Philippine tourism

Beat the heat! Visit 4 hidden paradises in Occidental Mindoro this summer

Chris Burnet Ramos

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Beat the heat! Visit 4 hidden paradises in Occidental Mindoro this summer

WATER. Clear waters of Calawagan River in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro.

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There's more to Mindoro than Puerto Galera! Here are some scenic under-the-radar travel spots in Occidental Mindoro for your next summer getaway.

MANILA, Philippines — Mindoro island is more than Puerto Galera.

As a province facing the entirety of the West Philippine Sea, Occidental Mindoro is undoubtedly a hub of the country’s finest under-the-radar beaches, scenic underwater spots, and sustainable marine life. 

Besides indulging in a delectable halo-halo or booking your next outing in a local resort in the city, why not make your summer special this year by experiencing some of the country’s hidden water paradises yourself? Here are some of the best summer destinations in OksiMin!

Calawagan Mountain Resort

Twice awarded by the Department of the Interior and Local Government as the cleanest inland body of water in the Philippines, the Calawagan River in the municipality of Paluan will greet you with the calming sounds of its refreshing water and breathtaking giant rock formations. 

Located at the very foot of the Mount Calavite Wildlife Sanctuary, one can splash around the river’s cold, free-flowing water and dive into the natural swimming pool, surrounded by the beauty of the area’s towering trees and bordering forest. 

Before reaching the other side of the river where cottages are situated, you have to cross a hanging bridge that will welcome you to the resort, managed by the local government of Paluan. 

Calawagan is described by locals as a stress reliever. It offers tourists the peaceful, relaxing experience they deserve this summer.

The Grand Apo Reef

Also known as the Apo Reef Natural Park, this magnificent wonder of Occidental Mindoro is the largest contiguous coral reef in Asia and the second in the world. It lies around 15 miles to the west of the municipality of Sablayan. 

Spanning over 34 kilometers, it is also considered the country’s largest atoll-like reef

Among the most heavenly havens for scuba divers globally, the Apo Reef is divided by a narrow lagoon home to some 285 marine species and around 500 coral species.  You can island-hop its three beautiful pristine islets: Apo, Apo Menor, and Cayos del Bajo.

On Apo Island alone, you can camp, picnic, go on a nature walk, and do bird-watching or stargazing. With its century-old mangrove forest surrounding the shallow lagoon, tourists can experience snorkeling under its crystalline blue water and see various marine life up close. 

Locals call its waters a “tropical aquarium” because of the colorful fish, marine mammals, fine corals, and other emblematic species that thrive there. Apo Reef is the perfect destination to get away this summer and appreciate marine life’s unbelievable beauty. 

Pandan Island
PRISTINE. A drone shot of Pandan Island Resort in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. Photo courtesy of Atty. E-K Almero’s Facebook Page

If you are looking for a calm, turquoise sea and a laid-back atmosphere, then Pandan Island is perfect for you!

Also located in Sablayan, this scenic summer spot is just a 15- to 20-minute boat ride from the municipality’s mainland. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can go to the island via the world’s longest island-to-island zipline, the 1.7-kilometer Sablayan Zipline Adventure in Parola Park.

Besides snorkeling and kayaking, the island is also famous for being a sanctuary of sea turtles and for the coral reefs living beneath its waters. 

Inasakan White Beach

If you want to avoid going to beaches full of crowds of tourists, some shores are gorgeously untouched, like Inasakan.

With its ivory-white sand and serene atmosphere, Inasakan White Beach on the island of Ilin in San Jose provides a soothing hideaway where you can make the most of your summer. The relaxing sounds of waves will greet you in the morning, and its beautiful sunset is the perfect bookend for your day.

Inasakan is considered the best point for divers and snorkelers among all the beaches on Ilin, which you can go to via a boat ride from the San Jose mainland. 

How to get there? Tourists can enter Occidental Mindoro via plane or ferry. You can book a plane to San Jose Airport, located in the southern part of the province, or take a ferry ride (via commute or door-to-door bus trip) from Batangas port in Batangas City, to the port of Abra de Ilog, the northern gateway of the province. –

Chris Burnet Ramos is a campus journalist from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP). Managing editor of TW!NKLE, the 26th volume of iCommunicate magazine, he is also an Aries Rufo Journalism fellow of Rappler for 2023-2024.

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