Macro: diving at Apo reef is simply superb, the second best destination of the Philippines, quite simply ! It is not at the level of Tubbataha (which is like even in the top 10 world), but it is certainly in the top 10 of Asia. This little atoll a little bit in the middle of nowhere is actually filled with schools of fish of all kinds, from sharks and of large pelagic (Napoleon, humpback parrot, bigeye trevally, barracuda ...). If you're lucky, and at the right time, you can expect to see a hammerhead shark or a manta ray! Not so easy to access, a on liveaboards at Apo reef remains the best way to appreciate one of best dive sites in the Philippines !

Context: I was manager of French Kiss Divers Coron for 1 year and I did a diving cruise at Apo reef.

# Overview
# Presentation
# Diving with
# How to dive in Apo reef
# Dive sites 
# Seasons and conditions 
# Diving club
# How to get there
# Accommodation
# My diving review

Apo reef school of barracudas5


meilleur site plongee philippines apo reef

  • 2nd best destination of the Philippines (the 1st being Tubbataha reef).
  • The 2nd largest continuous coral formation in the world.
  • Best diving period: January to June.
  • Hammerhead shark season : January March.
  • Manta ray season : February - April.
  • Common Marine Life : reef sharks, large pelagics (tuna, napoleon, giant trevally), school of fish (barracudas, trevallies…), turtle…
  • Possible species hammerhead shark, manta ray, eagle ray, gray shark.
  • Visibility : 20 to 40 m all year round.
  • Access : for the day from Mindoro (Sablayan) or liveaboard from Coron.
Logo-plongeur-baroudeurRecommendations by category of divers:

> New diver : not recommended.
> Confirmed : to do absolutely if you are going on a diving trip to the Philippines.
> Experienced : to do absolutely if you can't do Tubbataha.


Where is Apo reef?

meilleure site plongee philippines apo reef

  • Apo reef is a marine park 267 km2 created in 1996.
  • It is between Mindoro and Coron.
  • He is considered as the 2nd longest continuous coral formation in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef of Australia).
  • Shaped a bit of a triangle: 26 km north-south and 20 km east-west
  • meilleure site plongee philippines apo reef - apo islandIt is composed of :
    • Apo island (Not to be confused with the Dumaguete Apo Island), the largest, the one where the Rangers building is located, a lighthouse, beautiful beaches, mangroves and a lagoon in the center.
    • Apo minor : very small, only composed of rocks, no beach, we can not go on it.
    • Cayos del bajo : a kind of shallow rock formation.
    • The reef composes the rest of the marine park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

#Overview #Presentation #Diving with #How to dive #Sites #seasons #Dive centers #Get to #Accommodation #My diving review


Types of diving


  • Drifting dive along walls / drop offs.
  • Night dive possible.
  • A small wreck without interest.
  • No interest for the macro.


Reef shark apo reef

plongee apo reef philippines requin

  • Want to see white tip shark, it's almost guaranteed on every dive!
  • Either going along the walls if there is power.
  • Either on the ground sleeping.


Hammerhead shark Apo reef

plongee apo reef philippines requin marteau

  • Diving with hammerhead sharks is one of the reasons people come to Apo reef.
  • Good, like a lot of places, do not wander..., the best time is from January to Marchbut on a whole season they may be seeing a solitary hammerhead shark here and there
  • So do not go to Apo reef thinking of seeing hammerhead sharks, but if you see one you will be the happiest in the world!

Apo reef gray shark

There is also a gray shark that wanders around Apo reef, but much more uncertain to see than the white tips.

Apa reef manta ray

plongee apo reef philippines raie manta

  • There are no cleaning station, so even discusses that for the hammerhead sharks, really nothing guaranteedyou will have to be lucky ...
  • The best period is February to April.



Apo reef eagle ray

plongee apo reef philippines raie aigle

There are eagle rays in Apo reef, but nothing sure, you can see a dozen on a trip, like no ...


Big Pelagic

Apo reef is really well supplied wholesale pelagic!

  • plongee apo reef philippines carangueGiant trevally (Giant trevallies): in hunting mode as soon as there is power, and they can be very very big !!
  • Other jacks (Bluefin trevally, Golden trevally ...): are also commonplace, alone or in a bench.
  • plongee apo reef philippines banc de caranguesBarracuda bench : on every dive you are likely to cross a barracudas bench, from ten individuals to several hundred (as the bench residents of Apo 29).



This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • plongee apo reef philippines thonTunas if there is power, we can see a packet of tones (Yellowfin tuna, Dogtooth tuna ...) hunt along the walls! Awesome !!



