Apo Island was never on my list of “must visit” places prior to this trip. I’ve heard very little about it. But since I was scheduled to go on a trip to Dumaguete I thought, aside from tripping on food and hanging by the boardwalk, what else will I do there? I decided to do some research and found-out that there are many places to visit around Dumags. Apo island is one of them and I was instantly attracted by the thought. I never say no to the beach, you see.
I was surprised at how near it was from Dumaguete. I took a short tricycle ride from the hotel to the Ceres bus station where I took the bus that brought me to the island’s jump-off point. It only cost me Php 20.00. The bus going to Bayawan cost Php 30.00 and it wasn’t even a full hour before I reached the jump-off point.
Upon reaching the port, I found-out that there are two types of passenger boats: one that can fit 8 people and cost Php 3000.00 and one that can fit 4 people and cost Php 2000.00. Basically, a passenger needs to make a onetime payment for a trip going and coming back. And coming back must be done at 3 pm. Why 3 pm? What they say is that after 3, the waves will swell and sailing will be dangerous. Since I was alone, I’d have to pay Php 2000.00 for a 4-person boat. Being a cheapskate, I wasn’t sold on the idea. So I thought maybe I can wait for strangers to split the tab with. Lucky me, a family of 9 arrived who was more than glad to say yes to my suggestion. We were 10 in total. On an 8-person boat. I do not really know why this was allowed. My guess is because the family was composed mostly of small children, they let us go. That, or they just didn’t care about our safety :). But my main purpose was to save. Who cares about dying. So in the end I only paid Php 300.00. Definitely a wiser choice than paying Php 2000.00.
The ride going to the island took around 45 minutes and since the weather was not in its best condition, the ride was bumpy. The waves were gigantic. I was soaking wet before I got to the island.
Upon landing, I paid Php 100.00 for the entrance fee and Php 50.00 for the marine sanctuary permit to use. Snorkeling gears were available for rent at Php 50.00 which I didn’t have to do because I brought my own.
After paying, I bid the family a temporary adieu and decided to explore the island on my own. There are several areas of interest in the island. The main beach for lounging, turtle area for swimming with some massive sized turtles, Apo Island peak for trekking, and the Marine Sanctuary for snorkeling or diving. I hung-out at the marine sanctuary mostly.
What Apo Island lacks in fine sand, it more than makes-up with its underwater beauty. It absolutely was stunning. I unfortunately didn’t have an underwater camera to capture how majestically gorgeous it was. Be prepared for the surprises underwater. Like being in another planet with coral reefs looking like alien monsters ready to eat you alive. Surprising to discover as well, one needs not to swim very far or deep to see this. I never thought a non-diver like me can enjoy something like this with relative ease. Thank god for Apo island.
By lunch time, the wonderful family that I came to the island with tracked me down and invited me to join in their feast. I am never the type who says no to free food so I quickly went and joined them. They also offered to drive me back to my hotel after the trip. Nice, eh?
For people who are planning to go on a day trip to Apo Island, a fair warning is to let you know that there is no running water in any parts of the island. Forget about warm showers after a day of snorkeling then. There are washrooms for rent at the port but they are nothing short of gross however. I roughed it up and waited till I got back to my hotel room to get cleaned.
The day went so fast for me. I wish I had more time. But because I had to go back to Manila the day after, I didn’t stay over night. Perhaps, another day I shall return. Maybe we’ll see each other again, Apo. For now, thank you for the little surprises.