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Apo Island Guide – Incredible Snorkeling & Diving (Dumaguete, Philippines)

Apo Island Guide – Incredible Snorkeling & Diving (Dumaguete, Philippines)

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

A complete guide to Apo Island – an incredible hidden gem off the coast of Dumaguete, Philippines. Experience one of the most biodiverse marine parks in Asia on this magical, 74-hectare paradise.

Apo Island is one of those destinations that’s really going to blow your mind! If you’re looking to get off the beaten path to discover a Philippines hidden paradise that your friends have probably never heard of, then do yourself a favor and check out Apo Island.

This incredible volcanic island is very small, covering a land area of only 74 hectares. However, what is remarkable about this place is the 106 hectares of pristine coral reef surrounding Apo Island.

In this guide, I’ll detail everything you need to know about Apo Island, from logistics to inspiration for things to do, as well as some great underwater photos that I captured on my visit.

Apo island negros oriental

About Apo Island

Firstly, you won't want to confuse Apo Island with Apo Reef. Apo Reef is the largest coral reef in the archipelago and it's located off the coast of Mindoro, another island in the Philippines.

Apo Island, off the coast of Negros, near Dumaguete City, is a beautiful volcanic island popular with divers, snorkelers and those interested in seeing one of the most beautiful spots in the Philippines.

There really isn't much infrastructure on here. You won't find any cars or even many motorbikes. Everyone gets around on foot and all of the roads are unsealed. It's a beautiful place that focuses on nature and harbors a small, local community. There are only two accommodation options here but most people only visit on a day trip from Dauin or Dumaguete.

Apo Island is a marine protected area and the longest-lasting community-run initiative of its kind in the Philippines as of 1982. As a result, the coral and sea-life is absolutely thriving!

To be honest, I've never seen so many turtles in one area as I have here!

Apo island main boat harbor

Where is Apo Island?

Apo Island is located approximately 30 kilometers off the coast of Dumaguete, Negros. You'll find it just south of Siquijor.

It's hard to spot on the map at first because it really is that small!

Map showing the location of apo island in the philippines

Easiest Way to Get to Apo Island From Dumaguete

You'll have a few options in front of you for getting to Apo Island. Below I'll detail all of them.

However, if you're only looking to get here for an epic day trip of snorkeling and exploring the island, your best and easiest way is to book an organized trip from Dumaguete.

This trip includes:

  • Transfer from Dumaguete to Malatapay
  • Pumpboat transfers
  • Organized snorkeling trips to Turtle point
  • Delicious island lunch
  • 30-minute trek to Habagat Trail
  • Free-time to explore and relax
  • Return transfers to Dumaguete

This trip is really bang-for-buck since you'll have everything paid for including food, which is expensive on Apo!

Book best price online: Day Trip from Dumaguete

Apo island day trip
Snorkeling with turtles in the philippines

Dive/Snorkel Option From Dauin

On the east coast of Negros, you'll find a few dive shops running packages to Apo Island. This is because it is truly the best snorkel and diving destination in the region, by far!

I've compared all of the offerings and spoken to a few to get the best prices. What I discovered is that the offering by Atlantis Resort (Atlantis Dumaguete) near Dauin (pronounced da-win) and Liquid offer the best options for snorkeling and diving on Apo Island

Both of these dive centers/resorts offer daily trips to Apo Island.

Choosing to stay at these resorts is a good option if you would like a nicer place to stay on Negros Oriental than Dumaguete. Also, this way they will offer you access to 20+ more sites on the black-sand coast of Negros. This area is famous for frogfish and unique critters that you won't find anywhere else!

Scuba diving philippines
Scuba in dauin
Scuba in dauin, philippines

How to Get to Apo Island Independently

To get to Apo Island independently, you'll first want to make your way to Malatapay Port near Dauin, a tiny port village 30 minutes south of Dumaguete. You can take a Jeepney down here for about 20 pesos from the bus terminal in Dumaguete (southbound routes towards Zamboanguita).

It's a good idea to tell the driver you want to go to Apo Island, they'll know where to drop you.

Once you arrive in Malatapay, look for the signs pointing the way, and follow them through a palm-lined market area towards the boat jetty. Here, you'll pay the ferry fee and the environmental fees.

Ferry price to Apo Island: 2500 pesos (return)

Environmental fee: 150 pesos

Boats run multiple times a day depending on demand.

Boat into apo island, philippines

Can You Fly to Apo Island?

No, you can't fly directly to Apo Island. The closest airport is in Dumaguete. If you're looking for cheap flights in the Philippines, check out CheapOAir and then compare the prices on SkyScanner to make sure you get the best deal possible.

Apo Island Things to do

Whether you booked a day trip or you're planning a visit for a couple of days, you're in for a treat! Below is a run-down of what to expect with insights into things to do on Apo Island. I've also included a bunch of photos from my trip that I hope will inspire your visit.

