Sometimes big treasures are wrapped in small packages. It holds true with this little island in the central part of the Philippines called Apo. Known to be a paradise for divers and sea enthusiasts, this volcanic island is fast becoming a tourist attraction.
If you’re traveling from Manila, you book an hour flight to Dumaguete City and upon arrival take a tricycle going to the bus terminal for a 20-minute bus ride going to Malatapay Port in the town of Zamboanguita. From there, another 45-minutes by boat going to Apo Island. It is an open sea so expect that waves are not very friendly at times, but if you’re lucky enough, sometimes it can be very calm that you might even spot a pod of dancing dolphins. Rocky cliffs stand proud as the island’s façade; the beach is pebbly and may appear unappealing and it comes as a great contrast to what the isle offers under their turquoise waters.
There are only 2 resorts in the island and a few homestays scattered in between. If you plan to stay overnight, you have to prepare to give up the comforts of the city life. They only use generator for electricity from 6 AM until 10 PM only, so expect to have no aircon, TV or WiFi. You won’t really need it anyway, because the sea will totally consume your whole day.
Apo Island is home to giant sea turtles and once you swim from the beach it’s just so easy to spot them in the clear blue waters. They float freely without having to fear for their dear lives, because this little island and its people have worked together to protect the turtles and all their marine resources. They not only protect the marine life here but they also raise awareness for every tourist that visits the island.
Aside from the giant turtles, you’ll be amazed with the healthy marine biodiversity. Snorkeling around their beach coast will introduce you to the teeming life underwater; you’ll see huge corals of different forms that houses hundreds of different and colorful fishes. Yet the most popular attraction is the growing number of clown fish colonies here, you can easily spot them from afar because of their vibrant orange color. You can never track time when you’re in the water because there’s just so much to do.
No matter how badly you want to stay underwater though, darkness would still sink in and thus give you another opportunity to try out another unique activity and that is stargazing. Of course this is a case to case basis because you need an ultimately good weather, but if you’re lucky enough to have one, then you’re up for the biggest treat of your life by far.
Since they turn off all the lights at 10 in the evening, you’ll have an uninterrupted view of the whole sky. Grab a beach towel, feel the cool sea breeze and lay underneath the vast twinkling universe of stars. The whole experience is so majestic; occasional sightings of shooting stars and the sound of waves will just give you the satisfaction of inner calmness.
Words are not enough to describe the experience of visiting this hidden gem called Apo Island but if you need a breather from the everyday hustle bustle of city life, this island would be the perfect getaway.