Trip Reports

Apo Island

If you find yourself touring around Dumaguete on the island of Negros in the Visayan Philippines region, then you have a host of great options for short or day trips. Or, you might be an avid SCUBA diver who is seeking out some epic diving spots around the 7,500 islands of the Philippines. Either way, Apo Island should be on your list.

Apo Island is an island (no kidding?!), a 70-hectare island surrounded by a series of reefs and marine sanctuary, not too far from the charming town on Dumaguete. It’s famous for its snorkeling, SCUBA diving, or just a place to lounge for a day and appreciate nature – including huge sea turtles that you can swim near!

How to Get to Apo Island

To get to Apo from Dumaguete, simply go to the Ceres bus terminal in town and ask for the next bus to Bayawan. They should leave around every 30 minutes, and they are nice and have good aircon. Tell the driver that you are going to Apo Island, which means you’ll stop at the Malatapay Market in the town of the same name.

The ride should take you about 40 minutes and be pretty pleasant. Once you get to the market – just a series of roadside wooden stalls – just walk the 500 meters or so towards the water, where you’ll find the tourist station.

These days, it costs about 3,000 Pesos to rent the boat that will take you out to Apo Island. Unfortunately, this is the same boat price whether you are just one person or have up to six, so it’s best to talk to the other tourists in your bus to see if they want to team up to rent the boat. That way, you can get the price down to a very affordable 500 Pesos each, and that’s round trip, of course. There are also bigger boats to accommodate up to 8 people.

If you are serious about snorkeling or diving around Apo Island for the day, it’s probably best to book an expedition through Harold’s Dive Center (located at the big, blue Harold’s Mansion in Dumaguete), as they will take care of all transport, equipment rental, and a simple but serviceable lunch. The only problem with Harold’s tours is that they don’t bring you on the actual island at all (other than a short opportunity to swim to a tiny beach at the end) – just cruise around key snorkeling and dive spots.

You can also go upscale with a trip booked through the Coco Grove Hotel in Duma, which has its own beautiful boat and will mix up the

Bring lots of sunscreen, a book, extra snacks, a towel, probably a waterproof bag for your phone and valuables that you don’t want to get wet, plenty of money (no ATMs) and even toilet paper! You also might want to wear sturdy water shoes or water sandals, as there is a good amount of climbing around on sharp or slippery rocks and you can hike around the island, too.

The last boat usually comes home around 330 PM, but you’ll probably be exhausted by then from all of the sun and swimming and ready for the trip back to Dumaguete. But you can also stay on the island, at the Apo Island Beach Resort (an awesome and very picturesque coral beach that’s also a good place to chill for an afternoon), Liberty Lodge, or several home stays.

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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