Guide to Apo Island: Expenses and Travel Tips

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How to Get There
From Dumaguete City's Ceres Bus Terminal (near Robinson's Mall), take the bus going to Bayawan City. Fare is relatively cheap, which is at PHP50.00 for the air-con bus. Ask the bus driver to drop you off at the Malatapay Market in Zamboangita, which is 30 to 45 minutes away from Dumaguete City. From the highway, it takes a 10 to 15 minute walk to reach the Malatapay Information Center where you can rent either a small or a big boat to take you to the island.

Tip: The market you'll pass by comes alive during Wednesdays where stalls and stores along the road sell food. If your trip falls on that day, you can buy food there and bring it with you to the island.

Boat Rental and Other Expenses
Boats can be rented to take you to and from Apo Island. The big boat costs around PHP3,000.00, which can accommodate up to 8 people, and the smaller boat is for PHP2,000.00, which can accommodate up to 4 people.

For smaller groups, I still advise you to take the big boat for safety and comfort reasons. For groups with more than 8 people, you can take more than one boat as long as you don't exceed the maximum capacity per boat.

After payment, the LGU-in-charge will look for locals who will bring you to the island. You can request them to put some shade in the boat (shown in the picture) to avoid the heat.

Once you reach the island after the 45-minute boat ride, you need to pay the general admission fee of PHP100.00 at the island's registration center. If you're a resident of Negros Oriental, you will only pay PHP25.00 for the admission fee. You can ask the locals to direct you where Registration Center is in case you'll get lost.

Expenses on the different recreational activities vary depending on the activity. For those who want to snorkel, snorkeling gears can be rented — masks at PHP100.00 and life vests for another PHP100.00.

For diving expenses, you can check this site for more details.

What to Bring Before the Trip
In case you have your own snorkeling and diving gear, bring it along with you to save money. You also need to bring sunblock (forgot this during my trip) and your camera, of course.

Note that sailing across the sea will get a little rough and there's a big chance you will get wet. Be sure you bring a zip-lock cellophane to wrap your gadgets with (cellphone, digital camera, etc.).

Clean water can sometimes be difficult to find in the island so better bring a bottle of water — two liters is probably enough to get you throughout the day.

Although optional, you can also bring something to read and an MP3 player/iPod you can listen to while you bask in the sun.

Activities in the Island
Apo Island boasts of different recreational activities for solo and group travelers:

1. Snorkeling/Diving. This is why Apo Island is in every tourist's bucket list. Popular snorkeling sites are found a few meters away from where boats drop off tourists and at the Apo Island Marine Sanctuary and Protected Seascape.

If you're lucky, you can swim with green turtles that live in the area and enjoy watching few other marine life species. Watch out though for the black and white banded sea snakes — they're deadly.

2. Trek to the Lighthouse. Apo Island's Lighthouse takes a few minutes to hike from the island's registration center. The trail starts from the Liberty Lodge, where you'll be passing rugged walkways and concrete stairways. Once you reach the lighthouse, you can climb up the tower to catch a better view of Apo Island and the neighboring Negros Island. Be careful though as some of the steps on the ladder are already rusty.

Be sure to come back before sunset. Once it gets dark, you'll have problems navigating the trail.

3. Camp at Apo Island's Marine Sanctuary and Protected Seascape. The sanctuary, located at the other side of the island, is a place where travelers can set camp using their own tents or rent a small cottage. It's only a few minutes away from the drop-off area.

The locals, however, decided to temporarily close it down after the island was hit by Typhoon Sendong last December 2011.

As of today, locals and concerned divers are trying to rehabilitate the sanctuary but most likely, it will take a few years before travelers can visit the sanctuary again.

What Not to Bring Going Back
There's a famous saying that goes, "Take nothing but pictures leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time." Do exactly what it says. Bringing of corals, pebbles and sand from the island is strictly prohibited — same to the island's flora and fauna.

Once you're there, do your part as a responsible traveler and an eco-champion. When I was snorkeling, I found a glass of wine bottle that sank at the bottom and pulled it out before somebody accidentally steps on it. Little and simple things you do can help preserve the marine eco-system.

How to Go Back to Dumaguete
To go back to Dumaguete, you can take the bus that occasionally pass by from Bayawan or you can take the jeepney for PHP20.00. The jeepney is a better choice since most likely you'll be wet from Apo Island. Don't worry about the other passengers — they'll understand.

Drop-off point is at the Dumaguete Fire Station. Take the tricycle going back to your hotel.

In my next post, learn why we went to Apo Island. It involves mending my friend's broken heart. I'll also be posting the complete itinerary of my Dumaguete City - Apo Island trip. In the meantime, here are some of the pictures I took. As always, comments, suggestions and questions are welcome below.


Makati Condo Rental said...

Thanks for sharing us this info !

Mustachio said...

As of today, locals and concerned divers are trying to rehabilitate the sanctuary but most likely, it will take a few years before travelers can visit the sanctuary again. <-- Oh too bad :( Their sanctuary was really beautiful. It had the very colorful corals.

The Lord said...

@Mustachio: Yes, very beautiful, indeed. Are you based in Cebu or in Dumaguete?

Andrew Molina said...

idol na talaga kita!

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Thank you for these tips... I need this for next week

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Anonymous said...

Thank you. Great info. I'm going to apo this Thursday, glad to have read your blog.

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Anonymous said...

What if my group are composed of 10? Do we have to take 2 boats?

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Ankur jha said...

Thanks for sharing this amazing island information with us, It is one best dive spots in the world, attracting hordes of divers all the year round. The soft white sand and patches of fine corals, clearly visible through the crystal blue waters. Same Day agra Tour

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