role here. Today, Mindoro Oriental enjoys peace and is known for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes and biodiversity.
Quick guide about getting there
Mindoro Oriental is easily accessible from Luzon, the largest island of the Philippines. The most common way to get there is by taking a 2-hour RoRo (roll-on/roll-off) or fastcraft ferry ride from Batangas City to Calapan City, the province's capital. Flight options are limited, with one airline offering direct flights from Manila to San Jose, Mindoro Occidental, from where you can travel by land to reach Oriental Mindoro. Alternatively, you can also reach Mindoro Oriental by taking a ferry from Roxas, Palawan. It's a seven-hour sea journey, but it’s a viable option for those coming from the west.
Famous Tourist Attractions
Exploring Puerto Galera and its beautiful beaches
Puerto Galera, a coastal town in Oriental Mindoro, is renowned for its stunning beaches. White Beach and Sabang Beach offer pristine sands, clear waters, and captivating sunsets, making them perfect spots for relaxation and water sports. Another must-visit is Talipanan Beach, known for its tranquility. It is far less crowded, allowing for a peaceful commune with nature. Additionally, potential explorers can indulge themselves by scuba diving around the dazzling corals off the coast. Be sure not to miss Puerto Galera's lively beach parties and local cuisine. This coastal paradise is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.
Visiting the Tamaraw Falls
A must-visit in Oriental Mindoro, the Tamaraw Falls offers its visitors a spectacular sight. This 423-foot natural gem found along the road and flows directly into a man-made pool, making it uniquely accessible and perfectly suitable for swimming. Being a two-tiered waterfall, its sheer beauty surely captifies every traveler. While the lower tier is common for swimming and picnics, do not miss the mesmerizing view from the top tier. With its cascading waters set against the lush greenery, the Tamaraw Falls is genuinely one of Oriental Mindoro's pride.
Halcon and Dulangan River
Ascend to one of the Philippines' highest peaks, Mt. Halcon. It boasts a rich biodiversity and stunning panoramics, making it a heart-stopping adventure for seasoned climbers. For a more serene escapade, visit Dulangan River in Baco. This river mesmerizes with its sparkling turquoise waters perfect for a refreshing dip. Blend the thrill of mountain hiking and the peace of river relaxation with these two must-visit attractions in Mindoro Oriental.
Exploring the Bulalacao town with islands and beaches
Explore the charming town of Bulalacao, a hidden gem in Oriental Mindoro. Known for its pristine islands and untouched beaches, it showcases the unspoiled beauty of the Philippines' countryside. Immerse yourself in the serene landscapes and vibrant local culture. Marvel at the crystal-clear waters while island hopping among the nearby Aslom, Buyayao, and Suguicay islands. These locations offer diverse aquatic wildlife, perfect for snorkeling adventurers. End your day basking in a spectacular tropical sunset at South Drive Beach. Bulalacao is indeed a breath of fresh air for those seeking a tranquil escape.
Roaming around the Festive Naujan town
Naujan town, known for its festive spirit, is a must-visit in Oriental Mindoro. From the annual Niyog-Niyogan festival, celebrating the abundance of local coconut produce, to vibrant street dances, Naujan town is filled with blast and colors. Naujan also prides itself on its historical landmarks such as the Naujan Church, one of the oldest in the country, providing a stark contrast to the town's vibrant modern celebrations. Diverse activities and attractions make the town an exhilarating destination.
Unique Cultural Experiences
Encountering the Mangyan tribes
In Mindoro Oriental, an intriguing cultural experience awaits as you mingle with the indigenous Mangyan tribes. Originating from ancient settlers, these eight groups boast distinctive languages, lifestyles, and craftsmanship, unveiling deep-rooted Philippine traditions. Guided tours offer firsthand exploration of their community lifestyle. Peek into their everyday life, witness their famed weaving skills, or try their unique Mangyan alphabet. These moments of cultural immersion provide a deeper understanding of Mindoro’s cultural fabric. Be sure to bring home beautiful souvenirs like woven baskets and beadwork, which support local Mangyan craft. Interacting with the Mangyan communities is not just culturally enlightening but also socially enriching, making one's visit to Mindoro Oriental truly unique and memorable.
