Apo Island is the place to visit when you want to go swim with the turtles, and is quite popular for diving. The island’s surrounding waters is a marine reserve, so you’re guaranteed the corals are alive—in fact, they’re the most colorful I’ve seen so far in the Philippines. Avid divers can attest to this, too.
If you’re solely out to see the turtles, they’re only a few meters away from the shore. It’s a thriving population, and they move closer when they feed.
How to get there:
Apo Island is in Dumaguete, so your first task is to reach Dumaguete. Rent a van or take one of the buses next to the local Robinsons Mall that can take you out to Malapatay, about 30 minutes outside of town. From there, you can take a bangka to Apo Island.
If you’re from Cebu, you have three options. If you like a scenic trip, or if ferry and flight schedules aren’t convenient for you, you can take a bus from the South Bus Terminal headed for Liloan Port, Santander or rent a van to take you there. A 30-minute ferry ride leads you to Sibulan Port in Duamguete. There are also daily ferries from Pier 1 that go straight to Dumaguete, which can take four to six hours, depending if you take a fast ferry or not. The easiest way is to fly from Cebu to Dumaguete. However, flights are in the afternoon and you may have to stay in Dumaguete overnight, as bangkas to Apo Island only operate until 5:00 PM.
Essentials to bring:
- Snorkeling gear, because the rentals can get pricey
- • Fins, because the current gets pretty strong
- • Aqua shoes, because it’s not all sand there! You find some pretty sharp rocks
- • Food. There are only two resorts, and the food can be a bit expensive
Apo Island is ideal for a day trip, especially if you’re already traveling to Dumaguete. Otherwise, you can stay overnight in either of the resorts or you can settle for home stays. There’s no electricity there, though, so they give you solar lamps. The bright side—you get to see a clear sky full of stars at night.
The bangkas are quite pricey, so it’s best to travel in groups. It’s P2,000 for a roundtrip four-person bangka, P3,000 for an eight person one. If you’re a solo traveler or a couple, you can take a while and wait for others to share the cost.
Aside from snorkeling, swimming and diving, you can walk around the little town. It’s quite interesting to see the locals and how they live. Facing the island, there’s a little lake on the right side. You can also climb up to the lighthouse. The foot of the stairs starts out just by Liberty Lodge.
The two resorts on the island is Liberty’s Lodge and Apo Island Beach Resort. Liberty’s Lodge has hillside rooms that have breathtaking views of the island, and has a lighthouse on the property. Apo Island Beach Resort has a secluded beachfront location, and has a generator that supplies the resort with electricity all night.
Before you venture off to swim with the turtles, stop by the Marine Park Office to pay the conservation fees. Some packages already have these built in, so make sure to discuss it with your operator.
After exploring underwater, check out Boluarte, a volcanic rock formation that is one of the island’s landmarks.
Some sites to see in Dumaguete:
- Twin Lakes
- Casaroro Falls
- Pulang Bato Falls
Must try restaurants in Dumaguete:
- Sans Rival