One day turning turtle
There are days on a long journey one feels so completely at ease with one’s surroundings, that it becomes hard to think about having to move on. Days, one feels priviledged of being able to discover so many beautiful places around the world in such a short time slot.
And then there are days so overwhelmingly beautiful, so spotlessly perfect, that paradise could hardly offer anything better. This was the day we spent on Apo Island.
Located at only 7km off the southeastern tip of Negros, the tiny volcanic islet of Apo is one of the most famous diving spots in the Philippines, thanks to the spectacular coral reefs surrounding it and the huge population of sea turtles inhabiting its bays. Seeing the sea turtles was what motivated us going there, as even for non-divers, it is very easy to spot them snorkeling around, as many of them gather around only some meters off the beach.
Reluctant to leave our little private paradise on Siquijor, we went on Apo on a day trip organized by Coco Grove Resort, together with two Filipino families, on vacation just as us. As anything in the Philippines, the tour started early morning, heading off by boat on the 1.5 hours ride to Apo Island. But…. man, what a boat! It could justifiably be called a yacht. As Filipinos, like most Asian people, tend to fear the sun – as in contrast to Westerners they don’t like to be tan – we had the front deck to our own and felt like all those filthy rich jetset people from Monaco or Cannes we had seen so many times sich rekeln on their private yacht around Côte d’Azur.
The views of green peaks of the surrounding islands when approaching Apo were already worth the whole trip.
Our boat stopped directly on the bay where we were left about two hours for snorkeling around the turtles. Obviously, we were not the only ones wanting to see them, so that the beach was kind of crowded with boats docking on the shore. However, neither the turtles nor the other marine creatures seemed to bother a lot, as the water just around the floating boats was literally crowded with animals.
Spotting a turtle was no effort at all, and sometimes there were even more than five at a time, floating through the water side by side of grazing together on the sea ground. Many of them were huge – with their carapaces reaching one meter in diameter – and looked so elegant and majestic when calmly swimming around us.
Next to the turtles, we also spottet Nemos again and Javier nearly got in physical touch with a black-white striped sea snake, curling up the water just 50 meters behin him. The sea snakes found in the Philippines are extremely poisinous, but are generally not able to bite you, as their mouth is too small to grasp your skin – so we were told. Still, we didn’t feel too eager to take the risk and tried to avoid being close to them.
Thanks to Laetitia and Alex carrying a underwater camera and not least the sedulous motivation of Laetitia as an underwater photographer, we are extremely happy to have those magic moments captured in pictures.
For lunch we were taken to the sister resort of Coco Grove, on a small stone beach a little further, where a table was set for all of us right next to the water and we were served a delicious buffet of rice with different dished of fish, vegetables, meat and chicken. We got into nice conversations with our Filipino fellow snorkelers, who were very interested in knowing how we felt about their country, and recommended us further places to visit in and around the Visayas. They will be reminded and left for the day we return to the Philippines (the decision is already taken!).
Early afternoon they took us to another bay of Apo, where our boat berthed and we could jump into the water again for a second snorkeling around beautiful coral reefs, swarms of larger fish full of fish and some few smaller turtles. One key factor making snorkeling (and probably diving as well) at Apo so spectacular, is the crystal clear water, which in combination with the sunlight gives and excellent visibility for several meters and brings out all the colours of the underwater world.
We were left all the time we wanted to stroll around the waters, but the morning swim had left its marks on us and after more or less and hours and a half, all passengers were willingly back on board again – heading back towards our little paradise Siquijor, tired and on the top of the world at a time, having a fresh beer and a Coke on the front deck and feeling like the jetset again, for a little while.