Second to non other than "The Great"

Sablayan Apo Reef Natural Park Occidental Mindoro
Ever heard of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the largest contiguous reef system in the world? Bet you didn't know the world's second largest is located in our own country, the Philippines? Yes, Apo Reef is second to Australia's Great Barrier Reef and Philippine's largest reef system. This reef and its surrounding waters are protected areas collectively known as Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP).

Apo Island Sablayan Occidental Mindoro
Apo Reef Island - One of the 3 Islands in Apo Reef Natural Park

Cayos De Bajo (Tinangkapan)
Cayos Del Bajo (Tinangkapan)

One could tell that the more than 30 kilometer square stretch of Apo Reef is home to a wide variety of sea creatures. Hence this is one of the best dives site in the country and famous for wild encounters with schools of fish, pod of dolphins, and of course bale of turtles.

Photo by Jepepips

Photo by: TravelAdik

Located in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Apo Reef has 3 distinct islands, Apo Island, Apo Menor (Binangaan), and Cayos Del Bajo (Tinangkapan). Although the main features of the reef system is submerged, these three island serves are landmarks.

Some facts about Apo Reef:
  • Philippine and Asia's Largest Adjacent (Contiguous) Reef System. 
  • Declared as protected natural park in 1996 by President Fidel Ramos
  • In 2006, DENR's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the Philippine submitted to UNESCO World Heritage Center to be listed as a one of the World Heritage site.
  • Since 2007, the fishing along the reef is banned by the government.

Welcome to Apo Reef Natural Park
Add caption

What to do in Apo Reef Natural Park, Sablayan Occidental Mindoro?


One with nature, camping in Apo Reef rubs off a Castaway slash Survivor feeling. No electricity, no signal, no potable water, a total disconnect to the outside world. One might enjoy the stroll to the shores of the island, or lay down in the sand and witness the day turns into night with the stars glimmering.

Camping 101

Night Socials with the Milky Way rising on the Horizon
Night Socials with the Milky Way rising on the Horizon

Camping Grounds at Apo Reef Island
Camping Grounds at Apo Reef Island
If you are famished and needs energizer, why not make your own buffet style meals! Really we had plenty of food. Seafood, Chicken, Pork, Spaghetti, or what ever you have in mind, we have it on our lunch, dinner, breakfast!

Photo by Jepepips

Beach Bumming

With almost fine yellowish-white sand, Apo Reef Island beach shores are not only visited by turtles for laying eggs, but also by travelers and the like, basking in the golden sun.

Apo Island Sablayan
Go Throw or Drone?

Apo Reef Island Sablayan
Beach shore of Apo Reef Island

Beach bumming at its best, waiting for the sun to rise

Squad waiting for the sun to set

Apo Reef National Park Sablayan Occ. Mindoro
Golden hour

Dolphin watching

If you have luck on your side, like we do, a pod of dolphins might wander on your field of vision. Look for birds flocking somewhere in the sea, thats a sure sign that dolphins are just around.

Dolphins of Apo Reef Sablayan Occ Mindoro
Dolphins of Apo Reef Sablayan Occidental Mindoro

Photo by traveladik


To my surprise, this small island has a lagoon in it!

Path going to the Lagoon paved way by bamboo bridges

In the middle of the Lagoon, sharp right turn to the Light house

Apo Reef Island Lagoon Sablayan

A hidden lagoon within an island awaits. Off the beaten path indeed. Sprawling with sting rays and baby sharks.


Apo Reef Light. The original tower was the tallest erected lighthouse in the country. Now, a modern 110 ft tall white tower stands at the location of the old tower.

Apo Reef Light Sablayan Mindoro
Apo Reef Light

Apo Reef Light Sablayan Mindoro
Apo Reef Light Sablayan Mindoro


Apo Reef is a Marine Sanctuary. Most of the attractions are beneath the blue waters. Schools of fish, colorful corals and one might encounter sharks and manta rays lurking in the depths of the ocean. Although my pictures won't justify what I witnessed. You just need to trust me when I say, this is a must do in Apo Reef, dragged by the boat on the vast reef ecosystem.

Sunset and Sunrise Chasing

The sunsets and sunrises are seen on both sides of the island. Viewed at different angles and height, one can be stunned by the sheer beauty of nature. Can't get enough of it, I completed the 2 sunrises and 2 sunsets on our 3 days 2 nights stay.

Sunset at Apo Reef Island Occidental Mindoro
Day 1 Sunset
Day 2 Sunrise
Day 2 Sunset

Day 3 Sunrise
Sunrise on Apo Reef Light
Sunrise on Apo Reef Light
Sunrise on the shores on Apo Reef
Sunset on the Restricted Area of Apo

Photo ops under the sun kissed island of Apo

The following photos were taken by Jepepips

  • Teleserye in the making

  • Candid Portaits

Ms. Gene Anne

Ms. Marjo

Ms. Danz

Mr. CNN Philippines

Mr. Borge

Mr. Jino

  • Squad goals

Add Pandan Island to your Itinerary

It's a must to see the gentle giants of Pandan Island in there natural habitat. I have witnessed first hand how tranquil these turtles are within the area of Pandan. Awestruck when this turtle glanced back at me when I was chasing it. 

Sea Turtles of Pandan Island
Sea Turtles of Pandan Island

To say the least, this trip was my most fruitful travel yet, given the time and budget allocated. With a budget estimated 2.8K php for 3 Days 2 Nights at a World Class Reef System, how is that even possible? Mind blowing even. Some of my friends asked how can that be? Say you have a friend that is a frequent in the island, let say every year (panata na ata nila ito), he has the right formula to the most cost saving IT with the maximum experience (ROI)! Thanks Jay and Jeps! Beast you are!

