After travelling around the Philippines for a bit you soon realise that all the backpackers congregate at one hostel because there are only a limited handful in each city. Cheap accommodation is scarce and it makes me think that setting up a business in the Philippines is difficult? I am not sure but the availability compared to other Southeast asian countries is non existent. So as I was sitting around other backpackers you hear a lot of stories and one of them was this snorkelling trip, arranged through a hostel around an island called Apo Island. Everyone was raving about the number of turtles they saw and it had never occurred to me how abundant the wildlife was around the Philippines because everyone talked about Malaysia and Thailand and the diving around those countries.
So off we went to Dumaguete – a town famous with many colleges and universities. We took the bus from Boljoon to Lilo-An port, located in Santander. From there we got on a boat bound for Sibulan. There were boats every hour and the journey time was 45 minutes. When we arrived at the Sibulan port we got a jeepney and tricycle (total cost was 38 Pesos) to get us to Harold’s Mansion.
Harold’s Mansion is again the only hostel in Dumaguete and they have cheap dorms for once (250 Pesos). Men and women are separated. The aircon is cold and they serve good food for reasonable prices. The breakfast is okay and consists of bread, coffee and tea. The damp in the rooms is a problem but you can overlook that when they only charge 250 Pesos per night, almost half other hostels.
Attached to Harold’s Mansion is a dive shop but all we were interested in was the snorkelling trip they offered around Apo Island for 1000 Pesos, which was really cheap. It includes everything from transport, snorkelling gear and lunch – a full day out.
You can stay on Apo Island but prices were more than our budget but it is not a crowded place at all.
We saw 10 turtles in total (even at the start of the boat trip people were saying they could see turtles!) Some were so big and some were smaller. They were happy feeding on the seaweed whilst we floated on the surface watching them. From time to time they would come up to the surface for their next breath so it was amazing there is one swimming next to you. Most of the time we were quite close to the beach so there are lots of beautiful corals and fishes to look at.
I would definitely recommend people to come to the Phillipines – the sea life, beaches will not disappoint you. Most of the areas are becoming quite touristy so if you want to see 10 turtles instead of one, Apo Island is the place to go. I don’t know when I can see so many turtles in one place again.