Apo Island Tourist Attractions
The spellbinding Apo Island off the coast of Malatapay is home to rich marine life, gorgeous waters, and interesting rock formations. If you love nature and adventure, you're definitely in for a treat.
The number one activity here would be snorkelling and diving. The Apo Island Marine Reserve is a haven for giant sea turtles and various other sea creatures. We could not pass up an opportunity to see these gentle reptiles in their natural habitat so we lost no time for getting there. Easily the best decision ever. You don't even have to be a good swimmer to enjoy the experience since you can wear a life vest and there's a rope that serves as a guide.
We saw about 6 of them gliding in the water and feeding, unmindful of the curious surrounding onlookers. Besides the turtles, we also saw clown fishes and others we cannot identify. The corals however are hit and miss. There are some healthy coral beds but there are spots clearly trampled upon on the daily bases.
While we did have a great time, there were a couple of things worth mentioning which we strongly disapprove of. First, there seem to be fees for everything. You pay PHP100 for the registration which is supposed to go towards the conservation of the island. Next, you must get the services of a guide for PHP300. You need a life vest? Be ready to shell out another PHP100. Snorkelling gear and underwater cameras are available for rent but at exorbitant prices so best bring your own. If you need to rest a bit away from the sun, you can plop down on some plastic chairs under crudely made shelters for another PHP300. Needless to say – bring your own food. There was also quite a lot of trash around and the guides themselves did not seem to mind walking all over the corals. We wish that more efforts went towards protecting the endangered species and their habitat.
Nevertheless, the close encounter with the turtles was still awesome.
Diving and snorkelling around Apo
Besides the Marine Sanctuary, there are other dive spots around the island that are worth checking out. Located on the northwest section of the island is the Coconut Point also known as "the washing machine" because of the strong current which can pull you from every direction. Here you can spot jackfish, sea snakes, barracudas, or even reef sharks and manta rays.
Chapel’s Point on the Western side of the island has gentle to moderate current where you can find eels, frogfish, snappers, scorpion fish, and more. Balouarte is a unique site in that you can observe bubbles due to the volcanic activity beneath the island. Other interesting dive spots are Cogon, Rock Point, and Mamsa Point.
Hiking and walking
Next, you can take the short hike to the old lighthouse if you like trekking. It's about half an hour on foot from the registration centre and a little over 300 steps to the top. While nothing spectacular awaited us at the hilltop, we enjoyed the view and the sunset. If you do the same, make sure to go down before it gets dark as it might be a bit tricky to navigate the trail. Wear comfortable running or hiking shoes.
Another easy-to-do exercise is to walk along the village on a flat, mostly paved trail leading to the marine sanctuary. Known as the lagoon trail, it was a pleasant walk where you will see nice little houses and souvenir stalls, ornamental plants, playful village kids, and the scenic rocky beach is never too far away.
Beach life, anyone?
Lastly, spend a good chunk of your time swimming and soaking up the sun. While the island does not boast powdery white sand beaches, we actually found it quite charming to be walking on pebbles and rough sand made out of dead corals. The stunning aquamarine water and impressive rock formations certainly more than made up for it.