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Apo Island: Swimming with Sea Turtles

I’m just so excited to be writing on this blog again because that actually means I’ve got material to write about. As in, there is actually something happening in my life outside of the humdrum routine of sitting in front of a desk all day and slogging through the typical corporate workload. Because I was actually tremendously busy in the latter half of 2018, finishing my grad studies and such, I didn’t get to travel much at all which is very uncharacteristic of me.

Now that I’m done with the workload, though, there will be more moments in my life that will look like this:

And this.

Or this.

For Valentine’s day, the boyfie and I decided to book a trip to visit Siquijor. It was Ampol’s first time, but for me, it was a long overdue and well deserved return trip. The last time I had been in Siquijor, it was such a rushed trip because I only had two days. This time, we stayed for three and it was enough to give us a taste of what the Island of Fire had to offer.

On our trip back from Siquijor, we stopped by Dumaguete and availed of one of the snorkeling tours that are being offered in the city. We coursed our bookings through Harold’s Dive Centre, which is at the ground floor of Harold’s Mansion, one of the most popular hostels within downtown Dumaguete. We booked in advance and showed up on the day of the tour, and a few hours later, I was drinking coffee on the prow of an outrigger. Like a boss.

…enjoying the pancit lunch that they packed for us. The tour took the whole day, starting at Harold’s Mansion at 7:30AM and through 3 different dive spots on the island itself. The pancit lunch was simple but filling, and they also had free coffee and snacks on board.

We met a bunch of really cool and awesome local travelers who shared their time on the boat and on the island with us. We were divvied up into groups of four, and each group gets to go with an expert guide who knows his way around the island and can lead the way to where the turtles are usually hanging out. The Apo Island tour is predominantly known for its turtles, and there were plenty of green sea turtles during our trip. Some of them were bigger than a human being.

It was a fairly large boat but each tour run takes up to fifty people. Seen here are several Chinese families who took the tour with us. The coffee thermoses and the free bananas were at the middle of the ship.

It was a great idea to book our tours with Harold’s. Since we were running short of time as we had a flight to catch back to Manila the very same day, we couldn’t risk just winging it with DIY bookings. We’ve heard that Harold’s has been pretty consistent with their tour timings, and were actually sure to bring us back to the city at 4 o’clock so that we can make it to our flight at 5:50PM. Plus, the tour only costs P1250 a head and it was an all-in package with the guide, the snorkel gear, and the transport from Dumaguete to Dauin, which is a town close to the city centre that serves as the jump off point to Apo Island. The coaster that took us from Harold’s Mansion to the beach at Dauin was comfortable.

They have an extensive supply of snorkel gear and for the price that you pay for the tour, they lend you a life jacket/floatie, a mask, and fins. They must do it quite often that the nice lady who was assisting during the fitting just eyed my feet and was like, here, take these fins, this will fit for sure.

Some of the joiners in our tour run went for SCUBA sessions, and they were also fitted with their own scuba gear.

The process was very seamless and smooth and I highly recommend it for those who don’t want to go through the hassle of booking their own boats and tour arrangements. On the photo above, they make you sign a waiver and a contract to return the equipment lent before the start of the tour. You just pop into their dive centre, give your ID, and then pay the fee. For the amount, it was convenience and peace of mind that made it so worth it. Plus, the guide were highly competent. My favourite thing about the Harold’s team was they were insistent on making the tour as stress-free for the turtles and the sea creatures. They briefed us very well on conduct whilst doing the snorkelling tour. They were stern with the warnings that they will report those who deliberately touch the corals and the turtles, as we were supposed to just leave them alone. Those who violate the rule are slapped with a huge fine.

I also like that the tour made it possible for us to meet other people. The other joiners of the tour made it even more fun for us.

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Harold’s Dive Center/Harold’s Mansion
205 Hibbard Avenue, Dumaguete City
Facebook: Harold’s Mansion

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