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Bluewater Resorts

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Occidental Mindoro | The Surprising San Jose

Anybody who had never touched the sands of Occidental Mindoro would not expect that something in here could figuratively blow one’s mind. We were supposed to climb Mt. Iglit but what we thought to be an unfortunate unavailability of our groupmates turned out to be an unexpected blessing that came in full disguise. With only Agnes and I left to continue the trip, we decided to go on a 5-day backpacking escapade around the province of Occidental Mindoro with our first stop at the surprisingly beautiful town of San Jose.

We arrived at the town’s airport early in the morning with no concrete plan on where to stay or where to begin. We had a thought of booking a room at the better-known Grace Island Resort but for whatever reason, the place was not answering our call. In desperation, we asked one of the terminal officials for help and thankfully, he suggested the newly built Bluewater Beach Resort situated at the beautiful Island of Ambulong.

The resort was a revelation. I wasn’t expecting much from the place but the stunning sight of limestone cliffs standing firmly on clear and calm blue waters immediately made me a sure-fire believer. 

As our boat was starting to dock at the beachside of the resort, I was in total awe. My only wish was that the resort was decent enough for our short stay; but what we unexpectedly had was an extremely beautiful haven. I was indeed surprised and overly stunned. 

As soon as I alighted from the boat, I quickly removed my Tribu Sandals to feel the magical sands of the beach. Step by step, I felt the soft and powdery sands gently massaging my feet. The sun was scorching hot but I didn’t really care. 

I dragged my limped body to the hammock hanged by the beach-front and there, I stared at the glorious sight that gazed upon me. We were supposed to go island hopping through the different beaches surrounding Ambulong but the ambiance of the resort was peaceful enough to make us delay our sojourn for about an hour.

We ate lunch by the beach, rested for a while and had a serene time imbibing the open waters of the secluded resort. I was even so tempted to postpone the island hopping but the opportunity to explore the whole place was exciting enough to drag me off my suddenly lazy butt. We first headed to the Island of General LLanada.

We docked by the beachside of the beautiful secluded island. Of course, there was fine white sand and clear blue sea water but the real attraction of the place was the cottage that the General built for himself. The hut is strategically placed on top of a limestone cliff that can be reached by a 5-minute walk through a cement-paved path. It can be a tiring ascent but the rewarding sight it would give is worth the sweat. 

While in the cottage, we had the magnificent view of Grace Island resort floating on top of the seawater, the towering limestone formations on the periphery of Ambulong Island and the white sand beaches on the other side of Ilin island. 

It was really amazing seeing all those wonderful places from atop. No wonder that the General wants to spend his retirement days in this spectacular place.  

The next stop contains the finest sands I have touched. Situated at Ilin Island, the sands of Inasakan beach resort was truly the most powder-like of them all. 

almost powder
Although the place has an entrance fee of 20 Php per person, the small amount would entitle you to a day of dipping and swimming on the surreal clear waters of the beach. 

Situated inside a cove, the place was seemingly guarded from the huge waves of the open sea thus rendering the beach perfectly calm to swim on. We stayed here for a while, enjoying the heat of the sun while playing around the sapphire blue ocean. 

After 30 minutes, we headed off to the fisherman village of the Island itself. We trekked through the small community to reach one of San Jose’s tourist attractions, the deep limestone caves of Ambulong.

Contorting our bodies and bending our heads, moving inside the deep cave was quite challenging. We only brought two flashlights for the trek making the hike down tougher than usual.

We carefully descended through foot holds and slowly hunched our backs to feel the ground. In about 20 minutes, we finally reached the end of the cave. I tried to enter the smaller holes but the frightening thought of being stuck inside made me think otherwise. 

Even inside the cave I was surprised. I was only expecting a small dome like that of El Nido’s but the deep underground route reminded me of the caves of Sagada. The hike was quite tricky but after seeing the shining stalagmites and stalactites, the effort was worth it.

After having been surprised by the beauty of the small island, we went back to the resort, cooked our meal for about an hour and had our dinner by the beachside backdropped by the orange-tinged horizon silhouetted by tapestry of clouds shimmering with dazzling lights reflected by the setting sun. It was an amazing end to a truly wonderful day of unexpected beauty and majesty.

spaghetti for dinner
The next morning, we packed our bags, went back to the mainland and prepared for a 3-hour journey to Sablayan to experience the wonderful beach and virgin surroundings of Pandan Grande Island and Apo Reef.

