Apo Reef is famously known for its wide coral reef system that is situated in Occidental Mindoro. This is a place that is most ideal for diving and snorkeling because of its vast beautiful underwater resources.
YellowTravelingBoots will share to you the adventures we had in this island.
Option 1 Below is a simplified version of a budgeted trip going to the Apo Reef (as of 2015). Basically, the important thing here is to plan your trip with considerations on transits, travel hours, and the fare.
For coordination, please visit or call the following below:
BUENDIA 2124 Taft Avenue, Pasay City Tel. 831-8264/831-0465 Mobile No. 0916-524-1430
Montenegro Shipping Lines (schedule below is taken from their site)
You can contact them through this Telephone number +63.02.6684151 or their Mobile Phone Numbers +63.921.568.6449 and +63.999.361.6860. Buses via Abra de Ilog leaves at 6:00 am, 11:00 am, 3:00 pm, 5:00 pm, 7:00 pm, 8:00 pm, 11:00 pm.
Option 2 Alternatively, there is a direct Dimple Star Bus bound to San Jose Occidental Mindoro that will pass Sablayan at 800 PHP fare inclusive of ferry and terminal fee at Batangas port. Fare is relatively higher by 123PHP compared to the initial route but will require lesser coordination for those who would opt to be hands-on of their trip.
Preparations to Apo Reef – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for your inquiries on how to secure a boat, tourist guide, rentals, etc.
If you are a traveler who wants to be in charge of everything about your trip, you can refer to the information above to DIY. However, being in Apo Reef myself, I would suggest that you pay for an organizer who would be in charge of all the coordination and food. In this way, you can just fully enjoy your travel without much logistical efforts.
Specific to our trip, we paid 3500 PHP (inclusive of food and transportation). Our organizer was Setiel Bautista (+639985480545). It was a breeze for us since he took care of everything. The food were legitimate food and not just canned foods:
Day 1 (Lunch): Adobo + Rice Day 1 (Dinner): Grilled fish, liempo, mangoes and singkamas, seaweed
Day 2: (Bfast): Hotdogs, corned beef, dilis, scrambled egg, salted egg
Day 2: (Lunch): Tinola
THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT FORGET TO BRING:
Tent/Hammock. The island is 3-hr boat ride away from the mainland and there are no establishments or hotels there. Thus, you have the option to sleep in a tent or on a hammock. During summer, the air in the camp area is pretty much humid so it would really be comfortable to sleep on a hammock.
Snorkel/goggles/ flippers.The scene underwater is amazing and you can’t miss it just because you don’t have a goggles or a snorkel. For someone like me who don’t even know how to swim, I have to say that snorkeling was the best experience I had in the island!
Underwater camera. This is by far the regrettable part of our trip. We were not prepared for the underwater beauty – we did not have an underwater camera to capture it!
Waterproof your gadgets and stuff. Be sure to seal your gadgets in a tight plastic/zip lock before any adventures in the island. In our case, our lagoon raft flipped over (very minor accident) so our things got soaked in the water. You may opt to buy a dry bag for your stuff.
Hydrate. As mentioned earlier, the island is pretty far from the mainland so you have to ensure you have enough drinking water to keep you hydrated. Each person should have at least 2 containers of 6000 ML water for a 2D1N trip.
Snack food. Be sure to bring chips or cookies in your trip. Munchies are best paired with a good island activities and socials.
Life vest. It is safe to bring your own life vest specially during peak times (e.g summer) just in case there will be scarcity of it. Sometimes, the waves are strong and it is always safer to have it while aboard on the boat.
Coffee. I know this will not be the priority of many but for people who are coffee drinkers like me, no coffee for even half a day feels like a withdrawal ordeal. Since we had an organizer who was in charge of our food, he made a way to find coffee for us; thank you for providing our coffee need Seth.
Travel essentials. Sunblock, moisturizer, wet wipes, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, trash bag, plastic for wet clothes, fan, hat, flash light/head light, power banks, extra batteries, sunglasses, shawl, swim wear, extra money, extra light clothes, citronella, disposable utensils
What to expect in your trip to Apo Reef:
1. The island has a generator so it is not completely dark at night.
2. Do not set high expectation on the rest rooms, they are far from what you have in the Metro: there is neither flush nor faucet nearby so you have to get water from a water pump outside to flush the toilet.
3. The island is relatively very small so there is nothing much to explore around it. However, the most exciting thing is underwater so you can set a big portion of your itinerary to involve island hopping, snorkeling, and swimming activities.
4. The trip is not very comfortable as you may think it is, be prepared to be disappointed. You may be disappointed by the roro, by the boat, the bus, the waiting time – but these things are sometimes out of your control so there is no point in being upset about it.
5. Corals are pretty much plenty underwater so secure something to protect your feet while swimming.
6. There is no fresh water that you can use to take a bath in the island. Even the water flowing from the water pump is salt water.
7. There are just two roro/shipping lines operating from Batangas to Abra de Ilog: Besta and Montenegro. We highly recommend that you choose Montenegro ferry for your trip.
8. Be sure to capture the underwater scenery in every possible way. Colorful fish, corals, star fish, etc. are plenty in Apo Reef so make sure to get your cameras ready! Having said everything that we think would help anyone who is planning to go to the island, here are the highlights of our own legitimate outdoor adventure (no underwater scenes unfortunately due to our lack of underwater camera):
Mr. Yellow and our organizer setting up the tent