Sunday, November 1, 2009

Apo Island

I left Dumaguete City yesterday this time enroute to Apo Island and stayed there for the night. I took a tricyle from where I'm staying (Harold's Mansion) to Ceres bus terminal (PHP8) and rode this bus to Malatapay, Zamboanguita, Negros Oriental which is my jumping point for the island.

If taking a public transportation to Malatapay, be careful not to drive past where you should go down. More or less the commute should take around 30 minutes from the bus station, and I paid just PHP28. I almost got past this place despite my clear instructions to the bus conductor that I will get off here. Luckily for me, a couple of passengers heard me and notified the driver I should get down. The sign board below is the landmark of where you should alight.

To get to the jumping point, you get to do a 5-minute walk, although there are a few motorcycles offering a ride. It was still early and it wasn't that far so I opted just to walk towards the boat terminal. Left and right, I saw a lot of bamboo stalls that are closed and I was informed these are the stalls used by seafood vendors during special times of the week and that the area is famous for fresh and reasonably-priced seafood.

I reached the Malatapay Terminal and Information Center but the boat that is supposed to take me to the island wasn't there yet. From here, one can book for outrigger boats for day trips to Apo Island (and surrounding area) but I am taking the community boat that would bring me across the sea.

Almost a couple of hours later, the community boat Perno arrived and a few more minutes then we are off to the island!

Apo Island is world-known as one of the best diving spots around the globe. Its surrounding area is protected and is considered a marine reserve.

Upon entering the surroundings island, one is required to pay the sactuary fees of PHP100, to be settled at the registration office. The fee is supposed to be used to help preserve the island, as well as its surrounding areas.

There are only establishments offering accomodations available in the island, one is a private Apo Island Beach Resort but I stayed on the loacl community-ran Liberty's Community Lodge.

Pushing my budget to the fullest, I opted for a bed in the dormitory for PHP300 per night. The lodge offers airconditioned rooms and private ones hey, I got to try this once in a while and it's just a day anyway!

It is a dormitory so generally I am sharing this with other guests. There are around 5 beds in this unit but there were only 2 of us sharing at that time. The picture of the bed below is the one I used.

other beds

sink area

toilet area

me in my bed

After settling in, I left my things and explored the island. I passed by the restaurant first and checked what they have in store later for dinner (yes it was just lunch time and I was already thinking of dinner) and "reserved" my fish for cooking later that night.

I went down the shorefront and stayed by the beach side, enjoying the beautiful view of white sand, almost unspoilt nature and clean water as the cool breeze of air blows through my skin. I think this was the reason why I got red immediately!

me by the sand

I went further in an area where the locals are, on the way to see what's on the other side. There are officially less than a thousand inhabitants in the island.

I passed by this beautiful bay view on the way to the shore at the other end of the island.

Just a few minutes walking and I ended up at the Marine Sanctuary Zone.

It was so darn hot that I didn't dare go into the water. I just explored the area and thought to myself that I will be back later that afternoon when the sun is about the set.

Because I have nothing else to do, I took the trek to the top of the hill as suggested by some locals. Some of the paths going up are concrete but others are just land mass and looks very dangerous.

Minutes after going the strenuous path uphill, I reached what seemed to be a flat area. I thought that was it but a passerby told me to go further.

Few more minutes walk and I began to ascend the hill again, this time more subtle than the previous one.

Minutes later, I saw a hut and then just behind it, a glimpse of a white lighthouse greeted me! Curious, I followed the path to what I think will lead me to the lighthouse.

Surprisingly, the path didn't just lead me to that white lighthouse. First, I passed by an old lighthouse, it looks stable but its insides suggests that it's already abandoned. I also thought that the fact that the white lighthouse obviously looks newer, it must be a replacement for this one.

Few steps more and then I reached the newer lighthouse. I have no idea if these lighthouses have names but zooming in on the peak of this one revealed messages that says it's a property of the Philippine government.

The view of the surroundings from here is simply marvelous! At one side you can see mountains but I'm not sure if they are the ones in mainland Negros Oriental, and then another side shows the vast body of water as far as the eye can see.

