Apo Island - Fiesta on the Isla!

After our Siquijor trip, me and my friend decided to spend the last two days of our much needed vacay in Dumaguete City. While I was sipping my last morning coffee at the End of the World resort, Stephanie asked me for our next destination and plans. For those who haven't met Stephanie and Mark, they were the cute couple we met in the resort on my Siquijor series. Steph is a Filipina while Mark is a Belgian (very fluent in English, French and Spanish). 

Going back to Steph, I told her that we will be spending our last two days in Dumaguete - with no plans. She then asked if we would want to join them on their stint in Apo island, she added that she's a local of Zamboanguita (jump-off point to the island). I immediately said yes. She looked at me like I was joking or something. I told her that I was serious. Initially, I didn't include Apo island in our trip because I heard that the marine sanctuary was temporarily closed. But how can you resist an offer like that from a local right?

meet Stephanie and Mark
The plan was, me and my friend will catch the Delta's 10:00 a.m. ferry ride to Dumaguete and they will leave at 12:30 p.m. We will meet them in Zamboanguita by 2:00 p.m. and go to Apo island as a group. Steph clearly taught me how to go to Zamboanguita. By 11:00 a.m., we were at the Dumaguete port. We had so much time to spare in Dumaguete before heading to Zamboanguita so we went around the city first. 

Malatapay Terminal 
Going to Zamboanguita was easy, of course thanks to Steph. Upon arriving at the sea port from Siquijor, just walk to the Rizal Boulevard or their "Baywalk" (just stay away from getting tricycles at the sea port). Hail a tricycle to the Ceres Bus terminal - 9 pesos each person. While at the bus terminal, look for a bus with a signage "Bayawan". We rode a non-aircon bus and paid 25 pesos each. Just tell the bus conductor that you will go down at Malatapay market. 

When you reach the market, just go straight the street (it's the only street) until you reach the Malatapay terminal. It was a busy day at the port because Apo island's fiesta will be two days from that day. Well here's the tricky part. For tourists with much moolah to spare, hiring a boat will be the best option. They will quote 2,000 pesos for 4 persons - Roundtrip. But what if you're going there solo? That's so steep. 

So what Steph did was, she spoke with the terminal operator and we ended up joining other boats with other locals and some stuff on board (cases and cases of beers - fiesta nga talaga!). They quoted 100 pesos for Steph (because she's a local) and 300  pesos each for us. That's the cheapest fare they can give us and we have to take different boats 'coz they couldn't fit us all in. We agreed so me and my friend went on the first "family-rented" boat while Steph and Mark took the next one. 

It was a rough 45-minute boat trip to the island. You might wanna wear your swimsuit 'coz you will be wet after the trip. You can feel the excitement of the people as we went along the boat ride. I didn't understand what they were talking about but I think it was about the upcoming fiesta and the activities. 

When we arrived on the island, you can feel the vibe and the festive mood of everyone. There's a basketball tournament on one place, people setting up for a "disco" on one side and people were generally excited. Oh by the way, we didn't pay any entrance fee to the island nor did we register as tourists. We were in a "family-rented" boat right? Or maybe because people were too occupied to actually filter the people who were coming.

What a ride!
Happy fiesta!
We stayed at Ronor's Lodging House. The owner is a friend of Steph and she reserved some rooms for us. Without any knowledge on how to go to the lodging house, we just asked the people around for its location. We easily found the place and we were quickly recognized by Ate Ronor herself. She showed us the rooms and let us choose our preferred one. The fan room for 2 persons is 500 pesos with shared bathroom. 1,000 pesos with a 3-meal inclusion. We said that we will be leaving the next day so we can only have dinner and breakfast. She quoted 800 pesos for that and we were more than happy.

First thing we noticed was the bathroom. They don't have running water. There was this big tub where there was water that looked like rainwater with some eerie stuff. We told ourselves that we will not be using that water for our bath. We saw a jug with water that we thought was for oral thingy and saw it was clean. We used that for our shower that night. 

