Let’s get one thing straight: This is NOT Boracay.
Located in Mindoro, White Beach has developed quite the sordid reputation – from tourists having sloppy, drunken sex on the beach to the inordinate amount of transvestites that seem to have emerged from out of the woodwork, growing in number year-by-year and calling this space in Puerto Galera home. Although the strange things that go on in White Beach after dark have made me apprehensive to pay this part of Puerto Galera a visit, it is just a small part of an otherwise lovely tourist destination.
Here are 8 reasons I think White Beach in Puerto Galera still rocks:
1. It’s still cheaper than Boracay
When I get the urge to work on a tan over the span of a weekend, all I need to do is pack my bags, hop on a bus, and then a catamaran, and I’m there. A roundtrip bus and boat trip would cost me a little under Php 800, save for the extra Php 50 for the Environmental tax which they charge right after you dock, and then Php 20 for another kind of port tax before leaving. Compare that to a roundtrip flight to Boracay.
When at White Beach, I prefer to stay at Felina’s Guest House, where rooms go for Php 1,000 during the low seasons, and Php 1,500 during high seasons – that’s just Php 500 per person if you’re sharing the room with someone. The guest house is a short walk to the beach, located on the quieter side of the stretch of sand, which appeals to me greatly.
2. Fun water activities to pass the time
Now, a lot like Boracay, one can go island hopping, snorkeling, jet skiing, banana boat riding, or flyboarding to pass the time. Most of the folks selling the service will usually go to you (there are a lot of them!) with a laminated sign of all their activities on hand, especially if they see you having fun as a group. If there are a lot of you, try haggling the price down a bite more and ask about their sunset island hoping cruises that you can schedule a day in advance.
3. The diverse tourist scene
In a way, I like to think that this place is the Venice Beach of the Philippines – you get all sorts of weird, funny, and interesting people washing up on its shores. In the afternoons when the sun is absolutely scorching, I would find refuge under a shady palm tree and watch the people walk by while I sip on my ice cold mango shake.
The last time I was there, there was this big French woman who was on holiday with her family, and she must’ve been there for way too long because she was a deep shade of maroon! She looked positively painful, but that didn’t stop her from sunning out some more. It was also amusing to watch a performer practice his zips routine on the beach, making what looked like a floating stick dance around him.
4. Cheap massages on the beach
I’m really not one for massages, but my photographer friend Jericho definitely is! There’s a whole horde of little old ladies in uniform roaming the beach, offering everything from Swedish massages to hair braids. Also, not my thing. I fell asleep while Jericho got a 30-minute rub down for Php 150. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but I guess you get what you pay for.
5. Drinks at the floating bar
The floating bar is an invention left to us by the Brits, and always promises a good time. Look for the speedboat that brings beachgoers to the party boat a few feet out to sea, where the music is blaring and the Mindoro Sling keep coming. This is definitely a must if it’s your first time to pay White Beach a visit, and you will probably meet everyone from cute backpacking tourists to creepy middle managers on vacation in the midst of a mid-life crisis.
6. Reasonably good food
I recently discovered this little hut-cum-restaurant called Gilbert’s Food Hauz and Family Store where they serve the best Adobong Pusit (Php 120) – tender and cooked white adobo-style, the squid is cleaned and simmered in coconut milk and chili, two of my favorite ingredients that are magic when thrown together! Another item you should look out for when lounging on the beach are the vendors selling Bukayo – coconut meat that’s been boiled in honey and peanuts making for a sticky kind of snack. This is totally addicting!
Coffee Tales, another beachfront café, serves up simple international favorites in big portions at reasonable prices -you can never go wrong with their Curry Sausage (Php 340) – and if you’re anything like me and all you want for breakfast is tea and toast, you can get that there for just Php 80.
7. Get a fast tan
Not a lot of the beachfront resorts have lounge chairs, so do as I do and pack a beach blanket with you so you can lay out near the water or underneath a palm tree. My favorite tanning essentials, wallet, and phone are usually stowed away in my dive bag, and I usually end up dozing off under the sun listening to beachy house music on Spotify. It doesn’t take long for one to turn golden under the Puerto Galera sun – a day and a half of sun worshiping is more than enough.
8. Catch the amazing sunsets
There’s something magical about watching the sun go down against a brilliant orange sky, the green mountains, and the azure sea below. Everyone’s cameras come out once the sun begins to set – views like this is what living in the tropics is all about, after all. #islandlife
White Beach may be known as the poor man’s Boracay, but at the end of the day, if all you’re looking for is a glowing tan and a good time, you can get all that in this little stretch of beach. I find the months of February and March to be the best time to visit, as you can catch the Malasimbo crowd having a blast by the beach before they all head up the mountain at dusk. It still is a great place to visit, and more affordable than taking a plane to some other Philippine island, and in my book, this place just as beautiful.