Family Getaway at Tambaron Island – Bulalacao, Mindoro

Travel dates: June 11- 14, 2015.

We came all the way from Manila, and it took us a total of 12 hours to get to Tambaron island. We left Manila at 4:00 AM and arrived in Bulalacao around 4:00 PM. But I believe the travel time from Manila to Bulalacao should only take around 8-9 hours. It took us so long because of our sidetrip at Calapan City and the many stopovers that we had.

The journey to Tambaron

So roughly, these are the travel time estimates:

-2 hours of travel from Manila to Batangas port;
-1.5 hours of ferry boat ride to Calapan City, Mindoro;
-4 hours land travel to Bulalacao municipality;
-30 minutes of small boat ride to Tambaron island;

Plus a couple of hours we consumed during stopovers:
-meals (breakfast and lunch)
-waiting time (queuing for ferry tickets, boarding, etc)

Oh yeah I know 12 hours is too long, but when you’re traveling with a person like my mom who can’t hold her pee even for a sec, you’ll understand why there’s a need to grab every stopover opportunity. Perhaps she thought that paying a visit to toilets was part of this whole trip? haha! (LOLJK)

Alright, let’s get down to business. From mainland Bulalacao, all 8 of us boarded a small boat with Mang Armie and a porter to go to Tambaron Green Beach Resort. The resort staff arranged for our boat transfer. NOTE: It is NOT like the tourist outrigger boats you see in Puerto Galera and has NO life vests or any floaters for its passengers. I think the boat’s capacity is just enough for only 10 persons. It was low-tide then so we had to walk through the water for approximately 100 meters to get to the boat. The ride was smooth and calm SO FAR because the next day was a different story.


After 30 minutes, finally we were at the island! As soon as we arrived in the island, we were greeted by the staff and sent us immediately to our beachfront rooms on the second floor. The view from the balcony is breathtaking! It’s the perfect spot to take a panorama shot of the sea horizon.

Tambaron beachfront.jpg
Tambaron Island
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Panorama shot from the balcony

The rooms are very simple – there are two beds in each room, an electric fan, a toilet and shower, and a balcony with benches and tables made of bamboo. It is a no-frills accommodation – No TV, A/C, and hot shower. I think our rooms were the most modest accommodation in the resort, or in the island rather. Well, it’s like you’re in Survivor, you have the island all to yourselves but you also get to enjoy a room equipped with the very basic amenities. But if you’re an adventure seeker, they have cabanas with built-in mosquito net, or you can bring your own tents and peg them in front of the beach! How cool is that? We actually brought tents just in case all of us won’t fit inside the rooms. They also offer cottages for day trip guests.

Here are the rates at that time:
beach front room (good for 4 pax) per night = Php1500
cabana per night = Php500
cottage for day trip = Php350

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Tambaron beach

The sand isn’t that  fine and white, it’s more like a light shade of brown.

tambaron-beachfront
morning view from the veranda

The staff advised us that power goes out in the middle of the night. During our stay, electricity went out at around 2:00 am and got restored in the afternoon, so better charge your gadgets and powerbanks before midnight comes. No power, therefore no electric fan! Your hand fan a.k.a pamaypay / abaniko that you received as a Christmas gift will be your best friend at night, seriously! So don’t forget to put it in your bag! Or if you have that small rechargeable USB fan, bring it because it will give you peace and a good night sleep, plus if it runs out of battery you can easily plug it to your powerbank (you’ll thank me for this, so you’re welcome! ;p). Don’t forget to bring insect repellants TOO as mosquitoes will be your greatest enemy here at night.

But if you can’t sleep and have exhausted the tricks you know to get sleepy like reading or watching, I’d highly suggest you do some star-gazing with a bottle of beer perhaps, to help you fall asleep. I did this for 2 nights – lounged on a beach chair watching the night sky, tracing my own constellations in the air, while listening to my jam as background music while having reflections in life, chos! (kidding!). But seriously, the sky looks like a planetarium that is full of bright stars. A really perfect ME-time!

Tambaron at night.jpg
after sunset

Island hopping

Next day, we were scheduled to do an island hopping activity arranged by Kuya Toto. He gave it for Php3500 for 8 persons including lunch meals. The boat was not exclusive for us as we were joined by another group. The boat is far from the looks of the usual tourist boats. Instead, we used a fishing boat! Yes, the one with fish storage at the bottom and no proper seats. Anyway, we still proceeded with the activity which consists of 3 islands: Target, Silad, and Aslom islands.

