Set in a pretty cove, Sabang is jam-packed with hotels, restaurants and dive schools, however, the beach itself is nothing special, and not great for swimming, while the very visible girlie bar scene comes as a shock to many visitors. If you arrive here by bangka from Batangas City, you’ll be dropped in front of At-Cans, a little east of the main road.
At the Filipino Travel Centre office (t043/287-3108) on the main road opposite the Tropicana Castle Dive Resort in Sabang, staff can offer information as well as book local day-trips and plane and ferry tickets. Almost next door, GPLP Tours (t0927/326-0535) runs an extensive range of local trips to waterfalls, Mangyan villages and even as far as Taal Volcano. Just across the road you can change currency at the Western Union, and around the corner from that is a small supermarket. There are a few small internet cafés dotted along the main alley through Sabang, and most hotels and resorts have wi-fi. For a doctor, head for the 24-hour Medical Clinic and Diagnostic Centre (t043/287-3156) 100m up the alley across from the Tropicana Castle.
Accommodation choices in Sabang range from cheaper cottages in small hotels to more expensive dive resort options. Generally speaking the accommodation to the west of the main road, which is closer to the nightlife, is pricier than that to the quieter east. Most of the dive resorts have their own bars where divers tend to congregate – Big Apple Sports Bar and Captain Gregg’s are popular spots. If you’re feeling more adventurous, swim out to one of the floating bars on the main Sabang beach. Outside of the resorts and listings below, Sabang’s night scene is dominated by the go-go bars, and gets seedier as the night progresses.
It’s estimated that there are around 100,000 of Mindoro’s original inhabitants, the Mangyan left on the island, their way of life not much changed since they fought against the invading Spanish in the sixteenth century. With little role in the mainstream Philippine economy, they subsist through slash-and-burn farming, a practice the elders insist on retaining as part of their culture, despite the destruction it causes to forests.
You may well see Mangyan as you travel around the island, often wearing only a loincloth and machete and carrying produce for market, but if you want to actually visit them in their villages, it‘s best to go with a guide who can act as an interpreter. You can break the ice with a few treats such as cigarettes, sweets and matches, but if you want to take photographs, make sure you have their permission. Treks to Mangyan villages are possible in several parts of the island.