Welcome to Apo Island, one of THE diving paradises and what I didn’t know: the only sustainable place the Philippines have to offer. Apo Island is located just off the southern tip of Negros. Even though it’s not too far off Apo Island feels like a different planet compared to the busy university town of Dumaguete.
Before we started out trip Apo Island was on my list of place I would LOVE to see but because of the popularity of its dive sites and size (around 900 people live on that island) I considered it a somewhat exclusive destination. Too exclusive for our backpacker budget. But I was wrong. The one and only accommodation on the island is actually quite backpacker friendly and they even have their own boat so that you don’t have to charter a private one for a lot of money. For me the boat ride was pretty cool already. Do you know the moment when you recognize a map in real life? Like we were heading to little Apo Island in front of us, with the huge mountain range of Negros and Cebu in our backs, Siquijor to our left and Mindanao behind Apo. So cool haha.
As soon as we arrived I had the biggest smile on my face. This tiny piece of land was paradise. Not because of dreamy beaches, they actually don’t have nice beaches, but because of its vibrant solitude. I can’t find better words. The inhabitants probably have no clue what’s going on in the world or their country. In return they have picture book-like island life. Moana land just got real, I thought. Wild hibiscus, playing kids and fresh fruit everywhere. This is pure filipino bliss, I thought.
After we dumped our backpacks, we hurried down to the diving shop to plan our dives for the next day. It was my first time diving after I got my open water last year, I was so excited! But what happened the next day exceeded all my expectations. We went on three dives and one was more amazing than the other. I have never seen such huge, colorful and most importantly healthy coral gardens. We passed sea turtles of my size or even bigger with the prettiest, symmetric patterns on their shells. It sounds a bit naive coming from me – a beginner – but I am sure Apo Island offers some dives of a lifetime. I will never forget this awesome experience.
And the unbelievable thing about it: we were by ourselves. It was just my travel buddy and me with the dive master. In the beginning I thought it was a mistake as we paid only 20$ per dive… It was insane.
What made Apo Island so special to me, was the awareness for their gifts from mother nature. The reason why you find to many turtles in the are is because the residents take care of them. The island and the surrounding marine habitat is a marine reserve. -> “Apo Island lives, if they live”! When we hiked up to the light house on top of the island – followed by lots of dogs – I couldn’t believe my eyes: They actually build solar cells here!
Apo Island was perfect – apart from the mosquito situation. I was literally so sad to leave. If you are a diver, you’ll have the best time here. I personally think that it’s too inconvenient to come here for snorkeling only.