I am honestly into chasing new and beautiful things in the places that I haven’t seen nor experienced yet that I tend to miss the ones in those that I have previously visited. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, our destination options and outdoor activities to try are quite limited. On the bright side of it, we took this as a chance to go back to those provinces that are open and we’ve already visited. For more than a year now, we’ve been traveling to nearby towns and provinces where we could go freediving since it’s one of the few that we can do. Looking for some place else to dive aside from Batangas, we found out that Oriental Mindoro, which accepts tourists and is apparently just few hours away from the metro, is also a home to popular diving sites. With that, we decided to go freediving in Puerto Galera.
Freediving spots in Puerto Galera
Most of the dive sites in Puerto Galera are good for SCUBA diving. Worry not, though, as there are also a lot that you can explore as a Freediver. Among those dive sites are the reef of Aninuan Beach, Coral Garden, Long Beach, Coco Beach, Sabang and Monkey Beach. At 5 to 10 meters, you can already see thriving, vibrant and sprawling colonies of corals and various species of fish.
You may also want to read: Amazing Health Benefits of Freediving
Where to Stay: Freedive Inn
Freedive Inn is the headquarters of Freedive School – the first Freediving School in Puerto Galera. It is located at Aninuan Beach. Aninuan beach is among the best place to stay at if you are thinking of Freediving in Puerto Galera. It is less crowded plus there are good spots to dive few meters away from the shore. Also, Freedive inn has the best beach front and view with the most affordable rate in the area. They have two in-house Molchanovs/SSI-certified Freediving instructors, Alex Seliverstov (Александр Селиверстов) and Mila Seliverstova (Мила Селиверстова), who would gladly assist you in your Freediving adventures in the town!
Freedive Inn Room Rates
Room for 2 – Php 1,500.00 – These air-conditioned rooms have a bathroom with hot shower and toiletries. The rate includes breakfast for two.
Room for 4 – Php 2,500.00 – These air-conditioned rooms have a bathroom with hot shower and toiletries. The rate includes breakfast for four.
Freedive Courses and Training at Freedive Inn
Mini Course SSI Try Freediving (Php 2,500.00) – The SSI Try Freediving is an introduction to Freediving course held with a total of four hours. The rate includes the certification, underwater photo and gear rental.
You may also like to read: How Do I Start Freediving? A Beginner’s Guide
Coaching Session (Php 1,500.00) – The fee includes an open water deep session with a certified Freediving instructor providing a very comprehensive feedback on the form, techniques and others, use of line, buoy, lanyard and the boat transfer to the deeper part of the ocean.
Line Training (Php 1,000.00) – The line training is similar with the coaching session in a way. There’s the use of the boat to transfer to the deeper part and the use of buoy and line yard. However, the instructor would only serve as a buddy – no feedbacks, comments and suggestions on the Freediving techniques and all.
Take note that only those who have Freediving certification could take the Coaching Session and the Line Training.
Boat Trips and Fun Diving in Puerto Galera
- Certified Freedivers’ Boat Dive (Php 2,000.00) – This includes a 4-hour boat dive for 2 to 4 persons. However, all of the freedivers on board should be certified. Safety is the top priority of Freedive Inn and they wouldn’t want to risk non-certified freedivers to be out in the open.
- Boat Dive with Safety Diver (Php 4,000.00) – This includes 4-hour boat dive for 2 to 4 persons, too. Unlike the first one, non-certified freedivers could join in this fun dive. However, a certified instructor will accompany them to ensure their safety.
- Boat Dive with Photos and Videos (Php 5,000) – The only difference with this boat dive is that, the instructor would also take the guest freedivers’ photos and videos.
Looking for the best underwater photographer/ videographer to document your freediving adventures? Check this out: Best Underwater Photographers from the Philippines that you Should Follow: Freedivers Edition
Freediving Certification in Puerto Galera
Freedive School offers Molchanovs Wave 1 and 2 Certification. Below are the rates an their inclusions:
Molchanovs Wave 1 (Php 12,500.00) – In this certification course, the freediver has to meet with the instructor for 3 days. This rate incudes the certification itself, instructors’ fee, gear rental and underwater photos/videos.
Molchanovs Wave 2 (Php 17,500) – If you wish to further your freediving skills and knowledge after taking the Wave 1 certification, you can take the Wave 2 then. In this course, the freediver has to meet with the instructor for 4 days at least when getting a Molchanovs Wave. The course requirements are higher but the said rate’s inclusions are similar.
You may also want to read: Freediving Certification in the Philippines
Our Freediving Experience in Puerto Galera
We honestly made the best choice of staying at Freedive Inn for our drive trip in Puerto Galera. Its staff is the nicest; the in-house freediving instructors are really good; its place is amazingly peaceful as we are on a less crowded beach of the town; it’s few meters away from White Beach where there’s a nearby market, some convenience stores and restaurants. Also, the inn offers special home-cooked Filipino meals ranging from Php 200.00 to Php 400.00.
Arriving at Freedive Inn
Before our trip, Mila helped us with the processing of the S-pass. She was also constantly communicating with us about the travel requirements and the schedule of the (ferry and Ro-Ro) trips. Even before we have set foot into the town, his staff, Kuya Lawrence has called us and told us that he’ll be picking us up at the port. Shall you decide to stay with them, you just have to inform them about your expected time of arrival and if you would prefer to be picked up by their staff or you would like to commute.
Upon our arrival, the inn’s staff warmly welcomed us and assisted us in checking in. After settling, we discussed our Freediving plans and schedule with Mila and Alex.
