Mindoro Island is an unspoiled island within easy reach of Manila. It is split roughly north-south into two provinces, Mindoro Occidental to the west, and Mindoro Oriental to the east.
The only airport on Mindoro is San Jose, in Mindoro Occidental. There are daily flights to/from Manila (only one flight each way per day as of March 2019). Philippine Airlines have flights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Cebu Pacific have flights on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Note that all departures from Manila are very early in the morning, and Philippine Airlines use Clarke Airport in Angeles city. There is an seaplane service with Air JUAN which departs from Manila Bay and flies directly to Puerto Galera however this is of course far from cheap. The best option is a bus to Batangas port and a ferry across from there.
The shipping service from Batangas is Ro-Ro (about 3 hours) or fast ferry (about 1.5 hours), 24/7.
From Coron small bangkas leave four times weekly (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday as of January 2014). The fare is 800peso and the crossing takes approximately 7hours. A small meal (e.g. chicken adobo) is included in the cost. Be aware that the schedule is subject to change at short notice and the coastguard may not allow the boat to leave in poorer weather.
From Caticlan several RoRo boats leave daily to Roxas, the first at 6am and last at 5:30pm, although there is also a "tentative" 10pm ferry. Fare is 400peso and the crossing takes roughly 3.5hours.
Dimple Star bus company run regular buses and vans between the towns on Mindoro. You can catch a DimpleStar bus from Cubao Station in Manila all the way to San Jose Occidental. Fare is $1,200 pesos one-way as of May 2016. Plan on arriving in Cubao Station by 5:30AM to ensure you do not miss the bus. The bus will travel down the South Luzon Expressway and stop in areas such as Laguna. Once the bus arrives at the Batangas Port Terminal, you may have a very short amount of time to acquire food at the restaurant shops near the customs area. Expect food to be overpriced a little and do not be surprised if you are charged more than the locals. If you have a native Filipino with you, a good idea is to send them to scout the area and have them order the food for you to bring back on the bus.
The subsequent boat ride is exactly 3 hours from Batangas Port to Abra De Ilog on a Ro Ro (A boat that carries both passengers and automobiles). Usual time of departure is at 12 noon, however as with anything transportation in the Philippines, times are not always strict. It is a beautiful ride and extremely scenic/relaxing. Feel free to go to the top of the boat to photograph the nearby islands.
Once the boat arrives at Abra De Ilog, the DimpleStar bus will take around six hours to reach San Jose Occidental. IT will stop on all of the towns in between Abra De Ilog and San Jose to drop off and pick up passengers. Expect the entire travel time from Manila to San Jose to take 16 hours. If you are short on time and you are headed back to Manila, keep in mind the transit back to Manila is MUCH LONGER as the DimpleStar bus will be hitting afternoon/evening traffic from Batangas all the way into Manila. This trip is an all-day affair. You can expect to leave San Jose Occidental around 4:00AM and arrive in Manila at 11:00PM. Expect this trip to take even longer if it's on a Friday or Saturday. Consider flying back to manila as the flight is usually 800 to 1,200 pesos more than the bus and will save you a monumental amount of time. It is common for people to ride Dimplestar to San Jose and fly back to Manila.
You can also catch a ride on a shuttle minivan to San Jose or other areas. The schedules are sporadic, however you will shave off time in transit as you will not be stopping in all of the smaller towns. The trek from Abra De Ilog can shave off two hours out of the usual six hours on a bus.
Sample fares/duration for minivans (January 2017) are: Roxas, Oriental Mindoro to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro - 250pesos/3hrs, San Jose to Sablayan - 140pesos/2hrs. Trikes are readily available in the towns for short journeys. Expect to pay 10pesos for the shortest rides.
Don't believe anyone at Roxas port who tells you that there is no bus to Sablayan and that a van with "Yellow Mega Van" written on the front will go all the way to Sablayan in only 2.5 hours. It stopped in San Jose after a 2.5 hour trip (after waiting 1 hour to depart).
Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro is the famous tourist destination with many beach and entertainment facilities. The rest of the island is underdeveloped and perfect for travellers who like to get away from the crowds and experience a more traditional side of the Philippines.
San Jose Occidental in Occidental Mindoro is the largest town on the island of Mindoro. It is virtually on the complete opposite side of Puerto Galera. There is not much to do here besides kill time and enjoy the scenery near by Magsaysay which is a mountain town.
Scuba diving at Apo Reef
Sablayan in Occidental Mindoro is the gateway to Pandan Island and the world-famous dive site of Apo Reef. There is only one resort on the island - book ahead or bring your own hammock. The two dive shops run day trips to Apo several times a week. There are 3 ATMs in town that accepts international cards, one was offline, one rejected my card and the last one dispensed cash with a 10 000 peso per day limit. Change your money into pesos before you arrive. It might not be easy to find money changers.
Aroma Beach is a beach in San Jose Occidental. It is a beach for locals and not necessarily one of interest for tourists. The sand is a bit coarse and the water gets deep very quickly. Ideally this is a place to jump in the water when it's hot.
There are local restaurants in the major towns. San Jose Occidental does have a Jolibee, as does Calapan and Sablayan.
Outside of Puerto Galera options are somewhat limited, although you will find local bars everywhere. There are a few bars on Aroma Beach in San Jose Occidental.
Although ATMs are a rarity on the island of Mindoro, there are several scattered around the towns. Carrying extra cash is advisable, however ATMs do not consistently work, have money in them, or remain accessible 24/7.
As of January 2014 there was at least one ATM in San Jose that accepts foreign VISA cards, located outside Philippine Bank and accessible 24/7. There was also reportedly an ATM in Sablayan, as mentioned above.
As of May 2016, if you are in San Jose Occidental, go to the Gaisano Capital San Jose. They do have an ATM on site and it's a safe area. This ATM does accept international cards (Verified to accept U.S. Bank cards). The shopping center closes after 8:00PM daily.
As of December 2016, there are 10+ ATMs in the town of San Jose, many with international banking connections.
Gaisano Capital San Jose is a shopping center located in San Jose Occidental. There is a supermarket where you can purchase any general item you need from snacks and drinks (especially Gatorade), vegetables and meats, to soap and laundry detergent. There is a small liquor store inside as well. Other shops in the shopping area include clothing stores and various native restaurants.
Be sure to load up on Gatorade and/or water here as Gatorade in other parts of the island will be slightly overpriced, or in some cases, not available at all.
Boats to Caticlan (from Roxas), Coron (from San Jose 4x weekly - Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday) or Batangas (from Calapan or Puerto Galera), daily flight from San Jose to Manila. Be aware that the scheduled boat to Coron is subject to change at short notice and the coastguard may not allow the boat to leave in poorer weather.