If you’re anything like me, when you think of the Philippines, you think of white sand beaches and secluded tropical islands. However, after I landed in the busy, densely populated city of Manila, I experienced total culture shock, as well as confusion – where were those serene, picture perfect beaches hiding? Turns out, they’re hiding in a beautiful place called Puerto Galera
That said, I’d like to share with you a hidden paradise that’s only a short boat ride away from Manila, and why it’s one of the best, most underrated beach areas in The Philippines. It’s perfect for anyone wanting a quiet oasis away from the hustle and bustle of overcrowded tourist areas.
After myself and a group of friends spent nearly three months on a backpacking trip through The Philippines as missionaries, we had experienced very little of the coastline and other touristy locations. We were mostly on the main island of Luzon, in bustling city centres, or remote villages.
For our last week before we all headed back overseas, we went to Puerto Galera, on the island of Mindoro (a short boat ride away from the main island of Luzon) to relax and unwind after our intense trip. Let’s just say, Puerto Galera was the perfect choice, it’s absolute paradise, and will definitely fit what you picture when you think of The Philippines.
I’ll be sharing about our experience and accommodations so you can also repeat this experience for yourself! Please note, this is not a sponsored post.
Big Lalaguna Beach vs. Sabang
We stayed right smack on the coastline of the Big Lalaguna Beach, which is a quiet area, mostly containing diving resorts filled with scuba divers from all over the world. In general, it is not a tourist hub that will be bursting with action, but rather a small quiet strip of the beach that offers a taste of simple paradise.
Big Lalaguna is a short walk from the more touristy town of Sabang, so if you’re wanting to visit some other attractions, you can do so with ease.
Scandi Divers Resort in Puerto Galera
This is the divers resort that we chose to stay in, and my goodness, to this day it is the best place I’ve ever stayed. Scandi also has a very impressive score on TripAdvisor, and I can agree and say that they’ve rightfully earned their place.
You are literally right on the water, I can’t emphasize that point enough. The view on this beach is so breathtaking with its crystal clear water and boats speckled across the shore.
Scandi has a variety of room styles, whether you’re just a singleton, or a large group like we were, you definitely have some options. Plus, since it’s The Philippines, the rooms are beyond affordable yet still clean and comfortable with an ocean view. Our room had a balcony that overlooked the ocean, so we would often eat our meals out on the deck. Seriously amazing.
The resort also has a restaurant on the entrance level, and we enjoyed a few delicious meals there, along with tasty tropical drinks. (Hellooo pina colada, come to me!)
Check out their website here for more details: scandidivers.com
Activities and Experiences
Since this is a scuba divers community, you can go ahead and guess that there’s amazing scuba diving/snorkeling here. To my knowledge, Scandi offers diving classes for beginners if you’re wanting to give it a try!
We opted to rent some snorkeling gear to check out the reef right off the shore, and it was an amazing experience! There was so many different fish and colours in the water below, we all just floated around on our bellies, pointing out the different sea creatures and corals we saw. Definitely a must-do if you ask me.
A word of caution, do be aware of sea urchins! My poor friend stepped on one, causing the spikes to get stuck in her toe and foot. Ouch! The staff at Scandi were very helpful, and gave us some tips on how to assist the healing process. (Cue that scene from Friends after Monica got stung by a jellyfish… Oh, how I wish I were kidding).
As I mentioned before, you can walk over to Sabang and check out the shops and enjoy the more tourist centred area. Puerto Galera as a whole has lots to check out, so definitely speak to your hotel staff if you’re hoping to explore outside Big Lalaguna.
I would love to hear your experience if you’ve been to The Philippines, or even Puerto Galera! What’s your favourite hidden gem?