Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Puerto Galera - How to Get There

Dear friends,

I know summer is approaching when I start receiving text messages asking me how to go to White Beach, Puerto Galera. Every year, I never fail to receive at least one inquiry. And sure enough, I received the first inquiry for this year this morning!

I gave most of you this spiel before. I decided to just write it down to save myself the P1.00 per text message that I spend replying to all your inquiries. I think my total text spiel is about 5 messages long right? Now, the next person who asks is getting a URL, and I save P5.00 (sorry Smart).

By the way, let me first clarify that my last trip to White Beach, Puerto Galera was in May of 2005 so I'm not sure about rates anymore. A friend of mine who went last year told me they haven't changed much.

How to go to Puerto Galera from anywhere in Metro Manila and surrounding areas:

Step 1: Take a cab and tell the cab driver to take you the JAC Liner station in Kamias.
I know there are other bus lines and stations but this is the only one I know (so JAC Liner, thank me for the free promotion.)

Step 2. Take the bus going to Batangas Pier.
Bus rates from Kamias should be around P200 I think, I am not sure) one way. Travel time is between 3-4 hours if you start out early (and by early, I mean before the sun rises over Metro Manila).

Step 3. When you get to the Pier, look for the ticket counter for M/B Brian or M/B Natividad.
These 2 will take you directly to White Beach. I STRONGLY suggest you take only either one of these 2. They have the most boats going to and from White Beach. I think during peak season, either one will have a boat leaving the pier every 30 minutes. I think fare is around P300 one way. I really don't remember.

When you get to the pier, there will be other people who will offer to take you on different boats to White Beach. What most of them really mean is... you will get to White Beach eventually. Other boats dock somewhere "near" White Beach where they tell you you can take a "shuttle" to White Beach. And when they say "shuttle", they will not always mean airconditioned vans... it can mean any vehicle that will not offer you protection as you traverse the dustiest roads imaginable (I exaggerate, but trust me, the experience was not pleasant). There are other boats that will really take you to White Beach directly, and at a cheaper price. I don't know. What I do know is I have several friends who got waylaid because they took those boats. One of my friends took a boat that they overloaded probably hoping they won't be inspected but they were so they had to let other passengers off... passengers who paid because they wanted to leave at that time and will now have to wait for the return trip of that same boat (4 hours wait?) fron White Beach.

So if you're my friend, I STRONGLY suggest you just go with M/B Brian or M/B Natividad. If we're not friends, you can be as adventurous in your choices as you want, I don't care :)

Step 4. Make sure you are near the loading dock a few minutes before your scheduled departure so you are one of the first in line to board the boat.
You can choose seats with the least probability of getting wet. I'm joking... sit anywhere you want, it doesn't matter, you will probably get wet wherever you sit anyway. But if you are near the front of the line, you and your friends can choose seats where you will all be together. You can start taking pictures on the boat. Pang-Friendster/Multiply/Facebook din yun.

Step 5. When you get to White Beach and you don't have room reservations, you will have someone offering to get you a room the moment your feet touch sand.
So don't worry. Just tell your guide you want a room on the beach front. You can check out as many resorts as you want along White Beach until you find one that suits you. When your guide tells you there are no vacant rooms along the beach front, he is just probably affiliated with another resort farther back :) You can choose to eithrt ditch your guide and walk along White beach and inquire along the many establishments lining the beach front, or whine and wheedle and insist to your guide that you really, really, really want a room along the beach front and you might get lucky. Either way worked for me :)

Step 6. But before you go looking for a room, make sure you look for the M/B Brian or M/B Natividad booth along the shore to buy your return ticket first. As of 2005, you can't buy return tickets from their ticket booth in Batangas Pier. Not sure if they do now. But if they don't, make sure you buy your return tickets immediately. Especially if it's a weekend.

And there you go. You are in Puerto Galera.

Oh before I end this post, I have one more tip: Start your trip early. I am usually the sadistic b1t*ch in the group who suggests that everyone be at the bus station by 3:30AM. Yes, 3:30 AM. I have been to Puerto Galera several times in the past and I have learned to time my arrival on the beach perfectly ;)

My itinerary usually goes like this:
3:30 - 4:00 AM Bus station
4:00 - 7:00 AM Trip to Batangas Pier
7:00 AM Arrival in Batangas Pier but by this time, the earliest available ticket for boats is around 8:30 already. If you arrived much later, then you get a ticket for a later trip.
7:00 - 8:30 AM Wait for boat in Batangas Pier
8:30 - 10:30 AM boat ride to White Beach
10:30 - 11:00 AM look for accomodations. When you find one, you can't check in until afternoon yet so you look for somewhere to eat first.
11:00 - 1:00 PM lunch
1:00 PM walk back to your resort and check in
2:00 OM take a nap, because some b1t*ch made me get up at 3:30 AM! Oh wait... that was me :)

Enjoy your trip!

xoxo Janelle

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