Puerto Galera is the north-westernmost municipality in the province of Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. It is located at the south-western end of the Isla Verde Passage, about 130 kilometers (81 mi) south of Manila.
Puerto Galera is politically subdivided into 13 barangays:
The National Statistical Coordination Board of the Philippines characterizes the municipality of Puerto Galera as First Class based on household income. The population was 32,521 in the 2010 Census of Population conducted by the National Statistics Office.
The town has a number of business and commercial establishments. Candava Supermarket, New Virgo Grocery, Parkway Supermarket, Castillo Store are the popular supermarkets in Puerto Galera. Major banks include Allied Bank, Rural Bank of Puerto Galera, Maxbank, and other microfinance banks.
In addition, Mindoro is quickly becoming key location in the development of renewable energy in the Philippines. With several large wind, hydroelectric, and geothermal projects under construction, the island hopes to be a net exporter of electricity by 2016.
Telecommunication services are provided by Digital Telecommunications (Digitel), Smart Communications, and Globe. Cable and satellite television operators provide access to local and international broadcasts. Broadband Internet services are likewise available through the numerous internet cafes located in all barangays. Community radio stations Beach.fm and Flazh Radio also operate in the municipality
In the summer of 1998, extensive coral bleaching occurred around Medio Island and a large section of a shallow coral reef system (referred to as the "Coral Gardens") died. Since then the coral has regrown with a larger diversity of coral species replacing the prolific table corals. Corals in Puerto Galera were largely unaffected by the 2010 El Niño event.
In 2006 two super typhoons damaged the shallow reefs around Escarceo Point. Many of the faster-growing coral species were destroyed to a depth of 6 metres (20 ft). This represented about 5% of the coral reef in the area. Extensive signs of new coral recruitment were noted in mid-2008. Acropora species (staghorn and table coral) rapidly recolonized the area so that most of the damaged coral has been replaced with new growth.
This coastal town is well known among tourists for its numerous pocket beaches and many snorkeling and Scuba diving spots. The area was designated a Man and Biosphere Reserve of UNESCO in 1973 and has some of the most diverse coral reef diving in Asia. The marine environment has benefited in recent years due to income from tourism. This has seen a huge reduction in the number of fishermen in the area, as they gain higher revenue from tourists.
Puerto Galera is listed by the Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World, and is the only bay in the Philippines to be listed there.
Among the beaches in Puerto Galera are Sabang Beach and White Beach, which have an active nightlife with numerous bars and restaurants.
Sabang Beach is the main destination for foreign tourists, while White Beach remains popular with local travelers. Big La Laguna Beach and Small La Laguna Beach are considered part of Sabang with resorts lining the beaches. Big La Laguna Beach is popular for local swimmers and snorkelers. Since 2001, White Beach has seen uncontrolled development. New restaurants and places to stay are rapidly encroaching on the beach itself. The town proper has relatively few attractions. It has a large central Catholic church and a pier area with some dining outlets.
Behind the beaches are the huge and generally unexplored mountain ranges of central Mindoro. A particular local attraction is the 9-hole golf course perched on the hillside above White Beach which commands spectacular views over Puerto Galera's natural harbor and the Verde Island Passage. Mangyan tribes are scattered over the mountainsides - some of the more remote tribes have virtually no contact with the outside world. Of the eight tribes on Mindoro, the Iraya are the largest. They are based in the Puerto Galera area.
Puerto Galera is among the top diving destination in the Philippines. Excellent diving is found less than 5 minutes from Sabang Beach. The diving generally focuses around the areas either side of Escarceo Point. Marine life is highly diverse. 180+ species of nudibranchs are found in the area and many species of fish can be seen. A variety of wrecks have been sunk over the years in addition to the one wreck of an engine of a WWII Japanese patrol boat.
Puerto Galera is also one of the main technical diving destinations in Asia. Technical Diving International - TDI has many dive centers in the area, offering the full range of TDI courses from Basic nitrox to advanced trimix.