Southeast of Manila and Negros Occidental in the Bohol Sea, the snorkeling off Apo Island offer diverse marine life and exceptional coral formations. Apo Island shouldn't be confused with Apo Reef in Occidental Mindoro, which doesn't offer the same quality of shore-accessed snorkeling. While snorkeling Apo Island, you may encounter manta rays, parrotfish, sergeant maj...
Southeast of Manila and Negros Occidental in the Bohol Sea, the snorkeling off Apo Island offer diverse marine life and exceptional coral formations. Apo Island shouldn't be confused with Apo Reef in Occidental Mindoro, which doesn't offer the same quality of shore-accessed snorkeling. While snorkeling Apo Island, you may encounter manta rays, parrotfish, sergeant majors, clownfish, cleaner wrasses, thresher sharks and the main attraction - the plentiful sea turtles. Keep in mind, there are relatively strong fast currents surrounding the island, which are responsible for flushing the lagoons and creating high visibility.
Located in the Visayas region, Apo Island has a protected marine sanctuary surounding this remote volcanic island and is a true snorkeling mecca with over 400 coral species providing habitat to over 650 fish species. The sanctuary covers 225,000 square meters and is managed as a National Integrated Protected Area. When you reach the island, there is a required 150 Peso Environmental fee to get on island. Once on island, the locals will tell you that a guide is required to go snorkeling in Apo Island. But, very few foreigners use guides. And, there doesn't appear to be a law requiring guides.
The best Apo Island snorkeling can be found at Katipana Point, Sanctuary Point and Largahan Point. Overall, there are 9 mooring buoys located around the island to protect the reefs, and there is a designated snorkel preserve that is good for beginners to start at. Katipana Point is a protected area and is known for its sea turtles. Sanctuary Point is best known for its Clownfish City. Largahan Point has thermal plumes with bubbles coming up from the sea floor and has a very high coral density.
The Philippine archipelago consists of over 7,100 islands stretching 1,840km and presents a snorkelers paradise. The warm, crystal clear waters are a haven for diverse marine life. With visibility up to 60m, the waters of the surrounding Pacific Ocean, Celebes Sea and South China Sea are habitat to 400 species of coral and over 2,000 species of fish including sharks, rays and turtles.
Overall, the Philippines are divided into the three main tourist regions, from south to north, of Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon. Each region has numerous tropical beaches and shallow reefs. The best time of year for snorkeling in the Philippines is the cool and dry months of December through March. The months of June to October are the rainiest months and are known to have typhoons.
To reach the Philippines from other countries, most people fly into Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) located on the south side of Manila in the Luzon region. It is served by 30 international airlines. Alternately, there are five other smaller international airports including Mactan-Cebu International Airport (CEB) in Lapu-Lapu City (serving Australia, Singapore and Japan), Davao Airport (serving Indonesia and Singapore), Clark Airport, Subic Airport and Laoag Airport. Once in the Philippines, the main inter-island airlines are Cebu Pacific Air and Air Philippines. In addition to inter-island airlines, many of the 7,100 islands are interconnected by small ferry companies (usually very crowded). Recently, a newer high-speed SuperFerry has started to connect some of the islands and is known to be less crowded.
To reach the snorkeling on Apo Island, you will first need to fly to Dumaguete airport from either Manila or Cebu City. From the Dumaguete airport, take a taxi to the Dumaguete Ceres bus terminal. Next, take the bus to Malatapay (you will need to ask the bus conductor to stop at Malatapay), which takes about 30 minutes. In Malatapay, walk to the ferry about 0.5km away. The ferry to Apo Island in the Tanon Straight Trench takes about 45 minutes. Once on the remote Apo Island, there are only 4 simple lodges so make sure to make a reservation first.
TIP: While on Apo Island for snorkeling, keep in mind there are very cheap boat rentals for some off-shore snorkeling. Just make sure to watch out for the no-dive zones.
Overall, Apo Island is the 12th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 30 snorkeling dives in Philippines.
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