  • plongee apo reef philippines napoleonNapoleon : we can cross Napoleons possibly on each dive, along the walls but also very often partly shallow in the coral gardens.


  • plongee apo reef philippines perroquet a bosseHump parrot There are some, they wander on the reef and the walls. The best chance to see is at Shark airport where there is a resident bench of 10-20 individuals who walks on the site.


Apo reef turtle

plongee apo reef philippines tortue

  • Turtles are not the stars of Apo reef but there are some.
  • You can see 1 or 2 on each dive (green turtle or nested).



School of Apo reef fish

Apo reef mix fish 2

Fusilier, Red tooth triggerfish, Butterflyfish, Midnight snapper, Surgeonfish, Unicornfish ... can be found everywhere and especially around Apo island.


Apo Reef Coral

Apo reef coral on reef 6

  • We don't come to Apo reef for coral, there are places in the Philippines much better rated for that (Tubbataha, Bohol / Panglao, Padre Burgos, Apo island).
  • But it's nice anyway, gorgonians along the walls, a little soft corals especially in shallow areas.

Macro Apo reef

Apo reef nudibranch 1

      • As for coral, Apo reef is not famous for the macro, places like Anilao, Malapascua or Bohol / Panglao will be much better.
      • There are classic nudibranchs everywhere, can be ghost pipefish or pipefish here and there, but no frogfish of all kinds, seahorse, blue-ringed octopus ...



Apo reef diving video

Apo reef diving photos

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

#Overview #Presentation #Diving with #How to dive #Sites #seasons #Dive centers #Get to #Accommodation #My diving review


2 solutions for diving in Apo reef: from Coron or Mindoro.

  • Of Coron :
    • Apo reef diving cruise 3 or 4 days from Coron town (with Diveunda or much better with the Resolute): rather expensive, but easy access.
    • Diving day at Apo reef with Dugong dive center (North of Busuanga): it will be necessary to go to the north, it is necessary to chart a boat.
  • From Mindoro
    • Diving trip to Apo reef : 3 dives, the price will depend on the number of people, access to Mindoro not very easy.
    • It is possible to stay on the island of Apo island (tent or bungalow).

Diving at Coron's Apo reef

Diving in Apo reef from Coron on a diving cruise:

  • croisiere apo reef philippines diveundaDeparture from Coron town.
  • Diving cruise (liveaboard) of 3 or 4 days.
  • 3-4 hours sailing from Maricaban (north of Busuanga) or 5-6h if departure from Coron town.
  • Main operator: diveunda (the one I did), they go there all year round (see the schedule on their site). Other operators when not in Tubbatahafind them here.
  • 3 days: 8 dives (7 on Apo reef and one running in on the route):
    • 1st day: appointment 14h, lapping dive on the way, arrival at Apo reef in the evening.
    • 2nd day: 5 dives, including one at night.
    • 3rd day: 2 dives, return coron town around 17h.
  • Apo reef cruise price 3 days : 32,000 php (516 €) with equipment or 34,000 php (550 €) without equipment (price in 2019).
  • 4 days: 12 dives (11 on Apo reef and one running in on the journey)
    • Same program as for 3 days.
    • With 4 dives on Apo reef the 3rd day.
  • Apo reef cruise price 4 days : 34,000 php (550 €) with equipment or 36,000 php (580 €) without equipment (price in 2019).
Notice  :Logo-plongeur-baroudeur 
> It's a bit expensive. > It is quite intense (5 dives the 2nd day, 6 hours of navigation ...)> It will be necessary to do with their program (it is better to book in advance). > Coron is very well connected, so easy to access.

The solution if you do not have much time and money from your vacation goes into the budget diving.

Or in trip with the day with Dugong dive center

  • dugong-dive-center-logoThey are the only ones located north of Busuanga (the main island of Coron) and they are closer to Apo reef than the centers of Coron town.
  • Departure very early (4h30-5h of the morning), 4 dives, return around 20-21h.
  • It is therefore necessary to sleep the day before north of Busuanga.
  • 4 hours of navigation.
  • Only on charter (ie you privatize a boat).
  • The price will depend on the number of people.
    > 2 divers: 15 500 php / pers, 4 divers 12 400 php / pers, 6 divers 9900 php.
    > included: boat, 4 dives, guide, food, water.
    > not included: equipment (+1500 php / day) and shrine fees of Apo reef (+2940 php).
Notice  Logo-plongeur-baroudeur:
> It's been a long day! > You have to sleep the night before in the north, so add the price of transport (3000 - 5000 php round trip) + accommodation (either at El Rio y Mar, The River House or Sandcastle). > Don't force yourself to make a liveaboard, so more flexible. > Possibility of staying on the island of Apo island (tent or bungalow).

