A few months back, I was just one of those people who keeps on scrolling through photos of ‘Apo Island’ on Instagram and get envy with people who actually dived into its depths. Fast forward to weeks after that, I never imagined it would come into reality! One of my friends messaged me regarding my Ho Chi Minh City trip that resulted to asking me if I want to hop on a plane and explore Visayas – mainly Cebu City, South of Cebu, Dumaguete City & Apo Island. Without hesitations, I booked a plane ticket a week before the trip and packed my bags.
It was about 6 P.M. when the fast track boat docked in Dumaguete City (P.S. We finished the 5 hour Canyoneering before heading straight to Santander – where the fast track is located going to Dumaguete) and from there we hopped on a local vehicle going to our hotel. We stayed in Harold’s Mansion for one night. The hotel is ideal to all kinds of travelers. With its budget friendly room price (Our Suite room only costs Php 1,300 for four persons), you get to have a cozy bed and clean room plus Wi-Fi connection only located in the lobby and rooftop. The said hotel is actually popular to foreigners, well at least that’s what I think, since almost all the hotel guests are foreigners. We actually made a friend along the way, all I remember is that he is from canada, he is asian, travelling for quite some time, solo traveler, tan colored skin, buff and he’s a firefighter hence buff! Haha. We capped off the night by discovering Dumaguete City and dined in Lab-as for dinner and Sans Rival Cakes And Pastries for dessert.
After a much needed sleep, we woke up at 7:00 AM to catch our boat going to Apo Island (30 minute ride). Good thing Harold’s Mansion offers a package tour going to the said Island. With your Php 1,000 you get snorkeling gears, a big snack that acts as your brunch and transpo from Dumaguete to Apo Island, vice-versa. Before leaving the place, there will be an orientation of the do’s & don’ts in the Island. Since turtles usually roam around the shallow reefs of Apo Island it is prohibited to throw plastic garbage. There are some stories that turtles don’t actually die from water pollution, most of them die from eating plastics . So, better be cautious with your garbage when in Apo island. And learn to dispose for pete’s sake!
The Apo Reef in the Philippines is the largest contiguous reef after the Great Barrier Reef. It covers 67,877 acres off the coast of Mindoro Island and is surrounded by a mangrove forest. The reef was designated a national park in 1996, but environmental problems and overfishing severely taxed the reef. In 2007, the Philippine government enacted a fishing ban in the reef to help restore and preserve it. Gotta cross Apo Island off my bucket list! Making it the 2nd largest reef in the world. First is Australia’s Great Barrier reef.
The beach coastline in Dumaguete.
Before the boat leaves, we made sure to have a photo opt on top of it just because… squad goals!
We sure are lucky to have a funny, patient and good at taking photos tour guide! Look, he even got me a starfish. Lol
Hello there, Apo Island and its 800+ residents! Did you know Apo Island only has more or less 4 hours of electricity per day? And only private establishments have Wi-Fi connection? Now you know. You’re Welcome!
My first dive in Apo Islands underwater forest! One word: Surreal!
The one and only turtle we followed all throughout our first stop. Our tour guide told us he was gentle but it’s kinda intimidating to swim next to him. Especially in his natural habitat! Don’t wanna disturb Mr. Turtle. So, I stayed away from him a good few meters away. My friend followed him all the way though. P.S. The turtle glided underwater towards my direction and since we were in a shallow water with pointy corals under it, my knee area got all scratched up because I panicked it might attack me. It was really painful! Still. No regrets!
While sailing to another part of the Island we saw beautiful rock formations that has verdant mini-forest!
Just casually swimming! Really can’t get enough of it. Though the current in this Island is really strong. It can really take all your energy away! P.S. I never used life vest until after an hour of swimming. You may need that vest as a floater. Trust me on this one! 😉
The tour pretty much ended around 4 in the afternoon. Although in our case, we were a bit carried away with a part of the Island. Since it’s a volcanic island, and I guess it’s semi-active because there were bubbles blobbing in the sea shore area. We took an hour or so admiring it! By that we mean, taking lots of photos. Little did we know that our boat already left the area where it was . Our tour guide hurriedly asked us to swim as fast as we can going to the boat that is about a kilometer away from us. The boat can’t go near us because we were in shallow waters. Imagine us swimming as fast as we can to get to the boat with injured knee, weary body and out of breath! A complete recipe for suicide! In the middle of the sea, we got tired and just admired the big coral formations. Good thing the foreigners didn’t complain.
We then safely arrived in Dumaguete at 4:30 in the afternoon. Retrieved our belongings, took a shower at Harold’s and headed straight to the house of my friends aunt to stay for a night. During the last night in Dumaguete we tried to experience the nightlife of the city of “The Humble People” but seriously, with the activity that we covered for the whole day, all we can do at that moment is eat dinner and sleep. We got really confused on where to eat dinner, as a result, we first had dessert at Panda Fried ice cream. It was an ice cream coated with a bread. Nothing special. It made us more hungry though since we only ate bread the whole day. So, we opted for a heavy meal that time at this certain restaurant (forgot the name, but it was all steak) and settled for it. After that, we roamed around for a while, bought ourselves Sans Rival Silvanas for pasalubong and headed home.
This is probably one of the best trips (so far)! It’s such a great feeling to be able to disconnect yourself from your hometown and see the culture of another city. I’ve always wanted a lifestyle like that. Try their foods, know their language, culture and many more. It’s also great keeping up with my grade school friends whom i’ve never seen that much during high school and college. Truly, traveling is one of the best things in life and I am falling in love with it even more. To more adventures this 2016!
Side note: Before ending the last leg of our Visayas trip; A big Thank You to Erik Tarongoy *coughs* for making our ititerary! It was definitely easy breezy and there was no time wasted at all. The quick trip in Cebu and Apo Island wouldn’t be THE BOMB if it wasn’t for Bac bac, Kathlyn and Jobelle! The Tuslob Bowa long conversation, the long walks in Dumaguete, eating in a mini Carenderia in Oslob, the night where we ate all through out the day (Guys! Remember the more or less 10 restaurants and cafe’s we dined in? Haha) and many more shenanigans we’ve been through was nothing short but amazing! Naks, special mention. Hi Guys! Till our next adventure :*