Sitting with one of the beach dogs we had befriended, I looked out across the silvery water and could smell a mixture of salt and impending rain in the air. I was glad that we were staying for an entire week. Talipanan Beach was quite small and cozy and was said to be the quiet answer to White Beach, considered the go-to party beach in Puerto Galera, Philippines. We overnighted at two accommodations during our vacation, one at each end of the beach: Bamboo Beach House Lodge and Restaurant and Mountain Beach Guest House.
We spent the week enjoying an excellent beach vacation complete with a variety of activities in the sea and in the jungle. Here’s what we did during the week in no particular order:
Bamboo Beach House Lodge and Restaurant, the first place we stayed, had kayaks to use for guests. One morning I used my jet lag to my advantage and watched the sunrise from a hammock on the beach before taking one of the bright blue plastic kayaks onto the water. I waved to Mindy who decided to relax in a hammock with one of the beach dogs and I was off! Curious about what was beyond Talipanan Beach, I went left.
The waves were quite calm and I couldn’t believe how clear the water was. As I paddled, I took in the panorama. On my left was the shore full of enormous jagged rocks, jungle and secluded beaches, before me were mountains in the distance and to my right was the expanse of the sea. Occasionally, I passed small boats with friendly locals who returned my smile and wave.
After a while, I decided to stop at one of the beaches to go exploring. I pulled the kayak up on the sand and surveyed where I was. My first thought is that this would make a perfect place for a picnic. The white sand was so soft on my feet and the rocks were colorful and varied. I loved hearing them click against each other as the waves left the shore. On one end there was even a small cave surrounded by very tall rocks. It felt like the kind of place that changes loneliness into simply being alone.
I could not miss the opportunity to go diving off the coast of Puerto Galera, a place most known for its smaller creatures like sea worms and a variety of the smallest fish species I have ever seen. Set to the backdrop of brightly-colored coral, I was able to see an electric clam, giant purple clams that are currently protected, a sea snake and so many kinds of tropical fish.
There are two dive resorts right in Talipanan Beach: El Cananero, run by Italians and DeLuna, run by Russians. I chose the latter for no other reason than the Italians were out of town. There are many other dive resorts in neighboring White Beach and the staff at any hotel will help arrange a dive excursion. While I found DeLuna to be very safe and knowledgeable, I would most likely not use them again because of their equipment (more about this below).
After sharing my scuba diving excitement with Mindy, we decided to go snorkeling together. On the end of Talipanan Beach that is closer to White Beach, there is a protected reef in which you can go snorkeling. So we rented masks, snorkels and fins and set out. We have a special way that we snorkel together: I wear the fins and hence am the one who propels us through the water. I put my arm around Mindy and we both point out amazing things that we want the other to see.
There were SO many beautiful fish of all shapes and sizes that we found ourselves almost constantly pointing under the water. We spotted dozens of bright blue star fish, angel fish, sea urchins, puffer fish, rainbow fish and so many more that we didn’t know the name of. Mindy spotted a yellow eel and one of the coolest water snakes we’ve ever seen. We found out later that it is called a banded sea krait and has powerful venom; thankfully, we’re not a small fish or eel!
The beginning of our snorkel adventure was quite frustrating. The DeLuna masks we had rented were quite faulty and kept filling up with water and both snorkels leaked. The most disturbing though was when I went back to the shop to exchange them. The woman simply put the ones I had given her back on the shelf without cleaning them or anything. When we both got horribly sick a couple days later, we wondered if the equipment we were given had also not been cleaned. Next time, we would simply rent masks and snorkels for 150 Pisos directly from a boatman or have the hotel staff arrange this.
Hiking to Talipanan Falls
Talipanan Falls is a very short hike from the main road. A guide will cost you about 300 pisos each or you can easily go on your own, which is what we did. We walked up to the main road and we joined a dirt road just across from the fancy (and super expensive) Infinity Hotel.
We passed goats and cows tied up along the side and within two minutes of walking we had already arrived to Mangyan Village. As we were told to, we kept walking through the village past the basketball court keeping the river on our right. We came to the anticipated fork in the road and went left because we wanted to see the pigs, which turned out to be the saddest part of our entire trip to Talipanan Falls.
The pigs were so lovely with such friendly personalities but they were not treated well and it was clear that they were only seen as food. The falls were predictable and we left feeling rather down.
Visiting Mangyan Village
We made sure to visit Mangyan Village, which is known for their weaving, a couple of times. One of the times we visited, we happened to be there when the vice-mayor of Puerto Galera and a LOT of soldiers from the Filipino Army were for a Feeding Program. We were invited to stay to watch the performance of a traditional women’s dance by some of the village women and we are so glad that we did. The dance illustrated beautifully the various agricultural seasons. Several of the women had dresses made of wood, which was surprisingly soft.
We also enjoyed watching children play marbles and various other games. There were also plenty of opportunities to watch a variety of woven products like baskets, hot plates and coasters, getting made and of course there was ample opportunity to purchase some of these products which we happily did.
Being Vegan in Talipanan Beach
In short, being vegan in Talipanan Beach, much like most of the Philippines, was very challenging. No one understood the word “vegan” but “strict vegetarian” got us a little closer. Every meal required a lengthy conversation about what we do and do not eat and ideas like “oh they do not eat cow milk, then they must not eat cow cheese” did not seem to come into play, which was one of the reasons the conversations were so involved. The hardest thing to find was any sort of protein.
Thankfully we brought some of our own food with pop top cans, Cliff bars and other ingredients that were bought in Manila. Breakfast was included at both of the hotels with had booked: we could eat plain rosti, which were like hashbrowns, at the Bamboo Beach hotel and oatmeal with banana at Mountain Beach Resort. We added a Cliff bar to each breakfast every morning.
Other meals became even more challenging. Lucca’s Italian Restaurant offered two vegan options (as long as you told them to leave off the sprinkled cheese on top. We tried the pomodoro and the putanesca and we found that both sauces were exactly the same and they both tasted terrible. We did get an order of penne aglio e olio from them once and then added a can of chickpeas to it once we got it home. We also tried the chop suey and vegetable curry (after asking them to make the curry with coconut milk instead of cow milk) at Bamboo Beach House and both tasted ok.
There is a VERY limited amount of food items for sale in Talipanan Beach but there are more markets in neighboring Puerto Galera – this is where we found tofu, small cans of chickpeas, some fresh vegetables and some fruit. So, our biggest advice to anyone wishing to visit Talipanan Beach, which we do recommend, be sure to bring as much of your own food as possible and stay at a place with a fridge. Both Bamboo Beach House and Mountain Beach Resort had rooms with fridges available.
When to visit Talipanan Beach
We went during the rainy season and if you are looking for peace and quiet as well as gorgeous lush greenery, this is the perfect time to visit. If, however, you want to party, then go during the high (dry) season. We were told that the noise from neighboring White Beach is often so loud, that Talipanan Beach guests have complained to the staff. If you are looking for a quiet vacation during the high season, we recommend going to a quieter place like Siquijor.