Off the southeast coast of Negros Oriental, Apo Island is a rising favorite among Filipinos and tourists alike. The Island’s white sand beach, crystal clear waters and fascinating rock formations all make for a breathtaking view and an even more relaxing getaway.
How to Get There
The most common route to Apo Island is through Dumaguete City. Once in Dumaguete, you can take a multicab from the Bellfry Tower to the Dauin Public Market which is 20-30 minutes away for Php13. From there, you can take a jeep to Malatapay Public Market which is 10-15 minutes away for Php8. You can also go via pedicab for Php15. If you’re looking for a more convenient and less hassle mode of travel, you can head to the Dumaguete Bus Terminal and ride a bus straight to Malatapay Public Market for Php50. The travel time is roughly 45 minutes to an hour. From Malatapay Public Market, there are boats that leave throughout the day that can take you to Apo Island which is 45 minutes away from the mainland.
Since we were already in Zamboanguita, we just rode a car that took us straight to Malatapay Public Market where we met Kuya Ken, our tour guide (you can reach him at 09262234842). From the market, he accompanied us on the boat ride to Apo Island. Because we were a big group of 12, we rented one big boat for Php 3,000 and one small boat for Php 2,000 roundtrip. Make sure to put your belongings in a waterproof bag to avoid them getting soaked during the boat ride.
The Island Experience
While the spectacular beaches of Apo Island is more than enough reason to pack your bags and go there, it’s the experience of swimming with the giant sea turtles or pawikan that makes it stand out among the rest.
Because we arrived in the Island early in the morning, a little past 8 a.m., we were able to spend a lot of time swimming with these magnificent animals without any other tourists. Seeing them up close was amazing, especially when they would go up the surface to breathe. There really is something incredibly exhilarating with witnessing and interacting with nature’s creatures in their natural habitat. It was definitely an experience that will never be forgotten.
Of course, our trip wouldn’t be as wonderful as it was if not for our guides. They knew exactly where to look for the turtles and readily volunteered to take our pictures for us – and they were good pictures and videos too. They were also very accommodating to our needs. When my aunts got tired of swimming, they provided them with a lifesaver which they tugged across the water to help them.
The turtle viewing area was pretty shallow so you’ll be able to walk through the waters. It’s best though that you wear booties or aqua shoes because of the sharp corals and the rocky seabed. There is also a section of coral gardens in the water. I found them to be very pretty and alive with colors.
After our swim, Kuya Ken arranged a delectable lunch for us. We were served grilled fish and liempo for a reasonable price of around Php 150 – Php 250 per head.
Apart from the turtles, Apo Island also has other attractions to be explored – the lighthouse and the rock formations. Unfortunately, the adults in my group were already tired after the swim so we decided to return to the mainland by 2 p.m.
While a lot of Apo Island’s visitors go for a day trip, the two hotels in the island, namely Liberty Lodge & Dive Resort and Apo Island Beach Resort make an overnight stay possible. Keep in mind though that the island has electricity brownouts every night and that water is limited.
68 thoughts on “Apo Island and the Turtle Sanctuary Experience”
Wow, what an amazing experience. I would love to try this.
I absolutely agree with you Robin.
This sounds and LOOKS like an amazing experience. The waters are perfectly clear and one can even stand up straight meaning it could be great for little ones too.
I am adding more and more to our bucket list. Would be great to know the Prices in Dollars. Thanks for the inspiration Awesome post Karla!
Wow those pictures are amazing! This looks like such a wonderful experience!!
What an amazing experience! I would love to see all the turtles in their natural habitat. I’d also love to take in the beauty of that habitat, too!
This looks like an amazing place to visit. I can’t believe how crystal clear the water is.
Oh my goodness what an amazing looking place – those photos under the water are just WOW!
Simply wow! I would love to swim here with these turtles.
I LOVE turtles! I bet this was a lot of fun.
This looks like an amazing place to visit. I want to see all those turtles.
Underwater adventures are the best!!! That seas turtle is so awesome, you lucky fish! I can’t wait to do this. Hahah reminds me of the turtle in finding nemo. I hope he’s in finding Dory
Oh I love turtles! They are so cute! Im happy to see more pictures of your trip
I was just telling my husband today that I’d love to visit the Philippines! This looks like a beautiful island and the turtle sanctuary experience sounds amazing!
wow, just wow. Look at those fab pictures. I so want to swim with the turtles.
This experience looks amazing and seems like something I would love to do. It’s wonderful that everything is done within the turtles’ natural habitat too.
I know that is so cool. It would be incredible seeing these turtles in their natural habitats! They’re awesome animals.
