Posted by: jinoe | November 21, 2007

Nothing Small About Apo

Next stop of our November vacation trilogy was Apo Island.  I never knew the place until Portia mentioned it.  I thought it was far and unreachable.  Then I started doing research about the island.  The more I learned about it, the more excited I became to go to this island.

256 Apo Island is just a small dot in the Philippine map.  It looks small and insignificant but it is one of the top diving spots in the country.  It is an island south of Dumaguete.  We drove to the town of Zambuanguita and stopped at the Malatapay Market.  From there, we took a small boat to Apo Island.  They charged us 1,700 pesos for the round trip.  They will fetch us the next day since we will be staying overnight in the island.

The boat ride was about one hour.  We were lucky that the sea at that time was very calm.  No big waves at all.  If it wasn’t cloudy that day, I’m sure the water will be very blue.  The island can be seen even from the Malatapay Market.  And as we got closer, I started to see the big rocks, the lighthouse on the left, and the resorts.

Island Life

Upon arrival, we paid for the admission fee on island.  There are other fees also depending on the activities you’d be doing on the island like camping, diving, snorkling, filming, and others. 


The island has inhabitants. I even met a foreigner who married a resident and now lives in the island. There is a school and a little recreation area. So it is not an isolated, exclusive and expensive island. The people are friendly. Students will not hesitate to greet you.

We didn’t stay at the resort.  We took a nipa hut which is being owned by one of the residents.  It is cheaper and well maintained.  We just needed a mosquito net at night. And to save more money, we had our lunch cooked by one of the residents. We had fresh lapu-lapu for only 110 per kilo.  We finished off 2 kilos easily.

After lunch we decided to do a little hiking and trekking.  It was cloudy and the sun wasn’t good enough to take pictures if we go snorkling.  So we decided to roam the island in the afternoon.  We really would love to get to the lighthouse.  I saw some TV coverage of Apo Island and the lighthouse is usually featured.

The Hike

266 We first walked to the marine sanctuary.  It is a small stretch of beach where the corals and fishes are protected.  Thus, the marine live here will really be abundant.  This is where we will go snorkling the next day.  What was odd is that there is a school at the beachfront.  How could you concentrate in class if you have a beautiful scenery neaby?  Well, the students are positioned such that they are facing opposite the beach.

There were mangroves near the beach.  I was amazed by the birds that would perch on its roots.  Portia told me they were kingfishers.  They were bigger than the mayas I would often see in the city.   However, I wasn’t able to get pictures of the birds since they would immediately fly if I get too close to them.

324 Next stop was to the hilltops.  There were cemented stairways to the hills.  These were provided for those who frequently cross the hills to get to the other side.  Most of them were students and they will walk in this path everyday.  That’s more than 200 steps uphill and there are 2 hills to cross.

343 We stopped at one of the peaks where there is a lumboy tree (or duhat).  It must be a very old tree already.  And imagine how many storms it has withstood.  From this spot we can get a good view of Apo Island.  Just half of the island since big hills block the sight.  We can also see the nearby islands of Negros, Cebu and Siquijor.  The winds up there was strong.  We had to secure our hats so that they wont be blown away.  You can also place a hammock between the trees and get a thrill since you’d be very close to the edge.  I would love to do that.

To the lighthouse 

After enjoying the view at this peak, we started to go to the lighthouse.  We can go back to the main village and take the route to the lighthouse from there.  Or we can go right across the hill front of us and make our own trail to the lighthouse.  We decided to do the latter.  We asked one of the locals is this path was possible.  He said that there is a path somewhere, but since the grasses have grown, it might have been covered already.  But he added that it is still possible to see some trails and eventually reach the lighthouse.  Eventually…

357 So we had a little adventure.  We took a trail and followed it until we reached thick grasses and tangled vines.  From there, we just continued climbing not knowing what exactly is up there.  In short, we got lost.  It wasn’t the right trail.  The top was full of big rocks, danggling roots, and brittle branches.  It started to get difficult.  It was too late to get back so we continued finding our way around the mountain.

