Top 10 DON’TS In Puerto Galera
It’s the time of the year where going out of town is so prevalent. Thanks to the 13th-month pay and other bonuses that we receive from the office. On my first travel feature for Bakla Po Ako: Confirmed! and for the celebration of our (my BF and I) 3rd anniversary as couples, we’ve decided to try the beauty of Puerto Galera.
Related Post: How do millennials spend their 13th-month pay?
(But you might be reading this one right now because you are in Puerto Galera in observance of the Holy Week. Well, you can use this guide any time of the year.)
Puerto Galera is known to be the “poor man’s Boracay.” If your budget is not that Boracay-worthy, then Puerto Galera might actually save your other savings (if you have).
But I will share thru this blog the common don’ts and some tips that might be useful if it’s your first time to go to this place and you are on a tight budget.
Top 10 DON’TS in Puerto Galera
- Don’t leave Manila late in the afternoon. The last trip of a bangka (small boat) from Batangas Port to Puerto Galera is 4:30. Or else, you will have yourself stuck looking for a nearby hotel at Batangas Port or be eaten alive by fixers offering you special trip going to Galera twice the usual price. (We’ve learned the hard way. We reached Batangas Port by 7:30 PM and left with no choice but to take the special trip for P500/person instead of the usual P275!)
- In line with #1, don’t be confident that you will reach the last trip to Galera because traffic in Manila is heavy and a bitch. Aside from paying a special trip going there, the only port where you will be allowed to be dropped off is the Sabang Port. (Puerto Galera has 4 major points of entry, namely, Sabang Pier, Muelle Pier, Balatero Pier and White Beach.) It is the only port open by night—or so the drivers of the bangka will tell you. (If so, you will be feasted on by habal habal drivers who will offer you trips going to White Beach—where the usual tourists are actually going to. Thus, from Sabang Port you will need to pay P100-P150/person.)
- It seems safe in White Beach, Puerto Galera at late night. So don’t just give in to the offers of locals of “affordable” hotels. Give them your specific budget so they can look for a place where you can stay and you can also haggle.
- Don’t go for a henna tattoo on your first day. I never had myself a henna tattoo when I went to Boracay because I find it just dirt on my skin. True enough. My friends had their henna tattoo on their neck for P150/person. It’s like 2-3 inches long only. The artist said to dry it for 10 minutes and it’s good to go. And he said that it can last for 2 weeks. Two hours later, though, we had our snorkeling and voila, only the scratch were left on my friends’ neck.
My friend, Gian, having his Vice ganda Star-like henna.
- Always ask questions to people offering you activity packages before you give in. Don’t just be lured by the photos that they show you. We got a package which was offered to us for P1500 which said unlimited time snorkeling, island hopping, and fish feeding. THAT. IS. NOT. TRUE. The P1500 that you pay for is just for the rent of the bangka that will take you in the middle of the bay (I think it’s Puerto Galera Bay) where you are going to be informed that you can now snorkel, but you need to go the shore as you swim to really see the school of fish. Swim?! Are you kidding me?! That’s like half a kilometer before we can reach it! And there they go, smaller motor bangkas will go near your boat to offer services like them taking you to the nearby islands and services like underwater caves and watching the big clams. Usually, the rate is P600/person. But I haggled a lot telling them I am only a student (a master’s degree student, though). So the last price ended up P350/person. Not bad. But not as described.
This was the motor boat that was rented for P1500 for unlimited time. It would be better if you are plenty to save more money.
- In line with #5, don’t limit yourself buying more bread if you would like to do the fish feeding. Buy as many as you can to really enjoy feeding the school of fish. A pack is for P10 with 6 small buns of bread. Buy at least 3 or a maximum of 5. I guess the schools of fish are kind of hungry there. LOL
- Don’t hold on to the title of Puerto Galera as the “poor man’s Boracay.” You will end up really poor. Bring water with you from Manila (or from wherever you came from). A usual 1 liter of water in a grocery store is only P20-P30. But in White Beach it is sold for P50!
- Don’t ask for assistance from people offering activity packages. They surely have a connection outside the beach and they will take advantage of your ignorance about the place. Example, my friend ran out of cash. And there’s no available ATM in White Beach. The only choice that you have is to go to the bayan or city. Befriend some locals instead to phish the right information about the whereabouts in the place. You can just walk to the tricycle terminal and pay 100/ride or ask a fixer and they’ll charge you P150. Talk about being a fixer! Damn!
- Don’t go to Puerto Galera, or just anywhere else, with introvert friends if you are also an introvert. You will have a hard time going to places or looking for a restaurant to eat because all of you will be asking each other the same question instead of looking and asking amongst the locals. Trust me, I am an introvert who went there with other introverts.
- Don’t braid your hair if it’s too short. While most braiders would tell you yes at once if your hair can be braided if it’s short, the truth is you will sacrifice comfort for that Alicia Keys-look. I tried it with a thought of just having it for a day. But after snorkeling and being out from the sun, my scalp became too stretched and itchy that I loathe doing so. But for P50, the pain was worth it.
- Ask if the driver of the small motorboat you are riding knows how to use a DSLR. Some of them actually know how to use it, especially that it is an important task for them to take photos of you while you are snorkeling or fish feeding.
- always bring water with you especially if you are on a tight budget. Some restaurants will not provide service water.
- Always keep a sunscreen ready. It’s really quite hot in Galera yet some activities are well enjoyed in the midst of the sun–especially if you want to take decent photos.
- Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. Locals in Puerto Galera are really nice and warm. But they will tend to be very assertive offering their products to you especially those lolas and lolos selling bracelets.
- Mind your own business. You will see plenty of “success stories” in Puerto Galera. It’s quite rude if you are in their shoe and you catch someone looking at you or picking on you. I can feel for them as some might be homophobic while my BF and I are holding hands while walking.
In general, Puerto Galera is a great place where you can celebrate plenty of noteworthy times of your life or just to look for an escape from a stressful work. But these things might also help you especially if you are on a tight budget or your first time in Puerto Galera. Enjoy!
Top 10 DON’TS In Puerto Galera
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