Apo Island Day Trip
We went over to Apo Island as a day trip in stead of an overnight stay. Getting to Apo Island is easy, you go down to Zamboanguita where the Malatapay Wednesday market is held. We drove down the deserted market road (it was not a wednesday) all the way down to the beach.
The drive to Zamboanguita from Dumaguete is around 45 minutes in a car.
You can also take the public bus from Dumaguete to Bayawan and just let the driver know you want to get off the bus at Malatapay Market. At the end if the market road you reach the coast guard and boat post.
You can rent either a small banca for P1500 or a bigger banca boat for P2500 - that includes the trip over to Apo, waiting for you while you swim and snorkel and then take you back to Negros around 3.30-4pm.
It seems like a pretty good deal to me, and they have all their prices posted on the board in Zamboanguita so you do not have to haggle with the boatmen about the price for the ride over.
You will probably have the company of a couple of local Apo residents, it seems like they hang around in Zamboanguita waiting for a tourist to come by and rent a boat to Apo Island, and then they hitch a ride for free - well I guess not for free, the boatmen are probably charging them or maybe they just help the boatmen a little with the boat on the way over, either way I don't really mind that, I pick the bigger banca boat for safety and comfort, and as long as they are not in our way.
The ride over to Apo Island from Zamboanguita is around 45 minutes and it is usually a bit wet, so make sure you have your camera etc. wrapped up to protect it from the sea water.
Once you arrive on Apo Island, you have to go to the registration office on the beach there where you register your party and pay the Apo Island Sanctuary fees, these fees are going to the local people on Apo island to help them keep the island interesting for tourists, both for cleaning up the place and keeping everything on the island working but also for supporting the people that can not make a living fishing because of the sanctuary status.
Apo Island Map
1) Marine Sanctuary and Protected Seascape, Clown Fish City is also in the marine sanctuary.
2) Rock East.
3) Rock West.
12) Apo Island Beach Resort and Dive Center.
13) Liberty Lodge and Pauls Dive Center.
14) The Lighthouse.
15) Apo Village.
Apo Island Fees:
General Admission P100 per adult and P10 for minors (12-18 years of age) Dauin residents get in cheaper at P10 for all ages but you got to bring you cedula to prove you are from Dauin.
Once you paid your dues and fought your way through the masses of vendors trying to sell you overpriced t-shirts it is time to find a good spot to camp out and enjoy the sights. We found a spot just by the rock formations near the entrance to Apo Island Beach Resort's area, it had shade from the rocks and good snorkeling right in front of us.
Snorkeling in Apo Island
Snorkeling around the rock formations was pretty exciting, it got deep fast and there are a lot of fish out there. I even saw 2 black and white sea snakes, if you see sea snakes, don't be too alarmed, they like staying on the bottom and we snorkle at the surface, so they wont bug you.
The underwater visibility here is awesome, and time just flies by when you snorkle here, I swam around the rock formation to Apo Island Beach Resort's beach as well.
Now one thing to remember when taking a day trip to Apo island, same of course goes for over night stays is that when you snorkle, make sure you put on water/sweat/swim proof sun tan lotion.
I have seen too many people get burned bad while snorkeling because they do not realize the sun is so hard because the water cools down their skin. So please for your own sake, bring some good waterproof sun tan lotion.
We brought our own cooling box with drinks and food for the day, but we found this not to be nessesary and we will not do this next time as you can buy all the drinks you need on the beach and there are a couple of restaurants on Apo Island, so you do not need to deal with the hassle of bringing your own food. We borrowed a BBQ and cooked on the beach, I think that was a waste of time really, I would rather spend that time in the water snorkeling or resting with a cold coke waiting for the cook in the restaurant to cook our food.
Walking up to the Lighthouse
The walk up to the light house is another way to spend an hour or 2, the paths going up there are not well kept, so if you want to go up to the top of the little mountin and see the light house it is best if you wear jeans or something else that will protect your legs from scratches and critters.
There are actually a small family living on the top of this mountain, they rarely come down to the village,and live off what nature brings them up in the mountain, they collect rain water for drinking and grow vegetables for food. it is a simple life, but just thinking about living with a view like that makes it all worth it.
The view from the top is great, but I am not sure it is worth the walk, at least not for me, so I am not going to do the walk up there again.
After this long walk it was time to relax a bit, and Apo Island Beach Resort conjured up a couple of cold non-alcoholic drinks while I rested in their hammock for a while.