Snorkeling on Apo Island

Snorkeling is definitely one of the top things to do on Apo Island! This marine park is absolutely incredible! No matter which site you visit on Apo, you'll be bound to be surrounded by rich and unique sea life.

Turtle Point is a great snorkeling spot to see turtles. In fact, you'll probably spot a couple even on the way in on the boat! That's because Apo Island is somewhat of a turtle hotspot. Female turtles come here to feed on the abundance of algae and to exist safely within the tranquil absence of poachers and predators.

Snorkeling on apo island dumaguete
Turtles on apo island
Sohoton cove diving board

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Scuba Diving

It's no exaggeration when I say that Apo Island is one of the best diving islands in the Philippines. You'll undoubtedly see large pelagic schools, bannerfish, batfish, turtles, mantas, reef sharks, frogfish, plenty of nudibranchs, and of course, turtles!

  • Rock Point East
  • Marine Sanctuary (incredible)
  • Kan-Uran
  • Chapel
  • Largahan
  • Cogon Point

You can visit Liquid Dive Centre to learn more about the dive sites.

Scuba diving, philippines
Anemone fish in the philippines

Relax on the Beach

After all that snorkeling and diving, one of the best things to do on Apo Island is simply relax and unwind on the beach! There are a few beaches to explore on Apo Island, including:

  • Main Beach (just beside the boat harbor)
  • Rock west beach
  • Marine Sanctuary beach
Boat into apo island, philippines

Hike Up to the lighthouse

If you're looking for a great sunset spot or to get an awesome vantage point of the crystal clear waters below, then one add a hike up to the Apo Island lighthouse to your list of what to do!

This slightly steep track begins from the boat harbor and climbs to the highest spot on the island. There's of course, a lighthouse here, as well as some cows who seem to love the view.

Sunset lighthouse
Lighthouse hike
Cow on apo island

Hike the Habagat Trail to the Apo Island Viewdeck

One of the best hikes/treks you'll find here is the Habagat Trail to the viewdeck. This beautiful walk winds through the tiny villages and up to a beautiful deck viewpoint.

I flew my drone from here and captured some of my favorite images out of my whole trip to Apo Island from Dumaguete!

Apo island, dumaguete, philippines
Sunset in negros

Related: Best Things to Do in Cebu

Soak Up Real Island Life

You might think you know island life, but you really don't until you've visited Apo Island! This incredible slice of paradise is the epitome of the term. Tiny villages, beautiful nature, no time constraints, and limited resources.

The people living here are some of the friendliest people I've ever met. It's a testament to their nature and a wake-up call those of us, myself included, who are often sucked into to a fast-paced, often materialistic world.

Apo island village
Filipino tyre games

Where to Stay on Apo Island?

While a few small guest houses have popped up in recent years, there are only two main accommodation options on Apo Island: the Liberty Lodge, and the Apo Island Beach Resort.

Currently, you can't actually book these online. Instead, it's best to just rock up and hope for the best.

Otherwise, it's a good idea to stay in Dauin, at either Liquid or at the Atlantis Resort, and simply visit on an Apo Island day trip.

Of course, you can also stay in Dumaguete, and take the island day trip from there as well!

Tip: click the "stay in" links above to find the best accommodation options with current prices for each destination.

Apo island dumaguete philippines 5

More Photos from Apo Island

Here are some more photographs that I captured on Apo Island. Hope you enjoy! If you do, let me know in the comments.

Apo island lighthouse
Swimming with turtles
Sunset turtle on apo island
Apo island dumaguete philippines 46
Turtle portrait
Turtle sunset
Turtle in the darkness
Dog on apo island

More Philippines Travel Guides and Adventure Inspiration

And that's a wrap for this comprehensive travel guide to Apo Island Dumaguete (Negros Oriental). This secret paradise is by far one of my favorite destinations in the Philippines and one that I would hand-over-heart recommend to anyone interested in seeing what the Philippines has to offer.

While you're here on my blog, make sure to check out some of my other guides to the Philippines. I'm sure you'll find some epic travel and adventure inspiration!

Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

Andrew C

Wednesday 23rd of August 2023

super nice photos! Thanks for sharing on Apo island. So inspired to go!

Janet Ali Khan

Wednesday 1st of March 2023

Hi there...thank you for sharing this enchanting part of the world :-)


Saturday 10th of December 2022

I have read this guide with gladness and looking to read more and more details. Thank you so much. Your blog is really great. Thank you and I will give it a go for some days in Apo Island. In terms of security is fine right?

Karen Coller

Sunday 20th of February 2022

Apo Island is one of my favorite places in the whole world, and reading all this makes me relive one of the best vacations I've ever had! There are so many cool things to do there, and diving was definitely the most amazing experience. Thank you for excellent work