I’ve always been quite fascinated by underwater life (I guess it all started with The Little Mermaid), and it was pretty obvious from the start that exploring this would take up a big chunk of the trip. Snorkeling and diving are main activities in the Philippines, but there were a couple of spots that immediately stood out – one of them being Apo island. This tiny dot between all the other islands is well-known because there are so many sea turtles here to spend your time with – what is more awesome than that? I read it was supposed to be amazing beforehand, but was still a bit skeptical since you’re never really sure when it comes to animals “in the wild” (and possible crowds of tourists). About fifteen minutes after putting on our snorkeling glasses we spotted our first turtle, and it certainly wasn’t the last one that day. Amazing and simply beautiful are pretty much the words that describe it best. For me, this experience was definitely my favorite snorkeling moment ever so far. Not only because of the sea turtles, but also because the coral and fish here were more beautiful and varied than what I’ve seen before. Since I’m a bit of a “scared swimmer” in deep ocean water (I have a slight fear of drowning in the sea due to an experience years ago), I loved that we were able to see all of this beauty so close to the shore – which meant I could enjoy it without worries. Just a little extra plus!
For being such a well-known spot, I found the “crowds” to be super okay and actually very chill in general. We had plenty of “alone time” with the turtles and there weren’t too many other people in the water when we were there. How to get there? Since we traveled to Bohol, Siquijor and Dumaguete, departing from the latter was the most obvious choice since it’s the closest. If you drive south on the main road about half an hour out of Dumaguete city, you’ll reach the point where the well-known Malatapay market in Zamboanguita is held every Wednesday. From here, you can catch a boat which you can share with other people and this will probably be your cheapest option (2000 PHP for a boat with 4 persons, 3000 PHP for a boat with 8 persons, plus an entrance fee for the island of 250 PHP to be added per person). From this departing point it’s only a short boat ride to Apo island, which you can already see from the shore. Other than that, there will also be private boats from the resorts going to Apo, which will obviously be more expensive.
If you’re staying on Siquijor, you can also get there by joining the boat of Coco Grove Beach resort (even when you’re not a guest there). The ride will be a little longer, but since it’s going direct I’d prefer this option. They ask for a minimum of 12 guests to join their boat, for which you will pay 1600 PHP per person (this also includes a lunch, the entrance fee (250 PHP) and snorkeling fee (150 PHP) – so considering the longer distance this is a very fair price). Your other option from Siquijor is to take the ferry to Dumaguete, drive down to the departing point in Zamboanguita and take the boat to Apo there (but honestly, I’d consider this too much of a hassle and waste of time for the little amount of pesos you’ll be saving on this). In conclusion, I can only say – go to Apo island to admire these beautiful creatures (but please be respectful: clean up your trash and don’t touch the animals) and have the best snorkeling experience of your life.
note: For all our underwater pictures I used the Nikon COOLPIX AW130 camera, which I borrowed from the brand.