Apo Reef, Occidental Mindoro

“Take responsibility of your own happiness, never put it in other people’s hand. Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”

Apo Reef is a coral system situated on the western water of Occidental Mindoro Straight. It is 34 sq. kilometers and is considered as the second largest coral reef system in the country. The reef is being protected by the Apo Reef Natural Park. It can be found 15 nautical miles west of Mindoro. The jurisdiction of the reef lies within the Province of Occidental Mindoro under MIMAROPA regions and administered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from the Province of Sablayan.

How to get to Apo Reef, Occidental Mindoro

From Manila or Alabang, you need to ride a bus going to Batangas port. I went to South Station in Alabang since there are a lot of passengers at LRT Buendia during weekends. Alabang to Batangas Port is php127. From Batangas Port, you need to ride a RoRo (roll on/roll off) going to Port of Abra de Ilog. You can either choose Montenegro or Balino Shipping Lines. From Abra de Ilog port, you need to ride a bus again going to Sablayan or San Jose which is the next province. You will pay php220 from the port going to Sablayan. It will take another 2.5 to 3 hour ride.

Apo Reef Natural Park

The main geographical feature of Apo Reef is submerged, but three islands mark it on the surface: the Apo Island, Apo Menor (locally known as Binangaan) and Cayos del Bajo (“Keys of the bank”, locally known as Tinangkapan).  The islands are uninhabited. Since the declaration of “no-take-zone” policy at Apo Reef Natural Park in 2007, only protected area personnel and members of the Task Force MARLEN (Marine and Apo Reef Law Enforcement for Nature), who are task to implement protection and conservation work at the park, stays in the protected area on weekly shifts. Source: Wiki Apo

The boat is a bit expensive since it is php 8,500 roundtrip but with tour guide and activities. I suggest that you should be in a group to save money. Apo Reef is about 3 hours away from Sablayan Port. You will need to go to the Tourism Office headed by Sylvia Salgado for more information. She will be able to assist you on what will be your itinerary when you are in Sablayan. Her staff is very accommodating and will surely give you alternatives for a perfect and safe travel. You need to bring your own food and water since there are no establishments on the island. The entrance fee is php350 for non-Sablayan residence.

Restricted Area at Apo Reef Natural Park

The west side of the natural park is restricted for tourist. According to my guide, it is a breeding area for Philippine turtles. The tourists were used to be allowed to watch the turtles lay their eggs during night but because some of them disturbed the turtles, the local government decided to have this area restricted so that the turtles can lay their eggs without any disturbances.

The Mangrove Forest at Apo Reef Natural Park 

The Apo Reef Lagoon is situated after the Mangrove forest which is nursery of fishes and some sharks before they reach the ocean.  It is also known as a shark sanctuary where no fishing is allowed so that fish  and other sea life have a sea haven to breed and grow to increase the fish stock and keep them healthy.

Contact Information

Sylvia Salgado (Tourism Head)

  • Smart – 099-8547-1185
  • Globe – 0915-502-1911

Travel Expenses:

  • Manila to Batangas Bus Fare- php157 (php 314 round trip)
  • Alabang to Batangas Bus Fare- php127 ( php 254 round trip)
  • Batangas Port to Abra de Ilog Port – php260  (php 520 round trip)
  • Abra de Ilog to Sablayan Bus Fare- php220 (php 440 roundtrip)
  • LandManz Hotel Accommodation-  php800/night per day good for 2
  • Sablayan Zip Line-  1 -way (php500)  (php 1000 round trip)
  • Apo Reef Boat Fare- php8,500 (2 roundtrip)
  • Apo Reef Entrance Fee- php350
  • Snorkeling goggles- php150
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Candelaria, Zambales

“I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.”

After my wonderful experience in Calayan Island, I invited a friend to go to this island located in northern Luzon.  I also wanted to visit nice beaches in Zambales, so we decided to go to Potipot Island.

Zambales is a province located in the Central Luzon region with Iba as its capital. With a land area of 1,479.09 sq. miles, it is the second largest province next to Nueva Ecija. The province boarders Pangasinan to the north and Bataan to the south.

Zambales can only be accessed through land transportation because there is no functional airport and the closest one is the Clark International Airport. Subic Bay International Airport in Pampanga. The province is merely a coastal area. Most of the municipalities are located near the coast line like Subic, San Antonio, Iba, Batolan, San Narciso and Candelaria. This article will feature Potipot Island in Candelaria, Zambales.

How to get to Potipot Island, Candelaria, Zambales

Candelaria is one of the municipalities of Zambales. It is located 26 miles from Iba and lies along the coastline of the South China Sea. It is also known to have numerous beach resorts and one of those is the Potipot Island.