Participating in local festivals like Bancathon and Pandang Gitab
Immerse yourself in the dynamic local culture of Mindoro Oriental during its lively festivals such as Bancathon and Pandang Gitab. Bancathon is a charismatic canoeing competition that brings together the best boatmen in the province for an exhilarating seaside spectacle. On the other hand, Pandang Gitab is a festival of lights and rhythmic dances mimicking waves. Held every April, the streets come alive with illuminated floats and colorful performances depicting the locals' deep connection with the sea and their rich folklore. Witness these cultural marvels for an authentic Filipino experience.
Exploring the local crafts and arts scene
Mindoro Oriental offers a brilliant arts and crafts scene, heavily driven by the Mangyan indigenous group's traditional practices. Visitors can explore countless local markets where artisans sell intricately woven baskets, handcrafted jewelry, and nito plates, all embodying the rich legacy of their ancestors. Don't miss the chance to witness local artists at work in crafts workshops. For a truly immersive experience, participatory lessons in native crafts are also accessible to travelers. This unique cultural exposure allows visitors to appreciate the deep connection between Mindoro Oriental's arts and crafts and its rich heritage.
Learning how to cook local delicacies
Seek to learn how to cook local Mindoro Oriental delicacies for a true taste of native Filipino cuisine. Join a traditional cooking class, where homegrown chefs teach you their culinary secrets. Make sure to experience cooking dishes like the tasty "Adobo Sa Asin" and the exotic "Dinuguan". Signal your interest for the lesser-known yet delicious "Pulutok"- a savory dish made from pig's innards. Enjoy the thrill of discovering new flavors and understanding the island’s love for authentic, hearty meals. This immersive cooking experience will undoubtedly satiate your culinary curiosity.
Iglit-Baco National Park
The Iglit-Baco National Park, a paradise in the wild, offers adventure-seekers an exhilarating experience. Known for its magnificently diverse flora and fauna, it has also been declared as an ASEAN Heritage Park. This park is home to the rare tamaraw, a dwarf buffalo exclusive to the Philippines. Hiking through its expansive terrain, one might be lucky enough to spot these elusive creatures. With its local guides and camping facilities, it definitely stands as an essential stop in Mindoro Oriental. The majestic views, combined with the thrill of wildlife spotting, make Iglit-Baco a must-visit destination for all adventure tourists.
Diving and snorkeling in Puerto Galera
Known for its marine diversity, Puerto Galera is a haven for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. The area boasts various diving sites like the Coral Garden, a shallow spot teeming with vibrant coral reefs, and the Canyons, a deep dive site home to barracudas and tunas. Participate in night diving for a more unique experience or try snorkeling at the Tamaraw Falls. Here, aquatic life flourishes, offering both seasoned divers and snorkeling novices an unforgettable underwater adventure. Make sure to explore Puerto Galera’s underwater beauty when visiting Mindoro Oriental.
River rafting in Dulangan River
Experience the thrill of river rafting in the untamed waters of Dulangan River, known for its pristine beauty and verdant surroundings. The exhilarating ride, guided by expert local handlers, assures an unforgettable adrenaline rush. The course is a haven for both novice and experienced rafters, offering easy to challenging currents along the course. Cap your adventure with a calming drift towards an idyllic countryside view. A visit to Dulangan River is, indeed, a must-try adventure when in Oriental Mindoro.
Island hopping around Bulalacao
Explore the rustic charm of the Bulalacao islands, popular for their crystal clear waters and vibrant marine life. Each of its 15 islands offers a unique slice of paradise for the intrepid traveler. Gear up for invigorating activities like snorkeling, swimming, fishing, and beach camping to cherish the island life. Tambaron Island is noted for its rich biodiversity and unspoiled beaches. Aslom is famous for its sandbar that stretches into the emerald sea. Experience Bulalacao’s cultural richness by interacting with the amiable locals, trying exotic seafood and uncovering intriguing folklore tales of this heavenly archipelago. Don't miss the stunning sunrise and sunset views!