We managed to get to the other side.  Unfortunately, it was on the wrong side of the hill.  The lighthouse was still on the other side.  We continued walking across tall grasses.  Our skins would get scratches and itch aloing the way.  It was not time to give up so we stuggled to reach to the lighthouse.  We passed through some houses and some cultivated land where theye would plant vegetables and rootcrops.

390 There are two lighthouses in the island.  The  old stone structure still stands there but it is no longer operational.  The new one is fenced and is powered through solar panels.  The two were just adjacent each other.  We stopped to rest for a while when we reached the place.  Then, I had the urge to climb on the old lighthouse.  The ladder was rusty but it can still hold.  On top was another nice view.  So I stayed there to get some pictures.

We headed back to the village before the sun sets.  We had dinner at one of the resorts.  Electricity in the island is only from 6pm to 9pm.  So we had to eat fast and be back to our hut before the lights were out.  We still slept late even when there was no more electricity.  We had a little chit-chat until my eyes were closed.  I had the feeling I was the first one to fall asleep since I was so tired.

Underwater Wonders

We woke up the next day to go snorkling.  Sunlight was better this time.  We went to the marine sanctuary and swam close to the corals.  It was low tide so we were careful not to get too close to them.  Portia had a camera to take pictures underwater.

PB140185 I have been to Puerto Galera and to the beaches Batangas.  But the marine life here in Apo Island was a lot more beautiful than those I have seen previously.  The fishes were bigger.  I saw “Nemo” as big as my palm.  The corals are nearer.  I dont have to dive deep to get a close took at them.  The fishes more abundant.  I dont have to feed them so that they will get close to me.  And I was amazed when I saw a school of fish.  They were so many.  It’s more like a university already.  I have seen so many in just staying afloat on the water for one hour.

Leaving Apo Island

 I wanted to stay longer in the water but it was cold.  I also dont have enough experience to go deeper and explore more.  We had our lunch cooked by one of the residents again.  It was a grilled surgeon fish for just 60 pesos per kilo.  We finish off another two kilos of fish.  We left the island just after lunch.  We had to hurry to get back to Dumaguete so that we won’t miss the ferry boat going to Siquijor at evening.  It will be our last and final leg of our vacation.

Reasons to visit again

Although we have walked more than 70 percent of the island, I want to go back.  I have only seen less than 10 percent of the marine life in Apo Island.  I have to go back to go snorkling again.  Or better yet, go diving see more of the marine life.  I need an underwater camera this time.

Click here to see more pictures from Apo Island

Next Stop:  Siquijor



  1. […] more on the places we’ve visited Dumaguete Trip – The City Next Door:  Dumaguete City Apo Island – Nothing Small About Apo Siquijor – still […]

  2. […] Next stop:  Apo Island […]

  3. Gani man jin, hambalan ta gid ka…. dive ta sa dason. Don’t worry about the underwater camera, I will let you borrow mine and even teach you how to use it. And Arne will give you a big discount for your Open Water Certification for sure. Diving is so addictive though, I am sure you will want to go for more….. hehehehe

  4. really nice pics jin, good you and que were able to have a vacation in that area. oh, i missed lapu-lapu, and it is such a treat for $110 a kilo.

  5. nice to jin no? maybe in the near future we could all go together. sponsor ni portia!

    Gani man. Nami gd kung damo ta para sadya. She’s planning a road trip to Donsol next April. Ambot kung madayon. Although I have a feeling nga indi ko makaupod kay daw may kadtuan man ko.

  6. i have this fear of depths but when i went snorkeling in the marine sanctuary, daw na mesmerize ako, when i came to my senses layo na ko gali sa higad baybay! enjoy gd ako sa mga isda!

  7. hi jinoe!

    I have been looking in the internet for an alternative accomodation in apo island… i’m interested in “nipa hut” that you stayed at…
    would you happen to know if there are other “nipa hut” that we can stay at???

  8. […] Next stop:  Apo Island […]

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