Monday, May 25, 2015

apo reef mindoro

you've been traveling around the Philippines for quite some time and has stopped counting the islands that you've visited. you cant even hardly identify which island has the best white sand, pristine clear waters or the one that brings endless underwater amazement. well, i think we're sharing the same dilemma. 

most of the time, when i visit less known islands, i would end up saying i thought i've seen the best. it seemed like no one had really set a standard in gauging a beautiful island. though travel magazines have ranked their top islands mostly based on the number of high class resorts available and its accessibility. the isolated and almost untouched islands will less likely make it to the list, where transportation is a concern and you only have tree shades or a tent to spend a night.
this was our experience when we went to Apo Reef in Mindoro. long waiting hours for a supposed scheduled bus, several stops and few unpaved road. getting to the island would require about 6 hours of land trip and 7 hours of two boat trips combined. waiting time and stop overs not included. so if you're not into this kind of arduous trip, it would be best to fly via San Jose airport then to Sablayan. 
but just like other beautiful untouched islands, the more difficult it is to get to the island the greater the chance that you would have the beach to yourself or to find a beach with crystal clear waters. i say the long way to Apo Reef island is worth it.
the island and the reef is in the middle of West Philippine sea and Sulu sea or more accurately part of the Mindoro strait. thus its proximity to both Coron and Mindoro.  but it would take 4 long hours of boat trip to get there from Sablayan. 
sleeping in the 4-hour boat trip can actually compensate the long sleeping hours missed during the land trip. quite long trip but when the island came into view, we crossed over this large wide shallow waters, which was already part of the Apo reef system. this is considered as one of the largest contiguous coral reef system in the world and the largest in the country.
about a kilometer or less from the reef is the island that house the marine sanctuary conservation center. there's no other legal way to visit the island but through Sablayan tourism which controls the number of tourists allowed to stay in the island. 

Apo Reef island is composed of beautiful beach shores and mangroves. though the island's area is 22 hectares, some parts are actually prohibited to tourists. this is part of the conservation of the island's natural resources and the protection of the endemic species.
don't be surprised if while swimming in the beach or while snorkeling you would find a turtle swimming along. in fact, a large part of the beach line is actually a nesting ground. by sunset, it is best to climb up the modern lighthouse which is just a short walk away from the main beach area. from here you will see the scale of the island's mangrove forest, the shoreline and the small lagoon.
during our stay there, in the middle of the night, we woke up as one turtle actually made a hole below one of our tents. we then had to vacate the tent. by dawn another large turtle, which was about a meter long, came ashore. it struggled its way to an area probably because of its size and the eggs that it carries. the rest of the day in the island we spent snorkeling and swimming over vast coral walls and colorful fishes.
on our way back to Sablayan we made a quick stop in the middle of the reef and jump off and swam around the shallow portions. water was so clear that even those who decided to stay in the boat can clearly see the corals underwater. also saw the little Menor island which was home to migratory birds.
i would say that Apo Reef is one of the best in the country if one would simply consider the beach, the waters and the reef. there is no resort in the island and so i hope that they will be able to keep it this way. we have so many islands already with beautiful resorts anyway.
Island Profile:
Island: Apo Reef/Island
Municipality: Sablayan
Province: Occidental Mindoro
Region: Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan)

GPS Location: 
12' 39'' 35 N
120' 25'' 00 E

How to get there:
Option 1: By Air/Sea
Cebu Pacific Air flies regularly from Manila to San Jose-Mindoro (Duration: 40minutes) This is the best option if you want to avoid the long arduous trip from Manila to Sablayan. from San Jose, you will need to travel by bus to Sablayan (Duration: 3hours). 

From Sablayan, you need to go to the tourism office to register to local tourism office. read eskapo recommendations below for advance booking info. From here, you will take a boat ride to Apo Island (Duration: 4hours).

Option 2: By Land/Sea:
You can take Dimple Star Bus from their terminal in Cubao, Pasay and Alabang. The bus has more than 5 trips per day to San Jose Mindoro. Trip will be from main terminal to Batangas Port (Duration: 3hours). Then transfer to Roro (roll-on roll-off) boat from Batangas to Abra de Ilog (Duration: 2.5hours) then land trip from Abra de Ilog to Sablayan (Duration: 3hours). Travel duration does not include waiting time depending on arrival of the bus versus the roro departure schedule. 

From Sablayan, you need to go to the tourism office to register to local tourism office. read eskapo recommendations below for advance booking info. From here, you will take a boat ride to Apo Island (Duration: 4hours).

eskapo recommends:
1. Always check for the weather before deciding to go there. Summer will be the best time. Take note that you need to cross the open sea for 4hours to reach the island. Rainy season won't be the best time to go there.
2. Email or contact ahead Sablayan Eco-Tourism office to do advance booking/reservation via Eco-tourism Contact: 0999-7327949
3. You can also request the local tourism office to prepare the food for you during your entire stay in the island. 
4. The eco-tourism office also have snorkeling and diving gears/equipments. For updated rates, you can directly contact them. 
5. Bring your own tent for your stay there. If you plan to make a day trip, you can stay around the town of Sablayan. 

25 comments:

Renante Mina said...

sir panalo ang ganda ng fish diba meron part jan mga paanakan ng mga sharks? sabi ng nakasama ko na sa travel ewan kng ganun nga yun :)

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FelicityGioia said...

One that amazed me going to Apo reef was the calmness of water. It gave me of the impression of sailing up to the sky as from far, the blue sky seems collided with the tranquil blue water, it was so peaceful. I asked my boatmen to sail as early as 5am so watching the big star started to float out of the bed water in the middle of the sea was another ah-mazing story...

Micamyx|Senyorita said...

Hindi na naman ako nakasama :/ Dami ko nang namimiss na Eskapo trips na puro never ko pang napuntahan. Sana magswak na sked next time hehe

Photo Cache said...

An abundance of riches when it comes to beaches. That is a great problem.

Bluish Trekker said...

like a paradise.. i wish I could visit this island too.. you might have stopped counting the islands as you've mentioned but this recent one really deserves a portion in your blog. great post, bro!

melody said...

Nice!! 👍

Many sites had commended apo reef as one of the best snorkeling site. But, this is the first time I have read a blog about it. Thank you!

melody said...

Nice!! 👍

Many sites had commended apo reef as one of the best snorkeling site. But, this is the first time I have read a blog about it. Thank you!

Rana Ishtiaq said...

will what was a rest period is like back then yr is it just drink water and let's getrollin how did you guys do that I think that we had very little rest periods simply because of the super setting and the trip was setting and orders a and we pushed each other
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Jeff said...

Whoa!The place is so stunning. This is in Mindoro, right? Might as well write this down on my to-travel list. You have awesome shots too. Thanks!

myODDyssey said...

Kuya! Wanna escapo wth you!!! Maski once lang!!! Haha sigeee yo next year!!! Man work hard yayo...haha

Joyce Bacani said...

I'll try it definitely. I'll put it in my blog www.vigattintourism.com to inform my bloggers for them to know this like site.

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