Beyond the southwest coast of Batangas lies Occidental Mindoro, a province that glimmers with natural luster that even the jaded traveler cannot ignore.
Apo Reef National Park
|Apo Reef (image source)|
Found in Apo Island, Sablayan, the park dubbed as the diving mecca of the Philippines, is a 34 kilometer reef that has a narrow channel dividing the reef into two lagoon systems. Beneath the clear water of these lagoons, divers can explore the fine white sand bottom with its colourful array of approximately 400 to 500 coral species. Almost 500 marine species, including a variety of sharks, stingrays and manta rays, can also be spotted around the area. Bird watchers can visit the fascinating bird populated islands of Binangaan and Cajos del Bajo, which is also part of the Apo Reef Marine Park.
Calawagan Mountain Resort
Jump in and enjoy the cool, bracing nature pools of the Calawagan Mountain Resort. The Calawagan River has consistently been voted as the Cleanest Inland Body of Water in the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) Clean and Green Program. Operated by the local government since 1976, the one and a half hectare resort located in Brgy. Alipaoy, Palauan is a popular picnic spot and swimming hole. Visitors are requested to bring their own food as there are no restaurants at the resort.
Mamburao Beach Resort
Located within a secluded cove in Brgy. Fatima, the resort covers 14 hectares of developed beach shaded by coconut trees. The area is ideal for swimming, boating, scuba diving, snorkelling, windsurfing, deep sea fishing and water skiing.
Inasakan, Ilin Island
Marked by lush vegetation encircling the clear blue waters of the South China Sea, the site serves as a jump-off point to other attractions in Ilin, in particular the numerous dive sites surrounding the island.
The Ilin island is considered as the biggest island among the three off San Jose. Ilin has five beaches fringed with reefs that are approachable on foot during low tide. The area abounds with shells and the residents are mostly shell divers.
Located in the southeast portion of Lubang Island in Brgy. Binacas, Hulugaan Falls is a series of falls that cascades down to a stony beach.
Besay Falls is composed of a series of cascades that flow into a basin of crystal clear water about 5 meters in diameter. The scenic road to the waterfalls passes though a rice plantation and a carabao pasture.
True to its name, this island has a mile long beach with divinely white and powdery smooth sand that makes it an ideal site for lounging under the sun. Aside from vacationers who go for swimming, fishing and scuba diving, the island is also a favourite nestling ground of turtles. Turtle eggs are often found buried in the sand, and visitors are enjoined to leave these undisturbed.
This one hectare beach is a favourite swimming destination among residents in Brgy. Tayamaan, Mamburao. There are picnic cottages for rent in the area.
One of the 3 island attractions in San Jose, the 3,000 hectare Ambulong has white sand beaches, interesting cliff pillars that rise up from the sea, and mysterious underwater caves. The island’s Caminawit port serves as a jump off point to the numerous dive sites in the area such as Iling Point, Baniaga Reef, Ambulong Bank, Dungan Reed, Sardines Reef, Apo Reef ad Manadi Island.
Pandan Grande Island
This 30 hectare islet has a curving white sand beach dotted with native style cottages which are used as divers’ lodges. The beach is popular with snorkelers and divers, as it is located within the swimming distance of a submarine drop off inhabited by schools of reef fish.
The island has golden sandy beaches on the southwestern portion and magnificent rock formations along the east coast. Cabra was a former pilgrimage site because of reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary. Today, the island is a popular sportsfishing destination of local and international anglers.
|Tamaraws of Mt. Iglit|
Declared as a national park and forest reservation, Mt. Iglit is also a game sanctuary for the tamaraw, a species of wild water buffalo endemic to Mindoro. Resembling the carabao, the tamaraw is smaller in size, with shorter and straighter V shaped horns. These endangered animals live in the forest at the foot of Mt. Iglit. Trekkers and climbers may be able to catch a glimpse of the tamaraw as well as several other species of indigenous wildlife and flora. National Park is also the home of the Hanuno’o Mangyan, Mindoro’s aborigines. Authorizations for visits to the ethnic community are required; these can be arranged in advanced by hotels.
How to get to Occidental Mindoro
Occidental Mindoro, 15 kilometers from the southwest coast of Luzon, is accessible by sea and air. Flights from Manila to San Jose are available from Sunday to Friday and travel time is around one hour. There are also chartered and commuter flights from Manila to Lubang Island that take about 45 minutes.
Travelers can likewise take a ferry from Batangas port to Abra de Ilog. Travel time takes about two and a half hours. From Abra de Ilog, there are air-conditioned vans plying the route to Sablayan and San Jose.