Saturday, March 3, 2018


With limited time in Dumaguete, I pushed my parents to go with me to Oslob and Apo Island on the same day. Take note, Oslob is an hour and thirty minutes boat ride away from Dumaguete (that would take 3 hours for a roundtrip ticket). But I knew I wanted to go to both, so instead of listening to the receptionist at the hotel saying that it's an impossible ordeal, I took my chances. And I promise you, it did not disappoint.
For those of you asking, this is one of the few pit stops we had of our Northern Mindanao-Zamboanga-Dumaguete-Cebu roadtrip. We came all the way from Iligan City, where we started our drive and headed west.

We stayed at Bethel Guest House in Dumaguete and woke up at 4:00AM to catch the earliest boat from Sibulan port in Dumaguete to Lilo-an port in Oslob. The earliest scheduled departure was 6:00AM. And every hour afterwards, they had scheduled departures. That made it easy for us to plan our day since the boat schedule wasn't very tight. If you have a car with you, you can park your car in Sibulan port for a fixed rate of 30 pesos, if not, there are a lot of tricycles in the area that offer rides from the city proper to Sibulan port, so it's not that hard. It's just 10-15 minutes away from Rizal Boulevard.

Arriving in Lilo-an port, the best way you could go to and from the Whale Watching Center is to pay a tricycle driver to drive you and back and forth. We paid 200 pesos each, which was not bad, because he had to wait for us and the distance from the port to the center was quite far.

When we arrived in Oslob, there were actually a couple of beach resorts in the area but our tricycle driver took us to Aaron’s Beach Resort. When we arrived, we paid an entrance fee of 100 pesos, and another 500 pesos for the whale watching. The 500 pesos is inclusive of snorkeling gear, locker and life jacket. You are not allowed to wear sunscreen when you swim with the sharks so if your main concern is "getting dark", just wear a rash guard. Whale watching is only 30 minutes per boat and they can only accommodate 6 people on the boat. There was also a line when we got there so I suggest you go early especially on a weekend. We were there at 7:00AM and we were already the 27th in line. 

I had a lot of negative sentiments about going to Oslob prior to our visit, but I really wanted to meet these gigantic creatures. As much as possible, I tried to swim away from the boats to look at them so they wouldn't hit the boats.

We skipped Tumalog Falls and Kawasan Falls in Oslob however, so we can make time for Apo Island. We left Oslob at 10:00AM and arrived back in Sibulan at 11:00AM. For reasons that include living in the city of waterfalls, we thought it was fine to skip these other popular tourist spots. From the port, we drove all the way to Malapatay in Dumaguete which was 29 km away. It took us an hour drive and arrived just in time for the last boat available for the 12:00NN departure. Take note, you actually have to rent an entire boat (or bangka) for a roundtrip to and from Apo Island. We were four people (including my parents and my boyfriend), so we paid 2000 pesos inclusive of everything. If you come in groups of 8, the total amount is 3000 pesos. It's easier and cheaper if you go in groups.

When you get to Apo Island, you have to pay a fee of 100 pesos to help the island. To be honest, it was different from the fine white sand that I expected because the beach was filled with rocks and you need slippers to walk along the shore. It was easy to locate the turtles as they preferred swimming in shallow waters but you have to respect them in their own habitat and just admire them without touching them. We had a guide who helped us locate these turtles and even helped my mom swim around. According to them, they wanted to preserve the natural habitat of these turtles and they never allowed tourists to swim around without a guide just so they are sure no one will touch the turtles. It was easy to take photos with them and sometimes, if you're lucky, they look at the camera! Trust me, the guides are experts at taking photos so you don't have to worry about going home with a bad photo.

We had a sumptuous lunch of fresh fish, squid and scallops to finish off our day, courtesy of the island chefs! It was kind of pricey to say the least, we paid 900 pesos for everything, but it was all worth it! 

We left the island at 3:00PM to avoid rough waves on the way back to Malapatay. The boatmen also made sure that boats leave before 4:00PM from the island as it is often difficult for them to go through rough waves in the late afternoon. I was very happy with the outcome of our trip, and with this itinerary, I can conclude that it is POSSIBLE to visit these two places within 24 HOURS especially if you have limited time. However, if you really want to bask in the glory of each of these places, I suggest doing a separate trip for both.

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