A long weekend is ahead of us. This is probably the first time since the pandemic that people will be free to travel unrestricted and will have a few days to spare. Since most of us live in the metro, our choice of destinations would easily be Baguio City, Sagada, or Vigan in the north.
Unfortunately, these beautiful places are also in the mind of other travelers besides motorcycle riders, so the upcoming northern exodus could mean being stranded in traffic along NLEX, or a Sagada town full of tourist vans.
For those who want a long ride but don’t want to get stuck in traffic this weekend, here are two islands that are perfect for that long haul and at the same time not too far from Metro Manila.
The Island of Marinduque is perhaps best known for the Moriones Festival celebrated during the Holy Week. But with its vast coastal roads and interesting inner roads, the island has no shortage when it comes to adventure.
Balanacan Port, Mogpog, Marinduque
The island itself, through its well-paved 140-kilometer coastal road, can be circumnavigated in just 3 hours or so. But, along the way, there are pretty interesting spots to check out. The most famous spot in Marinduque should be the Luzon Datum of 1911, found in the town of Mogpog, near the Balanacan Port. The Luzon Datum of 1911 was set up during the American occupation and was the base for the first modern survey of the Philippine Islands.
Luzon Datum of 1911 with our host Andy Leuterio of Visor
If you want to tan under the sun, the island has plenty of nice beaches in Buenavista, as well in the town of Santa Cruz, where you can do island hopping with your friends.
Our cozy ancestral house-inspired refuge: Balai La-Hi in Boac, Marinduque
But, for those who are more inclined toward adventure riding, you can check out the Marcopper Mining Corporation’s former mining grounds located in Santa Cruz. Since the mining operations closed 26 years ago due to the Marcopper Mining Disaster, the place looks like a time capsule, where relics from the mining’s past operations can be seen.
Relic of the past: one of the abandoned heavy equipments at the Marcopper Mining site
Getting to the island is pretty easy. Just ride to the Port of Lucena and board a 2-hour RoRo going to Balanacan Port. RoRo fare for big bikes is around PHP 1,300 one way. For small bikes, it’s just PHP 800, if I remember it correctly. Check out the ferry schedule online.
The Island of Mindoro is probably the easiest island to travel to from mainland Luzon. All you have to do is to ride until you reach the tip of STAR Tollway and hop on a RoRo from Batangas Port. RoRo travel is also short, just an hour via Fastcat or 1.5 hours via other RoRo vessels, from Batangas to Calapan. RoRo fare is around PHP 1,200 to PHP 1,300.
However, for those who are more adventurous, we highly suggest boarding a ferry that is going to Abra de Ilog – the “other side of Mindoro”. From there, you can start your Mindoro Loop across the island’s 440-kilometer coastal road, and finish it in Calapan or Puerto Galera.
Tamarao falls, Puerto Galera
For beach bums, there are plenty of beaches on the island, with most of the beautiful spots found in the town of Puerto Galera. For budget-friendly accommodation, go to White Beach. If scuba diving is your thing, go to Sabang Beach. It is also in Puerto Galera where the Big La Laguna Beach can be found.
Enjoying Korean food and drinks in Sabang, Puerto Galera
If you’re into natural falls, you can also check out the Tagbungan Mountain Resort and Lantuyan River located in Baco, Oriental Mindoro. If you have the guts, you can also arrange for a mountain hiking trek at the “Philippines’ toughest climb” Mt. Halcon, also in Baco.
Riding through these two islands, I can’t think of any better adventure bike than the BMW R 1250 GS. The GS has a powerful 1,254cc boxer engine, superb riding aids, and wind protection that is unmatched by any other adventure bike in its class. To know more about the BMW R 1250 GS, please read our review here.
How about you? Where would you spend your 4-day weekend?