I then began my descent and on the way down I saw this cute child cow (calf) and an adult one.

I went straight back to the shore, this time dipped in the water and played with the sand. I stayed for at least an hour doing almost nothing but meditating on deeper things.

view of the sea as the sun begins to set

Then I remembered I plan to go the sanctuary zone! I immediately got up and went to the other side of the island again. I didn't go snorkelling and I was told its a snorkelling area. I just walked around and saw beautiful corals and sea creatures but the following pictures do no justice as I didn't dare bring my camera that deep in the water.

On my way back to the lodge, I saw a signboard pointing to a 600-meter "Habagat Eco Trail" and Rockpoint View Deck, which I eagerly followed.

I kept on going on going, passing through shrubs and steps of eroded land and soil..

.. but sometimes, view such as this make things all worth it despite the hardship!

I'll admit, it was a very long walk. Or it took time for me to reach the end. It was supposed to be just 600 meters but it felt way longer than that. Walking through the rocks and uneven path where there's cliff left and right, you have to be reminded that one wrong step will be your last step. Not to mention trees that were uncut and shrubs blocking the way. It seems to me this path is not that popular to locals and tourists! This trek definitely took at least half an hour to 45-minutes because of my slow but careful walking.

It was sunset time when I reached the end. Magnificent and fantastic view! Definitely worth it!

I stayed for around 15-minutes as I do not want to go back walking in the dark at that path I just followed going here.

view from the deck

the view deck

One last glimpse, and then I was out. It was very serene and I honestly felt I was connecting with nature at that point, but then again, I need to be practical and I really need to leave so I didn't waste time and headed once again back to the lodge.

It was already dark when I reached the community. At a chapel, there seems to be some preparation for a ceremony and I was later told that there will be some sort of party that night. A few people invited me to join but I guess I was just tired and need to get rest so I politely declined.

For dinner, I had Apo Fish, which seemed to be fish sauteed in onions and garlic. Very flavorful and delicious! Fresh fish meat seems to be always "sweeter" to my taste.

me right after dinner

I called for the night off after the dinner and immediately went to bed. Early next morning, I woke up early again to dip in the water and take the boat back to mainland, continuing my journey that weekend. By the way, I paid for PHP150 each way for the boat ride to and from Apo Island.

As you noticed, Apo Island is a dive and snorkelling place, but I didn't do either because I cannot do diving and I'm a bit afraid of water. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this trip and definitely this place will still remain in my list of places to go around the country.


Anonymous said...

thank you for this.. this is the next adventure my friends and i will partake...

aceychan said...

great pics, jj! :D

i love the bamboo beds and the mosquito nets!!!

did you change your layout?

Jasper said...

@ace - thanks thanks! long time no hear! yes, i'm still looking for the right background :)

Ian | GoingRoamingWandering said...

this is one of the place I really want to visit in Negros Occidental when I saw an article about it in Mabuhay Magazine. Apo Island is a paradise for snorklers and divers, you should had a try. How's the beach and sand of the island? Good for swimming?

veroniz said...

Been to Apo Island too!! You should have done the snorkeling! The corals are just BREATHTAKING, beyond words, awesome and beautiful would be an understatement to describe those corals! It's really magnificent. It's like a whole different world out there! I also didn't want to go snorkeling at first but just decided to give it a try and I am so glad that I did! It was the first time I saw real life out-of-this-world corals and some of my friends who've been to Palawan even said that the corals at Apo Island are waaay better ^_^ Seriously can't stop talking about Apo Island corals hahahaha!

Pinoy Adventurista said...

this is a very helpful post... thanks for sharing... Happy trip!

xiscibiel said...

nice. an add-on for my IT. tnx again..

Jasper said...

@xiscibiel - thanks!

Rome Dylan said...

Thanks for the info Jasper. You definitely left a footprint in Apo Island.

Will be visiting this island soon.

Just followed you blog. Cheers!

xiscibiel said...

do u have your boatman's contact#s? should i reserve a trip going to the island or is it fine to just "walk-in".

tina said...

nice photos! :)

Jasper said...

@tina - thanks!