Travel as much as you can they say, but it isn’t that always easy, it’s scary to go solo, it’s fun to go with the squad, but nothing is even more exciting than conquering places you’ve never been before – this 2016 I only have 3 things in mind, Work hard – Travel harder – Pray hardest.
Ridiculous as it may seem but I quit my job just last month, been part of the corporate world for 5 successful years and it’s too early to say I’m retiring, though i have already worked hard enough to earn and save for my future trips this year, but let me package it positively as my colleague quoted, this season, I chose to “Pursue Personal Passions”.
I do have left and right job offers from other companies, but I’m putting a hold on that. So without further notice, I decided to get my backpack ready and head south. The crazy thing about being crazy is having friends with the same wave length, I got ma’home girl tagged along with me on this spontaneous trip. I do know Dumaguete by heart since it is just a 6 hour drive from my city, but we still had to trace our way going to Apo Island.
How to get to Apo Island
From Bacolod South Ceres Terminal we took the 1:00AM trip for 377Php for an AC Bus (Price update as of March 2016 ), we just sleep away the 6 hour drive, arrived at Dumaguete at exactly 6:30AM. Buses usually leaves with an hourly interval and alternately Aircon and Non Aircon Buses, for convenience sake i recommend riding the AC buses.
We decided to get a quick glimpse of sunrise at Boulevard, then we hailed a Tricycle going to the local tiangge, we wanted to grab some light breakfast, and I miss having their budbud and chocolate, it cost us about 55php, that’s way too cheap for a breakfast for 2 right? I wasn’t sure where the tiangge was, but knowing how nice the people in dumaguete were i had no hesitations to ask for directions from a tricycle driver. After which we took another tricycle drive going to Ceres Terminal, the nicest thing about Dumaguete is that tricycle ride will cost you only 10php to any point around the city.
There are 3 options on how to get to Apo Island, you can occupy a tricycle and agree to terms with the driver and they will bring you straight to Malatapay Market, it would cost you 300php or more but minus the hassle. The 2nd option is taking a multicab, a bit of a challenge since there will be 3 stopovers and transfers, from Bellfry tower to Dauin Public Market then another ride to Malatapay Market, Multicab fare probably would cost about 8php to 15php the most, and the other option is to travel by Bus.
If it’s your 1st time to travel to Apo Island whether you’re a local or not, I highly recommend taking the Bus option instead, which we opted to do so during our trip. You can take any bus that’s going further south, such as Bayawan. Non Air-con Buses will cost you 25php and 50php for the AC bus, I also suggest that you take the earliest trip as well, we really didn’t wait that long for the bus to leave when we took the 8am trip, and I supposed that they follow their hourly schedule.
It’s a plus if you speak the native tongue for easy communication with the locals, I dared to put my Bisaya to the test during my travel; my friend wasn’t impressed but with several trips to the south I wanna take my chances of embarrassing myself than not try at all; i must say, i am basically a 5 out of 10 with my Bisaya skill but it was fun anyway. It pays to try though, so I told our bus conductor that we wanted to go to Apo Island and he was kind enough to advise us when we get to the side road of Malatapay Market which the small port is located. After 25mins trip we reached the market and just about another few 5 to 8mins walked we have reached the port.
Boat trip options also goes in 2 ways, you can have the private boat rented and pay 2,000php for small boat and 3,000php for the big one, or if you’re travelling solo or a duo like me and my friend, you can negotiate and join other commuters by dividing the cost which will be 300php to 350php each (maximum of 10pax for big boat and max of 5pax for small boat). Lucky for us there were 2 foreigners and their local freelance tourguide who joined our boat so we got the benefit of cutting the cost.
The boatman will ask you to put all your bags inside the Bangka as there is a compartment for it so that your stuff will not get wet. The direction going to island goes against the waves, most likely you will get wet along the way. Please do take this seriously and literally, you will surely experience a shower of waves and will get an instant bath as you head your way to the Island, do make sure to have all your things placed on the compartment of the boat. They have an available toilet at the port for you to change on your diving or swimming attire if you want be ready to dive in as you get to the Island. The Boat trip will last only about 15- 25 mins, waiting time will be worth it.
If you’re going on a day trip, then an arrangement of pick up time with the boatman can be done. If you plan on doing an overnight stay, there are still available trips going back to Malatapay Market with an early morning schedule, 7Am, 830Am and 930Am for 300php, and the rest of the day you might have to arrange a private boat that will cost you about 1,200php the most since that’s a special trip. Mind you though, boat trips are only up until 4Pm daily since the waves cannot be tamed.