For the water activities, you could rent some life jackets, snorkeling gears, aqua shoes (jelly shoes, actually), and flippers. They do not have enough for everyone; I think they only have 3-5 pcs per item so I suggest you bring your own (or check with them first). We explored Target island for more than an hour. As I recall, it has a small water stream, an under construction resort-like structure, and a long catwalk. You can also trek up to see the island from above.

target-island

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Target island

Unforgettable boat ride

As mentioned it includes 3 islands, but unfortunately due to the rough sea we were able to do only Target Island and then decided to go back. Since our boat was small, we felt the impact of the waves as big splashes of water enter into the boat, getting all of us and our belongings wet. Though a little bit nervous, I still managed to take photos and videos to keep myself distracted from being anxious, but when I saw how terrified my family was, I then started to feel frightened.

untitled-1-of-1

I’ve been to a lot of island hopping activities from different parts of the Philippines, but that was my first time to be on a small boat with no life jacket on while braving a rough sea. The water just kept on splashing on our faces. Take note, our rented boat has no life jackets provided, we just rented some from the resort and there’s no more available for me. That’s when I realized… WTF! If this boat goes down how am I gonna survive? I tried to distract myself from that train of thoughts, so I quietly prayed in my mind. After 45 minutes of whirlwind in the sea, finally, we safely arrived back in the island. That was one hell of a ride!  Whew!

Time to relax

Alright, now that the tension’s over… time to loosen up. When we got back it was already low tide. We didn’t want to waste time so I joined my sister, her husband and his cousin to do snorkeling. We found serenity under the water after a very tense activity. The marine life is so rich and vibrant. For me, the greatest gem here are the things you’ll see under the sea. I enjoyed snorkeling so much because you don’t need to get far from the shoreline to find corals and marine animals. You can swim as far as 20-30 meters away during low-tide. But, beware of the sea urchins, they’re everywhere. They look scary with their long black thorns. So I highly suggest you wear aqua shoes because aside from the black sea urchins there are also sharp coral reefs and slippery rocks. Flip flops or just bare-footing aren’t advisable either.

Clown fish.jpg
Clown fishes

As for the food, they prepared delicious and sumptuous meals which only cost Php250 for lunch or dinner and Php200 for breaksfast. Not bad especially when you’re in an island, right? They also made an extra effort in creatively preparing the food, just look at those photos below, aren’t they appetizing? We were served with fresh grilled Lapu-lapu fish, crabs, pork liempo, ginataaang langka, srambled eggs, longganisa, pancakes, nachos, dilis, fruits and other veggies. You can also order softdrinks and beer for only Php45-50 only!

The staff who attended to us – Mang Armie, Kuya Toto, Lenlen, Robert, and the other boatmen – were all kind, courteous, trustworthy, and accommodating. Thumbs up for these guys! 🙂

Overall, we had a great time at Tambaron despite the heart-stopping island hopping activity. My only advice, make sure when you board that boat for island hopping you wear a life vest, it’s better to be safe than sorry right? And because there was no signal, no WiFi, and power was out most of the time, we truly had a break from the hustles of social media. We just enjoyed the company of each other, exchanging stories, talking about anything while marveling at the beauty of the island. It’s a relaxing and refreshing feeling. Tambaron Grren Beach is not a posh island resort, so do not look for things you see in Boracay. It has it’s own beauty and charm, you just have to explore it. I believe Bulalacao is yet another diving spot waiting to be discovered.

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mi familia

Tips

  • Prior to the trip, ask the resort staff if they have enough life jackets for you, if they don’t, better to bring your own.
  • Bring waterproof camera, snorkeling gears, goggles, flippers and/or aqua shoes for a more enjoyable underwater experience.
  • Bring snacks like chips, bread, biscuits, and drinking water.
  • Powerbanks and portable USB fan are very helpful.
  • Cellphone signal: Globe has NO signal, Smart has signal occasionally
  • Bring insect repellants
  • Bring a book to read as you have nothing to do here but swim, lie down, and relax

Hope this post helps!

-Ervie

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