Tiny volcanic Apo Island near Dumaguete is famous amongst divers. Home to Philippines' first and most successful marine reserve, the reefs can be counted as some of the most beautiful reefs in the country. Rich in corals and marine species, Apo's underwater world is amazing. Diving in Apo Island really is a treat for the eyes. Non-divers will also have a great time with some nice snorkeling spots and great trekking.
Right on the beach you can rent snorkeling gear and swim with turtles only a couple of feet from the shore. The best time is early morning or late afternoon. There are always a lot of turtles there so it's guaranteed you'll see some.
Apo island only has one nice beach, owned by Apo Island Beach Resort, the entrance fee is 100 pesos. The beach is small and sometimes there's some seaweed but it's the only sandy beach on the island. The others beaches are rocky, full of dead corals and shells.
Appart from the beautiful reefs and rich marine life, the island is nice for trekking. Each side is boarded by small mountains, the village is in between. There are viewpoints on each one, the paths are well maintained but lack some signage in some parts. On the South part, the top is easily reachable and the view over the sea is beautiful, the color of the water is amazing.
On the North side, there are more than one paths to choose from, you can climb up and go down to some of the beaches. The best way would be to start at the path behind the high school, go up, from there you can explore the paths going to the right then go towards the west. You'll get an amazing view over the entire island. From there you can reach the lighthouse and go down towards Liberty Lodge. There are some houses near the lighthouse but not anywhere less. So if you get lost you're on your own. Don't worry too much though, the island is not that big, just start well ahead of sunset and bring plenty of water and snacks.
For diving in Apo Island, you can arrange a day-trip from Dumaguete or Siquijor. If you're on a budget, it might be cheaper to spend the night on the island and to arrange the dives directly on Apo Island.
How to get to Apo Island (on a budget) :
To get to Apo you can charter a boat from Malatapay pier, it's quite expensive (2000 to 3000 pesos) especially if you're not a large group. The cheapest way to get to Apo island is to book a seat in the passenger boat from Liberty Lodge (300 pesos). You don't have to stay at their hotel but they prioritize their customers for the return, so, you can book to get to Apo, but the return is only upon availability at the time of departure. Liberty Lodge has a dormitory, the cheapest I found there. There are plenty of guesthouses and small hotels to choose from. Note that wifi is hard to come by and electricity doesn't run all day. You'll also notice there are no cars and no motorbikes on the island, but there are a lot of roosters ready to wake you up at 4 am every day.Every Wednesday in Malatapay there's a huge market. All the farmers and craftsmen from the villages around meet there once a week. This market is really famous in the Philippines because no money is exchanged, people only use bartering to get what they want.