Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paradise Islands in Occidental Mindoro

I practically had no idea about Mindoro except that it houses Puerto Galera. I know that Puerto Galera is in the northern part of Oriental Mindoro. I had no idea about the other paradise islands of Occidental Mindoro - Pandan Island and Apo Reef.

I noticed that the Manila-San Jose flights are on sale most of the time. Knowing that Travelfactor has a trip in this region, I booked flights going to San Jose, Mindoro.

San Jose airport:

This was my 6th trip with Travelfactor but it was the first time that I booked a plane ticket alone for a trip. I prayed hard that the trip would push through so that the tickets won’t go to waste.

They actually have another UBBE trip the following trip and I also have tickets for that. I booked via Cebupacific’s piso fare for Php 97.20 for an RT ticket. The seatsale back then was uber cheap. But I need an extra day-off if I use those tix so I just booked another set of roundtrip plane tickets via Airphils which cost me Php 1,334. Not that cheap, but good enough. Plus, it would be a good experience to experience valentine’s Day while traveling, Hahahaha!

Their rates are pretty reasonable and it includes all the meals. The boat going to Pandan Island costs Php 6,500. Pricey, but that is the standard rate. So I thought that it was a pretty good deal. Besides, TF trips are always fun!

UBBE Apo Reef and Pandan Island (Feb 11 – 14, 2011)
UBBE Apo Reef and Pandan Island
Feb 11 – 14, 2011
Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

Travel Factor’s Ultimate Beach Bumming Experience

P6,500 per person

Private aircon van service Abra de Ilog to Sablayan and v.v.
Tourist Boat Sablayan to Apo Reef to Pandan Island
Water taxi Pandan Island to Sablayan

overnight aircon room at Sablayan with free use of swimming pool, videoke hall (Day 1)
overnight tent at Apo Reef (Day 2)
overnight native hut or tent at Pandan Island (Day 3)
* all tents provided by Travel Factor. Group sharing 3 to 4 persons.

Non-diver entrance fee at Apo Reef
overnight camping fee at Pandan Island

Day 1 – Dinner at Sablayan
Day 2 – Breakfast, Buffet Lunch, Buffet Dinner at Apo Reef
Day 3 – Breakfast, Buffet Lunch at Apo Reef, Buffet Dinner at Pandan Island
Day 4 – Breakfast, Buffet Lunch at Pandan Island

not included:
- Roundtrip airfare and terminal fee
- Snorkel gear rental (P100 per set). recommended to bring your own
- Scuba diving fees (please coordinate with Travel Factor for the rates)


Manila to San Jose (Mindoro)
Inbound: 11 Feb 2011, Friday, ETD: 06:25 AM – ETA: 07:20 AM

San Jose (Mindoro) to Manila
Outbound:14 Febl 2011, Monday, ETD: 07:40 AM – ETA: 08:35 AM

Day 1 Feb 11, Friday
06:30 AM pick-up from San Jose airport
09:00 AM Check-in Kalamatan Resort. Dinner and Socials

Day 2 Feb 12, Saturday
04:00 AM Check-out
04:30 AM Departure to port
05:00 AM ETD port to Apo Reef via tourist boat
08:00 AM ETA Apo Reef
Set Camp
free time: swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving, BEACH BUMMING
12:00 NN picnic lunch. siesta!
03:00 PM Start of Apo Reef Tour (Mangrove Forest, Lighthouse)
free time: swimming, snorkeling or scuba diving, BEACH BUMMING
06:00 PM sunset viewing
07:00 PM dinner, socials, bonfire

Day 3 Feb 13, Sunday
07:00 AM breakfast
free time: swimming, snorkeling, BEACH BUMMING
10:00 AM breakcamp
11:00 AM lunch
12:00 NN ETD Apo Reef to Pandan Island via tourist boat
03:00 PM ETA Pandan Island; set camp
03:30 PM snorkeling with the sea-turtles (pawikan)
and free time: more BEACH BUMMING
07:00 PM dinner and socials; star gazing

Day 4 Feb 14, Monday
11:00 AM breakcamp
11:30 AM buffet lunch
12:30 PM ETD Pandan Island to Sablayan via water taxi
01:00 PM ETD Sablayan to airport via private van
03:00 PM Check-in San Jose airport
05:15 PM ETD to Manila

It was more of a 3D3N rather than a 4D3N schedule. But blame that on the flight schedules. Apparently, San Jose airport operates in the morning only (according to the tourism person there) and they just add flights in the afternoon during summer.

It was an early morning flight going to San Jose airport. We took a two-hour bumpy van ride going to Sablayan port. We stopped at a convenience store to do some last minute shopping. Even though I was already carry 4 liters of water, I bought another bottle of 2 liters. Water was precious in the islands. Better to be ready than sorry.

Our van in Sablayan port:

The next part is a 30-minute boat ride going to Pandan Island. Renting the boat costs Php 6,500 for 36 hours – this is a fixed price. The boat fit our group of 15 – give or take. This is by far the most expensive cost of boat rental that I ever heard. The boat is equipped with life-vests. And well, the boat is pretty big anyway AND it is a glass-bottomed boat. The passengers can enjoy watching the swimming pawikans (sea turtles) if there are any. We only saw two on our way to Pandan Island. The boatmen were actually considerate because they slowed down when we saw them so we can take pictures. They were quite elusive.

After more than 30 minutes (delayed by picture taking), we landed in the sunny sandy beach of Pandan Island. Time to explore!

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