Chasing Sea Turtles

What happens when you meet new friends who also love to travel?  You’ll have more adventures and more places to go to.

It was my third time to go to Dumaguete City but it was my first time to go to Apo Island.  I heard that it was one of the best places in the Philippines to go scuba diving or snorkeling.  My friends and I were talking about how beautiful the place was and the next thing we knew, our travel dates were set and tickets booked.

Apo Island is a volcanic island covering 12 hectares in land area, 7 kilometers off the southeastern tip of Negros Island and 30 kilometers south of the Negros Oriental capital of Dumaguete in the Philippines. The name “Apo” was derived from a Filipino word for “grandchild”.

The marine habitat around the island is a marine reserve, protected by the National Integrated Protected Area Act (NIPA) and under the jurisdiction of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB). It has become a popular dive site and snorkeling destination with tourists. There are two resorts on Apo Island, each with a dive center: Apo Island Beach Resort and Liberty’s Lodge. There is also a ranger station and a lighthouse.

The island is under the jurisdiction of the municipality of Dauin, Negros Oriental, and is one of the municipality’s 23 barangays. As of the 2010 census, the island has a population of 918. (Wikipedia)

Our plan was to take a bus ride from Cebu City to Santander Port and then hop on a ferry to Dumaguete.  But since we couldn’t make it to the last trip at 3 p.m., we chose to take a ferry ride from Cebu City directly to Dumaguete City Port instead.  It was an 8-hour trip (from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m.) and we just slept and saved our energy for the next day.

Please check:  Cokaliong Shipping Lines – Cebu-Dumaguete-Cebu section for the schedules and rates. 

Days before the trip, I contacted the Harolds Dive Center in Dumaguete and booked a snorkeling package for five.  We were told that we should be in the dive shop by 6:30 a.m.  Please click here for the rates.  For P 1,000 per person, it is already inclusive of the round trip land transfers from Dumaguete City to Dauin, a boat from Dauin to Apo Island and back, fees, snorkeling gear, guide, light breakfast and lunch.  It was worth it; however, I would suggest bringing extra food since diving/snorkeling can make you hungry and the food included in the package isn’t much.  For questions/reservations, please contact the Harolds Dive Center at +63 977 620 8926.

Since we arrived at the port earlier, we decided to have our breakfast first.  If you’re wondering where to have breakfast, Jollibee, Mcdonald’s and Chowking are open 24/7 and they’re all in one block.  You can just walk from the port or ride a pedicab.

Dumaguete is a small city and almost everything is a walk away, that is, if you love to walk.  Otherwise, there are a lot of pedicabs and it costs Php 8.00 per ride.  After we had our breakfast, we spent the time for a photowalk to Harolds.

A pedicab at the Dumaguete Boulevard


The original Sans Rival


A calm sea


The Port of Dumaguete
Early morning walk


In deep thought
Waiting in vain
Who doesn’t?
The Silliman University Hall
At the Harolds Dive Center


The beautiful mountains of Negros
A boatman
Sharing the boat with tourists
Approaching Apo Island.  It took about 45 minutes from Dauin to Apo.
A fisherman’s boat


Ready for snorkeling!
Jump!  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
Under the sea.  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
Sea cucumbers.  @Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
Blue starfish.  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
Another starfish.  Photo credit:@_januaryrain_
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A sea snake.  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
A sea urchin.  I hate it when I see one especially if it starts moving when you’re close.  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
We finally found a turtle!  It took us a while before we saw one and we had to swim towards the shore.   We weren’t allowed to touch it or the corals.  There’s a Php 5000 fine.  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
And there’s another one!  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
A celebrity turtle.  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
Jean chasing this turtle.  There were more than ten turtles but we saw only three.  Photo credit: @_januaryrain_
I had my own moment with this turtle. I guess he was already used to seeing tourists everyday that he no longer cared if we were nearby.  He just kept on eating.  Photo credit:  @_januaryrain_

It was an amazing experience to swim with the turtles.  Apo is indeed one of the best places to go scuba diving or snorkeling.  I talked to a Spanish woman who we shared the same boat with and she told me that we live in a paradise.  She traveled to different islands in the Philippines for a month and she asked me if I’ve been there.  I told her that I may be living in the Philippines but I still have to go to those places.  It struck me that a lot of Filipinos would rather travel abroad than explore our own islands.  The foreigners have visited more Philippine islands than I did.  There are still a lot of places to go to in my checklist and I should travel more while I’m still young and able. 🙂

P.S. Don’t forget to drop by the Dumaguete Boardwalk at night for Tempura.  Try Sans Rival’s desserts.  There are affordable pension houses in the city if you decide to stay overnight or a few days.  There are also other tourist destinations like the Lake Balinsasayaw, Manjuyod White Sandbar and the Red Rock Hot Spring. 

6 thoughts on “Chasing Sea Turtles

  1. How would you compare–overall experience, cost/convenience–to a similar trip to Bohol (Panglao, Balicasag)? Also, Apo Island looks pretty rugged. Were you able to visit any of the resorts? Are there beaches or anything interesting to visit on land?

    1. Apo is a very small island compared to Bohol. We didn’t set foot on the island and I think there’s only one resort. There’s no electricity and they only use a generator at night.

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