Apo Island, to first timers, may look like a faint, unassuming little island with nothing much to offer to its visitors. But if one gives this island a shot, even non-fanatics of scuba diving or snorkeling will automatically have a change of heart and mind once they get to experience what this island is all about. In fact, Apo Island may just be the reason why people would go into scuba diving or snorkeling as hobbies.
Apo Island is just a mere 12 hectare island with a population of not more than a thousand people. Life is simple on the island for people living there. But for tourists, both local and foreign, it will be a different experience.
It is considered to be one of the world’s best marine sanctuaries. If you go to the Visayas region of the Philippines, the best marine adventure can be found here. So, how do you get there? Firstly, you have to take a road trip to Malatapay, Zamboangita. This will be a 30-minute trip to the south of Dumaguete City, capital of the Negros Oriental province. The best way to get there is by bus. This way you won’t have to worry about leaving your car. From Malatapay, Zamboangita, visitors have to ride a motorized outrigger that will take them across to Apo Island. In another 30 minutes, you will reach a scuba diver and snorkeler’s haven.
You will immediately be tempted by a number of locals selling a variety of souvenirs ranging from t-shirts, accessories and others. And that is just after taking a few steps from the outrigger. It is such a warm welcome and a feast to the artistic and fashionable eyes, actually. There are two hotels that you can choose from, both offering a very affordable, yet comfortable stay to the visitors. But before that, a very minimal amount will have to be paid as an entrance to the island. The proceeds of this fee all go to the maintenance of the island, most especially the mangrove area and of course the marine sanctuary found in the southeast portion of the island.
The walk from the entrance of the island to its southeast portion is nothing more than 10 minutes. But that 10-minute walk will give one the variety of sights and sounds that will increase the excitement before reaching the marine sanctuary. Visitors will experience the residents’ warmth, Mother Nature’s generosity and the beauty of the marine’s flora and fauna.
Just beneath the clear, blue, sparkling water is the awe-inspiring home of more than 650 documented species of fish and 400 varieties of corals. Going under water, with all the sounds shut out, is like being in a whole new world that is just quiet and beautiful. Plus, who wouldn’t want to experience swimming with clown fishes popping in and out of corals or maybe with turtles in the early hours of the day. Or maybe a chance to see creatures like manta rays, jack fishes and even different kinds of sharks like the hammerhead shark, whale shark and the Japanese Wobbegong shark.
What’s great with an island get-away to Apo Island is that you can experience its beauty all year round. With all the residents doing their part in preserving the entire Island, all the tourists have to do is enjoy (and follow some island rules, of course), and voila! You might just go home to become an avid scuba diver or snorkeler.