High Travel / Low Budget: Apo Island, Philippines.
This year, two islands from the Philippines, Boracay and Palawan were recognised as the Top 2 Best Islands in the world by Conde Nast Traveller.
I concur with CNtraveller‘s list, however with international exposure (especially from a luxury travel authority as illustrious as Conde Nast Traveler) brings about tourism boom (read: lots of people crowding and spoiling your carefully-angled, much deserved holiday selfies…for one thing), and eventually costs in these famed destinations spike; not so appealing if you’re someone looking for a relaxed, high-quality yet low-budget holiday.
Therefore, what clever wanderlusters like you will do is go for a lesser-known, underrated destination that offers a similar (if not better) tropical island experience that doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket!
Cheap and Chic
In the Philippines, you’re spoiled with over 7,000 islands to choose from!
Where to start?
Let me narrow it down for you…
Welcome to Apo Island
Located in the Visayas region and only an hour plane trip from the capital, Manila, going to Apo Island epitomises the cheap and high-quality travel ethos I’m raving about.
Here’s what you get:
Whole day travel by boat + food + drinks + snorkel equipment for as low as 20 US dollars!
I don’t know about you, but that is mind-blowingly CHEAP!
Apo island is from the region where I hailed from. Travelling makes me realise that I don’t need to travel far to find one of the most beautiful places on earth.
So here’s my Top 5 reasons why you should consider Apo Island as your next travel destination:
1. You can swim with sea turtles. Apo island is a highly protected marine reserve and is a favourite site by international marine biologists to conduct studies. It remains open to the public and people are allowed to swim in near proximity with the sea turtles (their numbers are growing, denoting a clean and healthy marine environment); however touching or petting there charming creatures is prohibited.
2. It’s bursting with marine life. Thanks to years of conservation and protection, the marine habitats here is certainly one of the best in the world. Explore the island’s vibrant and colourful table coral reefs. Snorkelling or scuba diving in the warm, crystal-clear waters of Apo island is a treat everyone deserves. Bring your underwater camera and snap pictures of the whole casts of Finding Nemo- they’re all here!
3. Did I mention it’s cheap? You can pay as low as 20 bucks for a day excursion here (e.g. On this trip, I went with hotel and travel company, Harold’s Mansion, in Dumaguete City.) A simple google search should also give you plenty of choices about travel packages and quality accommodations in the island or in Dumaguete City.
Above: 6 AM Call time. A modernised Filipino Bangka (boat) and a view of Apo Island. Pre-departure from the town of Dauin, Oriental Negros Philippines.
4. It’s peaceful and non-touristy. As Apo is not yet too well-known, you’ll see fewer tourists around, compared to party island Boracay, for example. You can truly enjoy that natural island tranquility in Apo.
No loud drunken parties here.
5. People speaks English. Well, this one applies to the Philippine populace in general. Filipinos are well-known for their genuine, warm attitude specifically towards foreign tourists. If you’ve travelled to a non-english speaking country, you learned to appreciate the usefulness of being able to verbally communicate with the locals, especially when you just want to know the details of an obscure delicacy, or haggling in the markets, or simply asking directions when you feel absolutely useless and can’t find your way home.
So there you have it!
All you need is an open mind, a good sense of adventure, and a big tub of sunscreen lotion for that inviting tropical sea.
Your relaxing island holiday starts now.
Fashion/Style Notes: Minimalist Pearl necklace I designed, and created by Fashion Jeweller HATHI (The Rocks, Sydney Australia); Shirt and Shorts by Rodd and Gunn, Sydney, Australia;
x War Julian x