If I were a mermaid, I’d be living near Apo Island. The coral reef and marine life surrounding the island is beyond amazing! And the best part is their turtles.

Just south of the Negros island, you will find Apo island. Tourists flock to here to see the resident turtles and rich marine life. If you love to snorkel or dive, you will surely love it here!

If you’re going to Apo Island soon, use this travel guide to help you plan the perfect itinerary!

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apo island

Before your trip…here are a few useful things to know.

Getting There

The nearest airports to Apo island are Dumaguete, Cebu or Bacolod.

From Bacolod

  • If you’re coming from Bacolod, ride a bus heading to Dumaguete and follow the steps below.

From Dumaguete

  • Depending on where you availed of your tour package, you’ll either have the transportation from Dumaguete to Malatapay covered or not.
  • If not, you can simply commute by riding a tricycle to Siaton then riding a jeepney heading to Malatapay.
  • Once you’re in Malatapay, you can ride a boat going to Apo island for around P300 (6 USD) per head.
  • Problem is, according to the locals, there’s rarely any boat going back to Negros unless you charter a private boat to bring you back for around P1,500 (25 USD).
  • You can also opt to charter a private boat to Apo island and bring you back to Negros for around P2,500 (45 USD).

From Siquijor

  • From Siquijor, you can join a day tour going to Apo Island.

From Cebu

  • If you’re coming from Cebu, you’ll have to ride a ferry going to either Siquijor or Dumaguete at Liloan Port. Then, follow the listed steps above.

Tours to Apo Island

Most travelers go to Apo Island on a day trip by simply chartering a boat or joining a tour. If you’re on a budget, joining a tour is your best option. There are two places where you can find tours to Apo island: Dumaguete and Siquijor.

Dumaguete Tours

In Dumaguete, you can book snorkeling tours from Harold’s Mansion for only P1,200 (24 USD) per person. Payment includes lunch, boat fees, as well as transportation from Harold’s Mansion to Malatapay.

Siquijor Tours

On the other hand, Coco Grove Beach Resort in Siquijor offers diving and snorkeling trips to Apo island for P1,950 (39 USD) per person for snorkeling and P2,500 (50 USD) per person for diving. If you have kids from 5 to 11 years old with you, you’ll only have to pay P975 (20 USD). Payment includes snacks, water, life vests, boat, lunch in Apo island, access to Coco Grove’s Sister resort ( Apo Island Beach Resort ) entry fee, snorkeling fee and guide.

Note: Ocean Explorer 3 is also offering a tour to Apo Island for P1,750 (35 USD) per head.

Dumaguete has cheaper tours compared to Siquijor probably because the travel time from Dumaguete to Apo Island is shorter.

wanderera snorkeling

Snorkeling Tour

Since we were already in Siquijor, we booked our tour at Coco Grove Beach Resort and had a blast! Starting from going to Apo island to getting back to Siquijor, we were pampered with unlimited snacks (carrot cake & banana cake), as well as free-flowing drinking water.

And by the time we arrived at the island, we were directed to the Apo Island Beach Resort where we will eat lunch after going to the turtle sanctuary and beach bum. This resort was located on a private cove where you can snorkel right in front or just laze around so that was a big plus to our trip.

apo island beach resort

The lunch served was buffet style and I definitely ate to my heart’s content. It was awesome. Lots of food equals happy Johanes. Nyehe.

Anyways, our itinerary went like this.

8:00 AM: Siquijor to Apo Island
9:30 AM: Stop by Apo Island Beach Resort to drop bags and prepare for snorkeling
10:00 AM: Snorkel at the turtle sanctuary
12:00 NN: Lunch
1:30 PM: Snorkel at Apo Island’s Marine Sanctuary
3:00 PM: Back to Siquijor

Snorkeling with the turtles

The turtles we saw at the sanctuary were huuuuge! And guess what you can see one just a few meters from the beach. When we were getting ready to snorkel, we saw a turtle near us and checked to see if it really was a turtle. Turns out, it was! I was internally screaming with excitement.apo island

Ryk thought I was joking when I told him there was a turtle. After all, we had to snorkel a few hundred meters in Masasa in Batangas and Moalboal in Cebu to get a glimpse of this beautiful creature. Yet here it was just minding its own business just eating away.

Unlike in Moalboal where the turtles tend to shy away from the tourists, the turtles in Apo island literally don’t care about you.
So when snorkeling with the turtles, there’s only one rule you absolutely have to follow: DO NOT TOUCH THE TURTLES.

turtle in apo island

That’s the first thing your guide will tell you so better keep that in mind even though the turtle was kind of daring me to touch it.

The turtle sanctuary apparently had more to offer than just the turtles. The marine life and coral reefs here were majestic it reminded me of our snorkeling trip in Isla Verde in Batangas. Prepare yourself to see colorful fishes and corals.

Snorkeling at Apo Island’s Marine Sanctuary

So after our lunch, and lazing around by the beach for an hour, we proceeded to the Marine Sanctuary. This was where I swam with only my snorkeling mask with me and graduated from wearing lifevests.

It was when I understood exactly why people loved swimming at sea. The feeling of weightlessness was incredible. Hopefully, with bits of practice, I can also try free diving next time.

The marine sanctuary boasts of all sorts of fishes and corals. From the deep waters, you’ll be snorkeling towards the island where you can get a closer look at the corals and marine animals.

By the time we started swimming back to the boat, I was feeling a bit accomplished but sad. I think I left my heart at Apo island’s marine sanctuary.

Here are some other fees you have to keep in mind. If guide fees aren’t included in your tour, you’ll have to pay for your guide.

  • mask and snorkel – P100 (2 USD)
  • fins – P100 (2 USD)
  • booties – P100 (2 USD)
  • life vest – P100 (2 USD)
  • guide (for 4 person) – P300 (6 USD)

Where to stay

Apo Island

Siquijor

For Siquijor, I’d recommend for you to book rooms in San Juan town since this is where most restaurants are and where most of the resorts offering tours are located.

Budget

Mid-range

Luxury

Dumaguete

Here are accommodations you can book in Dumaguete that are near Malatapay where you can ride the boat to Apo Island.

Airbnb

Aside from hotels and resorts, you can also opt to stay at an Airbnb.

Get your P2,200 ($44) Airbnb discount here!

What to Pack for Apo Island

Related Article: The Only Travel Packing List You’ll Ever Need (Trust Me)

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