Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Apo Reef Series: A DIY Guide to and around Sablayan

I was caught off-guard when my friend told me that we’ll go camping at Apo Reef.  I was unprepared for a tent accommodation since I thought we would just go snorkeling and beach bumming there. Who goes beach camping late November, anyway?  But since I didn't do my own research about our destination, I conceded. The night before our scheduled flight to Occidental Mindoro, I had to crazily leave out some stuff in my backpack that does not qualify as a “camping essential.”

Little did I know that despite joining in a bit unprepared, this trip with my fellow kaladkarins Janet, Ciel, Muy, Lira, Marvs and Angel would rank high among my favorite travels this year.   

Break of dawn at Sablayan Sea Port

The early morning sun was beating down lightly as we arrived at San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Since it was just in time for breakfast, we managed to snag a quick fix of good-old coffee and tapsi meals in a carenderia near the terminal. We all know that it was going to be a long day so we had to prepare ourselves up well. After breakfast, we hailed a trike to drive us to the nearest bus terminal going to Sablayan. The bus we got into was Manila-bound but we were told that we would be dropped off at Sablayan. After about an hour waiting for the bus to fill up passengers, we started rolling along the dirt rough road of Occidental Mindoro.  

The bus ride from San Jose to Sablayan was almost agonizingly painful. I find it very appalling to see a major thoroughfare left in such destitute state. I hope the LGU takes an immediate action to make better of the impoverished road system in the province. 

After two hours, we safely made it to Sablayan. We headed straight to the town tourism office to register and pay dues for boat rental and guides. It was decided that the trip to Apo Reef will have to be put off for the next day so that we could prepare and buy all the provisions we would need in the island, and to give some more time to see what this small town has to offer.

The infectious smiles of the children of Mindoro

Late afternoon, we found ourselves exploring the town proper.   Here’s a list of places to see around:

Lumang Simbahan (Old Church) – a 16th century church found at the foot of the centennial forest. Even until now regular masses are still being heard there.  

 Presing Park – this place offers a good sunset view and a panoramic view of the town and its neighbouring islands.  We also saw a watch tower, a lighthouse and an ancient canon there. Restroom and cottages are available within the park.

Sabang River Hanging bridge 

Sablayan Museum- houses a collection of historical, cultural and biological artifacts donated by the people of Sablayan.

How  to get to Sablayan:

By Air. The fastest and more convenient way to get to Sablayan is by air. Local airlines like Cebu Pacific, Pal Express and Zest Air has daily 45-min flights from Manila to San Jose. Then, two to three-hour travel by bus or van to Sablayan. Small chartered planes could also land directly to Sablayan Airport or Mamburao Airport. Mamburao is about two-hours drive to Sablayan.

By Sea. Take a RO-RO ride from Batangas Port to Abra de Ilog Port then three-hour land trip to Sablayan. Another option if you will be coming from Manila is to take an airconditioned bus to Sablayan (via RO-RO ferries) which takes about eight hour.

Once in Sablayan, trikes are available if you want to tour around the town. 


Municipal Tourism Office
Buenavista, Sablayan, Mindoro Occidental 5104

Contact numbers: 0929-428-0431, 0915-995-3895
Landline: (043) 458-0028

San Jose Airport


  1. Another province conquered! Another "to do" crossed out of the bucket list! Super fun ng trip! Diving ulit tayo!

    1. yey!!! ticking off two items on my bucket list -- scuba diving and Apo Reef! Thanks ciel! :) Yep, let's dive again, soon!! :)

  2. Bek, i-blog mo na yung VIDES para complete na ang Mindoro mo. hehe Di ba, Ciel? :)

  3. Dapat talaga ayusin nila yung highways nila. Nakaka-apekto ng cellphone signal eh! Diba Ciel and Marvs? =))

  4. As of to date, 44,229 total pageviews! woohs! congrats Che! you're going a good job! =))

    1. Correction Maj, we are all doing a great job! lol

    2. hahaha! sabi mo Boss eh. WE're all doing a great job! hahaha!!! =D

    3. kayo lang ata nagvview dito. hehehe salamat! :)

  5. Thanks for this! I was researching for things to see and do in Sablayan and found this post. :)

  6. May I suggest you go island hopping in Ambulong Island and Iling Island also in San Jose, Occ. Mindoro? It's still unspoiled...


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