Apo Island: Adventures with Turtles

Apo Island is a small island destination about 1.5hrs away from Siquijor by boat. We had originally tried to book the boat privately to take us over on our anniversary as a way of marking the day and making it extra special for everyone. With our own boat the idea was that we could stop somewhere else along the way, or have a picnic lunch in a quiet cove somewhere. We really didn’t know what to expect on Apo and it seemed like a way to avoid what could be another one of those nightmarish vendor-infected scenarios.  There’s never anyway of telling in advance.  But hiring the boat didn’t seem to offer us any advantage.  There was probably a way to do make the way you wanted it, but without inside help, I gave up.

So we took the group boat, which was fine.  Its always annoying to wait for (really) latecomers who can’t get themselves out of bed in the morning, but the boat was clean and comfortable, and not too crowded.  We sat on the back deck watching the waves and water spray up on to the deck.

Boat to Apo Island

Beautiful wave sprays as we headed out

About an hour later, the island came into view and our boat slowly manouvered on to the beach.

Approaching Apo Island

Apo island coming closer

Boat to Apo Island

Our boat docked on the Apo Island beach


Apo island has a small, attractive resort right on the beach. It would be a lovely place to stay and a way to enjoy the peace of the island after the daily boat (us) has left. Maybe next time….

Apo Island Resort

Upon arrival everyone has to pay a small environmental fee. Hopefully this is going toward the job of preserving the reef and beaches. It was certainly kept unspoilt. It actually could have used a little development, though, to help protect the shoreline and the visitors. A small wooden dock extending into the water a little would have made entry across the spiky coral much easier. But Apo is still very pristine and low key. I would never have picked that particular shallow, coral beach covered in algae and rock pools to enter into the water and explore.  But they were right….it was totally worth it.

Nikki held back a little.  She was the last in the water, but the first to see a turtle.  I wish I had been there to witness it.  As she worked on her resolve to enter the water, a turtle head poked out of the water to get air.  I can only imagine the scream!  To her credit she got in anyway, and we all managed to see and swim with the turtles.  I didn’t see one for a good 10 minutes, then Latham started signalling me to turnaround.  I turned, expecting to see something the size of a large tortoise, but no, it was the size of a small kitchen table, swimming around just a foot or two away.  It was kind of disturbing that something so large was so near and I had only just spotted it.


Turtle at Apo Island

Smaller, but beautifully coloured turtle

Turtle at Apo Island

My first turtle…and it was a big one!

Sea snake at Apo Island

Yes. It is what you think it is….don’t tell Nikki!

The Apo Island snorkeling beach.

The Apo Island snorkeling beach.

Snorkeling in Apo Island

Not exactly a beach I would choose to snorkel at…and yet it was great Turtle territory

After about an hour or so, we had had our fill and headed over to the resort for lunch.  We could hear the drummers playing from a distance, our entertainment for the meal.  On the way back across the beach, we passed this excellent Christmas tree, that is made from fallen, dried palm fronds, driftwood, and discarded tourist gear.  Loved it!

Filipino Christmas Tree

Drummers on Apo Island

Drummers entertain while we enjoyed our beach lunch

Apo island was a great location, and still undeveloped enough that everything was pleasant and friendly. I sure it will become more popular in coming years and I hope that they continue to care for their environment as well as they do now. Responsible tourism attracts responsible tourists. And I got to swim with turtles…..!

3 thoughts on “Apo Island: Adventures with Turtles

  1. Apo Island is great. sadly with the last 2 typhoons, the sanctuary is destroyed. However, still worth a visit and about 60% of the coral gardens around the Island is still breathtaking 🙂


  2. Heya! I understood in this article that you came from Siquijor Island? Well, my friend and I really want to go to Apo Island to see some turtles and have lunch. But planning to stay overnight at Siquijor. Which hotel/resort would you recommend and any tips? 🙂


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