The region is also formally known as the Southern Tagalog Islands.

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Oriental Mindoro Islands Philippines
Oriental Mindoro Natural Attractions

Ambulong Island (San Jose, Occident Mindoro)

The 3,000-hectare Ambulong Island is one of the three islands found in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. It is characterized by white sand beaches, cliffs along pillars jutting out of the water, and underwater caves. Coral gardens and tropical fish are abundant in several coves. The coral gardens and the white sand beaches are fantastic. A fisherman's village is located at the sheltered side of the island.

Ambulong Island is also a jump-off point to some of the dive spots in the area, such as the Iling Point, Baniaga Reef, Ambulong Bank, Dungan Reef, Sardines Reef, Apo Reef, and Manadi Island. These dive sites are about an hour away by pumpboat from the Caminawit Port.

Apo Reef National Park (Apo Island, Sablayan; 2-3 hours by bus/jeepney or pumpboat from the capital to Sablayan)

One of the dive sites frequented by most divers in Occidental Mindoro is the Apo Reef. It is acclaimed as the best in Asia, and as the diving mecca of the Philippines. It is a 34-kilometer reef, located 20 miles west of Mindoro proper, with a narrow channel running east to west, dividing this reef into two lagoon systems, north and south. Underneath, the clean waters, fine white sand, and numerous corals are visible.

The Apo Reef Marine Park includes the fascinating bird-populated islands of Binangaan and Caios del Bajo, which have a variety of birds that can irresistibly lure birdwatchers. The surrounding waters are abundant with marine fauna and luxuriant coral growth represented by approximately 400-500 kaleidoscopic coral species. Marine life includes varieties of sharks, stingrays, and manta ray

Ilin Island (San Jose; an hour by pumpboat from Caminawit Port to Ilin)

Ilin Island is the biggest among the group of islands located in San Jose. It lies between San Jose and Ambulong Island. The area abounds in shells which can be obtained inexpensively on the island. The villagers from the nearby areas are generally shell divers. Ilin Island has five beaches, some of which are fringed with reefs making passage impossible during low tide.

Lubang Island (northwest of Occidental Mindoro and west of Batangas; approximately 69 nautical miles from Manila; an hour by plane, 6 hours by boat)

It was in this island where a Japanese soldier named Hiroo Onoda was found in 1974. He surrendered as a prisoner of war after 30 years of hiding in the mountains. Another Captain of the Japanese Imperial Army, Fumio Nakahira, held out for another six years before being discovered in April 1980 at Mt. Halcon in Mindoro.

On the western portion of Lubang is Tagbac which offers more than five kilometers of a gradually sloping, hued, sandy beach lined with coconut trees. Tagbac is around 20 minutes from Lubang town proper by jeepney. Favorite swimming areas are Tilik Beach and Canu Beach.

Another interesting spot is Hulugaan Falls, located in Barangay Binacas in the southeast portion of Lubang. Hulugaan Falls is a series of falls leading to a stony beach. It is accessible via a one-hour ride from Tagbac and a 20 minute trek.

Ambil Island (north coast of Lubang; an hour by pumpboat from Tilik Pier in Lubang)

An interesting attraction of Ambil is the scenic Besay Falls, which is a 20-minute walk from the center of Barangay Tambo, passing through a rice plantation and a carabao pasture. Besay features a series of waterfalls, each cascading into a crystal clear basin, about five meters in diameter.

Cabra Island (southwest of Lubang; 30 minutes by pumpboat from Tagbac port in Lubang)

The island is generally flat with golden sandy beaches on the southwestern part and magnificent rock formations along the east coast. Cabra used to be a popular pilgrimage site because of reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin there. Like Ambil, Cabra is also a favorite fishing ground of local and foreign anglers.

Mt. Iglit (San Jose; 40 minutes from Manila by plane or by sea)

Mt. Iglit is one of Mindoro's reservation areas, declared as a game sanctuary for tamaraws, wild animals found nowhere else in the world. The tamaraw bears a close resemblance to the Philippine water buffalo, commonly known as carabao. However, it is smaller and has shorter horns growing straight upwards forming a V, instead of curving wide open like that.

Pandan Grande Island (Sablayan; 3 hours by bus and 15 minutes by pumpboat)
Pandan Grande Island is a 30-hectare islet surrounded by a white sand beach and is also the site of a 20-room divers' lodge made of native cottages. This beautiful little coral islet is located with snorkelling distance from a submarine drop-off, inhabited by schools of reef. A yacht ride may be taken to the island.

Tayamaan Beach (Barangay Tayamaan, Mamburao; 6 hours by bus to Mamburao then a tricycle ride to the beach)

It is a one-hectare beach lined with coconut trees. The beach is ideal for swimming and is frequented by local residents. It has picnic cottages lined along the beach that can be rented to tourists.

White Island (Manadi, Barrio Ilin, San Jose; 15 minutes by pumpboat from Caminawit Port)

It has an almost mile-long beach with smooth and powdery white sand. The tranquil and peaceful island is an ideal place for swimming, scuba diving and fishing. Turtle eggs are occasionally found buried in the sand, and visitors are cautioned to keep them undisturbed.

Beaches/Natural Springs
Mamburao boasts of an elongated strip of beach with natural and rustic surroundings. One of the province's luxurious resorts, the Mamburao Beach Resort offers cottages to tourists. Local residents frequent the beaches of Tayamaan. Paluan has resorts located at Barangay Marikit, Lipaoy, and Tubili. A partially developed resort presently managed by the local government, called Calawagan Resort, has a natural spring which attracts local tourists. Sablayan has coral reefs that are found at nearby islets. Pandan Isalnd has fine beaches to offer, though still partially developed. Popular tourist spots in San Jose are the beaches along its coastline and the islands which are accessible from the mainland.

Travel Quotes:

One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more. Thomas Jefferson

Just got back from a pleasure trip: I took my mother-in-law to the airport. Henny Youngman

Philippines Cuisine History and Influences

During the pre-Hispanic era in the Philippines, the preferred Austronesian methods for food preparation were boiling, steaming and roasting. The ingredients for common dishes were obtained from locally raised livestock. These ranged from kalabaw (water buffaloes), baka (cows), manok (chickens) and baboy (pigs) to various kinds of fish and seafood. More details at Philippines Cuisine History and Influences

Mindoro (divided into Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro), Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (El Nido, Puerto Princesa)
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