Sunday, February 18, 2007

Apo Island

Apo island is located just off the coast of Dumagete, about an hour by boat. Supposedly it had good snorkeling, which was my main interest, but really I went because everyone else was going there. After all, no point on missing out on something good to see when I'm already in Dumagete.

The boat ride there was not something I anticipated. The vessel was low in the water. It had a compartment for our luggage to go in, but as for the passengers - well there weren't really any seats. We just sat down where ever there was a flat surface. What no one was prepared for - least of all me - were the waves. During the hour long boat trip, the passengers could be expected to be splashed by a wave roughly every 10 seconds. Not a small splash either - oh no! As a passenger you would do no worse tethered to the back of the boat. Half way to the island, we were all as soaked as if we had been swimming the whole time. The gusty winds on the water made it cold too, and I probably would have arrived on the island feeling rather crabby, except along the trip I saw something really pretty amazing.

Can you imagine looking beside the boat and seeing a bird flying low and close to the vessel? It's kind of fun to see that. But then you have a double-take, when you realize the bird flying a few feet away from you actually looks alot like a fish. Let me tell you, that is one surreal double take, and I felt for a moment as if I was in a Dali painting. I'd seen flying fish before, but usually they don't stay airborne like this one did. This was significantly larger than flying fish I'd seen before, and it stayed in the air, gliding beside the boat, for longer than I realized any fish was able to do. At the end it didn't just flop gracelessly into the water, either. Gradually it descended until it was gliding closely above the water, and then *sploosh* it was gone.

So it was a nice introduction to Apo Island, which proved to be a magnificent place. For anyone who may come to visit me in the Philippines, I will definitely be taking you here. As I stepped off the boat I realized I was in a paradise. This island was just breath-taking in its beauty. I couldn't adequately describe it. We only stayed there overnight, but it was wonderful. The snorkeling was excellent - in fact it is one of the best preserved marine life sanctuaries in the country. The coral begins as soon as the water does, and it was actually a challenge to get past the initial coral to a place you can swim around and see the beauty and marine life from enough of a distance that you weren't in danger of letting the tide slam you into said marine life.

The Barangay on the island was enjoyable to walk through. The people there seemed as genuinely friendly as I could imagine. I got to witness what appeared to be a little girl baking bread in an outdoor oven fueled by coconut husks. In addition to the beautiful beaches, there was also a forest of very dramatic-looking mangroves. It was just, overall, a very nice place to be, and our rooms didn't have electricity or running water, but they had an amazing view.

So, in short, I enjoyed my short stay there. It was the last of the 14 different places I've ended up traveling since Thanksgiving. What a way to end it.

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