Where to stay in Apo Island
Upon arrival you will have to register and pay the environmental fee of 100php, it’s only a onetime fee and it will be good for your whole stay in the island. As of this time there has already been an increased of available home stay to choose from on the island, for those who prefer comfort but comes with a price ; Apo Island Resort and Liberty lodge are the best place for you. For backpackers like me and considering we’re on a tight budget I would recommend staying at Mario’s home stay and Mary’s Home stay, prices ranges from 350php to 1000php max for an overnight stay.
We just had our trip last March 17, 2016 and it was surprising to know that most of the resorts and lodging houses were already fully booked. Summer is already in and but with luck on our side we were able to book our stay at Mary’s place in advance. The house is pretty neat and clean, it’s not as extravagant as you would have preferred it to be but it’s already a good place to stay in, even if you decide to be in the island for more than a day or 2. We stayed only for one night and paid 350php/pax. Most home stay serves breakfast such as pancakes and coffee, they also serve egg and bread which is good for 50php.
Mary’s house was really colorful, we stayed in room #5 just near the veranda where you can have a quick view of how the small yet beautiful the community look like. The house is really clean from the kitchen to the small living room and our room was a bit cozy yet it felt like a really good place to sleep in at night.
My friend and I only had our brows raised when we saw the bathroom, there’s a small window which is only covered by a short blue curtain, so for ladies like us, be strategic on how you go about in taking in a bath if you know what i mean. Running water is available anytime, but the electricity only runs from 6Pm to 9Pm, yes! You read it right, so better have those power banks ready, they will come in handy.
Eat, drink, but be wise
There are couple of sari-sari store in the Island and that’s one of our ways to support the community when we buy stuff in those stores, prices are reasonable, but I think we were ripped off when we had our lunch at one small store at the front beach when we paid 200php per pax for an adobo that was good for 2 person and a small serve of vegetables. So I suggest that you bring your own food if you have plans in staying long on the island, you can also ask your own lodging house to cook for you guys.
Come dinner time we were able to avail a 50php chicken inasal meal at one of those small stores just along the way, so yes, there are also cheaper meals available, that was a total pocket saver for us.
What to do in Apo Island
More than chasing a breathtaking sunset view, we were told that you could freely swim with the turtles, that surely excites anyone. There is some certain time of the day where the turtles swims through the reef, early morning, mid day and sunset time, though it also still depends if the tides are low or high. Even on shallow waters you can just easily see them, dare not to touch them since though since it’s not allowed. Diving gears are available for rent for 100php and if you need a guide you can pay them 300php.
If snorkeling and diving is not on your list then you can just always choose to bum around and let the sun kiss you and roam around on the other parts of the island.
As we went on our day it’s quite a surprise how foreigners would travel a long way just to get a glimpse of the islands coral reefs. We met a group of people from Korea, China, New Zealand and Germany, though most of the time we were mistaken as Americans, yet we were proud to say we were Filipino’s and boast about all the spectacular beaches, mystical islands and diving spots in our country.
In one of our conversations I asked Peter (New found German friend ) what he does for a living and he said ” The least as possible ” and we laughed that phrase away. I envy the fact that they get to travel from one island to another in our country but yet most of us don’t get to have that luxury of both time and currency, in saying this I do know only people who were born to travel truly understands what I mean.
Website and Contact Numbers:
Mary’s Homestay :
+63 906 823 4923
+63 906 361 7154
Apo Island Beach Resort:
+63 939 915 5122 / +63 917 701 7150
+63 920 238 5704
Here’s a short list of how much we spent during our travel
Bacolod to Dumaguete (Round trip) 377*2 = 754php
Dumaguete to Apo (Round trip) 50*2 = 100php
Malatapay Market to Apo Island (Round trip) 300*2 = 600php
Accommodation at Mary’s Homestay 350Php
Tricycle Ride 10php
Breakfast at Tiangge 55php
Lunch 200php (Adobo, Rice and Vegeteables)
Dinner 60php (chicken Inasal with Rice )
Breakfast 50php (Egg with Bread and Coffee )
Environmental fee 100php
Snorkeling gear 100php
You can set a 2500php per pax budget for this trip, just prepare some extra cash though if you have plans to spend more than expected. You really don’t have to spend that much if you’re considering to travel to Apo Island or to anywhere else in this country. Don’t just travel in style but travel with the intention to experience yourself through different people and different places.