June 14-17, 2015
Scuba Diving Apo Island with Mario's Scuba Diving and Homestay
GPS waypoint: 9°04'44.2"N 123°16'16.4"E
Location: Apo Island, Municipality of Dauin, Province of Negros Oriental, Philippines
Divers from halfway around the planet come to Apo Island to scuba dive. From an obscure fishing village on a small island off the coast of Dumaguete, this marine reserve has now become world famous for its marine biodiversity, seascape topography and its allure as a tropical island paradise postcards are pictured with. It's time to rediscover it and introduce to Tuyen, my Vietnamese traveling partner who is fresh from her open-water diver certification, one of the Philippine's diving wonders.
A highlight for me during my last visit was seeing the turtles feed en masse in front of the chapel, within 5 feet deep of water. Now, it's a cordoned-off area where tourists pay P300 for a guide (P300/guide, max of 5 pax). Turtles are clustered together, unmindful of the many people in snorkels gazing down on them. The guide ensures the turtles are not harrassed. They also take the tourists on a floatation device to the coral area where they can view the undersea world (floation device, mask, extra fee). Defintely one of the must-sees in Apo Island. To those on a budget, you don't really have to go within the 'turtle area'. Just outside its boundaries, you can already see turtles and observe them as they eat the sea grass.
Mario Pascobello used to be the Barangay Captain of Apo Island for 10 years. During his term, waste management and conservation was introduced. Now, he devotes his full time running his dive shop that offers PADI dive certification courses (I got mine from him), dive tours and lodging at his rustic but comfortable homestay. With over 3,000 logged dives, 90% of which were done in Apo Island, he is definitely the one to go to for Apo Island diving.
Chapel Dive / Wall Dive
With Tuyen and myself, and Jed as dive master, we went diving just in front of the chapel for the 40 meter drop-off wall - we coasted at a depth of 18 meters. I feared that perhaps the relentless pounding of the waters in the last few typhoons left the place in rubble. I was mistaken. The dive was awesome as we skirted along a near-vertical coral forest teeming with marine life with vivid colors to match. The ecosystem was intense. Schools of fish paraded as we took ringside seat to this visual wonder. We saw 2 turtles at play, a pair of mating Titan Triggerfish, and for the highlight, a moral eel with a head as big as mine.
The Coconut Point is on the northern tip of Apo Island where the island splits the south-bound current into 2 - one to the east and the other one to the west side of Apo Island. We took the west side for the white-knuckle drift dive. To someone familiar to a drift dive, it's screaming fun as you hitch a ride on the current and marvel at the passing biodiversity. To the uninitiated, like Tuyen who only got her open water certificate, it was a frightening roller coaster ride as she constantly struggled on her bouyancy, her proximity to the coral wall and the overall lack of control. At the end of it, we all managed to laugh it all out. Coconut Point was one very fun dive!
Until the Next Time
With not much time left, Tuyen and I left Apo Island taking with us, fun memories of 2 unforgettable dives.
Apo Island, Dauin, Philippines
(US$1 = Php 45.26 as of July 7, 2015)
- Apo Island boasts of having the freshest fish on your plate - avail of it!
- even though a marine sanctuary, fishing is still allowed in Apo Island, providing livelihood to the locals - but controlled fishing
- electricity is only from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm
- internet is painfully slow and intermittent when on
- public eating areas are hardly available except from resorts where guests are checked-in
- drinking water is still sourced from the mainland
- medium boat ride from Malatapay to Apo Island up to 4 people, roundtrip (Php 2000/boat)
- big boat ride from Malatapay to Apo Island up to 8 people, roundtrip (Php 3000/boat)
- open water dives (average, Php1000/dive)
- take a tricycle and ask to be dropped-off the jeep terminal going to Zamboanguita (the terminal is near Robinson's Plaza) - P8.
- at the terminal, board the next jeep for Zamboanguita. Just tell the driver to drop you off at the Malatapay Market. P20, 42 minutes.
- upon disembarking at Malatapay, walk towards the beach until you come upon the pier office. This is where you sign up for a boat ride. They're organized here with posted rates.
- get onboard the pumpboat and enjoy the boat ride. For 4 people, P2000 return. For 8 pax, P3000 return, 40 minutes. (rate as of Nov 2011)
- Goodbye Apo Island Apr 23, 2017
- Freediving Certification Course in Apo Island with Jean-Jacques Gautier of Plongeurs du Monde Apr 11-22, 2017
- Scuba Diving in Apo Island Apr 13-23, 2017
- Teaching Yoga in Apo Island Apr 10-22, 2017
- Hiking in Apo Island Apr 17, 2017
- Revisiting Apo Island Apr 10, 2017
- Scuba Diving Apo Island with Mario's Scuba Diving and Homestay June 14-17, 2015
- Apo Island with Amanda Ackiss Aug 3-4, 2012
- Sunrise Dive, Apo Island Aug 21, 2011
- Free Diving at Mamsa Point, Apo Island Aug 20, 2011
- Open Water Diver Certification in Apo Island with Mario Pascobello May 15-19, 2011
- Back to Apo Island - Mar 26, 2011
- Apo Island with Bianca and Gianne - Oct 14, 2010
- Skin Diving at Apo Island - Apr 17-18, 2010
June 14-17, 2015
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