When we think of Mindoro, the first thing that comes to our mind is the famous Puerto Galera. It does not come as a surprise because it has beautiful beaches, islands, and coves. Plus, it also has a rich marine life perfect for diving. However, there are times that we want to do close-to-nature activities without going under the sea. And that is what the Calapan City of Mindoro (or Calapan Mindoro) exactly offers.
The great news of visiting Calapan Mindoro is that it is also approximately close to Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
Going there will continually be safe, fast, and convenient via Jam Liner Inc. and FastCat. We can attest to this when we rode their bus and RORO vessel as part of the blogger’s Calapan experience they held.
Indeed, locals and tourists alike may not only enjoy Calapan City. They can also easily make it as their jump-off point for going to the other places of Mindoro.
Traveling to Calapan, Mindoro
You will have to ride two modes of transportation to reach Calapan Mindoro.
1) Bus (Jam Liner Inc.)
Jam Liner Inc. is known for serving direct routes from Manila to provinces of Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon. Their fleet is equipped with nuBus technology, an advanced passenger information system with a Global Positioning System (GPS). Passengers will be able to receive the latest news as well as enjoy dynamic entertainment content and WiFi connectivity onboard.
And for only PHP 168 (or 3.5 USD) per person from JAM Liner Buendia terminal, Jam Liner Inc. is certainly a good choice for going to Batangas Pier. The approximate travel time from JAM Liner Buendia terminal to Batangas Port is three (3) hours.
From JAM Liner Buendia terminal, the trip schedule is as follows:
- 12:30 A.M. for the first trip.
- 11:00 P.M. for the last trip.
If their Cubao terminal is more accessible for you, it’s PHP 175 (USD 3.39) per person.
From JAM Liner Cubao terminal, the trip schedule is as follows:
- 12:00 A.M. for the first trip.
- 10:30 P.M. for the last trip.
While some of my fellow bloggers slept throughout the ride due to the comfortableness of the seats, I did my makeup to look fresh and presentable. It’s an overall smooth bus ride to and fro Batangas Pier and Manila.
By the way, for the routes not covered by JAM Liner Inc., you can ride Philtranco which is also under the management of JAM Group of Companies. It is the oldest bus company with an existence of 103 years and is one of the largest bus company in the Philippines. With a reach from Luzon to Mindanao, they offer an alternative to air travel via their ordinary, air-conditioned, and first-class bus transport vehicles.
2) RORO vessel (FastCat)
Upon reaching Batangas Pier, you will have to ride a roll-on, roll-off (RORO) vessel to finally reach Calapan Mindoro. What I highly recommend is my new top choice – FastCat. It is unlike any other RORO vessels I had ridden before in the Philippines.
The FastCat, a catamaran ferry, features twin hulls. So compared to the typical RORO that only has a monohull, it is more stable thereby enabling it to withstand harsh sea conditions.
FastCat is also designed to keep water out of the vessel. The absence of the additional weight from a ballast tank cuts travel time into one hour and thirty minutes (1 1/2 hours). Faster is certainly always better because we get to do more with our time.
Unlike typical ROROs aged between 2o to 40 years old, FastCat aged 1 to 2 years are equipped with a state-of-the-art navigation and control system. The captain simply maneuvers the ferry with a joystick instead of a steering wheel. Remarkably, the ferry utilizes automatic steering but don’t fret as they can easily revert to manual in case of control system failure.
Such control system is also primarily powered by solar panels and wind turbines.
FastCat is also powered with four superior engines that are fully compliant with international maritime standards. Most ROROs only have one engine.
By the way, the bridge and engine room are restricted areas. We were just allowed so we can see for ourselves the features of the FastCat RORO vessel. It really made us assured that a risk of a maritime incident is minimal.
FastCat’s crew also undergoes regular training to keep abreast with the latest technology, information, and international best practices. It ensures our safety as passengers.
FastCat’s seat classification:
Located at the topmost level of FastCat, it is an open area thereby allowing passengers to enjoy the sea breeze throughout the trip. It can accommodate up to 107 passengers.
- PHP 190 (or USD 3.84) for full fare.
