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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Before your trip…here are a few useful things to know.
The nearest airports to Apo island are Dumaguete, Cebu or Bacolod.
Travel Tip: Check schedules and availability of buses, ferries, taxis or flights to book online with 12Go Asia.
- If you’re coming from Bacolod, ride a bus heading to Dumaguete and follow the steps below.
- 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, you can join a day tour going to Apo Island.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Beach Resort
- Liberty Lodge and Dive
- Mario Scuba Diving and Homestay
- Ronor’s Lodging – +63 915 775 2422
- Mary’s Homestay – +63 906 823 4932
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.
- Glamping Siquijor (where we stayed) – You can either book via Agoda (for discounted rates) or Airbnb (here’s a P2,200 or 44 USD travel credit/discount from us!)
- Toris Backpackers Paradise – Check Price and Availability
- RhenMart Inn – Check Price and Availability
- Love Shack Hostel – Check Price and Availability
- Tropicasa Siquijor – Check Price and Availability
- Tropica Fun Ta Sea Rentals – Check Price and Availability
- Descanso En Paraiso Resort – Check Price and Availability
- Mandala Tribe Treehouses – Check Price and Availability
- Coco Grove Beach Resort – Check Price and Availability
- Infinity Heights Resort – Check Price and Availability
- Kawayan Holiday Resort – Check Price and Availability
Here are accommodations you can book in Dumaguete that are near Malatapay where you can ride the boat to Apo Island.
- Kavs Beach Resort – Check Price and Availability
- Allura Resort Dive and Spa – Check Price and Availability
- White Chocolate Hills Resort – Check Price and Availability
- Acqua Dive Resort – Check Price and Availability
Aside from hotels and resorts, you can also opt to stay at an Airbnb.
What to Pack for Apo Island
- Eco-friendly Reusable Water Bottle
- Light Rain Jacket (especially from June to November)
- T-shirts, a nice top, and a long-sleeved shirt
- Aqua Shoes
- Day Bag
- Power Adapter
- Universal Waterproof Phone Case
- Packing Cubes
- Microfiber Towel
- Travel Insurance
- Money Belt
- sneakers, hiking shoes (if you’re planning to hike) and some flats
- reusable straw and reusable bag (no to single-use plastic!)
Related Article: The Only Travel Packing List You’ll Ever Need (Trust Me)
Our Camera Gear
- Mirrorless Camera: Fujifilm XT3
- Lenses: Fujifilm Fujinon kit lens (18-55mm) | Fujinon 35mm f2 | Fujinon 50mm f2
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro 2
- GoPro: GoPro Hero Black 7
- Power Bank: Romoss Powerbank
- Camera Backpack: Case Logic Camera and Laptop Backpack
- Monopod: Ifootage Cobra 2 a180
- Mic: Rode VideoMicro
- Gimbal: Zhiyun Weebill-S
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- BATAD RICE TERRACES: Batad Rice Terraces and Tappiya Falls: First Timer’s Budget Travel Guide
- PALAUI: Palaui Island 2020 Budget Travel Guide (Sta Ana, Cagayan)
- DAVAO: 10 Epic Things To Do In Davao That You Shouldn’t Miss
- SAGADA: 10 Top 2020 Sagada Travel Tips (From A Local)
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Johanes is a digital nomad and a web content writer who loves to go on spontaneous travels. She also likes to go camp under the stars and play with her dog and cats.