Gosh this just sounds so amazing. I didn’t know about that sanctuary! I love the pictures!
I so love reading your posts! Each one makes me feel I’m on vacation! This looks so refreshing.
It’s such a beautiful island and it’s untouched so it’s really a wonderful experience for tourists! I love that you can swim with the turtles as well. The water is so clear!
wow, this is going on my bucket list. Looks like a fun adventure, I’m going to check it out.
I would love to vacation there. My middle son loves to dive and explore the waters, he would have a great time!
Wow, I wish I can go there someday and have some interaction with the “pawikan”. I would love to bring the whole gang!
I need to go!!!
Nice adventure! I haven’t seen a pawikan up close, I wish I could go there too and enjoy the view! The rates seem reasonable.
Wow, the water is so crystal clear! I’ve been in places but I’ve never heard of the beauty in here.
This is beautiful! I went swimming with the turtles in Hawaii last month an it was amazing <3
Wow, this place looks amazing and your pictures are outstanding.
I have an uncle who actually lives in the Philippines and I plan to ask him if he ever heard or went to this place.
The turtle sanctuary is absolutely stunning and I like that the water is shallow as well. What a magical experience.
Oh, what a wonderful experience. I want to experience swimming with the turtles.
I love all of the pictures. We’ve been to a turtle farm before in the Caribbean. It’s so neat seeing them up close.
This looks like a great experience. I would love to visit and swim with the turtles.
beautiful photos! I love turtles, I would love to go here, thanks for sharing!
I love swimming with turtles, Apo island looks beautiful. Someday I’ll visit.
Oh yes I would love a day trip. This sounds awesome to me.
That looks like such a beautiful place. I would love to experience that. The turtles are so neat! The coral garden looks so amazing!
OMG this is just BEAUTIFUL! My husband dives and we always talked about me getting certified so I could see amazing things like this!
What an amazing experience! I would love to be able to swim with sea turtles!
Omg! I love turtles! What an amazing experience! I would love to try this one day! Looks like you had a blast!
What a wonderful place to go. I would love to try all that out. For sure!
Who would pass up the opportunity to swim in such a beautiful place, right? This is definitely a great place for tourists and locals alike. I love how clear the water is and the fact that you can swim with turtles as well!
What a beautiful swim! I am loving the captures and inspired for my own aquatic adventures!
Wow, the water is so magnificent! I love sea creatures and hope that one day I could go in this place!
Me too, the water looks so great- crystal clear! That turtle looks so adorable!
This just looks absolutely amazing!! What a fantastic experience
Looks amazing! I want to see them in live. Beautiful
What an amazing thing it would be to swim with those turtles. I’ll have to check this out to see if it’s somewhere we’d go on vacation.
This is an awesome experience. Definitely something to add to the bucket list.
oh, my goodness! That’s a really cool experience. Thanks for sharing!
I love the corals! I’ve been dreaming of getting in a coral garden when I was little and I still hoping to see one!
Oh wow! I would love to visit this place and swim with the turtles!
What an awesome experience, to swim with the sea turtles. We had an opportunity last summer, but we didn’t end up going! Kicking myself now.
What an amazing experience! I’ve never heard of a place where you could swim with sea turtles!
Wow! This is so amazing. I would love to swim with turtles.
This would be such a beautiful sight to see, I love turtles!
The Apo Island Turtle Sanctuary sounds like a great place to visit. I really does look so relaxing and peaceful. Turtles have always been an interest to my sons and I so this would indeed be a treat for all of us. Thanks for sharing your experience.
What a great underwater experience! I’ve never heard about Apo Island and now I’m putting it on my travel destination list.
Holy crap! How on EARTH did you get those awesome under water photos – and they’re SOOOOO clear!
Such a gorgeous location. The water is so clear. It must have been amazing to be able to swim with the turtles.
Looks like a great adventure you have! I want to see sea turtles too and swim with one!
Wow what an absolutely amazing experience. Such beautiful photos – it really looks like a paradise under the water. x
Oh my! This is like a dream come true for me. I am fascinated by sea turtles!
Wow! What an awesome experience! I’d love to do this!
Was supposed to go there few years ago but then I got pregnant and no more adventures for me lols. Hope to go there soon with my family.
The Apo Island Turtle Sanctuary looks so freaking awesome, I think turtles are so amazing.
What an awesome experience! I would love to visit this Island
I love the underwater shots!! I do hope I could take my family there soon.
oh my i would totally love this place and your underwater shots are so on point. love them
Oh! I would love to go at this place with my family someday. The water is so clear. My son will love to see the turtle and other sea animals.
What a dream activity! I’d love to do that one day. Looks like you had a blast!