Local Dishes to Try
Sampling Adobo sa Dilaw (Turmeric Adobo)
Let your gustatory adventure in Mindoro Oriental begin with a dish as bright as the sun: Adobo sa Dilaw. A local twist to the classic Filipino stew, it comes alive with the vibrant hue and earthy flavor of turmeric. This regional specialty boasts a tender chicken or pork cooked in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and a generous amount of turmeric. Savor each succulent bite and let the unique blend of tangy, savory, and spicy thrill your palate. Don’t leave Mindoro Oriental without sampling Adobo sa Dilaw—it embodies the island’s culinary ingenuity.
Tasting the local seafood dishes
Oriental Mindoro is a paradise for seafood lovers, offering a variety of fresh catches from the surrounding waters. The locally sourced crabs, shrimps, and myriad of fish, are cooked to perfection with traditional methods. Try delicious dishes like "sinigang na isda", a sour soup made with fish, or "adohong pusit", a squid dish cooked with soy sauce and vinegar. Street food stalls feature grilled or fried seafood snacks like battered fish, squid balls and shrimp fritters. Don't miss Mindoro's "kilawin", a Filipino ceviche made with raw fish cured in vinegar, lime, and chili. A culinary exploration in Oriental Mindoro is not complete without indulging in its luscious seafood.
Trying out Buko-Pandan dessert
While in Mindoro Oriental, relish in the island's favorite dessert- Buko-Pandan. A delightful fusion of creamy coconut and aromatic pandan leaf jelly, this sweet treat will surely captivate your taste buds. The dessert gets its unique flavor and vibrant green color from the pandan leaves, while diced coconut meat adds a refreshing crunch. Delve into the popular Filipino dessert at local eateries all around the region or try your hand at preparing your own. Embrace the gastronomic beauty of Mindoro Oriental by sampling this enticing delicacy - it's a taste you'll never forget!
Dining at the local restaurants
When in Mindoro Oriental, venture off to its local eateries featuring dishes that tickle the palate with unique combinations of flavors. Savor the region’s famous ‘bulalo’ or beef marrow soup, ‘kakanin’, a sweet rice-based delicacy, and ‘adobo sa dilaw’, a savory chicken or pork dish cooked with turmeric. Make sure to visit the local markets where authentic food stalls serve up fresh seafood like ‘sinigang na hipon’, a sour shrimp soup, prepared al-dente style. For the adventurous foodies, there’s ‘dinuguang baboy’, a blood stew, that is a must-try for its unique taste and texture. Enjoy this culinary journey in Mindoro!
In Mindoro Oriental, one must try, "Bulalo," a tasty soup made from beef shanks and marrow bones. It is slow-cooked for hours to extract a rich flavor and served with corn, bok choy and green onions. Another must-try dish is "Panulce," a traditional sweet snack made from flattened sugarcaped cassava, topped with grated coconut. This dessert is cooked over a smooth iron griddle, providing it with a slightly crunchy exterior and a soft, chewy interior. Finally, don’t miss out on "Adobong Mindoro," a variant of the famous Filipino dish Adobo, locally seasoned with native vinegar, soy sauce and spices.
Where to Stay
Luxury resorts in Puerto Galera
Puerto Galera offers myriad luxury resorts providing unparalleled service and amenities. Resorts like the "Infinity Resort", flaunt lavish suites, infinity pools, personal jacuzzi, spa services, and offer breathtaking views of the sparkling sea. The "Atlantis Dive Resort" is perfect for diving enthusiasts, offering professional diving courses and excursions. Meanwhile, the "Boquete Island Beach Resort" caters for beach lovers with its pristine private beach and first-class facilities. Whichever your preference, you can expect top-of-the-line services and utmost indulgence. These luxury resorts provide the perfect setting for your getaway in Puerto Galera, striking a balance between natural beauty and sophisticated service.
Mid-range hotels in Baco and Naujan
Baco and Naujan in Mindoro Oriental are home to some commendable mid-range hotels. Ideal for travelers seeking comfort without excessive expenditure, these accommodations offer an attractive balance between luxury and affordability. One top-notch option is Badladz Beach and Dive Resort in Puerto Galera, near Baco. With Pacific ocean views, the resort is a favorite for its modern amenities and superb dive options. Naujan houses the Bambang Beach Resort, a cozy, beachfront villa with attractive wooden cabins and outdoor activities. Overall, whether your preference is proximity to the beach, outdoor activities, or tranquil surroundings, both Baco and Naujan offer excellent mid-range accommodations that guarantee a charming stay.
