Apo Island: A Day Trip Guide To One Of Negros Oriental’s Treasures

Apo Island: A Day Trip Guide To One Of Negros Oriental’s Treasures

Apo Island is an enchanting destination that has been on my radar for the last 12 months. Praised for its coral diversity and charming sea turtles, the island is, after all, a premier snorkeling and diving site as well as a one-of-a-kind tourist destination in the Philippines. As you take a plunge into its clean waters, you will get to see a beautiful patchwork of corals brimming with charming sea creatures, such as the clown fish, unicorn fish, red toothed triggerfish, and of course, the pawikans.

Apo Island: A Day Trip Guide To One Of Negros Oriental’s Treasures

I finally had the chance to visit this lovely island, and without any hesitation, I went there, even though I didn’t plan my trip carefully. It was an impromptu trip, and I literally planned everything, including my visit to Siquijor, in less than a couple of hours. Thankfully, though, my partner was there to help me sort out our accommodations in Siquijor.Apo Island: A Day Trip Guide To One Of Negros Oriental’s Treasures


Planning on visiting Apo Island? Here are some tips based on my personal experience that may come in handy for your trip.

How to get to Apo Island

Step 1

To get to the island, first you need to travel to Dumaguete City – the capital of Negros Oriental. For those who are traveling from Manila, you can easily get there by flying to Sibulan Airport.

Travelers coming from Cebu, on the other hand, will have to take the long yet scenic 3-hour bus ride to Liloan, Santander from Cebu City South Bus Terminal (fare is 185 PHP per person).   Afterwards, you need to take a ferry to Sibulan port (travel time is 25 minutes or less, and fare is around 67 PHP).  From there, take a jeepney ride to Ceres Bus terminal (20 PHP per person).

And, by the way, there are buses from Cebu that travel to Dumaguete. Check out Cebu South Bus Terminal for the schedules.

Step 2

Once you’ve arrived at the Ceres Bus Terminal, hop on a bus bound to Bayawan City (make sure it that passes through the Zamboanguita municipality). When the conductor asks you where you are going, tell him to drop you off at Malatapay Market (travel time is about 40 minutes, and fare is 50 PHP for air-conditioned bus and 25 for the regular ones).

Step 3

Take a short walk to the shore, and look for the information center. Then, rent a motorized boat that will take you to the island. The round-trip boat ride costs 2,000 PHP (good for 4 passengers), 2,500 (good for 6 passengers), or 3,000 PHP (good for 8 passengers).

Solo travelers or folks who are traveling with their special someone will have to join other groups, and share the costs for the boat rental. Since we went there as a couple, we had to share the boat with a trio of friendly people from Spain.

Step 4

Before the boat leaves, make sure to change into slippers and don your swimwear. I was essentially drenched in sea water within a few minutes of our boat ride. Also, keep all your electronic gadgets and other personal belongings in your bag. The boatman will ensure all your things won’t get wet, by storing your bags inside the boat’s special storage area. Travel time is 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the sea condition.

Apo Island


A convenient option to get to the island

Looking for a more convenient option to get to Apo Island? Traveling from Siquijor? If your answer is yes, then take the Apo Island tour offered by Coco Grove Beach Resort. With this island tour, you get to visit the island of Apo in a very convenient fashion on a luxurious yacht. For 1,600 PHP, the tour will also include food, guides as well as snorkeling gear.

You can book this tour through a travel agency. One of the travel agencies I know that’s offering this package is Tickets to Ride.



Upon arrival, head to the registration office and pay 100 PHP to the person in charge. Basically, it is an environmental fee, which will be used to maintain and preserve Apo Island.

To get a pleasant and unforgettable encounter with the island’s sea turtles, you need to pay 300 PHP to a tour guide (good for 4 people) at the tourist assistance center. You’re not allowed to enter the protected area where the turtles swim without a guide.

If you have your own snorkeling gear, I suggest that you bring them with you.  On Apo Island, a snorkeling mask rental will cost you 100 PHP each. You can also rent a lifejacket for 100 PHP. But, if I were you, I’d be extra nice to the boatman, so I can use their lifejacket for free when swimming on the island.Apo Island: A Day Trip Guide To One Of Negros Oriental’s Treasures



Although there are restaurants on Apo Island, I strongly suggest that you bring your own food, and eat on the boat or on the beach. The food served in Apo’s restaurants is, quite frankly, bland, and their service is fairly poor too.

Not to mention, the prices for the meals are outrageous. You have to spend around 180 to 250 PHP for a lunch meal in their restaurants. With the same proportions and taste, I can eat a meal for 50 to 60 PHP in any eatery or carenderia almost anywhere in the Philippines.


Swimming with the sea turtles

Swimming with these creatures is by far one of my most memorable travel experiences this year, thus far.  While I’m not a great swimmer, I was still able to get close to these marine animals. The truth is, you don’t really have to go far to see these creatures, and you can catch sight of them on the shallow areas of the shore.

It was my first time to swim with them, and I did have a blast. With my cheap yet effective action camera, I was able to capture some of the best moments on my underwater experience with these creatures.  So, don’t forget to bring a GoPro or any other action cam, when visiting Apo Island. There are rentals for action cameras available on the island, but each comes with a steep price (around 1,200 PHP per rental, and you are going to use it for just a few minutes).