How to get to Potipot Island, Candelaria, Zambales

Candelaria is one of the municipalities of Zambales. It is located 26 miles from Iba and lies along the coastline of the South China Sea. It is also known to have numerous beach resorts and one of those is the Potipot Island. From Manila, take a bus to Sta. Cruz Zambales via Victory Liner in Pasay, Cubao or Caloocan Terminals. Make sure to go down at Uacon Barangay Hall in Candelaria. The travel time usually takes for about 7 hours. There are already tricycles along the highway  where you can ask to drop you off to the Potipot docking area. You can also walk towards the bay part if you want to save money.

There are already tricycles along the highway and you can ask them to drop you off to the Potipot docking area. You can also walk towards the bay part if you want to save money. It is strongly suggested that you need to buy food first before going to the island because they only have limited varieties.   I suggest for you to drop off to the public market first which is only few kilometers away from the Uacon Barangay Hall to buy food before you go to the island.

Potipot is just an islet. The travel time from the main land is only for about 10-12 minutes. Once you reach the island, you can start looking for place where you can pitch your tent then enjoy the white sand beach and clear waters. But of course, you also need to be careful with ocean water current just to be safe. It is also best to stay overnight at the island to do stargazing.

You can also ask Mr. Boyet Dayto and his wife Dory Dayto to prepare your food. Additional payments is expected since they will cook your food and deliver it to the island.

Contact for Food Preparation:

  • Dory Dayto – 09297249408
  • Boyet Dayto – 09197327715

Travel Expenses:

  • Bus (Manila to Zambales) – php 450 (900 roundtrip)
  • Island Entrance Fee Day Tour – php 100 / pax (day tour)
  • Island Entrance Fee Overnight – php 300 / pax (day tour)
  • Boat Transfer  Round Trip – php 600 / 6 pax

Verde Island, Batangas

“I was forced to wander, having no one, forced by my nature to keep wandering because wandering was the only thing that I believed in, and the only thing that believed in me.”

After the TV interview, I had an opportunity to meet the founder of the DIY Travel Philippines Michelle Enriquez. It was somehow a dream come true to finally meet the person behind a group composed of almost four hundred thousand members with the same passion and that is to travel. She invited me to join their summer gathering in Verde Island last May 20-21, 2017. A non- profit summer gathering aiming to meet and greet all members of the group. Of course, I did not miss the opportunity and was excited for the event.

How to get Verde Island, Batangas City

Verde Island is situated along the bodies of Verde Island Passage between the islands of South Luzon and Mindoro. It lies south of Brgy. Ilijan, Batangas City and is separated from Luzon by the North Pass. It takes 45 minutes by a boat or 25 minutes by a ferry boat from Batangas City. The island is known to be rich in marine life and has been noted of the Philippine Tourism as one of the best dive spots in the country.

From Manila, you will need to ride a bus going to Batangas Grand Terminal then a jeep from the terminal going to SM City Batangas. You will need to take another jeep going to Batangas City to Tabangao Docking Area passing by San Isidro, Shell Refinery.

From Batangas Grand Terminal, find a tricycle and ask the driver to take you to Tabangao Aplaya or Tabangao Docking Area. Tricycle cost is about PHP 350 pesos and takes about 30-45 minutes. A tricycle can usually take up to 3 passengers.

According to the locals, there are only 2 boat rides going to Isla Verde. One from 9am going to the island and 3am going back to Brgy. Tabangao, Batangas City. It is very important to plan your trip ahead because there are only 2 boat transfer schedules daily.

There are several resorts in the island and all you need to do is to book your accommodation ahead of time because it going to be difficult if you walk in without any reservations.

The island is also known for dive sites which have incredibly abundant in marine life. The locals are making sure that they are protecting these sites not only for tourism purposes but it is primarily their source of living. You may need to coordinate with the resort so they can let you join a group if you are solo traveler. Just make sure to plan everything ahead because the boat transfer back to Batangas City is at 3am daily.

Travel Expenses

  • Bus Ride (Manila to Batangas Grand Terminal) – php157 ( Round trip php 314)
  • Bus Ride (Alabang to Batangas Grand Terminal) – php127 (Round trip php 254
  • Boat Transfer – php100 ( Round trip php 200)
  • Boat Rental Island Hopping – depends on the boat capacity
  • Resort Fee – depends on you resort choice

Nagudungan Hills, Calayan

  “In my life I’ve learned that true happiness comes from giving. Helping others along the way makes you evaluate who you are. I think that love is what we’re all searching for. I haven’t come across anyone who didn’t become a better person through love.”

One of the most memorable experience I had when I went to Calayan Island aside from the amazing beaches was to be on topmost of the Nagudungan Hill. Surely, the memory was priceless and the view is incomparable. I am not a climber nor have joined mountaineering but I definitely know that feeling when you are at the summit. The serenity, calmness and tranquility was worth it after hours and hours of travel.

How to get to Calayan Island

From Manila, you will need to ride a bus via Junction Luna going to Claveria, Cagayan. The fare is php850 and make sure to reserve you seats because there are a lot of passengers going to the north. Travel time is roughly between 12-13 hours, so prepare yourself and make sure you don’t get bored. There are two stop overs, one in Tarlac (TPLEX) and in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. No need to worry because the bus is secured with a comfort room and their seats are comfortable enough designed for a long travel.

