My Lola Mancia hails from Valencia, Negros Oriental and my Lolo Yul used to boast of going to Valencia to visit my Lola by riding his bike. Yep all those 150 plus kilometers were often conquered by bike pedals. Anyhow I have so much to share about Valencia, Dumaguete and other places in Negros that I don’t know where to start until well I saw the underwater pictures taken in Apo Island.
Many trusted diving websites list Apo Island as among the top best diving sites in the Philippines. And Apo Island rightly deserves the accolade because the underwater world in Apo Island, Negros Oriental will simply take your breath away.
Apo Island Marine Sanctuary and Protected Seascape
Apo Island has a protected coral reef sanctuary, so if you are an avid fan of coral reef photography and underwater pictures, travel to this island is not only exciting but fulfilling as well. This marine sanctuary hosts a very diverse coral reef ecosystem and graced with the presence of colorful coral reef fishes. There is also an area dubbed as the Clown Fish City where you can find kins of Nemo by the hundreds!
Finding Nemo in Apo
When you go and visit the coral sanctuary, please, please follow the rules of this marine sanctuary! First of which is that no one should walk on the corals! Walking on the corals will destroy these corals! That is the very reason why it is a must for tourists and visitors to rent and don on a life vest to keep you floating. Swim, don’t walk.
Beautiful underwater scenery
And second, please don’t take or cut or harvest any corals, it is illegal! It is a marine and coral reef sanctuary for a reason! And no one is allowed to take corals, shells, stones etc off the island. Please be respectful especially for those who are just visitors to the place.
What’s amazing about snorkeling in the Apo Island coral sanctuary is that you do not need to go far nor do you need to rent a boat to take you to a good spot for snorkeling because you can just swim and in just a couple of minutes you will be there with beautiful corals and fishes below your floating selves. And the island is so small that you can explore it in just a few hours.
The gang stayed in Apo Island Beach Resort and if you notice on the right side, there is a building, that is where you need to register yourself if you want to dive, snorkel, etc. And on the left side, you can see the jutting limestone formations. They are literally just a few walks from your beach cottages!
Visitors who hail from Negros Oriental (as evidence by a cedula) gets a discounted fee of only P30 to explore and snorkel in the Marine Sanctuary and Protected Seascape area. But if you are not from the province, you have to pay P100 per person. These fees are for the maintenance, improvement and protection of Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape.
Apo Island Beach Resort and Dive Center
Swimming to the sanctuary and protected seascape
Green Sea Turtle or Pawikan visits Apo Island
By the way, you can just rent snorkel gear and life vest from your hotel or from a diving center. Snorkel equipment goes for around P100 to P150, add another P100 for your life vest. The life vest is mandatory.
You can explore on your own or hire a professional guide or a not-so-professional but friendly ones like the two boys who ‘volunteered’ to show the way to the sanctuary. Tipping at this instance is of course expected especially that aside from becoming the ‘official snorkel guide’, these brothers also became the default photographers. Kenneth does not know how to swim so well, she just amazed herself skimming on the surface lol.
Island roads and tourists
Apo Island diving is also another favorite activity among tourists who have more funds. Diving in the sanctuary also has its corresponding fees.
Dive Fees in Apo Island
Rocks, Sands and Waves in Apo
What to expect when you take your vacation and travel to Apo Island?
Please click this travel post link for a more detailed tips and direction on how to go to Apo Island from Dumaguete City.
From Malatapay, the gang opted to ride a bigger pump boat for P2,700 round trip boat fare. Smaller banca cost less at around P1,700.
Hmm don’t be surprised if a local will approach you while you wait for your pump boat and request to hitch a ride to go home to Apo Island. This is actually a normal occurrence, if you are not comfortable with it, just say no gently.
I am not sure if foreign visitors are also approach for rides; maybe local residents of Apo Island only request and hitch rides from fellow Filipinos. Anyhow, just don’t be surprised if this happen during your trip.
Hotel reservation is not really needed if you visit Apo Island because this tourist spot is out-of-the-way and not on the usual travel itinerary of Negros Oriental visitors. And Negrenses usually opt for day trips and not overnight stay in Apo Island.
There is no electricity during daytime so you have to charge your cameras battery as well as mobile phones during the night. Power is usually turn on at the strike of 6pm.
Yes there are stores where you can buy chips, softdrinks, biscuits etc so you don’t have to drag grocery bags all the way from Dumaguete.
The island only has two hotels you can choose from, the Apo Island Beach Resort and Dive Center and also Liberty Lodge.
Major advantage of staying in Apo Island Beach Resort is of course its proximity to the sanctuary and these huge limestone which became a favorite place for a poses and pictures.
Rock and Limestone Formation in Apo Island
Rocks, and rocks, and more rocks!
Room rate is P2,000.00 good for 3 person, it has air conditioning but only has one giant bed but you can always ask for extra beds. Extra person and extra beds mean an additional fee. If you are a big group, you can negotiate for better prices and room deals.
Food in this hotel is expensive and frankly not good. Just imagine paying P100 for a pancit canton that has no pork, only veggies and tofu.
It is better to buy fresh fishes and seafood from the local tindera that roam the area and have them cooked. You only have to pay a minimal amount for the cooking. You can ask your boatman for referrals where to bring your fresh seafood for cooking. The boatmen are usually from Apo Island too so they know their way around. And no they will not take advantage of you so don’t be paranoid.
Freedom is happy with her fishes
If you happen to visit Dumaguete, try to make time to head out to Apo Island, it is beautiful out there.
Kenneth, Sheila, Freedom, Analyn