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Apo Reef Sablayan, Mindoro Occidental Prepare for summer and make sure to bask in the tropical sun, sea and sand of Asia’s largest atoll-like reef – Apo Reef National Marine Park. The 34-square kilometer marine park is located in the vast Mindoro Strait, off the coast of Occidental Mindoro, a marine protected area that serves as habitat of more than 350 marine species such as sharks, sea hawks, manta rays, stingrays and other tropical fishes and invertebrates. There are three islands in the Apo Reef National…Continue Reading “Slideshow: Romancing the Memories of Apo Reef”

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February this year was my fourth consecutive years in the town of Sablayan, and supposed to be in Apo Reef too. As if all first timers, our group couldn’t hide the excitement. We could almost see the white sandy island, its the lighthouse and the stunning sunset as well as the sea turtles, sharks, humpheads, schools of fishes and colorful corals that thrive on its water. But our excitement was spoiled out by the unfavorable sea and wind conditions that made the two-hour boat ride…Continue Reading “Detour to Mainland Sablayan”

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I had a chance to dive in Apo Reef when we returned there last February. It was a memorable one not because it is one of my favorite places to dive but because it marked another milestone in my scuba diving career – my 100th dive! Being a scuba diver for two-and-a-half years opened a door for me to a new dimension. It made me appreciate, understand and love the underwater world more than ever. It changed my life to become more responsible individual, protective…Continue Reading “Journey to the Depths of Philippine Underwater World: 100 Dives Milestone”

Apo Reef

It was a last minute decision and it seemed like a coincidence that Gael’s feature on Apo Reef was just published in Yahoo!Travel. Reading her piece along with some of my photos made me missed Apo Reef even more. Perhaps it was the sign. After all, if there are places worth coming back over and over again, Apo Reef is surely one of them. So for third year in a row I went to this paradise off the coast of Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro and once…Continue Reading “Weekend Bliss: Return to Apo Reef”

Dive Apo Reef

“Woooooooh!!!”, we shouted as we surfaced after our third and last dive, it was almost dark. We descended a few minutes before sunset. If it was not because we were in this magical place, we could have cancel the third dive. But we were in Apo Reef and we had to make the most of our day to explore its underwater paradise. We proceeded with sunset dive without any hint of hesitation, even if the darkness was already enveloping the surroundings and we only had…Continue Reading “Three Amazing Dives in a Paradise Called Apo Reef”

Apo Island and Lighthouse

Endowed with amazing and world class wonders, the heart of Occidental Mindoro, guarantees everyone with unforgettable rendezvous with its warm people, rich culture and diverse nature – welcome to the wonderful Sablayan!

The biggest municipality and the top ecotourism destination of the province, Sablayan offers variety of activities specially to those adventure driven souls who want to commune with nature.

Apo Reef

The mountains and forests of Sablayan are home to diverse flora and fauna, some of which are endemic to the island, and harbor great rivers, lakes, caves and waterfalls. Its museum and parks offer a historical and recreational experience. Its surrounding islands shine with their white sand on waters teeming with vivid and superb marine life.

Sablayan also covers the world-famous Apo Reef National Marine Park, which is considered as Asia’s largest atoll-like reef, the second largest in the world next only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It is a 34 square kilometer reef that serves as habitat of more than 350 marine species such as sharks, sea hawks, manta rays, stingrays and other tropical fishes and invertebrates.

But more than its striking scenery, both inland and underwater, Sablayan takes pride of its people with the rich culture of the indigenous Mangyans and the inborn hospitality of Sablayeños. Come and experience the wonderful Sablayan and be mesmerized with its unmatched offerings.

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A hanging bridge in Sablayan Poblacion

How to Get There

By Air

San Jose, Occidental Mindoro is the gateway to Sablayan by air. Airphil Express, Cebu Pacific and Zest Air have regular flights to San Jose from Manila, travel time takes 45 minutes. From San Jose airport, take a short ride by tricycle to bus terminal, then hop to a bus going to Sablayan, fare is a little over P100.00, for a travel time of two-and-a-half to three hours. There are also air-conditioned vans that can be rented from the airport although it costs higher at P3500.00 and up.

By Land/Sea

From Sampaloc, Manila, there are air-conditioned Dimple Star Buses that go to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro passing in Sablayan, fare to Sablayan is P800.00 inclusive of the ferry and terminal fee in Batangas Port, last trip is 8PM from Sampaloc. They also have terminal in Alabang. Contact No: +639086315495 and +639086964803.

From Cubao, RoRo buses going to San Jose also stop at Sablayan.

For budget travelers, the cheapest way to get to Sablayan from Manila by land and sea is to go to Batangas Port for P167.00 fare (as of February 2012 , cheaper on DLTB buses at P133 ) for a travel time of  two-and-a-half to three hours, then catch a ferry to Abra de Ilog at P260.00 plus P30.00 terminal fee (as of February 2012), a two to two-and-a-half hours boat ride, and hop on to a Roro Bus or a Dimple Star Bus from Abra de Ilog at P220.00 (as of February 2012) for another three hours ride by bus. If there are still available bus from Batangas Port better arranged your seats from there as the buses are usually get filled even before reaching Abra de Ilog. Alternatively there are vans from Abra de Ilog to Sablayan though rare, charging at least P250.00 per passenger.

Montenegro and Besta are the ferry operators in Batangas Port to Abra de Ilog. Please verify the schedule if you are taking a ferry, their sites are not updated, you may call Montenegro at (043)723-6980 / (043)723-8294 or the Port of Batangas hotline at (043)7238243.

Going to Apo Reef, tours are managed and controlled by the local government of Sablayan, Contact No: Ate Norie/Ate Helen +639284659585, Email: amazingsablayan[at]yahoo[dot]com or ecotourism_sablayan_occmdo[at]yahoo[dot]com[dot]ph . Boat rental as of February 2012 is fixed at 7,500 (good for 10-12 persons) for 36 hours (payable in eco-tourism office). Entrance fee in Apo Reef is P225 per person for Filipinos and P450 for foreigners (payable in eco-tourism office). Tour guide is optional, but in case you need one (which I think not), it is P750.00. Snorkel and mask set can be rented also at the tourism office for 100.00/set, so as the tents at P150.00 that is good for two persons and P300.00 good for 4-5.

Where to Stay

The best way to experience Sablayan is to pitch a tent in Apo Reef and stay overnight, or stay in the resort in Pandan Island.

Continue Reading "Travel Guide: Sablayan (Apo Reef/Pandan Island)"