Snorkeling in Apo Island

Snorkeling in Apo Island

Snorkeling in Apo Island, the Philippines is considered to be some of the best in the world. It's hard to believe it remained relatively unknown until 2008 when it was finally considered and rated as one of the top marine sanctuaries. The small, volcanic island, in the southerly half of the Philippines is stunning beautiful with pure white sands and lush tropical vegetation but the real discoveries lie beneath the waters. Philippines Apo Island snorkeling has become world famous for the biologically vibrant 225,000 square meter marine habitat surrounding the island, fully protected by the National Integrated Protected Area Act (NIPA). Pristine corals and and countless marine species large and small make Apo Island snorkeling a major attraction in the Philippines.


Apo Island snorkeling brings underwater adventurers face-to-face with more than 650 documented species of fish and more than 450 species of corals making it one of the most diverse marine habitats in the world. The marine sanctuary is home to giant clams, turtles, clownfish and many more favorites, but perhaps the biggest draw in snorkeling Apo Island is the opportunity to get up close with sea turtles - extremely close. The shallow waters of the turtle sanctuary make it one of the best viewing sites in the world for leatherback and green turtles. Snorkelers in Apo Island frequently report the volcanic island breathing, as bubbles stream up from the sandy bottom. The Philippines is part of the 'Coral Triangle' - the Malay archipelagos of the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Australia - named for the abundant coral reef life.


There are eight reefs lining Apo Island: Coconut, Balay, Olo Reefs, Mamsa, Kan Oran, Katipanan, The Chapel and Largahan. The currents in Apo Island can get a bit strong on some reefs, so it's important to check with your liveaboard cruise staff or a local dive shop as for the best places to snorkel Apo Island that day. It's important to remain with a guide while snorkeling Apo Island in the Philippines if you're not familiar with the route.

THE MARINE SANCTUARY - Snorkeling Apo Island is most popular in the protected marine sanctuary found on the southwest part of the island. Waters are warm and shallow and human-friendly leatherback and endangered green turtles come here to snack away on the colorful hard corals.

LARGAHAN - Largahan snorkel site in Apo Island is fantastic for beginners or those looking for a relaxing adventure where you can cover ground with the help of currents. Stay with your liveaboard or boat tour guide here as you could end up overshooting your exit point. Largahan is a great site for macro lovers. Keep your eyes open for a variety of nudibranchs - the Philippines harbors more than 300 types! - flat worms, frog fish, scorpion fish and eels hiding among the beautiful underwater landscapes. Geothermal activity trickles up in the form of bubbles from in between the colorful corals and black sands.


November to April is generally considered to be the best time to snorkel or dive in Apo Island as temperatures drop and rain subsides. Temperatures are highest between March and April and the rainy season occurs from May to October. Temperatures in the region average about 30 degrees Celsius with water temperatures between 27 and 29 degrees Celsius.


Most international visitors will arrive to the Philippines via Manila. The closest airport to Apo Island is Dumaguete which receives domestic flights daily from Manila. When you arrive in Dumaguete, take a bus from the airport to Malatapay, Zamboanguita; this is where boats leave from to get to Apo Island. The boat trip is approximately one hour. Your liveaboard cruise operator may have details worked out for you to meet in Cebu or another port, so be sure to check in and you may save some additional planning!