The Natural Attractions of Oriental Mindoro Islands, Philippines
The Philippines play host to a spectacular variety of
attractions, from festivals to legendary beaches, but in the Oriental Mindoro Islands, ecotourism is the focal point of its allure, and boasts the most diverse marine system on the planet. On Ambulong Island located in Occidental Mindoro divers accumulate in order to take the hour long boat ride to view these underwater marvels, such as Sardines Reef and Ambulong Bank, and on the island itself a snorkeler can re-discover the wonders of nature in its own coral reefs, populous with vibrant fish species. The most celebrated dive spot in the Philippines and indeed in Asia is Apo Reef National Park, a 34km reef teeming with life, including sharks and up to 500 coral varieties.
Diving is not the only asset to Oriental Mindoro though, Ilin Island villagers plunge into the brine for large sea shells to sell at nominal prices to tourists, and on Ambil Island one can visit the breath taking waterfalls, the shimmering water pitching into plunge pools 5 meters wide. Lubang Island is steeped in history as well as having beautiful beaches; two Japanese soldiers were uncovered, having concealed themselves for over thirty years on the island’s mountains.
A 30 minute boat ride from Lubang takes one to Cabra Island, with it’s arresting natural rock structures, gilded beaches and amazing fishing grounds. Pandan Grande Island is a hub for divers, as it offers accommodation architected in indigenous styles and has great snorkelling nearby. The word ‘pandan’ refers to a cake originating in Malaysia, light green in colour, and also the pandan shrub native to the Philippines. White Island’s resident beach is perhaps the most idyllic, with pure white sands and waters perfect for diving and fishing, inviting even to the sea turtles who lay their precious egg clutches in the sand.
Mamburao beach delivers first class accommodation and nearby Tayamaan Beach is a must; bordered by coconut palms and picnic huts, one can while away the hours in tranquility. Mount Iglit is situated in one of the Philippines’ four ASEAN heritage parks, and protected here are Mindoro dwarf buffalos, or tamaraws, which can only be found in this protected region. Oriental Mindoro holds a number of festivals, including the banana festival, which is held to rejoice the profusions of the fruit after which it is named. Whether seeking seclusion on a pristine beach or the simple joys of nature over and under the water, Oriental Mindoro is bounteous in all one could ask for.