I think I can say that San Jose can be described as the Mini-Philippines. Having a beach with fine white sands like the ones in Boracay, Limestone formations that can be compared to that of Palawan’s and deep underground caves reminiscent of Sagada, one can really find something to do because of the diversity of the place.

I may not have expected anything from this province before but after experiencing the grandeur of this otherworldly place, San Jose suddenly became one of the best places I had ever visited. It was a truly an amazing way to start our 5-day backpacking trip.



Next part of the Occidental Mindoro Series
Apo Reef, Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro


Group Itinerary

day 1 (Occidental Mindoro Backpacking trip)

04:00 - departure from Manila to San Jose
05:00 - arrival at San Jose, make arrangements with locals
06:00 - buy food and supplies (the resort we stayed in was still under construction)
08:00 - departure from San Jose mainland to Ambulong
10:00 - arrival at Ambulong Blue Waters resort, rest, lunch
12:00 - start of island hopping
12:20 - arrival at General Llanada island, explore
13:30 - departure for Inasakan beach
14:00 - arrival at Inasakan beach
15:00 - departure for Ambulong fisherman's village,
15:30 - arrival at Ambulong caves, explore cave
16:30 - back at cave entrance, go back to Ambulong Blue Waters resort
17:00 - arrival at resort, prepare dinner
18:30 - dinner, socials
20:00 - lights out

How to go to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro

By Air, daily flights from Manila to San Jose are serviced by Cebu Pacific, Air Phil Express and Zest Air.

By Sea, a two and a half hour Ro-Ro cruise from Batangas Port to Abra de Ilog Port and then a five hour land travel will take you to San Jose

The Resort we stayed in was still under construction but boasts great personnel and management. They were still building the restaurant for the resort that's why we had to buy our own food for our trip.

Excellent beach front rooms situated at a serene and quiet place for a family to spend their days in.


You can contact them at (043) 491-4143; 491-2391 mobile: 0908-8845611. Look for Jonathan Sevilla.

If he asks where you got the info of the resort just tell them from the 2 hitchhiking backpackers that stayed at them for 1 night last February. If he doesn't remember tell him that we were the ones who got his calling card at his hardware store. Tell him we will definitely be coming back!!! 

37 comments:

  1. I am impressed of the photos, ang gaganda!!! ang fine ng sands and the caving, awesome.

    Cheers Dane ;)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Doc Wends! BTW most of the photos came from Magnet. hehe. She's the one worth of praise. thanks again Doc

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  2. Hindi pa ako nakakapunta ng sanjose . Nung nabasa ko to atleast meron na talaga akong reasons para pumunta haha

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    Replies
    1. It really blew our minds. haha. we were not expecting something like this. hehe

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  3. Lazaro Villanueva PaynorMay 10, 2012 at 10:34 AM

    nice, very nice....

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  4. wasn't able to explore San Jose..derecho kasi kami agad ng Apo Reef..just looking at the photos parang gusto ko na bumalik.

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  5. Thanks for coming to San Jose, my hometown. Glad you appreciated it! Hoping that more people come there and enjoy its pristine beauty!

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  6. @lazaro - yup, Diba taga jan ka? swerte swerte nyo. hehe

    @killerfiller - Yup, timing din na walang tao nung pumunta kami kasi Wednesday kaya ang serene serene, although resort is a start up resort thats why sarap magstay jan

    @roniel - your hometown is definitely worth the trip. ang ganda ganda. hehe

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  7. Try Ambil island and Lubang Island.
    Both in Occidental Mindoro.

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    Replies
    1. Ok. Will try to drop by those places when we come back to occidental mindoro!

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  8. ganda talaga ng mindoro. karamihan kasi di na umaabot sa area na yan dahil sa puerto galera. isa na rin ako dun kasi di ko pa natatapakan ang mindoro.

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    1. kea nga e. gulat nga talaga kami nung napunta kami sa ambulong! hehe. di namin akalaing me ganun na malapit sa airport! hehe.

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  9. May is around the time Grace Island was shut down indefinitely for a loooong list of damaging environmental violations. I cringe every time I read a travel blogger go through San Jose and stay there. I could go on and on about all the other sort of issues swirling around the corrupt Grace Island management and their controversy but being shut down for months(and they are STILL shut down) says more than anything that might sound only like gossip to some people. I'm not sure if the resort will ever reopen because they face a LOT of fines and legal issues. Spread the word please.