Other thing I noticed was the power supply. We needed to charge our gadgets but it didn't work. So I told Ate Ronor about it and she giggled. She then told us that electricity was from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily thus the mosquito nets on the rooms. But we were lucky that time because it was their fiesta so the electricity was from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. because of the "disco". Nice!

lotsa rooms
It was 4 p.m. and we asked Ate Ronor for the pawikans and she pointed us to the basketball court and off we went to look for the beach in front of the court. Ate Ronor lent us their snorkeling stuff for free! We easily found the area and we couldn't wait to swim right away. 

The seabed was rocky and we had a hard time walking on it. We swam for a few minutes and then I saw it! A pawikan beside me and it was huge! I didn't know what to do so I screamed and my friend asked me why. I'm really not an animal-person and a turtle that big is scary for me (more than jumping on cliffs). I didn't know how to handle that kind of situation (O.A. I know...). But after sometime, I got used to it. I just didn't get near it and just enjoyed the starfishes and other creatures under the sea (Little Mermaid?!). Those were the moments that I wished I have an underwater camera. Can you give me yours? puh-lease! 

After that fun activity, we went to the Marine Sanctuary. We knew that it was temporarily closed but we still tried (malay mo?). But to our dismay, it still was closed. We stayed for a while and saw an eco-trail and promised myself to get up early to try the trail. 

I did swim with pawikans!
here's where they are
till when?
We went back to the lodging house and saw Steph and Mark hanging around with the locals. It was Mark's third time on the island. I told him about the pawikans over dinner. Our dinner was grand! All the while I thought that they will serve us dinner for four persons. But what they served was for a group of 10 and I am not exaggerating. It was so grand that even if we were hungry, we didn't finish the meal. It was native chicken adobo, chopsuey and rice. 

After dinner we boozed up with some Tanduay Rhum and Red Horse beer. For the next 4 hours, we chatted non-stop about everything and anything and nothing at all. Don't worry, I didn't had a nosebleed. I loved how they told us the first day they met. It was a cute and touching story. Steph couldn't help but cry after she shared her life story before she met Mark.  It was a nice evening and we planned to go to the "disco" but we failed after we took a shower and forgot about everything. 

I didn't plan about it but I woke up at around 5:40 a.m. the next day and immediately went to the marine sanctuary to hike the eco-trail and get to the view deck. Mark was telling me the night before that he attempted to hike  before but after a good two minutes he failed. He said that you need the right kind of shoes to reach the top. And with my slippers, he said that it might be difficult for me to reach the view deck. That challenged me to hike it the next day. I was on my own and I started the hike.

Mark was right. It was rocky. There were rocks everywhere. I went up without having any breakfast or coffee. It was hard but the view was amazing. Specially the cliff - made me wanna jump again but no... I restrained myself and went on with the trail. There were no signs. I just followed what I think was the right path. And I did it! I reached the top and it was great. I stayed for a while and tapped myself on the back for the hike I just did. Galing. 

habagat eco-trail
cliff dive?! no, thanks...
the view deck

salamat sa self-timer
I went back to the lodging house and saw everyone having their breakfast. It was not as grand as the dinner the night before. It was egg with toast and coffee. I told them that I did reach the top with my slippers and let them see the photos I took. They were thrilled and Mark was challenged to do the same the next day. 

After the hype about my hike, Mark told us his experience of Apo island's fiesta last year. He told us that he liked the fluvial parade and the dance presentation of the "kids". And just as he said that we shouldn't miss it, a local-friend of his went by and said that the fluvial parade was done and the presentation was going on that time. He hurriedly went to the event area and we followed him. Dang, we missed the fluvial parade. But we were just right in time for the presentation. 

I tried to look for the "kids" but I saw the 16 to 20-year old ladies parading their costumes - they were "kids" for Mark. Haha. There were drumbeats, people waving flags and people shouting. It was so festive and fun! We didn't get to see the coronation night that evening because it was our flight back to Manila that same evening. 

eager audience
we missed the fluvial parade
Look at Mark
the priest heading the activities
bongga lang!
festival vibe and feel
with nemo-lady
where'd you get that?
We bid farewell to our new friends and exchanged contact numbers. They also invited us for their tentative wedding date on November also in Negros. Ate Ronor found someone who provided our boat service back to Zamboanguita. He charged us 500 pesos for the solo boat ride. That cheap because they were sure of the passengers they will be accommodating back to Apo island. I seated on the front part of the boat where the waves wildly splashed on my face. That was my moment right there. Not the titanic kinda thing but it was a very nice quiet time to reflect about our trip and some stuff.

