Flashpacking Apo Reef 2017

Dive Philippines, Jun V Lao, Underwater Photography, Learn Scuba
Turtles everywhere in Apo Reef

I've always wondered how loads of pinoy teenagers have been lately doing weekend sorties to Apo Reef since during my early years as a diver, I was told it's only accessible by live on board or Day Trip rides via Coron or Puerto Galera. I stumbled on Jeru Pakingan Cajapin's page where he offers Manila to Apo Reef dive trips without needing to fly to Coron or having to stop over PG and decided to join his merry band of backpacking divers.

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A tiny Battery of Huge Chevron Barracudas patrol Ego Wall
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A small school of Huge Bumphead Parotfish go coral chomping off South Wall, Apo Reef

While his route of Manila to Batangas Port (2.5 hours) then Ferry to Abra De Ilog (2.5 hours), with another van ride to Sablayan (2 hours) and finally the boat ride to Apo reef (2 hours +/-) ) (around 12 to 14 hours travel including stopovers and ferry delays) was one of the most tiring trips I've made in my lifetime and the final accommodations were like being subjected to Survivor like conditions, it definitely was a fun filled fascinating adventure, Apo Reef is probably the second best dive area in the Philippines and the sacrifice was totally worth it.

PaparazSea, Dive Tours
see sharks on every dive...on 80% of the sites
Jun V Lao, Underwater Photography, Learn Scuba
Freedivers will enjoy playing around the wreck found an hour away from Apo Reef, in between paradise and Sablayan

For Backpackers, Flashpackers, Snorkelers, Freedivers, Scuba Divers et al...

Since most of us who joined this trip were way beyond the age of millenials, Jeru had a taste of Flashpackers, as defined by lonely planet are much older adventurous techie souls with more bread to spend but prefer roughing it up. Everyone were seasoned travelers beyond the been there done that travelers set, and some points were raised about the trip but as shared, the price point and the promise of getting to dive Apo Reef were fulfilled.

Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography, Jun V Lao
Flashpackers meet Backpackers

The main difference of doing a Jeru trip versus doing live on board or day boat trips is you get to explore the island, have great bird sightings, climb up the lighthouse, have group pics at scenic spots and have night shot opportunities. 
Milky Way over the Ranger Station at 3 am

Sundown at the lighthouse with the happy peeps Dennis and Ofee

Jun V Lao, Travel, Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography
Camp Grounds with the DENR / Apo Reef Rangers

So What to Expect...

As shared, Apo Reef is probably the second best dive area in the Philippines. Expect to see loads of White Tip, Black Tip and Gray reef sharks, as shared in photos, schools of Bumphead Parrotfish and Battery of Barracudas are present. Hammerhead Sharks and Mantas are occasionally seen during the colder months of January to March and the rainy season of July to October (travel subject to cancellations on the third and fourth semesters due to typhoon season) so now you know when to go
See at least two to ten sharks on every dive

Beyond Wildlife, new moon trips will be good for those fascinated with colorful reefs, Almost every wall in Apo Reef is bursting in vivid color...
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Explosion of color awaits on every dive at Apo Reef

When To Dive...

While its safe to say diving will be great all year, typhoons will make the trip there close to impossible. Make sure you do close to Full Moon trips which will yield strong current and colder waters, and thats when the Big Fish Play

How To Get there- Click here

The 12- 14 Hour Map from Manila to Apo Reef

passion photographer, cafe racer fanatic

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