During my stay in the Philippines I wanted to see turtles in their natural environment. After some research, it turned out that Apo Island was a good destination. The turtles are visible close to the beach by snorkeling!
Accommodation and crossing from Siquijor
To make make it easier I had booked in the same resort than Siquijor. You have to know that it’s difficult to communicate in advance with hotels on the island because they have very slow internet and there are very few hotel. So I asked the Siquijor resort to do the reservation for me.
The resort is the only way to have a direct crossing as you can join their day trip. Know that it is not everyday (16 people minimum). The simple crossing costs 1000PHP, and being on a high boat, so you are not soaked at the end! For information otherwise you have to take a boat to Dumaguete then a jeepne or bus to Malatapay and a boat (attention, morning only) to Apo Island. And it’s with this boat that you’ll you will finish completely soaked so leave all your belongings in the trunk.
Arrival and comfort on the island
Arriving on the island I let the tourists take the direction of their activities and I went directly to my room at the resort. I had a room in residence (at 2700) but the hotel being full I was “upgraded” to the lower triton room. So I was a little away from others and I had my own hammock right in front of the room, perfect! But clearly it’s quite expensive for what it is…
You have to know that the comfort of the island is quite basic. There is no electricity during the day. Only a generator that starts at 18h until 22h. Then you will have electricity until exhaustion of reserves is between 23-00h. There is no running water either. You will have a water dispenser in the hotel. The toilet does not flush, you will have a large container of water (salt) to empty the toilet. For the shower you will have a container of clear water and a small bucket. So you have to shower yourself by water through this little bucket. Water is at room temperature.
Activities on the island
The best activity here is once again diving and snorkeling. This is where I dived. Having no open water, I needed an instructor with me, I finally had two! It cost me 2500 but know that a dive without an instructor is rather around 1500. The good surprise is that all the equipment was included, I did not need to pay more! By cons the dive is rather on the edge of the island, you will not go very far. But I was still very happy with my trip, I could observe closely full of turtles and other fish. Once again the corals were really beautiful! And icing on the cake I did not have a problem with the ears (unlike Polynesia). I must say that I found them more professional than in Polynesia. They explained to me how to put back the tensioner if I lost it, how to remove the water from my mask if I had it. In Polynesia I had nothing of all that! Just an info on basic signs.
You can also see turtles by snorkeling, there is also one that comes very often to the edge of the “beach” of the hotel. On the main “beach” there is a paying part, but it’s more for the people who do not know how to swim and who keep their lifejacket going there. You can see a lot of things just bypassing the bounded space. You will also see that there is a marine reserve on the island but you are not allowed to go there and there is no turtles going there anyway.
Walk near the lighthouse
You can also walk near the lighthouse. Weel, at this place there is not much to see but the few homes are very cute. And there is a beautiful view at the top of the other side. Basically when you arrive at the “central square”, the path for the lighthouse is on the left, the path for the beautiful view will be on the right. Follow with Maps me because it’s not very obvious.
Walk into the village
You can also walk in the small village of Apo, very nice too. Beware of the tide if you eat outside your place of residence. Indeed at high tide there is almost no beach! I had to go back to the water (with a French couple met on the spot) and without light it’s not easy at all!
Clearly, even if it’s nice to be out of time, do not spend more than 2-3 nights. You will have quickly gone around, there is not much to do. The beaches are actually corals so not super nice. If you do not go to the beach of the resort, you will be in the middle of the boats that dock, there is no place to swim. This is the only big advantage of the resort, being away from all this activity and able to chile quietly on your hammock! The staff is very friendly but as there is no management is not always effective. And they do not care about dogs they keep or plastic pollution. Here is my harvest in 10 minutes just by staying at the water’s edge.
The island is not stocked every day you will not necessarily have the choice of food. When I was there all the hotels only had tuna for example. Just the way of cooking changes. I did not find the prices excessive (250-300 the meal) considering the fact that the island is on the middle of nowhere.
For the crossing back, there is a public boat very early. It returns to the island only if there is other people for the reverse crossing so nobody knows if another boat leaves later or not. By cons you can find a private boat to negotiate. Remember to ask the hotel liberty they make crossings too.