- PHP 152 (or USD 3.07) for students.
- PHP 136 (or USD 2.75) for senior citizens/ PWD (with valid IDs)
- PHP 95 (or USD 1.92) for children.
This is fully air-conditioned with 2 LCD TVs. It can get really noisy and crowded though because the cafeteria is within this area and the clean restroom is just right outside of it. However, if you want to stay close to those key areas, you should, by all means, choose this class.
This seat class can accommodate up to 105 passengers.
Premium Economy Rates:
- PHP 250 (or USD 5) for full fare.
- PHP 200 (or USD 4) for students.
- PHP 179 (or USD 3.62) for senior citizens/ PWD (with valid IDs)
- PHP 125 (or USD 2.52) for children.
It’s almost exactly the same to the premium economy except for the added curtain blinds for privacy. Aside from that, it accommodates fewer passengers with a capacity of 63.
This is where we sat during our trip. We found the seats to be comfortable and there is ample leg space. Go straight to the window seat. You’ll love it!
Business Class Rates:
- PHP 300 (or USD 5) for full fare.
- PHP 240 (or USD 4.85) for students.
- PHP 214 (or USD 4.32) for senior citizens/ PWD (with valid IDs)
- PHP 150 (or USD 3) for children.
Other sections of FastCat:
FastCat’s cafeteria has a wide assortment of food and beverages. There are the staple cup noodles and, of course, rice meals.
We chose a tocino meal for breakfast. It looks pale but it’s actually healthier due to the absence of salitre (or Saltpeter). Meanwhile, kids will surely love a combination of Pizza Pedrico’s pizza and Chuckie as a drink. We ordered it too since we’re always young at heart.
ELEVATOR FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
The car deck can hold up to 34 cars and 7 trucks/ buses. JAM Liner buses don’t transfer to RORO vessels for sea crossing. It is only Philtranco buses who does such.
We would like you to know that the JAM Liner bus we rode from Jam Liner Buendia terminal was only transported because it served as our ride while touring Calapan.
Calapan Mindoro Tourist Spots for a Quick Day Tour
As Calapan is the gateway of Oriental Mindoro, you can certainly explore a lot of attractions from it.
That includes the famous Puerto Galera. I heard it only takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes via a private vehicle. Via public transportation, you’ll have to ride a tricycle from Calapan port to the jeep terminal and then ride the jeep to Puerto Galera.
Anyway, below are the places we explored in Calapan.
Silonay Mangrove Conservation and Eco-Park
With the village of Silonay highly vulnerable to storm surges, the locals cooperated with conservationists such as Conservation International to expand their natural barrier. Indeed, reforestation and conservation of mangrove trees help protect them from storm surges, coastal erosion, and other possible disasters.
The area has been eventually established as the Silonay Mangrove Conservation and Eco-tourism park by the local governments of Calapan City and the province of Oriental Mindoro.
Entrance fee for the Silonay Mangrove Conservation and Eco-tourism park is as follows:
- PHP 50 (or USD 1) for regular adult.
- PHP 40 (or USD 0.8) for senior.
- PHP 20 (or USD 0.4) for student.
- PHP 10 (or USD 0.2) for Silonay local.
The park features a 350-meter bamboo boardwalk that traverses through the mangrove forest. It also has resting huts along the way. Each of the hut though can only accommodate only ten people. Thus, if you’re a large group like us, they’ll have to break you into smaller groups.
Anyway, you can explore the area on your own but it’s better if you hire one of local guides as it’s their source of livelihood. Having a guide also lets you know the areas of interest.
At the end of the boardwalk, one can climb to the top of a 6-meter high tower.
Doing so will enable one to have a panoramic view of the lush mangrove forest and the Silonay River.
I think it can also be a spot for birdwatching provided one has proper equipment. There are 29 bird species that can be seen. Seven of it are classified as endemic which are as follows:
- Phil. Duck
- White-eared Brown Dove
- Phil. Coucal
- Phil. Nightjar
- Pygmy swiftlet
- Lemon-throated Leaf warbler
Visitors can also enjoy kayaking in the Silonay River for only PHP 100 (or USD 2).
