Nestled between Luzon and Palawan is Mindoro, a backpacker/hiker/diver/beach bum/foodie’s dream island! You’ll find most of the activities for travelers on the northeastern tip of the island, with fantastic diving, cool beach bars, and a variety of upscale and laid-back accommodation. Moving inland, you’ll find Mount Halken and Mount Bako – destinations for avid hikers.
The economy of Mindoro has always been based on trade in agricultural products. With deep agricultural roots, you’ll find this island rich in mangoes, coconuts, bananas, citrus and many more fruits and vegetables that contribute to the local cuisine.
Fun fact: Mindoro is home to the rare Mindoro dwarf buffalo. Ask the locals where to see them!
From Manila, you can fly to Mindoro Airport in Puerto Galera or take a bus/boat directly from Manila in just a few hours. For a truly local experience, drive a jeepney on bumpy trails while you’ll be packed like sardines with locals who carry fruit and sometimes livestock. This option is cheaper and more memorable.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Mindoro:
1. Puerto Galera
Puerto Galera is a popular seaside town on Mindoro where you can find the best of both worlds.
For busy bodies, this resort has plenty of food, entertainment, and activities. There is both incredible western food and super cheap Filipino food. You’ll also find golf courses, karaoke establishments, and tourist kiosks that sell plenty of day trips. It’s a popular spot for Westerners and locals alike to find a comfortable medium here.
For wildlife lovers, you’ll be pleased to know that nature here is spectacular. There are magnificent white sand beaches, hidden waterfalls through forest paths and marine life just waiting to be explored.
2. Bikini Floating Bar
What’s better than a bar by the water? Of course the water bar! This floating houseboat has been transformed into a vacationer’s dream bar! To get there, take the free small dirty ride. Your driver will take you to alcohol heaven where you can sit on a deck chair and look out onto the water as the waves gently rock the boat from side to side. You’ll enjoy colourful views of the mainland, with brightly coloured houses nestled amongst greenery.
Happy Hour is from 3pm to 5pm where you can enjoy specialty drinks such as cask, beer and cocktails.
3. Pebble Beach
Names don’t lie. Pebble Beach offers you something more than soft white sand. Instead, it offers smooth pebbles to massage your feet with every step. This crescent-shaped beach is a popular spot for locals, who can have a picnic in a private rental cabin or sing karaoke on Saturdays and Sundays (feel free to join in).
As with many popular Philippine attractions, there is a religious shrine to the Virgin Mary, freeing your camera from the arduous work of capturing beautiful scenery and fascinating wildlife.
4. Turkuland Suspension Bridge
If you’ve ever seen an adventure movie in which pioneers ventured deep into the jungle only to encounter rushing rivers that had to be crossed by handmade drawbridges – this is what it looked like! The Tukuran Suspension Bridge may seem a little intimidating to some, but to others, the bridge represents everything wild and free in the Philippines!
Each step will take you back a bit and a fourth, especially if other explorers cross at the same time. But fear not, because this suspension bridge was built with sound engineering.
Nearby, you’ll find huts in shallow water where you can rest and dip your toes.
Mindoro people love to party! This is reflected in the few festivals they hold throughout the year.
The Bahaghari festival, held every April 25, celebrates a colorful rainbow that the Mindoro people believe was once sent by God to guide them to the land they settled after a terrible storm. Expect to see many colorful people dancing in the streets with costumes, music and big smiles. There will be cultural performances and handicrafts for sale.
Banana Festival is another wonderful festival held every year from March 18th to 19th. The festival celebrates the gifts the island receives in the form of produce – especially bananas! Farmers come from all over the country to celebrate their harvest and hard work. There are parades, dance exhibitions, and banana treats to try!
At the end of the Verde Island Passage is the magnificent Sabang area. The Sabang area has 3 beaches: Sabang Beach, Little Laguna Beach, and Big Laguna Beach. They are all interconnected, but each has a very different vibe and offers different activities.
Sabang Beach is a party beach. Here you’ll find lively bars, plenty of drinks and, to put it mildly… a lot of “girls of the night”.
Little Laguna Beach offers a range of oceanfront hotels and resorts.
Big La Laguna Beach is a great place for pristine swimming and sunbathing, as it offers the cleanest water and a quieter environment than other beaches.
7. Scuba diving
If you want to explore Mindoro’s marine life, Sabang is the best choice. There are plenty of dive sites to choose from, suitable for all levels of divers.
The Hill is a dive site that is home to coral reefs with many strange marine life such as blue-ringed octopus, cuttlefish, blue mandarin fish and more. Go for a night dive and you’ll even see some shrimp.