Our trip may be a spur-of-the-moment thing but hey, we met a cute couple which became our friends instantly, I trekked up the view deck, we did swim with the pawikans and we experienced the island's fiesta. Not bad eh?


  1. Wish ko lang din maka swim with the pawikans kaya lang malabo kasi di ako marunong lumangoy.hihihi! Panonoorin ko na lang sila! By the way madalas meron sa deal dozen na bellarocca deal kaya lang di ko sure kung meron pa nung kagaya ng nakuha namin.

    1. hi anney! may life vest naman kaya pwede!

      hmm... ang mahal eh... kailangang pag-ipunan talaga.. pero ang saya nga nung trip nyo :)

  2. ikaw na Ma'am Carla. ganda ng shots. at ang SEXY mo! ^_^

    1. wow naman! thanks donnie.. mana lang ako sayo :)

  3. at kelan ka pa nahilig maghike? magaling na ba ang sugat mo sa binti? haha

    bili na kasi ng underwater cam, nabitin ako!

    1. wag na pag-usapan ang mga sugat sa binti ko...haaay...hehe

      nabitin din ako kasi nasa memory ko lang ang mga pawikans pero ayos lang...wala talagang cam eh..hehe

  4. Waaaa! I envy you! :(
    Mag papasukan na at wala pa akong nasisilayan na dagat..

    1. ay naku ysa! dapat tinodo mo ang gala kasi tag-ulan na sa pasukan...

      you still have few more weeks kaya go go go!

    2. Gustuhin ko man.... walang budget.. hahaha!
      pag may work na ulit.. mag gagala ako bongga!

    3. kaya yan.. mag budget lang ng tama :)

  5. grabe swerte pawikan! balak rin sana namin mag apo reef dati kaso masyado kaming na enchant sa siquijor hehe

    1. kami din nung friend ko eh.. dapat overnight lang kami sa siquijor, inabot ng 3days... :) may next time pa naman christian.

  6. I thought you don't like trekking? Hehehe

    I have the same question, till when sya closed?

    1. chong di ko alam... kahit yung mga taga dun hindi nila alam kung hanggang kelan :(

  7. so ASTIG experience Carla!
    and its really worth to reflect on those things.
    nakakainggit! :)

    1. hi estranghero! astig talaga.. ang bongga lang talaga nung mga pawikans :)

  8. this is what you call perfect timing! we missed visiting Apo Island when we went to Dumaguete last year! dapat talagang bumalik... thanks for sharing! :)

  9. oh wow!! :D ang ganda!! trip ko kasi yang mga fiesta fiesta eh :) and i wished for the same thing... underwater cam :(( I dont have one din >.<

    btw: nice photos!

    1. thanks shugah! ay naku...kelan kaya magiging katotohanan ang pinapangarap na underwater camera?! hmmm...

  10. Kawawa naman nung mga ladies with gown. They surely had their faces sunburned because of extreme heat. Halata sa kanilang mga expression. Buti na lang Mam Carla si miss nemo katabi mo, mukhang hindi halata na nainitan na siya sa sout niya. Medyo nahiya pa mag project mode. Anyway, you a good experience with your new found friend. Sure na talagang bridesmaid ka sa kasal niyan.

    1. happy naman sila kahit super init :)

      kahit guest lang sa kasal nila happy na ko...

  11. it looks like you had a great time. =) Apo Apo mapupuntahan din kita.

  12. wow kakaiba din ang experience mo sa apo island kasi fiesta nila.curious lang ako, may leather back turtle kaya sa apo?

    1. hi melvin! i have no idea.. hihi.. pawikans lang ang nakita ko.. :)

  13. Probably the sanctuary will be opened when the warden returns from his vacation LOL.

  14. Mag asawa ba c Stephanie at Mark? Curious lang... un friend ko kasi gusto foreigner magiging husband nya.. haha!

    Gusto ko makakita ng pawikan up close... :(

    1. they are engaged..sa november pa ang kasal..invited daw kami (sana maalala pa nila..)hihi

      sayang nga gladys, sana hiniram ko underwater cam mo... :(

  15. Blissful guru....I love it! :-)


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