Apo Island Marine Sanctuary and Protected Seascape
This is what we are all here for, after we snorkeled on the landing side of the island next to Apo Island Beach Resort and the rock formations there we decided to walk across the island to the marine sanctuary. the walk took us through Apo Village where we saw both billard hall, barangay hall and the comunal shower station where everybody goes for their daily showers.
The walk to Apo Island Marine Sanctuary and Protected Seascape was around 15-20 minutes, it was a beautiful and interesting walk, everybody we met greeted us with big smiles on their faces and they seemed happy to see strangers walking around. One of the guys stopped and played a little basketball with some of the kids, that was a huge hit.
The roads or should I say paths on Apo island are well kept and cemented, so it is an easy walk. We were a little in doubt if we were on the right track a couple of times and ended up taking the scenic route around a little creek as well. But in the end we got to Apo Island Marine Sanctuary and it was well worth the walk over here.
At this point one of the guys who was preoccupied taking pictures of everything realized he left his snorkel and mask at the other place we camped, he was a little reluctant to head back and get it, so we went in the water first to see if it was worth the extra walk. It took about 8 seconds for us to yell back on the beach to our friend that he better hurry up and get his mask and snorkel, because this was just truly awesome.
The visibility under water here was better than anywhere else I have ever snorkeled, it was breathtaking to say the least. Even in shallow waters you would encounter masses of fish, even big fish who I think KNEW they are in a protected sanctuary because they came really close and they were not shy at all.
The Marine sanctuary is also home to a lot of clown fish which seems to be even more popular now after the release of the Disney movie Finding Nemo. So taking the kids out here and showing them the real live Nemo is a huge hit.
If you are in Dumaguete City for a few days and you enjoy swimming and snorkeling, then Apo Island is a must see destination. You should of course pick a calmer sunny day if possible.
Hotels in Apo Island
If you think a day trip is not enough for you, then Apo Island offers 2 hotels where you can stay overnight. One thing to remember is that Apo Island does not have electricity 24 hours a day, they switch off the power at night, this goes for both hotels but Apo Island Beach Resort has their own generator and they run it 3 hours later than the village generator which Liberty's Lodge is hooked in to.
Both hotels offers diving, Apo Island is constantly rated as one of the top 10 diving sites in the world so of course you will have plenty of opportunities to dive here.
Apo Island Beach Resort
This is the resort you see on your left side when you approach the landing area on Apo Island. The resort look really nice and cozy and this would probably be my choice if I stay overnight in Apo.
More about Apo Island Beach Resort
Phone Numbers for booking or inquiries:
Libertys Lodge offers 7 different kinds of rooms, they are located in Apo Village and they are hooked in to the village generator giving them electricity for 3 hours a day from 6pm - 9pm. Liberty's Lodge has Pauls Diving Center on the premises as well. Their room rates are reasonable, and they are priced in US Dollars.
More about Liberty Lodge and Pauls Dive Center
Tips and Facts
Do's and Don'ts
Remember you are not allowed to bring any stones, shells, coral pieces or the like from Apo Island.
You are not allowed to wear gloves while diving or snorkeling.
Take care of the beautiful nature on the island, so bring your trash back to the mainland and dispose of it properly.
Support the local economy and buy your drinks and food on the island.
Make sure you are back by the boat taking you back to Negros so you can leave the island at 4pm, the boats taking passengers back and forth are not allowed to leave Apo later than 4pm. to make sure they get back to Zamboanguita before the sun sets.
Time to get to Apo from Dumaguete City:
45 minute drive + 45 minute banca ride.
P15-P30 a head in the bus going to Malatapay or rent a multicab / van for the day my guess is that you should be able to rent a multicab for around P1500 for the day if you want them to wait for you or you can pay a driver P500 to drop you off in Malatapay and make arrangements for him to pick you up again. Should he fail to do so, then it is an easy walk down to the highway where you can wave down a bus going back in to town.
P1500 for a banca boat to Apo Island that seats 6 people.
I would personally go for the bigger banca boat even if we are in a smaller group for safety and comfort reasons.
See the fees and charges table above for entrance fee costs.
What to Bring to Apo Island:
Snorkel and Mask
It is not nessesary to bring drinks / food, you can buy all you need on the island and that way you support the locals in the process.
If you are going diving in Apo Island, then you might wanna bring your own gear as well, the 2 dive centers here has gear for rent though.
When to go to Apo Island:
Any time, but I would of course choose a sunny calmer day for this trip - May and September are usually the calmest months.