Apo Island, Dumaguete, Philippines
I know, I know. I left the Philippines almost two weeks ago. When will I stop posting about it? Well, I promise this is one of two more posts I have about the island (for this trip, anyway).
Getting to Dumaguete from Cebu
Dumaguete is an island located to the southwest of Cebu, accessible by ferry. My grandmother and I journeyed there via the Ceres bus (now with aircon!) and the total ride took about six hours. We only spent a couple days in Dumaguete, and like most of my time in the Philippines, I was split between spending it with family and being a tourist.
We stayed at U Pension, located blocks from Dumaguete’s waterfront.
Dumaguete is home to Silliman University, a top university in the Philippines. The city’s vibe is reminiscent of your typical college town back in the U.S., with most bars and restaurants clustered in an area around the university.
The city’s main tourist attraction is really its proximity to Apo Island, known for diving and having one of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world.
I signed up to do two dives with Harold’s Dive Shop, which provided equipment rental and transportation from their shop to the island. Our group, which had around 20 people, hopped on a private jeepney at 6:45am and drove about 30 minutes to the boat takeoff point. From there the trip on water was about 45 minutes.
There was one other diver in the group from Canada. Everyone else was snorkeling, and each group had a guide assigned to them. Our divemaster, Tito, took good care of us.
Our first dive was at Katipanan, where we spotted 7 sea turtles swimming (or sleeping?) among the coral. At some point during the dive, I lost one of my fins, and the boat crew did not let me live it down for the rest of the trip. I’m not even exaggerating, once we surfaced and got back on the boat, Tito launched a search and rescue crew of about 6 men to cover the diving area and retrieve the lost fin. After about 30 minutes of searching, they finally found it, and that began six more hours of the crew walking around with a fake limp and telling me to look down. Those Filipinos think they have a sense of humor! >_>
The second dive at Rock West had less aquatic life and more coral, and it was absolutely beautiful. The dive lasted for 50 minutes—my longest thus far. After the dive, it was lunchtime! I got to know the Canadian diver, as well as a vlogger in our group from New York and a fellow diver from Barcelona who wasn’t diving that day because his partner wanted to snorkel. The Canadian diver had been diving for about year and had recently finished her Rescue Diving course. She was spending three weeks in the Philippines to get the 40 dives required to begin divemaster training. The Philippines, Honduras, and Thailand have some of the most beautiful and affordable dive sites in the world, so she was trying to decide where between the three she wanted to train.
After lunch, Tito and the Canadian hit up a third dive site, while I joined a group of snorkelers to explore some of the caves on the island. Per usual, my camera battery died at this point so I have no water pics to show. Just know that the cave was pretty gorgeous.
As we headed back to the mainland, a group of us collapsed at the hull of the boat, soaking up the sun.
At this point, I was pretty much bitten by the diving bug. I’ve decided to take my Advanced Open Water course in Koh Tao, Thailand at the end of May, and hopefully do a few dives while I’m in Bali and possibly Borneo. Taking the divemaster route also seems like an option for the future, but there are a few housekeeping things I need to address when I get back to the U.S. before I start thinking about that (like the whole getting a job thing… aaaahhh).