“try to be like the turtle, at ease in your own shell” Bill Copeland
The sunrays pierced the surface of the water leaving shards of light dancing on the steady flow of the sea.
These turtles have been navigating the sea floor for longer than I’ve been breathing the air above the surface, an incredibly humbling and bewildering sentiment. Majestically manoeuvring about rocks and coral with the grace and ease of a well rehearsed ballet, shoals of fish darting in synchronicity across my path, everything has and knows it’s place like it’s all been planned out before my arrival.
I’m not a water baby, I’ve referred before to my sinking skills in place of my ability to glide through the waters effortlessly, snorkelling kind of gives me that dread of ‘oh my goodness this could go horribly wrong, will they judge me if I wear a life jacket?’ feeling, and leaves me with the sinking regret of wishing I’d bit the bullet and taken some swimming lessons before I left. What grown woman can’t swim right? …Me, that would be me.
So snorkel in hand, flippers squeezed onto my feet I gracefully (read; like a baby elephant crossed with Bambi) I dove into the clear waters and you know what(?) I swam!
Apparently when I’m not fighting to keep my head above water I am the water baby of my dreams.
The turtles, not my swimming skills, are of course the main drawing point of this little island and believe me, they’re pretty incredible. The island itself only has 4 hours of electricity a day and dodgy wifi at one cafe (they can get pretty possessive over the code). The streets twist and wind into their own little maze and throughout the day street food stalls pop up outside houses, in nooks and crannies or centrally in the street,
tempting forcing you to indulge your senses in the amazing aromas of the fresh delicacies. Now I’m not trying to get you fat or anything but fried cheese rolls with (luminescent) cheese powder are my biggest and best guilty pleasure.
So a little info on getting to Apo Island from Bohol (there are also ferries from Cebu):
Ferry to dumaguette (700, 100 baggage, 20 terminal fee)
Bus (50) trishaw (500, bargain)
Malatapay to Apo (300)
Of course a tiny island like this can be pretty cosy, or lonely depending how you looks at it, you can get around the island in 20 minutes, a day, or a few depending on how you feel about social media blackout, limited meal options and unlimited access to turtles.
We stayed for a few days and managed to fill our time with the following:
Mango milkshakes (80 pesos) at a cute generator powered shake bar, complete with adorable children and puzzling decor.
Climbing to the highest peak for sunset, it doesn’t take long but theres’s a lot of steps and the heat to contend with, guides are available in dog form, they seem pretty insistent on walking you up there ( and to be honest I enjoyed it more on the beach with a beer in hand).
Laying on the beach under the stars, picking out constellations and talking about the things you talk about when confronted with a sky painted with infinity. (Sorry guys no pictures, it was lights out at 10 and we were too busy enjoying the moment to worry about long exposures.)
Chilled beers after a hard day snorkelling, with new friends, old friends, local friends and annoying animals, the choice is yours!
Serious sunbathing = win! And serious sunburn (but I’d give that one a miss), I’ll spare you those photos too, not sure our relationships ready for you to see my white bits!
And starting off your cat lady collection…
Of course it goes without saying that Apo Island is best known for its amazing diving spots, here you can get your PADI Open Water in some of the most beautiful waters there are! The prices are super reasonable and if you’re not the diving kind you can hire a snorkel for as little as £1 a day!
So… How’d you get there?
Well we went from Bohol but you can get there from Cebu too.
First you need to get the boat to Dumaguette from Bohol that’s 700pesos for the ticket, 20pesos for the terminal fee and 100pesos baggage (as of Feb 2016)
Secondly you need to get to Malatapay the bus will cost you 50pesos, we opted for the trishaw as there were 5 of us (yes we all fit) it cost us 500pesos due to some great bartering but be prepared to be asked to pay up to 1000pesos
Malatapay to Apo Island there’s some dodgy little shacks and you can generally do some bartering but ultimately there’s a really pushy woman yelling “YES”, “NO”, “YOU NEXT” in seemingly random order, for this pleasure and the wettest boat ride you will ever encounter (wrap your perishables up tight!!) will cost you the tidy sum of 300pesos.