After your tour, you can enjoy souvenirs, snack items, and/or refreshments being sold by the local group.
Baco Infinity Farm
When this was specified in our itinerary, we really thought that we’ll be visiting an actual farm (land for growing crops and raising livestock). Add to that the fact wherein we didn’t bother to check out the places to be visited.
We ended up being shocked in a great way of course because this was what welcomed us.
Since we were there for sightseeing purposes only, I don’t know the depth of the water and how many swimming spots the place has. All I know is that people looked like they were having so much fun.
Who wouldn’t be?
People get to dine with their feet soaked in the shallow running water.
The sounds of the cascading waters also are just downright pleasing. It can be a sweet lullaby for those who needs to relax.
Meanwhile, the crystal clear water canopied by verdant trees and plants is irresistibly inviting.
I honestly was about to remove my shoes to jump into the water. Good thing my Yogo, Lloyd, was there to stop me. We were after all there for a different purpose.
Baco Infinity Farm has plenty of picnic tables available for use. Thus, you don’t have to interpose yourself amidst the thick crowd staying at the landing spot picnic area.
Just continue following the paved uphill trail to secure nice spots. Well, as we continued walking this path, we were in for another surprise.
There is a love lock bridge which may be inspired by the former tourist tradition at Pont des Arts in Paris. It is where lovers affix a padlock bearing their initials (also known as “love locks” at the bridge to symbolic their love.
I hope the bridge can withstand the weight of all the padlocks once it’s filled up though.
My Yogo (Lloyd) and I managed to do a pinky promise for returning and enjoying it in it’s full glory. It is just a short 40-minute ride from Calapan City anyway so I don’t think it will be difficult to keep.
SANAKA Banana Chips
For snacks while in Calapan, do drop by at SANAKA (Samahang Nagtataguyod ng Kabuhayan) banana chips factory. SANAKA translates to association that promotes livelihood just to give you an idea.
Empowered women utilize saba, a variety of banana, for the production of their chips. Some women are assigned to peel bananas.
Meanwhile, other women are tasked to cook it. Banana slices from the mandolin slicer fall directly in the large wok filled with oil.
The banana chips may only have simple ingredients: saba banana, sugar, oil, salt, and calamansi. However, each crisp chip is of quality. It also tastes better knowing that it is labored for by passionate women.
SANAKA banana chips can also be a nice pasalubong (gift from travel) for your loved ones.
This is a restaurant often recommended by the locals for their home cooked meals.
When we arrived, food were already at the tables. We just had thirty minutes to eat so we just did quick snaps of it and then ate right away. Even without Lloyd commenting on the food, I could already draw from him that the food isn’t exceptional.
Maybe because we are used to eating great food or because we were expecting to eat Filipino food that is cooked in Calapan City style if ever there was such a thing.
- Sizzling Sisig
- Fried Chicken
Lloyd decided to no longer review it as the food is just really basic.
Isel Ian’s Halo Halo
Due to time constraint, we had our halo-halo for to-go. It nevertheless made us happy as we scoop on it.
“If Razon’s is to Guagua, Isel Ian’s is certainly the pride of the town. It is distinct on its own as the assortment of ingredients utilized is different from the original recipe. As I dig in to the fine ice and rich milk, I find the ingredients used to be delicious. I can no longer name each ingredient in it. What I can only say is that it’s absolutely refreshing and you shouldn’t miss it when visiting Calapan City. The halo-halo alone is a reason for me to return.”
Oh, he is such a foodie!
Suggested Itinerary for a Calapan Experience Day Tour
It is highly recommended that you bring your car or hire a private vehicle in Calapan City so you can follow this itinerary.
For more information:
- FastCat – fastcat.com.ph | www.facebook.com/FastCatOfficial/
- Jam Liner – www.phbus.com/jam-bus/ | www.facebook.com/jamliner/
- Philtranco – www.philtranco.net | www.facebook.com/PhiltrancoOfficial/
- City of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro – www.facebook.com/PhiltrancoOfficial/
To know more about the City of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, you may visit: