My mother grew up in Dauin, Negros Oriental and while we had been there many times as a child, we never got to visit the nearby Apo Island which looked like a few meters of swim from their shore.
We would have visited the island a few months ago but my cousins were not too keen about it and I now understand why. But I will get back to that later.
I honestly felt very excited and also nervous about the trip. After 26 years of existence, I was finally crossing that short distance to get to that mystical (for me) island. My mom said that she lost her teenage brother when he went there by himself to attend a fiesta.
No wonder such bad circumstance happened. The seas there was rough and it was impossible not to get wet. If you are scared, you can go earlier, maybe around 6 or 7 am, so you can tread calmer seas.
The thing about Apo Island is that it was beautiful…and not. The waves felt angry and, for someone who does not know how to swim (and the boat did not allow us to borrow the life vests), it was not the friendliest welcome at all. But thankfully, we were able to get out of the boat and plant our feet safely on land and in one piece.
We registered ourselves as visitors and that was where our unpleasant experience started.
You see we are budget travelers. And, as much as we would love to help boost local economy, we also do not like to be treated as tourists with endless supplies of cash.
They asked us for P100 registration fee each. Locals from Negros Oriental could get in at just P10 each as long as they were able to present a valid ID. Obviously, that was already a huge difference.
Later on, the guides there asked us if we wanted lifevests, goggles and even aqua shoes to rent for P100 each. They were all requirements to get to swim with the famed turtles, which had been making rounds in the Internet for being the best photobomber. It seemed like everywhere we turned, they tell us to take some cash out.
So, we just ended up enjoying the huge waves, lounging by the beach and taking a gazillion photos to bring home with us. Thankfully, the beauty of Apo Island was enough to make us forget our bad experience…for a while.
As beautiful as Apo Island might be, we were not able to enjoy it as much as we would have liked. We were on a budget, yes, but we would not have minded spending a few more hundreds if they had just presented it as a package.
Sorry, this was not meant to discourage you to visit Apo Island. In fact, we highly encourage you to check out the beautiful place and the awesome turtles, too!