Graduate ka na sa pagpapa-henna tattoo, pagpapa-braid ng buhok at pagsakay sa banana boat. You’ve had enough wasted-on-Mindoro-Sling pictures to last you a lifetime, and you’re done with ogling at the lady boys sashaying by the bar.
Don’t write off Puerto Galera just yet. The island still has a couple of pleasures for the crowd weary, late 20-something (yes, umaapila ako).
- Go in February, or anytime early in the year. When the weather’s not too hot, and the school term hasn’t ended yet, so you won’t be jostling with the college kids for precious beach space. We shared a cab going to Buendia and got on the Jam Liner bus that took us to Batangas Pier (P166/per, one way). From the port we took an hour-long boat ride going to White Beach (P250/per, plus a terminal fee of P50 plus an environmental fee of P30). Better arrive early as the waves can be choppy in the afternoon.
- Stay at the far end of White Beach. And not right smack in the middle of the action. We booked a room at Coco Aroma, a charming, no-frills place that gets the beach shack vibe right down pat, from the reggae music on the play list to the bamboo huts. We got a fan room (P1,500 a night, fits 4), with futon beds and an en suite bath. Very basic, but worked for us just fine, since we were out the whole day anyway.
- Hike up to Aninuan Falls. There’s the more famous Tamaraw Falls, where most visitors go to, and there’s Aninuan Falls, which not a lot know of. Ask one of the boys at Coco Aroma to help you find a guide. Take a tricycle going to a small village, where the hike to Aninuan Falls begins (there’s an entrance fee of P20/per). You’ll be rewarded with a refreshing dip at the end of this long walk.
Plus, the view of the bay on your way down is fantastic.
- Grab a bite at Luca’s, an out of the way Italian restaurant that’s well worth the P100/per way tricycle ride (just ask any driver to take you to Luca’s, they know where it is. And insist on P100/per way – anything above that is way too much). The flaky, thin-crust pizza and pesto-based pasta did not disappoint.
- Photo walk, swim, or just laze on a hammock with a good book and catch up on some me-time. Island life doesn’t get any better than this; you’ll be back to the confines of your work station sooner than you think, so make the most out of it.