Apo Island: Biodiversity and swimming with turtles

Adventures of Teacher Maita
Where all the boats are docked, Apo Island
Where all the boats are docked, Apo Island

LAST April to May, I, Teacher Maita, had the pleasure of visiting Dumaguete. We had a creative contents fair where I was invited to do a workshop. I was also there to explore Dumaguete’s art and writing scene. During my rare day off, my sister and her business associate decided we had to do something quintessentially “Dumaguete” before we went home. After considering options like Sumilon and Manjuyod, we ultimately decided to book a tour to Apo Island. This choice turned out to be a highlight of our trip.

Our boatman steering us manually
Our boatman steering us manually

Our journey started with a boat cruise that our tour operator had arranged. Even though the boatride was bumpy, we were optimistic about what was to come. The calm, crystal-clear waters that welcomed us at Apo Island were a stunning change from the turbulent waves that had plagued us thus far.

Off the coast of Negros Oriental is the volcanic Apo Island, which is officially part of Dauin, Dumaguete. Despite the island's lack of power, there is a strong enough signal to send images, so you can share your adventures in real time—making it a perfect getaway for nature enthusiasts.

Clown fish in the anemone
Clown fish in the anemone

Our guide showed us the marine preserves and stressed the need of not walking on the ocean floor so as not to harm the vegetation that turtles eat. Apo Island is well-known as a great place to go snorkeling and scuba diving, drawing visitors from all over the world. It is a protected zone with only certain areas allowed to swim in.

My guide gliding me along so I can see the turtles and the other guide could take a photo
My guide gliding me along so I can see the turtles and the other guide could take a photo

Swimming with the turtles is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on Apo Island. As long as you follow the golden rule and only observe, photograph, and not touch the turtles or the corals, these calm creatures will not mind you being there. One of the most fascinating things about seeing a turtle up close is the patterning on its shell, which is different for each one.

Tips for visiting Apo Island

To make the most of your visit to Apo Island, consider the following tips:

1.    Pre-arrange your tour: Book your tour in advance with a reputable company to ensure you have a clear idea of the costs and that lunch is included.

2.    Stay hydrated: Bring plenty of water. If possible, pack a cooler with cold drinks to keep refreshed throughout the day.

3.    Respect nature: Adhere to the guidelines provided by your guide. Do not touch anything on the island, including the turtles and corals.

4.    Tip your guides: A small tip goes a long way in showing appreciation for the guides who enhance your experience with their knowledge and assistance.

5.    Rent an underwater camera: If you don’t have an underwater camera, there are rental options available. Capture the beauty beneath the waves without disturbing the ecosystem.

6.    Enjoy the tranquility: Take the time to appreciate the serene environment and the unique opportunity to commune with nature.

Panorama from Apo Island looking at Dumaguete
Panorama from Apo Island looking at Dumaguete

A memorable experience

Experiencing the natural world up close and personal on Apo Island was a treat for soul. My nature-loving inner child was very much nurtured. The opportunity to swim with turtles, as well as the crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life, made for an unforgettable experience. This was the second time I have been to Apo Island and it will not be the last. Apo Island is a must-visit for everyone in search of peace and stunning scenery if they are in Dumaguete.

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