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Scuba Diving

Scuba Diving Apo Island with Mario's Scuba Diving and Homestay 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

World Famous
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.

Scuba Diving Apo Island with Mario's Scuba Diving and Homestay

Turtle Beach
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
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.

Coconut Dive
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.

--- TheLoneRider

Next stop: Cebu City

Google Map Apo Island, Dauin, Philippines

diving spots in Apo Island dive spots
  • Coconut in Apo Island Coconut - drift dive, school of Trevali, big fish
  • Cogon in Apo Island Cogon - drift dive
  • Mamsa in Apo Island Mamsa
  • Boluarte in Apo Island Boluarte
  • Largahan in Apo Island Largahan
  • Chapel in Apo Island Chapel - wall dive
  • Katipanan in Apo Island Katipanan
  • Rock Point in Apo Island Rock Point
hotels in Apo Island homestay / dive shop in Apo Island dive shop
approaching Apo Island there is no wharf on Apo Island - you get off the boat and into the water...hopefully, it's a low tide at the beach upon arrival Apo Island is as picturesque as the postcards
Tuyen off to her first dive with Mario Pascobello Tuyen climbing up the concrete steps to the top of the island a budding pineapple fruit along the way
on top of the island, overlooking the  water and seeing the island of Siquijor on the horizon winded from the climb view of the west side of the island where boats dock low tide
guy on the rocks with ice cold beer and a guitar as the sun sets...can't get any better than that Tuyen is dwarfed by the massive limestone off to dive at Coconut Point getting settled on the pumpboat
with Korean divemaster happy smiles! clear waters of Apo Island post-dive...Tuyen, shaken but not stirred :)
chilling out at Mario's Cafe with the boyz Mario's Apo Island Homestay Turtle Beach with perimeter sign
shopping for souvenir items...t-shirts at Php 200 big Jack...dinner! Boulder Beach secluded beach after spelunking the boulders
meeting new friends morning after    

Apo Island FYI / Tips

  • 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

Apo Island Cost Index

(US$1 = Php 45.26 as of July 7, 2015)
  • $44 medium boat ride from Malatapay to Apo Island up to 4 people, roundtrip (Php 2000/boat)
  • $66 big boat ride from Malatapay to Apo Island up to 8 people, roundtrip (Php 3000/boat)
  • $22 open water dives (average, Php1000/dive)

How to get there from Dumaguete:

  • 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)

Apo Island Blogs:

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June 14-17, 2015

»» next story: Back to Cebu, Back to Yoga at Surya Nanda Yoga Studio
»» next Scuba Diving story: Eat, Sleep and Dive at Liquid Dumaguete Dive Resort
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