Apo Island: A Detailed Guide for an Ultimate Vacation

Apo Island: A Detailed Guide for an Ultimate Vacation
apo island travel guide
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Often confused with Apo Reef, Apo Island is located off the coast of Negros Oriental, covering approximately 70 hectares in land area and 106 hectares of coral reef.

It is home to over 650 documented species of fish and around 450 species of coral, making it a popular diving site not just in the Philippines but in the world. 

5 Fun Things to do in Apo Island

While Apo Island Philippines undoubtedly has a majestic underwater world, it also offers other fun things to do that will interest those itching to get their shoes dirty. Here are some of the best things to do in Apo Island you must try:

  1. Snorkel and/or Dive
  2. Swim with the turtles
  3. Lounge at the beach
  4. Trek
  5. Visit the lighthouse

Read this Apo Island blog to learn more about this amazing destination and achieve the ultimate vacation experience.

Apo Island Location

view of the sea and boats

Photo credits to Dennis Gonzales via Flickr

Apo Island Philippines is located off the southeastern tip of Negros, 40-minute boat ride from the town of Zamboanguita. It can also be reached by a 30-minute motorized boat ride from the village of Malatapay, Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental.

How to go to Apo Island

apo island beach

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

Apo Island is usually accessed via Negros. To reach the island, book a ferry or flight bound for Dumaguete. 

Upon arrival in Dumaguete, you can take private transportation to Malatapay, the jump-off point. Travel time is around 45 minutes. 

If you want a more budget-friendly commute, opt for public transportation. However, the travel time will be longer. Take a trike to the bus terminal in Dumaguete. Ride any southbound bus or jeepney bound for Zamboanguita. Tell the driver that you want to go to Apo Island. 

You will be dropped off in Malatapay. Look for the large sign that reads “Apo Island”, follow it and walk 15 minutes through the market area to the boat jetty.

Upon arrival in Malatapay, ride a boat bound for Apo Island Negros. Make sure to wear comfortable clothes and put your belongings in a waterproof bag because the sea swells are strong and you’ll get wet. 

Commuting from Dumaguete to Apo Island may be a challenge but once you reach Apo, all of the tiredness from your commute will be washed away.

Things to do in Apo Island

a diver and turtle

Photo credits to Faith Mari via Flickr

From land to water activities, this tourist destination will surely satisfy the adventurous spirit in you.

1. Snorkel and/or Dive

Apo Island snorkeling and diving is the most popular activity on the island because of its astonishing marine life. From beds of colorful soft corals in the shallows to huge gorgonian sea fans, Apo is the center of marine biodiversity. Protected green and hawksbill turtles can also be seen in dozens in the shallows. And so as huge schools of jacks, groupers and fusiliers.

What makes Apo a hit to divers is its clear waters. In fact, it is a favorite dive site for training for the technical divers of Marine Conservation Philippines, because the excellent visibility underwater, steep walls and deep canyons provide glorious scenery for the courses.

2. Swim with the turtles

Another main reason that travelers go to Apo Island is swimming with the turtles! The place is frequented by two species of turtles: green turtles(found in the shallow areas) and hawksbill turtles (found in the deeper parts of its waters).

Apo Island turtles can be found year round. But the best time for Apo Island diving is from October to early June. 

3. Lounge at the beach

If you’re too tired from all the underwater adventures you’ve taken, then go to Apo Island’s beachfront, lay a mat, bring out a book, and get your much-needed tan. 

4. Trek

While the island offers great water activities, you can also enjoy some land adventures like trekking. There are different trails available depending on the difficulty level you want. 

5. Visit the lighthouse

Looking for an extra challenge? Then visit the abandoned lighthouse that requires you to trek for about 40 minutes. The trek can be challenging as you’ll have to pass muddy trails.

Best time to visit Apo Island

Chromodoris annae

Photo credits to Michel Candel via Flickr

While turtles and other marine life can be found all year round, the best time to visit it for Apo Island diving is from October to early June. July to September is not ideal because of the tendency to have a strong monsoon.

Tips and helpful information for your Apo Island tour

apo island fishes

Photo credits to Klaus Stiefel via Flickr

  1. Use reef-friendly sunscreen to help protect the sea.
  2. Put your belongings in a waterproof bag as sea swells can be strong and rough. Chances are, you’ll get wet on the boat.
  3. The island has a limited resource for food so bring a few food items with you.
  4. Electricity may be limited at times. If your accommodation doesn’t have an electric generator, make sure to charge your gadgets ahead.
  5. Be flexible with time as boats come and go on an irregular schedule. Boat trips will still be available up to 12:00 p.m.

Apo Island Accommodation

apo island rock formation

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

There are two accommodations in the area: the Liberty Lodge, and the Apo Island Beach Resort. 

Liberty Lodge has seven types of accommodation that are all-inclusive of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, while Apo Island Resort has nine cottages, a beachside restaurant, and a bar that allows you to prepare your food on the open area, under the starry night. 

For more affordable accommodation, there are also homestays that accept guests in the island.

Apo Island Itinerary

apo island turtle

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve got limited time, good news for you because you can enjoy the island even just for one day! Check out the sample Apo Island itinerary we did for your guide.

7am  – Arrive in Dumaguete City

8am – Depart for Malatapay by bus

8:30am – Charter boat to Apo island

9am – Sightseeing

10am – Apo Island Snorkeling or Diving

12pm – Lunch

1pm – Trekking

3pm – Chill at the beach

4pm – Depart for Dumaguete City 

Frequently Asked Questions About Apo Island Marine Sanctuary

Q: What is Apo Island known for?

A: Apo Island is known as one of the best diving sites in the world because of its rich marine life with over 650 documented species of fish and over 400 species of corals.

Q: Can you stay in Apo Island?

A: Yes, you can stay in Apo but the accommodations there are only limited so it is recommended that you pre-book your stay. 

Q: How do I get to Apo Island?

A: Book a flight bound for Dumaguete. Upon arrival in Dumaguete, ride a jeepney going to Malatapay and from here you can take a motorized boat to Apo Island which is a 30-minute journey.

Q: Where is Apo Island located?

A: It is located off the southeastern tip of Negros, a 40-minute boat ride from the town of Zamboanguita. It can also be reached by a 30-minute motorized boat ride from the village of Malatapay, Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental.

Q: What are the best things to do in Apo Island? 

A: It is most popular for its diving scene but there are other things you can enjoy, too. These are:

  1. Snorkel and/or Dive
  2. Swim with the turtles
  3. Lounge at the beach
  4. Trek
  5. Visit the lighthouse

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