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.