One of the most famous dive sites in this area of the Philippines is Apo Island. It is just a short boat ride away from the Atmosphere Resort, via the marine park office to get your permits to dive there. Apo Island has been a Marine Sanctuary for over 20 years and this shows even as you glance down at the reefs below from the boat as you pull up to your dive site.
The corals here are healthy and abundant and the beauty of the shallows is breath-taking. On a sunny day, the corals light up in their multi-coloured splendour to delight both snorkelers and divers alike. These shallows are also home to a large number of sea turtles, who rest on the soft corals and graze on the hard corals. Banded Sea Kraits (sea snakes) also inhabit these shallow waters, taking divers by surprise as they wiggle out from the protection of the corals to head for the surface.
Once you have taken your fill of the shallows, and in the knowledge that you will have to come back here for your safety stop, you can head deeper down the sloping reef. The reef is just as healthy here, but the species of coral and fish change as you descend. Magnificent Anemones, balled up to show their vivid purple skirts, host families of anemonefish. If you look closely at the large sponges, you are sure to find one of the areas signature species – the frogfish. And if you keep one eye looking out into the blue, large pelagic species have been known to come in closer to the reef wall and give divers unexpected encounters with various species of shark.
On your surface interval you can buy local trinkets from boats that visit with clothing and souvenirs, whilst rehydrating or grabbing a bite to eat. The Atmosphere boat, Victoria, is a traditional banka boat with bamboo outriggers and is the most commonly used boat for this trip. It is extremely spacious, with plenty of room both for those that like to worship the sun or those that like to stay in the shade. The crew are always on hand to look after you too, changing your equipment over between dives and ensuring you have everything you need.
Apo Island is a must do day trip when staying with Atmosphere. We are only sad that we did not have enough time to go back and do a second trip there, but there are so many more dive sites to explore, and just not enough time for us to fit it all in. Next time…
Olympus OM-D EM-1 MKII with Olympus 8mm lens
INON Z240 Strobes
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