Now for the Fun Part: How to get to Apo Reef Natural Park Sablayan Occidental Mindoro

Apo Island has been opened for sometime now to public. Apo Reef Natural Park is welcoming an increasing number of tourist and the like every year according to the locals. The main drawback from the looks of it is the journey going there plus the cost it will incur. Here is our IT and cost for each and every step. You wouldn't believe me, but this is real total it costs us. (Information courtesy of Jefferson Balon)

How to get there:
  1.  Ride Dimple Star either in Cubao/Sampaloc or Alabang @ 800php including all the fares. or Ride Bus to Batangas Pier from Buendia/Kamuning or Alabang (167php/175php/137php respectively). Depending on traffic, going to Batangas pier ranges from 1 and 30mins to 3hrs.
  2. At Batangas Pier: Terminal Fee of 30php.
  3. RORO Fare 260php (See Besta Lines and Montenegro Shipping for their schedules)
  4. Batangas to Abra De Ilog port 3 to 4 hours
  5. Van/Bus to Sablayan 220php/190php respectively. Travel time (2-3 hours)
  6. Register at the Tourism office of Sablayan
  7. Rent a boat: 10-15/20pax ranges from 10,000php for overnight, additional 2,500php for succeeding days. On top of it is Guide fee: 1000php per guide per day, Max of 8 pax per guide. 
  8. Additional 50php if you include Pandan Island to your IT. 
  9. At Sablayan Market, buy supplies! Cheap and very fresh sea food and meats are available. Over estimate your budget for food if you intend to stay there for 3D2N.
  10. Sablayan Port to Apo Island took 3 - 4 hours depending on the ocean's mood. PLUS if pod of dolphins will greet you along the way, then additional 1 hr could be added to your travel time. Because why not!
  11. On Apo Reef Island, 325php per pax with maximum of 48hrs stay. 220 php for your Guide's entrance

Our Amazing guide: Jher Dingdingan
Photo by: Jepepips

Some Important Notes:

1. Butane cassettes and knives are restricted at the Batangas Port.

2. Take the 12mn or the 2:30am Roro to Sablayan.

3. Bring mess kit, avoid spending much on styros and plastics.

4. Mosquito/Sea lice repellent

5. Bring Snorkel gear, rental of Snorkel is available at the tourism or DENR @150php

6. No potable water in the island only salt water.

7. Simple CR setting. Don't expect much. Wag maarte wala ka sa resort.

8. Camp fire is restricted in the area.

9. Respect the wilderness, avoid applying grease content sunblock when diving or swimming.

10. Follow the rules at ARNP.

11. CAYGO - Clean As You Go.

Sablayan Public Market
Sablayan Public Market 
Dimple Star Coaster Van
Kuya Pax out dependable boat man
Party Boat complete with CR. lol  (15-20 Pax)

I REPEAT: Apo Reef Expenses per Pax (3D2N Experience)

  • 3 - 4 hrs : Roro (Batangas Port to Abra de Ilog v.v) - 560php (including terminal fee)
  • 2 - 3 hrs : Van/Bus (Abra de Ilog to Sablayan v.v) - 440php
  • 2 - 3 hrs : Boat (Sablayan to Apo Reef Island - Boat, Guide, Entrance fees) - 1,266php
  • Food/Water/Drinks - 529php
Grand total for 2,795 php

excluded: 2 - 3hrs : Manila-Batangas port-Manila - 334php

Grand Apo Reef Administration Office
Grand Apo Reef, See you again Next Year!


  1. Ang gaganda ng pictures nyo, kitang kita ang saya. Gusto ko bumalik pero sana di na ako takot umibig este sa snorkeling para enjoy ko pa lalo hehe

    1. Sulit kasi! San ka pa. hahah Wag na matakot baka you're missing a whole new world! haha

  2. Sir Dan,

    I have a few questions lang about Apo Reef. Hope you could help.

    1. Kailangan bang i-pre-booked yung tour sa Apo Reef, or pagdating ko sa Sablayan dun nalang on the spot ang booking?

    2. So yung 10,000 na boat ride equally shared right what if 6 lang ang dumating or less di mas mahal ang budget mo?

    Your blog is inspiring. Godbless.

    1. Bro,

      Nakapunta kana ba any update? if wala pa mas maganda mag ask ka sa mga binigay nilang number lalo na yung sa tourism kasi sila makakasagot sayo.


    2. Hi there,
      Sorry now lang catch up sa mga comments,

      Basically, Contact mo lang si kuya Jher. then siya bahala sayo.

      as for the boat.. if 6 lang kayo, ask for a smaller boat or if meron kayo kasabayan na ibang groups, you can share the expense para mas mura..

      hope this helps.

  3. Hi. May public comfort room po ba? And may bayad ba kapag nag pitch ng tent?

    1. Hi. may comfort rooms. pero don't expect tap water. Salt water padin ung nasa isla. Kasama na sa babayaran nyo ung pag pitch ng tent.. ung environmental fee etc.

  4. Hi! Thanks for this very detailed post. This will help me a lot. Keep it up! ��

  5. Nagdala po ba kayo ng sariling tent? or pwedeng magrent doon?

    1. May dala po kaming tent. But I think may mga rental dun sa Pandan Island or dun sa Tourism Office sa sablayan. If you contact ung guide namin, he can assist you with what you need :)


  6. great post, man. i love your photos!

  7. Nice post! This is a very nice blog that I will definitively come back to more times this year! Thanks for informative post. oregano oil australia


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