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    Replies
    1. That is also what our boatman said about Grace Island, that the resort was not environment friendly and the place is somewhat dirty because of poor waste disposal. Let's just hope that if they do re-open they will not violate any environmental guidelines again.

      Thanks for dropping by.

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  10. I don't think the above comment comes from a resident of San Jose and I wonder why he grudge about Grace Island resort. I suggest you better visit the place before posting any negative comments.
    GMA7 has even featured the resort. Here's the resort's website:
    http://www.graceislandresort.com/author/admin/

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    Replies
    1. Hmmm, I don't know. thats what our boatman said. I'll confirm it once we get back there. Thanks for the heads up

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  11. How much is the cost of that kind of travel? Except for the transportation..

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  12. ang ganda naman.. hindi ko to inasahan. katabi lng ng grace island yung pinuntahan nio.. may bago na kaming pupuntahan. nov 22 na!!! taga-san jose ako kaya sobrang saya kapag may ibang tao nakaka-appreciate ng bayan namin. =) salamat sa blog mo! =)

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    Replies
    1. Yes malapit lang sha sa Grace at bago lang sha, pero by now baka tapos na ung ibang ginagawa like ung resto and bar. Gusto nga namin bumalik ulet kahit dyan lang sa resort na yan e. hehe. ganda din kasi ng ambiance at ng resort.

      Thanks!

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  13. Yup! napakaganda nga ng place balita ko binebenta na kasi di maasikaso ng may ari ito ang link http://www.sulit.com.ph/index.php/view+classifieds/id/5217542/12+HECTARES+PRIVATE+RESORT+IN+AMBULONG+ISLAND+FOR+SALE

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    Replies
    1. I was surprised to see that ad. we were there last feb and ung sulit post is march and is recently updated. if i had the money i'd probably buy it. hhahaha. coz ang ganda ng place and secluded. hopefully kung sino man makabili is ma-maintain yung place at mapaganda din ung resort para di sayang.

      Thanks for the info!

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  14. Mindoro has to be our next destination for our resort in the philippines travel!

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  15. Hello, wow! ang ganda naman dito. Hope to experience that fine white sands. Sana maka visit ako dito at kung sino man nakabili nito o bibili pa lang nito ay mamaintain nga sana ang ganda nito. If possible sana magkaroon ng hotel dito kung gagawin nilang mas innovative pa itong lugar na ito. :) Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  16. I'm happy to know that you enjoyed your trip in my home town.:)

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  17. Great photos! How much did you pay for the boat to Ambulong and the island hopping? Thanks! :)

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    1. I think we paid 3k for the boat to and from ambulong including the island hop. I can't remember exactly the price. You can contact the number above to check the rates again.

      Thanks.

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  18. Anyone been here recently? Just want to know kung okay pa rin lahat. :)

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  19. My parents are from San Jose...and I remember spending my childhood summers there. I never had the chance to explore the whole island and the magnificent beaches there...but thanks to you and your blog - now my friends and I have reasons to. I'm so glad you and your friends enjoyed your trip. Maybe we'll see you there next time... :)

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  20. Last year i visit San Jose with family but never see that Occidental Mindoro and its near islands. Your post gives me a reason to discuss about this destination with my family and i am sure we definitely make plan to visit their next month. Very knowledgeable blog with great picture additions.

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  21. our town is one of the most underrated places in the philippines. but somehow the locals are happy to keep our little secret to ourselves. :)

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  22. Also, have you seen sunset from aroma beach? my favorite time of the day whenever I am in San Jose.

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  23. http://www.villapaulinabeachresort.com/

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  24. Wow San Jose is amazing!

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  25. ang ganda,gusto ko sya mapuntahan..

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  26. Ang ganda ng place..gusto ko syang punthan..

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  27. we'll be there this Oct!! i'm so excited hopefully ganito pa dn ang itsura nya since the photos were taken 2 years ago..sana may natira pa

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  28. My tatay is from Paluan, Occ. Mindoro (northern part of the province) and I have been wanting to do a backpacking trip from north to south of Occ Mindoro. I will definitely stay in San Jose!

    Wonderful photos, btw :)

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