Boat and fun dives with Freediving Inn
Primarily, we told Mila and Alex that we would like to explore the reef of Puerto Galera. Hence, they suggested that we embark on a boat dive. While the house reef is truly fascinating, they told us that there are several spots as well that we should explore. Luckily, they also have their own boat that is good though for four people. We would usually go with Kuya Lawrence who knows where exactly should we go and stop. However, take note that currents, at times, get really worse. Hence, it is necessary that you have a buoy with the other end tied on the boat since some spots don’t have mooring buoys.
We visited a few for our boat dives since we would also like to go on a coach session/ training. After the boat dive, we would rest then go on a training in the afternoon.
The Coach Session Experience
Since we are already certified freedivers, we took the coach session that the inn offers. While exploring the reef of the town is good, it hits different when you dive with a Freediving instructor who helps you improve your technique and all. It was quite an immense actual learning activity. Also, Alex and Mila’s approach to their students in this training is very personalized and comprehensive. They are very keen about everything (i.e. the form, equalization, technique, contractions and more) then they would give feedbacks about it during and after the session and suggestions for the freedivers’ areas of improvement.
After the session, Alex and Mila taught me stretching exercises and other techniques that would help me soften my contraction and prolong my breath hold.
Booking and Contact Details
For booking and inquiries, you can reach them at:
Things to Remember when Freediving in Puerto Galera
- The safest ferry trip to take when departing for Puerto Galera is the first and earliest. Succeeding trips often get canceled as the number of passengers needed for departure is not met.
- The currents in here get really bad. Thus, always be aware and careful.
- You can save some bucks if you are a certified freediver planning to go on a boat/ fun dive. In Freedive Inn, they do not allows freedivers with no certification to explore the ocean on their own.
- Coordinate with the host/ staff from the resort/ inn/ hotel or hostel you are coming from as regards the S-pass.
- If you don’t have your own gear, you can rent at the inn.
- Always dive with a buddy! If you are not confident with the buddies that you are with as regards safety and rescue practices, you can ask Freedive Inn’s instructors to accompany you. This, however, comes with a price.
Here are tips on how to choose the right dive buddy: Choosing the Right Buddy
Getting to, Around and Away
How to Get There
Option A: via Commute from Manila to Puerto Galera
- Take an ALPS or JAM Liner bus from Starmall Alabang, Cubao or Buendia bound for Batangas Pier. Travel time is more or less 2 to 3 hours. Fare is at Php 200.00 to Php 250.00.
- From Batangas Pier, take a fast craft or RoRo bound for Balatero, Puerto Galera. Fare starts at Php 255.00 for RoRo (estimated travel time 2 hours). Fare at fast crafts is at Php 500.00. Estimated travel time is an hour to an hour and a half. Pay the Php 30.00 terminal fee.
- From Balatero Port, take a tricycle to your inn/hostel.
Option B: From Berberabe Port, Batangas City to Muelle Port via Water Taxi
- Book a seat in Water Taxi.
- From Manila, make your way to Berberabe port in Batangas City. Pay the entrance fee, an amount of Php 120.00/person. If you are bringing your own car, the port has an available pay parking area at Php 200.00 per night.
- Take the Water Taxi. The whole trip costs Php 9,000.00 for a maximum of 10 passengers. The trip takes more or less 40 minutes to Muelle Port.
- Upon arrival at Muelle Port, register and pay for the Environmental User fee (Php 120.00)
- From Muelle Port, take a tricycle that will take you to your hotel/resort acc
Option C: Commute via Calapan
- If you happen to miss the fast craft or RoRo bound for Balatero, you may also opt to take a trip to Calapan. Sea travel takes more or less three hours then an hour to an hour and a half land travel from Calapan to the town of Puerto Galera.
- From Calapan port, you may take a jeepney bound for Puerto Galera for Php 80.00 per person.
- From the drop off point, you can take a tricycle to your inn/ hostel or hotel accommodation.
Ferry Schedule as of January 2022
|Vessel||Fare||Travel Time||From Batangas||From Puerto Galera|
|Island Water fast craft|
(MV Calaguas/ Calayan)
|Php 500.00||1 to 1 1/2 hours||7:00 AM|
|Montenegro Shipping Lines|
|Php 255.00||2 to 2 1/2 hours||8:00 AM||2:00 PM|
|Montenegro Shipping Lines|
(MV Ilo-Ilo fastcraft)
|Php 340.00||1 to 1 1/2 hours||6:00 AM|
Currently, the Roro of Montenegro Shipping lines and Island Water fast crafts are operating. Also, take note that when the ferries/ vessels do not meet the target number of passengers, the management would cancel the trips.
There are to ways to get around Puerto Galera. The first one is through chartering tricycles. Each trip costs Php 100.00 to Php 200.00 (for three persons) depending on the destination. On the other hand, you may opt to rent a motorbike for only Php 500.00 per day. Gas, though, is not included.
Puerto Galera Travel Requirements
At the time of writing (January 2022), the following are Puerto Galera’s travel requirements that you need to prepare prior to your trip:
Entering Puerto Galera through Batangas Port:
- Booking confirmation from your hotel, inn or hostel.
- Vaccination card or certificate for fully vaccinated travelers
- 24-hour valid negative RT-PCR or antigen test
- Approved Travel Pass-Through Permit via S-pass. Secure the QR code as they are scanning it at the entrance of the port. Sign up and log in here: https://s-pass.ph/
- Valid ID
Leaving Puerto Galera:
- Approved S-pass from your destination (i.e. hotel/ inn/ hostel). Secure a copy (printed or digital) with a clear QR code. The S-pass should clearly have the travel date (present date), validity date of travel, place of origin and destination.
- QR Code from the Traze App. They scan it at the PPA Passenger Terminal Building.
- Valid ID.
You may also want to read: Puerto Galera DIY Travel Guide (Itinerary + Budget)