Amazing Apo island in the Philippines. Looking to explore the beauty of nature? Want to take a break from civilisation? Like snorkelling or deep diving? Excited to see lovely corals and turtles? Then make sure to include the Apo Island into your itinerary.
Apo island location. The Apo Island is volcanic in nature and takes up 74 hectares in the sea. The south-eastern tip of the Negros Island and the Apo Island are only 7 kilometres apart. The name Apo comes from the Filipino word for grandson.
The Island is surrounded by a highly protected marine reserve which has some of the most beautiful corals in the word and a great number of aquatic turtle habitats. According to estimates, the surrounding waters are home to over than 650 species of fish and 400 species of coral. Give all of the above, it’s no wonder that Apo Island is extremely popular with divers from around the world – it is often included into various TOP 100 lists of the best places for diving.
One day tour or stay for night
Although most people recommend travelers to go on a day-long tour around the Island, we suggest you give it some more time and spend at least one night here – that’s exactly what our family did, and yet we still feel like we should come back and stay for 2-3 full days.
Apo represents a true break from civilization, given that electric power is available here for only 2 hours each evening. This provides for some excellent recreation – the Island has a number of areas that’ll truly make you marvel at the beauty present on this planet. The world under water – corals and turtles. Even if you’re not a fan of diving, or even being in the water, Apo Island might be the place where you finally fall in love with at least snorkeling.
How to get to Apo island
There are several ways of reaching the Apo Island Philippines. Let us tell you about some of those, so you could choose one that best fits your itinerary for the Philippines.
Apo island boat tour
How to get to Apo island from Siquijor. The easiest way to reach the Island by far is to simply buy a day-long tour. Such tours are available on the Siquijor Island and, I’m sure, also on the Negros Island. On Siquijor Island, the tours are organised by COCO GROVE Beach Resort and Oceanlife Explorers. Coco Grove is one of the best hotels on the Siquijor Island, which means that you’ll also get a superior tour – more convenient time, better food, and more comfortable, let alone more beautiful, accommodation on Apo.
This tour will provide you with the opportunity to dive and swim with turtles, and then return to the point of departure in the evening. If you want to stay on the Island a bit longer, however, you can make arrangements with the tour organizers for a one-way trip. This will also cut the ticket price in half.
How to get to Apo from Manila, Bohol, Cebu
How to get to Apo reef from Manila. If you want to start your introduction to the Philippines with Apo, first from Manila you have to buy a local flight to the City of Dumaguete located on the Negros Island.
How to get to Apo island from Bohol, Cebu. Another way to reach Dumaguete is to take a sea ferry from the City of Taglibaran, Bohol or from the City of Cebu located on the island of the same name.
Just find a means of transportation in Dumaguete and ask the driver to take you to Malatapay or just tell them you’d like to go to Apo.
You should eventually reach a small, black, sandy beach in Malatapay. You’ve got two options here. The first is to find a private boat that would take you to Apo, or simply wait for a public one.
Public and private boat
Public boat. If you want the latter, go talk to some café employees, drivers, etc., they should be able to give you some information. The price for boarding a public boat is 300 pesos – just be prepared to do some waiting. Instead of having a set schedule, public boats leave whenever there’s enough people.
A private boat, on the other hand, will set you back anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 pesos (depending on size). In this case, you can depart whenever you want – no waiting required. If you’re travelling in a big group, getting a private boat that can take you directly to Apo shouldn’t be too expensive. Or – if the tourist season is already open – you can always just go to the beach and try to find some fellow travelers willing to hire a private boat with you.
Just don’t forget that boats can’t moor on the shore, so boarding/deboarding is likely to get you wet up to your waist. Make sure you can do that without damaging your things.
When you’re ready to head back, simply reverse the steps you’ve already taken.
What to do in Apo island
Since the Apo Island is rather small, your expectations here should probably revolve around exploring its natural environments. In our case, as soon as we got close to the Island on a boat, we were greeted by a bale of turtles. We could clearly see from above how they swam by, surfaced for air, and continued on their way.
Apo island snorkeling
If you’re a fan snorkeling and you’ve got your own equipment, you can just dive right in and take in the beauty of the underwater world. Even though you can’t swim and dive just anywhere on the Island, there are still quite a few options aside from the main tourist spot. To the right of the tourist spot you should notice some large rocks a little ways off the shore. If you go diving behind them, you’ll find some truly amazing corals.
If you plan on staying on Apo longer than one day, it’s probably best to dedicate the first day to snorkeling or other activities. Even if you’ve seen plenty of beautiful locations in the past, or if you’re just not too keen on diving, we still recommend you hire a diving guide (which should cost you around 300 pesos per day for the whole family). The next morning – before the mass of tourist divers have arrived – and ask them to show you the most attractive underwater locations, corals, fish, and some large turtles.
This way, the entire sea shore will be just yours and no one else’s – just let the guide show you around all the prettiest areas and tell you some stories without anyone interrupting.
If you’ve got your own diving equipment, make sure to bring it along. If you don’t, you can’t rent. Just keep in mind that diving masks here are quite simple and typically don’t cover the entire face. If that’s not to your liking, we recommend you buy your own and keep them handy.
Apo island diving
The Island has multiple diving centers and plenty of instructors. Just ask around! The prices aren’t too steep and, based on what we’ve heard, the views are more than worth diving a little deeper.
Here’s a picture of a sea turtle we took during our time on the Island. If you want to get a better feel for what it means to be swimming with turtles, check out this video!
Apo island tour
Exploring Apo, whether in its entirety or otherwise, can take quite a while despite its relatively small total area. Don’t be discouraged, though – you won’t regret it! At some point during your travels you should come by a map which could help you identify the best locations – from those up high to the Island’s wild, undiscovered beaches.
Just make sure to bring some water as the path is not an easy one, thanks to the uneven landscape. Rest assured, you’ll need all the endurance you’ve got, especially when it’s hot out. You can check out our own trek around Apo on Instagram.
Upon arriving to the Island, you’ll have to pay a 100 peso fee, all of which will go towards maintaining the local natural environments.
Taking pieces of coral, shells, and other sea bounty out of Apo as souvenirs is prohibited.
Although the Island has a number of cafés and restaurants, make sure to also bring some snacks.
Where to stay in Apo island
If you try to look for accommodation on the most popular hotel booking websites, such as www.booking.com, www.agoda.com, or www.airbnb.com, there’s a good chance you won’t find any. Use your common sense, as people are likely to offer you a great variety of different options. Many of the best places are located on the near-by islands (Siquijor, Negros, etc.).
For more information on where to stay, read our article Where to Stay on Apo.
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