Apo Reef National Marine Park is Asia’s largest atoll-type reef and the world’s second largest (next to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). It is located in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro Philippines.
How to get to Apo Reef:
Nearest airport to Apo Reef is located in San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. There are regular flights from Manila which will take roughly 45 minutes. You may take a tricycle from the airport to the bus station. Ride a bus bound for Sablayan in Mindoro Occidental which may take around 3 hours. If you are in a large group, there are vans for hire at the airport to take you to Sablayan town.
By RORO Bus:
From Manila (Cubao, Pasay or Alabang) to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro
RoRo Bus like Dimple Star Bus in Cubao (Quezon City), Sampaloc (Manila) and Alabang (Muntinlupa) has trips to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro. The fare is inclusive of RORO (Roll on and Roll off) /ferry fee and terminal fee. Fare is roughly Php 800.
Alternatively, you may take a bus bound for Batangas Port (2.5 hours) from Manila, Cubao, Cavite, or Alabang. Fare is roughly Php 136 from Alabang South Station or at the back of Metropolis Mall. Travel time is 2-3 hours.
From Batangas to to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro
At Batangas Port, buy a ferry / RORO ticket bound for Abra de Ilog. Fare is around Php 260 plus Php 30 Terminal Fee. Ride the RoRo/ Ferry to Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro. While on the ferry, touts may approach you to ride on buses en route to Sablayan/San Jose, choose your bus. It is recommended that you reserve your seats as the buses get full by the time the ferry reaches Abra de Ilog.
Board a bus bound for Sablayan or San Jose from Abra de Ilog Port. Tell the driver you’ll get off at Sablayan. Travel time is roughly 3 hours. Upon reaching the Sablayan Bus station, ride a tricycle to take you to Sablayan Tourism Office.
Alternatively, at Batangas Port, you can already ride a bus (Dimple Star) to Abra de Ilog.
Batangas to Abra de Ilog Schedule of Ferry /RORO (Montenegro Lines) as of March 2011 :
Morning: 2:00 AM,6:00 AM,10:00 AM
Afternoon: 2:00 PM, 5:00 PM
Evening: 10:30 PM
Montenegro Lines contact number: 09208775542 (Roger Guttierez)
Batangas to Abra de Ilog RORO/ferry passenger fare:
Regular /Full Fare : Php 260
Student Fare : Php 221
Senior Citizen Fare : Php 208
Half Fare / Children (3-7 years old) : Php 130
Boats to Apo Reef from Sablayan:
Unfortunately, hiring a boat to Apo Reef is quite expensive. The only way to get there is through Sablayan Tourism Office. Boat fare to Apo Reef is Php 8,500 (day trip) and Php 9,500 (overnight trip), good for 10 pax. So it is highly suggested you go there by groups.
Apo Reef Fees:
Boat Fare: Php 7,500
Tour Guide: Php 750
Entrance Fee: Php 250 (Filipinos), Php 450 (Foreigners)
Snorkeling Gear: Php 100
Tents: Php 150 (good for 2 pax), Php 300 (good for 3-4 pax)
Diving Fees: Php 1,350 (Filipinos), Php 1,750 (Foreigners),
Dive Master Fee: Php 500 per dive
Diving gears and equipment: Php 1,600
Tank rental fee: Php 300
Apo Reef/ Sablayan Tourism Office:
Ate Norie – (+63) 915 995 3895
Email: [email protected]
Things to do in Apo Reef:
Dive, Snorkel and Camp
Visit the lighthouse and get a scenic view of the mangrove forest and the beach below.
Ride the bamboo raft and experience the tour around the mangrove forest.
Travel Tips: There are no resorts in Apo Reef; if you want you can stay at the nearby North Pandan Island. Otherwise, you can just pitch a tent at Apo Reef Island like we did. It is recommended that you stay in Apo Reef overnight; the island is safe since there are guards and Marines manning this protected island. Apo Reef is best for divers.
Because the boat fare is fixed at Php 7,500, go there in large groups (10 pax or up). Otherwise, schedule your trip on a Saturday like we did and we joined another group. But to make sure there’s another group visiting Apo Reef, contact the Sablayan Tourism Office at the number I provided above.
Buy food, drinks, paper plates, plastic fork and spoons and cups at Sablayan Town since there is no store in Apo Reef Island.
If you want to stay at Sablayan town, there are a handful of cheap hostels/ lodges. Inquire at Sablayan Tourism Office. But it is recommended that you stay overnight at Sablayan since the fees that you have to pay including the boat is good for an overnight stay. Camping at Apo Reef is for free if you availed of the tour package in Sablayan.
*First Published: October 6, 2012
* Updated: August 3, 2013