Puerto Galera, a laid-back town in Oriental Mindoro, is the top tourist attraction in that part of the Philippines. To many local and foreign tourists who have not really been there, Puerto Galera is synonymous to the white-sand beach. But that is too simplified a view of this tropical paradise and its offerings. It is also a host to a number of not-as-popular attractions that rightly deserve more recognition, such as the Tamaraw Falls.
Tamaraw Falls is 8 miles from the center of Puerto Galera. It is accessible by jeepney or tricycle. The ride to the waterfalls on either of these two most common forms of transport in the Philippines is a cultural trip in itself. Foreign visitors would get to see rural Philippines, rows of palm and coconut trees, coconut huts, rice paddies, and very friendly locals who are only too eager to wave and give a smile. There are other scenic sites along the way such as Tukuban Falls, Punta Baluerte and Tanapunan Hot Springs. You will see Tamaraw Falls along the road as you reach Barangay (“Community”) Villaflor near the city of San Teodoro.
Before you reach the falls, do not over-anticipate in your mind the splendor of the place because it is not actually a large waterfall. Although these are the most breathtaking waterfalls in Puerto Galera, what you will see is not as tall or as majestic as the popular waterfalls in the Philippines such as the Pagsanjan Falls in Laguna, Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City and Tinago Falls also in Iligan City, Mindanao. Rather, Tamaraw Falls is made up of small waterfalls that come together at the bottom and create a natural swimming pool. A dip in this cool, refreshing Nature-customized pool and picnicking along its perimeter are what make the trip worth it.
By the way, the tamaraw is a water buffalo species that is unique in Oriental Mindoro. Nowhere else in the world can you see a tamaraw. Sadly, though, there are no tamaraws near Tamaraw Falls. The locals say they used to come up in herds near the waterfalls but due to modern tourism, the buffalos have moved farther up Mount Malasimbo. Even so, the trip is still worthwhile-not to mention affordable. You may not see tamaraws or a towering drop, but you will surely enjoy one of the most refreshing baths within a very tropical ambience with the sounds of birds chirping and the cascading waterfalls for a very cheap entrance fee of Php25.
Now that you are convinced to check out this spot while in Puerto Galera, here is how you can reach Tamaraw Falls: from anywhere in Puerto Galera or Calapan, the capital city of Mindoro, you can catch a jeepney going to San Teodoro. Be ready since jeepney rides here are always jam-packed with people and produce to the roof. The most convenient way of seeing the falls and other equally inviting places around Puerto Galera is on a rented van or your own car. From Batangas Pier, there are RORO vessels that carry private and passenger vehicles into Mindoro. It will cost you around Php1000 to 1500, but can you imagine how much ground you can cover in your own car? Rented vans are more expensive at Php2000.