Swimming with turtles in Apo Island

For my 29th birthday, I went to Dumaguete and Oslob to see the turtles and the whale sharks, respectively. It was supposed to be a solo trip, but my mom got envious of my trip to Oslob so I agreed to have her come along. A good thing too, because it saved me a lot of money on the boat to Apo Island! I had to really budget, and I spent about P12,000+ for this (including air fare, transportation costs, food, hotel, massage, mangoes, activities).

We stayed in Go Hotel Dumaguete, which is quickly becoming my favorite cheap hotel for the trips when I know I’ll be out of the hotel the whole day and will only need a place to sleep. Upon booking, I informed Go Hotel that I will do a late check-in. They also texted me on the day so I confirmed that I will check in that evening.

How to get to Apo Island from Dumaguete City

1) Ride a tricycle (or jeep) to the bus terminal.

The terminal is spacious, with a small convenience store and several chairs. We took a Ceres bus bound for Bayawan City. You have the choice to ride a non-air con or the air conditioned bus. Since the non-air con was the earliest bus departing the terminal, that’s what we rode.

We asked to disembark at Malatapay Market, clearly stating that we’re going to Apo Island.

If you’re a foreigner, you have to be very clear that you’re going to Apo Island. We rode with a foreigner named Derya, who asked to disembark at a different stop but when I asked her where she was going, she said Apo Island. The bus staff didn’t know she was going to Apo Island and called her when we arrived at the stop she mentioned. My mom quickly spoke in Bisaya with the bus staff that Derya was going to Apo Island; I explained to Derya that we were going to Apo Island too and that it was the wrong stop.

2) Cross the road toward the street to the pier and walk towards the pier.

It is about five to ten minutes of walking. There are also tricycles waiting when you get down the bus if you don’t want to walk.

3) Rent a boat from Malatapay to Apo Island.

There’s a woman in a small hut who collects the fees. The small boat is P2,000, and you can share the boat with up to six to eight people so you can divide the costs between you. Even if you’re all strangers, the person at the pier will be the one to divide the cost among you.

This is already a roundtrip fee. Someone will go along with you and wait for you until your group is ready to leave. If you’re ready, and the other passengers are not, you have to wait.

4) Upon arrival in Apo Island, go up the registration office and pay the tourist fees. You can also rent the snorkel gear from here.


There are some one or two eateries that serve fresh seafood and some toilets you can use to change your clothes. There were no available bathrooms so the woman at the eatery said I could just change in her bedroom. For real. I tried to be quick, then her boyfriend came in, and we both shouted at each other in surprise. Hehe.

A guide will accompany you to see/swim with the turtles. You have to use the floater upon entering the turtle sanctuary because you shouldn’t step on the corals.

Mama was so happy to just float around, watching the turtles pass her by
The guide said “it’s right under!” and I went down and got so surprised by how close this pretty turtle was. 1/2 decent picture of me with a turtle.

The turtles would swim around us. There were moments when I’d just be floating and the turtles would pass beside me. You’re not allowed to touch them. I tried not to go where there are crowds because I pitied the turtles trying to swim around more than three people. Mostly I’d just float and wait for turtles to pass by to take pictures of them.

After three hours in Apo Island, we were ready to go back to Dumaguete and sleep; we had an early day scheduled for Oslob – watch out for my next post! 🙂

How to get to Dumaguete City from Apo Island

1) Go back to the same boat you used to get to Apo.

2) Walk back or take a tricycle to get back to the main road.

3) Wait for a bus or jeepney going to Dumaguete City.

Some tricycle drivers will offer to bring you back to Dumaguete for a fixed rate. There were five of us in the boat who were going back to the city on the same day. The driver agreed to drive all five of us to our individual hotels for only P500. We took his offer because we didn’t want to wait any longer and at least we were going to go straight to our hotel.

2/2 decent picture of me with a turtle

2 Replies to “Swimming with turtles in Apo Island”

  1. Will you recommend Go Hotel in other provinces?

    Also, did the bf chase you out of the room? Hahaha. Buti hindi ka napagkamalan na magnanakaw 😉

    Are the turtles unique to Apo Island?

    1. Yes, in Iloilo and Bacolod. 🙂

      Haha! No, he didn’t chase me out of the room but he did tell his girlfriend, who said she gave me permission to change there.

      The turtles aren’t unique to Apo, I think, but they’re so close to shore. 🙂

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