Another great dive spot is the Chabang Wreck, which is great for beginners. Over the years, the wreck has become an ideal place for new coral reefs to form. The structure is covered with vegetation and surrounded by colorful fish!
Chabang has at least 10 great dive sites to explore.
8. Tamara Falls
Located at Barangay Villaflor near the city of San Teodoro, Mindoro, these superb waterfalls are definitely worth a visit.
Tamaraw Falls is a picture-perfect representation of exactly how you want your waterfall to look. Deep in the jungle, these waterfalls tumble from 423-foot rocks, meandering and dropping into sets of cool pools. The waterfall falls in such a furious manner that the sound is beautifully overwhelming.
To get there, you can take a jeepney, rent a tricycle, rent a motorbike, or if you have enough, rent a private van.
9. Hemingway Bistro
Are you a seafood fanatic? If so, Hemingway Bistro in Sabang is where your seafood dreams come true.
This Austrian steakhouse has very reasonable prices and will let you eat like a king. Order dishes like Red Lobster, Tuna Rolls, Fish and Chips, Scallop Shrimp Pasta and more. The chef and owner are Western, so you can trust the dishes will be made just the way you like.
You’ll enjoy beautiful seaside views while listening to the waves crashing along the shore. The staff are lovely and always greet you with a smile.
10. Talipanaan Beach
A perfect sandy beach with turquoise water next to it, surrounded by huge rock walls and stunning greenery – is it better than Talipanan Beach?
This beach is much calmer than others. Its small size means no plentiful entertainment or bars. However, you will find a quaint Italian restaurant with great service and a desirable view.
This is the perfect place to take your kids to play with the pebbles on the shore or come to enjoy the tranquility.
Stick with the sunset and you’ll get a romantic orange sky.
11. Apo Reef Nature Park
The largest coral reef system in the Philippines is located off the coast of Mindoro. The 34-square-kilometer reef is protected by the government, which means that large boats come in and out without damaging the coral or disturbing wildlife.
In this regard, you can imagine that Apo Reef is a spectacular snorkeling spot and the most popular dive site in the country. Here, you’ll see the richest collection of wildlife you might not see anywhere else, including giant Napoleon wrasses, massive sea cucumbers, pad stars, and more. Watch out for those trigger fish that like to kick you out of their nests!
12. Halken Mountain
At 2,586 meters above sea level, Mount Harcon is an impressive sight in Mindoro. While it may only be the 18th highest peak in the Philippines, it still provides quite a challenge for hikers and climbers. The trail is steep, with rocky ridges, steep slopes, mossy forests and pristine river crossings.
To hike the mountain, you need at least 4 days, a permit and a guide. You can find tour companies in the area to arrange for you or do a quick search online! It will be an exhilarating experience, unforgettable views and commendable achievements.
13. Pandan Island Resort
Blending a desert island with luxurious comfort, Pandan Island Resort is the place to get away from it all. Pandan Island is a private island resort founded by French people who are passionate about peace. You’ll find plenty of hammocks, tropical huts, and fruit drinks, but what you won’t find is electricity, fans, or nightlife (and solar cells if you need a recharge).
While you’re on this fantastic island, you’ll stroll on the sand, sit down for a beer, play beach volleyball with new friends, and kayak to the nearby jungle river. It’s very intimate and everyone gets to know each other very quickly.
There are many bungalows to choose from and can accommodate up to 6 people.
14. White Beach
On the coast west of Puerto Galera, there are white sand beaches. Since this beach is far from tourist routes, you can expect an area that is more Filipino-friendly than Westerners. This means you’ll have a completely different experience outside of the Australian pub and barrel. It’s a welcome change of pace.
This beach offers perfect conditions for swimming and sunbathing! There is a lovely little restaurant bar by the beach where you can grab a bite to eat on the sand.
From Puerto Galera, you can take a bus or rent a van. From Sabang, you can charter a Banca boat for an easy 30 to 60 minute ride.
15. Stowe.Cathedral of Nino
What is a Philippine island without a Catholic church, right?
Stowe. Nino Cathedral is a beautiful Roman Catholic chapel with high vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, a rich history, and of course, a loyal following.
If you want to get in touch with the locals, a stop at a Catholic church in the Philippines is always a cultural experience. Religion is at the center of their stories, so watching the characters will teach you a lot.
When you’re in the Calapan area, you can take a walk nearby, where there is a local market selling food and clothes to add a little energy to your day.
Where to Stay: The Best Hotels in Mindoro, Philippines
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