Sunday, December 2, 2007

APO Island Diving

Apo Island is one of the Premier diving destinations in the Philippines. Apo is known specifically for it's pristine coral reefs and marine sanctuary. Green Peace has been monitoring the reefs surrounding Apo Island, and they regard Apo as one of their success stories. I met several members when they visited last October. It was a great party, many beers, a disco specially arranged for their visit. Access to Apo island is facilitated with easy connections by Air from Manila to Dumaguete. Once you are in Dumaguete, there are various ways to get to Apo. If you are adventureous and independent, there are regional Ceres Liner buses which will drop you at Malatapay Market where you can take a ferry to Apo island. Well, ferry is misleading in a way. These are Bankas, or commonly called "pump boats" here. Essentially they are outrigger canoes with motors. Some are small, others can carry up to 20 persons. The cost will range from 200 Pesos (about 5 dollars) to 1000 Pesos or more if you want a private ride with return trip

Malatapay market is a destination in itself every Wednesday. Farmers migrate down from remote mountain villages to sell their produce. You can buy anything from bananas to dried fish, to hand woven straw crafts. The straw weaving here in Negros is some of the highest quality I have seen anywhere in the world. The prices are below cheap, even when you factor in that as a tourist they will often raise the price.The Roast pig barbecue or "Lechon" as it is known, is fantastic. People come weekly just to sample this local delight.

Once on Apo, if you have decided to venture there without the assistance the local dive shops, there are two resorts offering a variety of services. These range from dive rentals, snorkel rentals, restaurants, and accomodations. Apo Island Beach Resort is the smaller and more exclusive, Liberty's Lodge is larger.

Personally I liketo live among the native people, so when I visit Apo Island I try to rent one of several native houses I know of. 500 Pesos per night is typical. Be warned if you go this route, no online reservations, you just go and ask around. There is no airconditioning, brackish water to shower with, and the electric on Apo (except for the resorts), goes on at 6 PM and off at 10 or 11PM.

This is simple living folks! The people on Apo are some of the most friendly I have met anywhere in the Philippines, if you take the time to mingle, eat, and drink with them. Aside from diving, there is a lighthouse at the top of the big hill on Apo. I have no idea how many steps, but more than a few hundred, take water! Since I enjoy photography, I found that exploring the volcanic rocks near the marine sanctuary revealed some extaordinary surreal formations. Here are a few.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is very interesting. Keep up the good work.
You write that there is a 20passenger boat going to Apo for 200pesos. Is this a regularly scheduled service?

RHB said...

There are no truely scheduled trips, it is very haphazzard.In the morning there is a boat from Apo to Malatapay bringing students and workers. In the afternoon there is usually one going back. These boats are the cheapest because they cater to the local people.There are other boats throughout the day, cost depends on how many passengers size, etc.

Anonymous said...

So one can't go to Apo in the morning and come back to Malatapay the same afternoon?
I don't enjoy paying 1,500pesos )and the rough ride) for a small banca round trip for just 2 people. That's why I am interestes in the lower priced larger boat.

RHB said...

Prefaced with, last I knew, No you can't expect to go back and forth to Apo in one day unless you hire a boat, go with a resort boat on a pre arranged trip, diving, snorkling, etc. I suppose you could get lucky and take a chance on some fisherman, or resort boat returning in the afternoon.

Kerill said...

So I am guessing that the diving here really is all that is promised - can't wait to visit if that is the case - sounds awesome - thanks for this info!