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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.
Sylvia Salgado (Tourism Head)
- Smart – 099-8547-1185
- Globe – 0915-502-1911
- 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