Apo Island

In addition to the turtles, you may take a swim, sunbath and snap photos of its eye-catching rock formations.

You may stay on the island if you want to. As a matter of fact, two of the Spaniards whom we traveled with on the island stayed overnight. There are a few resorts in Apo with reasonably priced accommodations. Since we came here for a day tour, we had to leave for Malatapay at 3 pm. Boats taking passengers back to Malatapay are not allowed to leave Apo Island after 4 PM, for safety reasons.

Apo Island rock formation


Got a question? Reach out to me via Facebook!

Aldrich Infantado is a travel junkie and a writing aficionado who loves to share amazing travel tips to his fellow travelers.


  • Basha

    Hi, I stumbled upon your blog coz my friends and I are planning to go to Apo Island. We are from Bacolod 🙂 ask ko lang if sulit na ba ang 1 day tour sa apo island? Or you suggest na mag overnight? Thanks. I really do enjoy your blog posts 🙂

    • chuckzster

      Hi Basha,

      Thanks for dropping my site. Yes, I think 1 day is enough, because honestly, there aren’t plenty of things to do there, unless you are a seasoned diver. For me, it’s a nice side trip to Siquijor or Dumaguete.

  • leyn

    Hi! I was looking for a day tour on Apo Island and found your blog. Can I just ask, are there any place in the island where in we can leave our things, take a shower and change clothes? We’ll be coming straight from the airport, and we don’t want to rent on any resort/hotel because we’ll be traveling to Siquijor after the tour in Apo Island. It’s kind of side trip lang nmn, sayang din kse kung hindi namin mapuntahan. Thank you! 🙂

    • chuckzster

      Hi Leyn,

      You can leave your things at the registration office, but in my opinion it’s much safer to leave them on the boat you’ve rented. Just ask the boatman nicely. As for your second question, there are a few places on Apo Island where you can change clothes and take a shower. Good luck on your trip, and don’t forget to pack some food!


  • Katrina

    Hello, I stumbled upon your blog while finding ways to get to Apo Island. My plan is to go there straight from the airport. Will arrive Dumaguete around 8:30am so will most likely get to Zamboanguita around 10am considering the travel time is about an hour as I’ve read from some blogs. Anyway, my problem is, the resort where I’m booked said that the boat leaves at 9am and that’s their only available trip to Apo island. They suggested though to check Malatapay and see if there are boats that leave around 10-10:30am. So, my question is, would you know if there are boats that leave any time of the day? It would break my heart if I won’t be able to go to Apo. 🙁 Hope you could help me out. Thank you!

    • chuckzster

      Hi Katrina,

      There were boat trips as late as 11:00 am, the last time I was there. As far as I know, there are no specific schedules for boat rides bound for Apo Island in Malatapay. Boatmen offer random trips to Apo Island, as long as there are tourists coming in. But, for the most part, people travel there early since boats return to Malatapay from Apo Island at 3:00 PM.

      Once you’re in Malatapay, you’ll have to find other travelers to join you for the boat ride. We arrived there a bit late (around 10 am), but we were lucky to find a trio from Spain who joined us for the boat ride. Before you leave, you’ll have to discuss with your fellow travelers how you’d spit the costs for the boat ride fairly since some are staying there overnight.

      If you have more questions, just drop a message in my Facebook page, so I can respond faster.


  • HF

    Thank you for this!! So once I get to Apo Island, I don’t need to rent any other boat? I just have to hire a guide to snorkel with the sea turtles?

    • chuckzster

      Yep, it’s just one boat ride away from Malatapay. And by the way, don’t forget to pay 100 pesos for their environmental fee.

    • chuckzster

      I’m not sure sure about that, but I did see some travelers with tents on the island. You may also try homestays if you’re really on a tight budget, which may cost around 150 to 500 pesos per room (good for 2 people).

  • Caye

    Hi! I’m planning an Apo Island tour for my family, so I have lots of questions (I hope you bear with me, haha!):
    1) So the P2,000-3,000 boat transfer from Malatapay to Apo is round-trip, but it won’t tour you around the island? How did you go around snorkeling, did you have to rent another boat?
    2) How many hours did you stay in Apo Island? Aside from snorkeling, are tourists left pretty much on their own (like we can swim freely and loiter around)?
    3) Getting back from Apo, will there be the same Ceres buses that will take you back to Dumaguete?

    Thank you so much! This was a really helpful article, by the way 🙂

    • Aldrich

      Hi Caye,

      Not a problem. I know the pains of traveling with a group, and that’s why I don’t mind answering tons of questions from other folks. Here are some things that might shed some light.

      1) Yep, that’s the round-trip rate for tourists on Apo Island. As for snorkeling, you don’t need another boat since the turtles and corals are located near the shoreline.
      2) I think I stayed there for about 4 hours. Last trip back to mainland is 3 PM, as far as I can remember. In addition to snorkeling, you can do some swimming, sunbathing and hiking around the island.
      3) There are plenty of buses, jeeps and even tricycles that can take you back to Dumaguete..

      Hope that helps. If you still have questions, just reach out to me via Facebook, https://web.facebook.com/bisayatraveler/..:-)

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