Scuba divers observing fish and coral
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.
Diving in the Philippines.