Once you arrived in Claveria, Cagayan town proper, you will need to take a tricycle going to Fish Landing Port for php20 per head. You next trip will be a 5-6 hours boat ride from Claveria to Calayan. A ferry boat will bring you to the island via the South China Sea (Philippine Sea) about 83.9 KM Northeast with a fare of php500. The best months to go to the island is from April to first week of June.

Where to Stay in Calayan Island

The island does not have any hotels or beach resorts. Most are Homestay business wherein it a form of hospitality and lodging whereby visitors stay in a house or apartment of a local. The prices vary depending on what type of services the homestay offers. I personally recommend Pagdagusan Homestay because aside from accommodation, part of their service is to provide complete meal to their guest. Take note, it’s not the typical everyday meal. For more information, you can visit their facebook page.

Pagdagusan Homestay

How to get to Nagudungan Hills, Calayan

A hill is a landform that extends above the surrounding terrain. It often has a distinct summit, although in areas with scarp/dip topography a hill may refer to a particular section of flat terrain without a massive summit and is universally considered to be less tall and less steep than a mountain. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill

From Centro I where Pagdagusan Homestay is located, you will need to ride a tricycle going to a wood bridge in Brgy. Dadao about 4KMs then trek towards Caniwara and Sibang Coves for another 4KMs within 30-45 minutes. Trekking towards the site is not difficult because the road is not dilapidated and you get to experience clear air and all you can hear is the sound of nature.

Once you read the end of the road, you will need to pass by Caniwara Cove then trek uphill towards the summit of the hill. The hill is not that difficult to climb because it is only 2, 922 meters above sea level. It won’t be much of a challenge for non- experience climbers as well. When you reach the summit, there is a light house but not functioning anymore which serves as a center point of the area.

When you are at the peak of the hill, you get to see top view of Caniwara Cove, Sibang Cove and the rock formations of Dadao. Its breathtaking scenery will surely captivate your heart and will be thankful of the gift of nature.

It is also the best avenue to reflect and relax your mind from all the negativities you have been through in your life. You can also shout your heart out from the pains you encountered and let the hills be your listener. The hill is also a nice venue for pre-nuptial shoots because of its amazing rock formations which will serve as you’re true to life back draft.

Sibang Cove, Calayan

 “Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.”

It was not my first time to visit Calayan. In fact, I decided to do it as a yearly escape in order to at least experience being away from the city. I was expecting that there will be no more excitement since I have visited the place. For some reason when I arrived at the port area, I felt that it was my first time when I saw the white sand beach and clear waters of the island. Happiness was all over me and got thrilled again to explore the place.

How to get to Calayan Island

From Manila, you will need to ride a bus via Junction Luna going to Claveria, Cagayan. The fare is php850 and make sure to reserve you seats because there are a lot of passengers going to the north. Travel time is roughly between 12-13 hours, so prepare yourself and make sure you don’t get bored. There are two stop overs, one in Tarlac (TPLEX) and in Vigan, Ilocos Sur. No need to worry because the bus is secured with a comfort room and their seats are comfortable enough designed for a long travel.

Once you arrived in Claveria, Cagayan town proper, you will need to take a tricycle going to Fish Landing Port for php20 per head. You next trip will be a 5-6 hours boat ride from Claveria to Calayan. A ferry boat will bring you to the island via the South China Sea (Philippine Sea) about 83.9 KM Northeast with a fare of php500. The best months to go to the island is from April to first week of June.

Where to Stay in Calayan Island

The island does not have any hotels or beach resorts. Most are Homestay business wherein it a form of hospitality and lodging whereby visitors stay in a house or apartment of a local. The prices vary depending on what type of services the homestay offers. I personally recommend Pagdagusan Homestay because aside from accommodation, part of their service is to provide complete meal to their guests. Take note, it’s not the typical everyday meal. For more information, you can visit their facebook page. Pagdagusan Homestay

Sibang Cove, Calayan

A cove is a small type of bay or coastal inlet. Coves usually have narrow, restricted entrances, are often circular or oval, and are often situated within a larger bay. Small, narrow, sheltered bays, inlets, creeks, or recesses in a coast are often considered coves. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cove.

The most famous cove in Calayan is the Sibang Cove. This is located within the geographical jurisdiction of Brgy. Dadao. Its adjacent coves are Caniwara and Cababaan but what separates Sibang from the rest is the fine white sand and a broader clean shoreline with not much of rock formations which you will surely be amazed.

The coastline is perfect for landscape photography and suitable for relaxation because for the unspoiled beach and clear waters. The locals are also doing their best to maintain the cleanliness and penalties are being charged to those who violate the municipal ordinance. Even non- residents of the island are also obligated to continue in preserving its beauty.  Overnight camp including bonfire is not any allowed in Sibang Cove. The municipal government  wanted all the tourists  and the locals  follow the ordinance so that others can also experience the exquisiteness of the cove.