In the beginning of December, I enjoyed a 10-day holiday with my German friend Bine, who came over from Austria to discover part of the Visayas together. The first half of our trip lead us to Apo island, 7 kilometers off the southeastern tip of Negros Island.
Our reservation at Mario Scuba Diving and Homestay proved to be a fantastic choice, not only for the food and lodging but also for their dive team and overall concept of life.
We chose a medium room at P800/night with a double bed, a single light and fan powered from rooftop solar energy and a private bathroom. There is no wifi and generator electricity only from 6-10PM, which is the case all over this little volcanic island. The accommodation is quite simple but clean. And the staff is just wonderful. We were also lucky to meet other friendly international travelers every day and to spend most time with some German and Swiss divers.
I had decided to finally do a PADI Open Water Diver Training (OWDT), as part of my Filipino experience. And after learning with my local dive instructor Mario and dive master Mac, I don’t believe that I could have chosen any better place than Mario’s Scuba Diving on Apo. Their whole local dive team lives and loves Apo like the back of their hand. They always make a special effort for their guests to feel comfortable before, during and after the dive, with a lot of patience, attention to the variety of Apo’s marine life, joy and humor.
The OWDT started with a beach dive to learn the basics, which most students train in swimming pools. We then immediately added a tour around the house reef where it’s almost guaranteed to meet turtles. I didn’t meet any during scuba dives, but still saw many during snorkeling sessions in shallower water.
Our hosts and dive masters are very committed to promoting an ongoing sustainable development of their native island. There are many risks to this little piece of nature. The difficulties they already face fighting for a sustainable future of their 74-hectar island made me realize how unbelievably challenging it actually is to lead initiatives that go beyond city or island limits. Keep it up!
I’d definitely love come back and discover more of Apo’s island reefs!