[Where I've Been] Apo Reef, majestic underwater world
In Where I've Been, Rappler features an unforgettable destination perfectly captured in one shot – one beautiful moment forever preserved, one beautiful story told in a photograph.
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Where was this photo taken?
This moment shows our group snorkeling in and getting mesmerized by the majestic underwater world of Apo Reef.
In the western waters of Occidental Mindoro lies a coral reef system so spectacular it could blow your mind. Apo Reef, being the second largest contiguous coral reef system in the world and the largest in the country, houses a diverse marine life of corals, fish and other sea creatures sure to fascinate everyone – diver or non-diver.
I was greeted by a picturesque scene as we made our way in the open water. Different shades of blue surrounded our tiny inflatable boats. I peeped underneath the velvety sheets of blue and looked on in awe at the wonder waiting for us below.
With snorkeling masks and fins on, we swam on. First it was all coral reefs, but as we swam further, schools of fish and other sea creatures started to appear. And, as luck would have it, our group spotted a couple of sea turtles happily swimming a few meters from us.
How to get there?
Travel time to the island takes hours, whether you opt to fly or ride a RORO bus. By air, you can catch a flight from Manila to the nearest airport in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. Take a tricycle from the airport to the bus stations. From there, board a bus bound for Sablayan in Mindoro Occidental. You can also opt to hire a van at the airport to take you directly to Sablayan town if traveling with a group.
By land, ride a bus from Buendia, Pasay or Cubao en route to Batangas city pier. From there, board a RoRo boat (Montenegro Shipping Lines services the route) to Abra de Ilog. At the Abra de Ilog port, ride a bus or van to Sablayan port where you can hire a boat going to Apo Reef.
Any important tips for travelers?
Going to Apo Reef island requires really interacting with nature – no resorts, no network signal, and solar electricity is only available in the evening. It’s best to stay overnight and camp on the island. Since the boat fare is fixed, it would be cost-efficient to go there in large groups. Otherwise, schedule your trip on a weekend so you can join other groups. Buy food, drinks, plates, utensils, cups, and the like before heading to Apo Reef island since stores there are nonexistent. Take your trash with you to dispose.
What’s next on your PH bucket list?
With the goal of exploring all 81 provinces in the Philippines, I figured it would be great to do it per region. My next travel goal is to explore Eastern and Southern Visayas, which will cover areas in Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor. I can’t wait to see more of my country. – Rappler.com
Pauline, also known as Kim to family and friends, is a freelance writer, social media manager, part-time travel junkie, and secretary to her mom-cum-hands on aunt. She's been backpacking around the Philippines and Asia, and dreams of doing a road trip around Iceland soon. Kim enjoys good food, uncrowded beaches, small group hikes and being silly with her 4-year old niece. Follow her adventures at www.hellokimiviajera.com and www.kimbamadventures.com.
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- [Where I've Been] The majestic underwater world of Apo Reef