Situated in the southeastern part of Negros Oriental, Philippines, lies a small, yet captivating volcanic island known as Apo Island. Travelers from all corners of the globe flock to this hidden gem in search of the Philippines’ mesmerizing marine life and its awe-inspiring natural landscapes. The island boasts a magnificent coastline of pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, along with a diverse marine ecosystem that makes it an excellent location for snorkeling, diving, and swimming.
To get to the island, you can take a 30-minute boat ride from the mainland. The island is home to some of the most extensive and well-preserved coral reefs in the country, making it an ideal place for underwater enthusiasts to explore. Aside from its captivating underwater scenery, Apo Island offers various activities to enjoy. One can venture on a hike and take in the island’s stunning views, explore the nearby coves and beaches, or visit the local fishing villages to learn about the island’s unique culture and way of life.
For those seeking a peaceful and tranquil getaway, Apo Island is the ideal destination to unwind. With its serene atmosphere and unspoiled natural surroundings, the island offers visitors a chance to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse themselves in the peacefulness of island living.
THINGS TO DO ON APO ISLAND
Snorkeling and Diving: Buckle up for a wild aquatic adventure on Apo Island, one of the top snorkeling and diving destinations in the Philippines. The island’s marine ecosystem is a wonderland of marine life, featuring an abundant variety of fish, coral, and other fascinating creatures. The Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape safeguard the island’s coral reefs and marine life from destructive fishing practices, ensuring that the marine ecosystem remains unspoiled.
Snorkelers can explore the island’s shallow waters, teeming with a vibrant array of marine life, including sea turtles, colorful fish, and sea snakes. Divers, meanwhile, can venture into the deeper waters surrounding the island, where they may encounter large schools of fish, sharks, and other awe-inspiring marine animals. Diving enthusiasts of all levels can find something to suit their skills at the various dive sites around the island, from novice divers to seasoned pros.
Chapel Point, located on the southwestern side of Apo Island, is one of the most famous dive sites. The dive site features a vast coral garden, home to a vast range of fish, sea turtles, and occasional reef sharks. Cogon, located on the island’s eastern side, is another popular dive site. Cogon features a wall dive that plunges down to a depth of 30 meters and houses jacks, tuna, and barracudas.
Most of the dive shops on Apo Island offer rental gear and guided tours, ensuring that visitors can experience the island’s incredible marine ecosystem, even without their own equipment or diving certification. Nevertheless, visitors must adhere to the rules and regulations established by the marine sanctuary, such as refraining from touching or damaging the coral reefs and avoiding feeding or harassing the marine animals. By respecting the island’s fragile ecosystem, visitors can enjoy a memorable, sustainable, and responsible aquatic adventure on Apo Island.
Beach Hopping: Apo Island has several beautiful beaches that are perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and relaxing. The most popular beach on the island is the main beach, which is located near the village and has several restaurants and resorts nearby.
In addition to the main beach, there are several other beaches that visitors can explore on Apo Island. The beaches are an excellent spot for snorkeling, as there are several coral reefs and schools of fish that can be seen in the shallow waters.
For those who want to venture further out, there are also several nearby islands that are accessible from Apo Island, including Negros Island and Siquijor Island. These islands offer additional opportunities for beach hopping and exploring more of the region’s natural beauty.
Turtle Watching: Turtle watching is one of the most popular activities on Apo Island, and it’s a great opportunity to see these fascinating animals up close. The island is home to several species of sea turtles, including the green turtle and the hawksbill turtle, which are both classified as endangered species.
Visitors can witness these amazing creatures in their natural habitat by joining a guided snorkeling or diving tour. The island has several designated turtle sanctuaries where these tours take place. These sanctuaries are marked by buoys and ropes to protect the turtles and their habitat from damage caused by human activities.
The turtles are accustomed to human presence, so they are not easily spooked and allow snorkelers and divers to approach them closely. Visitors should always remember to maintain a safe distance and avoid touching or harassing the turtles, as this can cause stress and harm to the animals.
The best time to see turtles on Apo Island is during the early morning or late afternoon when they are most active. During the day, they may retreat to deeper waters or hide in the coral reefs to rest. However, it’s important to note that turtle sightings are not guaranteed, as they are wild animals and can be affected by various factors such as weather conditions and water temperature.
Hiking: Hike to the top of Apo Island’s volcanic peak is a must-do activity for adventure seekers visiting the island. The peak, which rises to a height of around 600 feet, offers panoramic views of the island’s lush greenery, the sparkling sea, and the distant mountains. The hike to the top takes about an hour and is considered relatively easy, although the hot and humid weather conditions can make it challenging.
The trail begins near the main beach and takes you through a dense forest of coconut palms and other tropical trees. The hike is an excellent opportunity to see the island’s native flora and fauna up close, including various bird species, lizards, and butterflies. Along the way, you’ll also come across small streams and waterfalls that add to the scenic beauty of the trail.
As you ascend toward the peak, the trail becomes steeper, and you’ll need to climb over rocks and boulders. However, the views from the top are worth the effort, and you can take a break to catch your breath while admiring the stunning vistas.
It’s recommended that you bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and a hat to protect yourself from the sun. Wearing sturdy shoes or hiking boots is also advisable as the trail can be rocky and uneven in some places. It’s best to start the hike early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the heat of the day.
Island Tour: For a comprehensive tour of Apo Island, you can hire a local guide who will take you around the island and show you its various attractions, including the lighthouse, the church, and the marine sanctuary.
WHERE TO STAY ON APO ISLAND
Apo Island has several resorts and guesthouses that cater to tourists. Here are some of the best options:
Liberty’s Lodge and Dive Resort: Liberty’s Lodge and Dive Resort is a stunning resort that offers guests an idyllic and serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The resort is a true gem, providing guests with spacious and well-equipped rooms and lodges that have been carefully designed to provide guests with an authentic Filipino experience. With thatched roofs and bamboo walls, the resort exudes a rustic charm that is hard to resist.
The resort boasts an array of accommodation options, including Standard Rooms, Deluxe Rooms, and Beachfront Bungalows. All of the rooms are air-conditioned and feature comfortable beds, private bathrooms, and free Wi-Fi, ensuring guests have a comfortable and relaxing stay.
For diving enthusiasts, the resort’s dive area offers a range of courses that cater to beginners and advanced divers alike. With experienced guides, guests can explore the vibrant reefs and rich marine life that surrounds Apo Island. The dive shop is equipped with top-notch equipment that meets the highest standards of safety and quality.
Apart from diving, you can indulge in an array of other activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, and beach volleyball. Moreover, the resort features a beautiful swimming pool where guests can unwind and relax.
The resort’s restaurant serves up an impressive selection of fresh seafood and Filipino specialties that will tantalize even the most discerning taste buds. The menu showcases a range of dishes that cater to all tastes, including fresh fish and seafood caught by local fishermen. Moreover, with a breathtaking view of the ocean, the restaurant provides the perfect setting for guests to enjoy a meal while taking in the stunning surroundings.
Mario Scuba Diving and Homestay: This budget-friendly option offers basic rooms and dormitories for backpackers and budget travelers. The homestay is located near the beach and has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
Apo Island Beach Resort: This resort is located on a secluded beach and offers private lodges and villas with modern amenities. The resort also has a restaurant, a spa, and a dive shop.