One of the activities you shouldn’t miss in Puerto Galera is island hopping. An island hopping tour will allow you to sightsee the sandbars and beach coves around the island, as well as explore some of its best snorkeling areas.
Hali and I availed of this tour in the summer of 2022. I was happy to learn that there are exclusive tours available even for couples — which means we didn’t have to look for other joiners. Our itinerary includes the Underwater Cave, Coral Garden, and Giant Clams.
Here’s our Puerto Galera island hopping tour experience!
Our island hopping experience
I booked this tour a day in advance. The tour includes transport from/to White Beach, so early morning we set off from our hotel resort in Aninuan to a designated point in the area. A tricycle then fetched us to the Sand Bar, which is the jump-off point of tours.
The Sand Bar is basically a stretch of sand that separates Mindoro and Boquete Island. It’s particularly beautiful during high tide, when it’s submerged in water.
From there, we rode a small outrigger boat to our first destination: Underwater Cave.
The Underwater Cave is essentially a small opening in the rocks, where you can find a natural pool. It’s a spot for picture-taking only.
The tour boats let off the tourists at the adjacent beach. From there, you just need to climb up the rocks to the entrance of the cave. It’s easy to find, but if you want, you can also hire a local guide to assist you. This is especially helpful since the rock surfaces are scraggly and also so you have someone to take your photos in the cave from above.
Once you have your picture taken, you can buy drinks and snacks at the stalls along the beach. There are also fresh sea urchins sold there. The vendor will crack it open for you and you can eat it with vinegar dip.
Let me be honest, our tour boat got us here but we decided not to proceed to the underwater cave itself because we saw the long queue at the entrance. We were advised that the waiting may even be longer than the time we’ll be spending in the cave. We weren’t enthusiastic about that and we told our boatman that we really just wanted to swim and snorkel, so off we went to the Coral Garden.
The Coral Garden is one of the best dive spots in Puerto Galera. It’s also popular for snorkeling activity due to its shallow water. This area is filled with corals and tropical fishes, as well as rare species such as the lionfish. Rare crabs and flatworms also live here.
Tour boats usually ask their guests to hold onto the rope, so the latter can snorkel while the boat moves slowly around the snorkeling area. As for us, we opted to snorkel on our own.
I was honestly amazed with the abundance of the coral and marine life here. For a place as popular as Puerto Galera, I expected to see “wear and tears” in the marine areas. But it was pristine. I believe we even saw a snake hiding under a rock at one point. Later on, someone gave me leftover bread for fish feeding and Hali and I alternated between giving the fishes bits of bread.
I’d been told that sea turtles can also be spotted here, usually in the late afternoon when there are fewer boats.
Our boatman explained that the Coral Garden is a protected marine area. I looked it up and apparently the waters in and around Puerto Galera area are indeed protected and preserved under UNESCO.
The Giant Clams Farm is located just a few minutes away from the Coral Garden. Here you can see giant clams, some as old as 60 years. Some are kept inside cages, while some are left in the open.
It was interesting to see the giant clams underwater. They aren’t as big as the giant clams in Camiguin, but they were still a sight to behold. There were also schools of anchovy (dilis) swimming around the area.
We didn’t stay a long time here because there were too many boats crowded where the giant clams are. The current was also strong. Our boatman asked us to hold onto the rope, so we could snorkel a bit more before going back to the sandbar.
The whole island hopping tour took about 3 hours. It’s short, but honestly we didn’t realize the time because we were having so much fun. We enjoyed exploring the underwater sights in Puerto Galera.
I was also glad that this activity was very affordable. The equipment provided was good. One minor thing that made the experience so much better is that the lifevests were just the right size. Oftentimes, tours provide lifevests that are too big so you end up suffocating in the water, which is thankfully not the case here.
This is a great experience that I’d do again once I re-visit Puerto Galera.
How to book your own Puerto Galera island hopping tour
Island hopping tours are offered by various travel agencies in Puerto Galera. If you’re staying in White Beach, you’ll find a lot of vendors offering this tour.
Hotels and resorts normally have more expensive tour packages, so it’s best to book outside.
Island hopping rates
The island hopping tour that we availed cost P600 per person (min 2 pax).
This includes transport to/from White Beach, exclusive boat use and snorkeling equipment, and visit to the following areas: Underwater Cave, Coral Garden, and Giant Clams. We used a small outrigger boat only.
You will find other types of island hopping packages. With bigger boats, you can visit beaches as well, including Bayanan Beach, Haligi Beach, Long Beach, or Friday Beach. This option is ideal if you are willing to pay a bit more and/or you’re in a group.
Here are the current Puerto Galera island hopping tour rates (Updated as of 2022):
|Budget tour||Underwater Cave, Coral Garden, and Giant Clams||P600-700 per person (min 2 pax)|
|Full island hopping tour||Haligi Beach, Bayanan Beach, Sandbar or Maniknik Beach, Coral Garden||P1800-2000 per boat (good for 6-8 pax)|
+ P200 per person for the small paddle boat to Coral Garden
+ (Optional) P600 per person to visit the three sites (Underwater Cave, Coral Garden, Giant Clams)
Other optional expenses include aqua shoes rental for P100 per person.
- There is a barbecue area at the sandbar that offers group meals. You can give an advanced order so you can eat when you get back. You can also buy snacks and drinks at San Antonio Beach where the underwater cave is.
- It’s best to wear durable sandals or aquashoes in the underwater cave because of the scraggly surface. Flimsy slippers is not ideal as they can break.
Has this post about our Puerto Galera island hopping tour experience been helpful to you? If you have comments of questions, let us know below!
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- AV Suites Boutique Hotel
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Katherine Cortes is a long-time backpacker and a freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).