Budget accommodations in Roxas and Calapan
In Roxas, budget travelers can choose from a multitude of affordable inns like Green House, which offer basic but clean rooms. Rates usually start around 600 PHP per night. Homestays are also available, providing a more authentic experience. On the other hand, Calapan City features inexpensive guesthouses like the Filipiniana Hotel. The city's backpacker hostels cater to young travelers with costs as low as 400 PHP nightly. So rejoice budget-conscious explorers, for Mindoro won't break your bank.
Homestays for a local experience
Opting for a homestay in Oriental Mindoro brings travelers closer to the local culture and traditions. Infusing your journey with Filipino domestic charm is as relaxing as it's educational. Fun-filled storytelling sessions with your warm hosts are an added bonus. Places like The Beachouse Homestay at Puerto Galera, or Mindoro Backpacker's Inn in Bulalacao, are noted for cozy accommodations and splendid ocean views. They offer the opportunity to savour local delicacies and take part in everyday household activities. These homestays are an excellent way to turn your trip into an epic tale of Filipino hospitality.
Planning Your Trip
Best time to visit Mindoro Oriental
The ideal time to visit Mindoro Oriental is during the dry season, between December to May. This time offers the best weather for enjoyment of the island's beaches, water activities and exploration of its rainforests. However, for travelers looking to witness colorful local cultural festivals, April makes a great time to visit. It's when the locals celebrate the Pandang Gitab Festival. But remember, this is nearing the end of the dry season, so expect occasional downpours. Always check weather updates prior to your trip, as tropical storms can be quite unpredictable in the Philippines.
Transportation around Mindoro Oriental
In Mindoro Oriental, the most common mode of transportation is by jeepneys, tricycles, and motorbikes, which are ever-present in populous areas such as Calapan. Buses also ply major routes around the province. Car rental services are available for more comfortable travel. For inter-island trips, fast crafts and RORO ships are available in ports. Do not forget to experience the bangka ride, a local boat widely used to navigate smaller islands. A strategic combination of these modes of transportation will grant you the most authentic Oriental Mindoro experience.
Budget considerations for the trip
Traveling to Mindoro Oriental is generally affordable, especially for budget travelers. Accommodation varies from economic guest houses to luxury hotels. Try to book in advance to enjoy discounted rates. Meals in this region are inexpensive but vary based on locations; dining in tourist spots may cost more. Modes of transport such as tricycles or jeepneys are pocket-friendly. Entry fees to some attractions might be charged. Make sure to set aside funds for unplanned expenses and emergencies. Mindoro Oriental provides a memorable vacation that can suit a variety of budgets. Plan carefully to make the most out of your visit.
Health and Safety advice for tourists
While Mindoro Oriental is generally safe, it's advised to guard against common tourist-targeted theft like pickpocketing. Always keep your belongings secure, particularly in crowded areas or when using public transport. Do note that mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria are present. Wearing repellent and protective clothing can help. Tap water isn't safe to drink, so always ensure you have bottled water. Ensure your routine vaccines are up to date and consider seeking advice on additional jabs like typhoid and hepatitis A. Always have travel insurance covering medical evacuation, particularly if you plan to engage in adventure activities.
Recommended travel itineraries
Start your journey in Calapan City, famous for Silonay Island and eco-parks. Follow the scenic route to Puerto Galera for white sand beaches and vibrant nightlife. After, venture into its tropical inland for waterfalls and lush forests. Continue onwards to Bulalacao, a paradise of hidden beaches and unspoiled islands that offer tranquility. Finally, indulge in a unique cultural experience at Mangyan Village to learn the native tribal people's ways of life. This itinerary offers a mix of nature, relaxation and culture, making your journey in Mindoro Oriental abundant and fulfilling. It is advised to take at least a week for this thorough exploration.
Have a good trip!