Liveaboard Diving in Apo Island

What to Expect On An Apo Island Liveaboard

Liveaboards to Apo Island (not to be confused with Apo Reef) visit this small island off Negros' south coast, which hosts the most famous and successful community-based marine protected area in the Philippines. It was the second MPA established in the country and was created through extensive coordination and education campaigns with the local residents. This strategy is undoubtedly the key factor in Apo's success as a tourist attraction and a place where fishermen still have fish to catch. Apo's pristine corals, fish, and turtles are the true hub of Visayas diving for everyone- students, researchers, local divers, and foreign visitors.

What You Can See

At Apo Island, 100 percent healthy hard coral cover landscapes are a big draw. Though a typhoon damaged the marine sanctuary's corals and is currently closed to diving for rehabilitation, plenty of other Apo dive sites showcase the hundreds of hard coral species that make the island so breathtaking. Whatever slope or plateau your liveaboard cruise takes you diving to at Apo, expect to see an impressive degree of live branching, foliose, table, massive corals, and plenty of colorful reef fishes.

Special Apo Island attractions include a couple of dive sites with streams of bubbles bursting from the black sand substrate due to volcanic activity under the island. Largahan is one such site, and it also hosts great macro activity, with nudibranchs, frogfish, and other photographer favorites among its coral bommies. Huge clouds of sparkling bubbles sometimes decorate Baluarte and its wall of gorgeous soft corals and are also home to plenty of reef critters.

In terms of marine life, an Apo Island liveaboard will deliver high-quality sightings along with fantastic walls and ridges. These sites are often exposed to strong currents, so they're best suited for experienced divers. At Cogon Point, schools of batfish and bannerfish are common. At Mamsa Point, as the name implies (Mamsa is the local name for trevallies), divers can see huge schools of jacks and sometimes even the tuna that prey on them! The currents at Mamsa can actually be so strong at points that diving is prohibited. Rock Point East is an underwater ridge on the southeast of Apo Island blessed with beautiful coral topography; the open-sea currents rinsing this site nourish bountiful reef and pelagic fish activity. Apo Island's Coconut Point is sometimes called the Washing Machine for its strong currents, but divers who brave the flow are rewarded with schools of jacks and reef fish. There is luckily a small sandy shelter between two ridges where divers can hide from the current and watch the show.

The sites mentioned above are the best places to see reef sharks, turtles, and barracuda on Apo Island, as well as the occasional manta rays and whale sharks! Turtles are plentiful all around Apo- even snorkelers are virtually assured of at least a good handful. The diversity of dive sites at Apo Island, from plateaus to slopes, to walls, to everything in between, makes Apo a microcosm of Coral Triangle diving; plenty of different habitats result in a boundless variety of underwater animals.

Getting To Apo Island

Liveaboards to Apo Island usually visit for at least one day on itineraries of 6, 7, or 10 nights, with budgets ranging from around 280 to 450 euros per night. These liveaboards are the best way to visit Apo and other premier Visayan dive locations in Cebu, Bohol, and Siquijor; by avoiding the hassle of land and ferry travel, you maximize your dive time and save energy for your underwater adventures.

A common port of departure for Philippines liveaboards in Apo Island is Dumaguete on Negros itself. A flight of about one to two hours from Manila or Cebu City can get you there. However, liveaboards that dive in Negros may also depart from Cebu City and Malapascua. Getting to Cebu City is easy with a 1.5-hour flight from Manila or direct flights from select Southeast Asian countries nearby. Conversely, Malapascua has no airport, but it can be reached by taxi, van, or bus (and small boat). From Cebu City, getting to Malapascua requires a five-hour bus journey; taxis take about half that time. Moalboal in Cebu is the fourth potential departure port for Apo Island liveaboards. It is best reached by bus from Cebu City or bus and short ferry from Dumaguete.

Apo Island is a year-round diving destination. Winds correspond to the northeast monsoon or the southwest monsoon, and they can certainly whip up the waves; however, dive operators know which sites to visit during which season and can always find the appropriately sheltered area. The weather is hottest, and the seas are generally calmest in May and June. The water temperature averages 26 to 30ºC.

Apo Island Diving Reviews

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • 6 Verified Reviews
  • 8.8 Fabulous
  • William D
  • United States United States

Best diving of the trip - excellent visibility and diverse corals and sea life.

Diving Apo Island in September on the Philippine Siren

  • 9.6 Exceptional
  • Jonathan L
  • United Kingdom United Kingdom

Great coral and varied wild life; octopus, sea snake.

Diving Apo Island in June on the Infiniti

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Evan R
  • New Zealand New Zealand

So much to see at Apo with the wonderful reef and critters.

Diving Apo Island in February on the Infiniti

  • 10.0 Exceptional
  • Damien T
  • France France

Nice a colorful clowns and arlequin fish

Diving Apo Island in February on the Infiniti