If you are already in the north and you are many, it is a good solution.

If you are in Coron town and alone or 2, it's a little complicated and ultimately expensive.

Diving at Apo reef de Mindoro (from Sablayan)

You can dive in Apo reef from Sablayan, which is much more ready than Coron, again 2 solutions!


Day trip to Apo reef from Sablayan (Mindoro)

  • Only 2 hours drive.
  • Departure 7h, 3 dives, return 17h.
  • Day diving price at Apo reef de Sablayan : no fixed price, costs must be shared depending on the number of people: boat rental (12,000 php per day), bottle, divemaster, etc.
  • Reviews / Comments : If there are many of you and / or you have the time, it is really worth the cost, but if you are alone or in pairs and in a hurry, it may be complicated…

Sleep at APo reef on Apo island

  • Either by renting a tent (300 php / night).
  • Either by renting one of the 2 bungalows of the island (1500 / night), 4 beds each.
  • It is the center that takes care of everything (book the bungalow, food ...).
  • There is a compressor on the island.
  • The island is very nice, the locals often play guitar at night, beach volleyball court ...
Notice: Logo-plongeur-baroudeur
> The most economical solution in the end, the journey to Apo reef from Mindoro costs less than Coron.
> You can stay on the island for 1500 php in a bungalow. > It will still be necessary to arrive in Sablayan on Mindoro, which is more complicated than Coron.
> If you have a little time, this is the best solution, departure from Sablayan and stay 1 or 2 nights on Apo island.

This part of the Philippines is changing very quickly, all this information is likely to change in the coming years!

#Overview #Presentation #Diving with #How to dive #Sites #seasons #Dive centers #Get to #Accommodation #My diving review


Map of Apo reef dive sites

carte sites de plongee apo reef philippines

What are the best dive sites in Apo reef?

  • Apo reef mix fish 2Around Apo island : Ego wall, East corner, Mabouti, Aladin, all have a similar configuration:
  • A coral garden up to 10-15m.
  • Then a slope / wall that goes down to 40-60 m.
  • A lot of big pelagics on these sites (sharks, tones, napoleon, giant trevallies ...).
  • The best sites in terms of quality of coral.
#Overview #Presentation #Diving with #How to dive #Sites #seasons #Dive centers #Get to #Accommodation #My diving review


You can almost dive all year round at Apo reef but the good diving season is January to June.

When to dive Apo reef?

Apo reef napoleon 4

  • The best diving period at Apo reef is from March to June when the sea is calm with no waves or wind.
  • January to February : navigational conditions can be complicated since Coron or Mindoro and the rather complex launching ...
  • Avoid the rainy season in Apo reef from july to september : navigation condition not very pleasant when it rains a lot.
  • Avoid especially the cyclone season at Apo reef from October to December, trips to Apo reef can be canceled.
  • The hammerhead shark season Apo reef: January to March (do not expect benches, but rather an individual here and there.
  • Apo reef manta rays season: February to April.

Diving conditions Apo reef :

  • Apo reef visibility : constant all year, between 20 and 40 m.
  • Temperature Apo reef water : 27 to 30 °.
  • Current : from weak to very strong.
#Overview #Presentation #Diving with #How to dive #Sites #seasons #Dive centers #Get to #Accommodation #My diving review


Best Apo reef dive centers from Coron

  • Apo reef bluefin trevally 2By the day: only Dugong dive center.
  • In liveaboard: diveunda.
    I do not recommend any other local centers that would offer you an exit there, zero security and quality of service to review.

Best Apo reef dive center from Mindoro (Sablayan)




Apo reef housing on Apo island

meilleure site plongee philippines apo reef - apo island

Yes, we can stay at Apo reef on the island of Apo island.

  • By renting tents (300 php / night).
  • There are 2 bungalows of 4 people each (1500 php / night). Only dive centers can take reservations apparently.

Apo reef accommodation, sleep in Coron

Apo reef accommodation, sleep in Sablayan

#Overview #Presentation #Diving with #How to dive #Sites #seasons #Dive centers #Get to #Accommodation #My diving review


You have 2 options to get to Apo reef, either from Mindoro (Sablaya), either since Coron.

How to get to Coron?

Route Manila to Coron

  • Manila to Coron by plane :
    • Flights daily, several times a day.
    • Duration: about 1h20.
  • Manila to Coron ferry route (with 2GO travel) :
    • Every Tuesday and Friday at 1:30 pm
    • Duration 15h (arrival the next day at 4:30 am).
    • Price: from 2,222 PHP (eco class).

Cebu to Coron route

  • Flight from Cebu to Coron by plane (Philippines airlines):
    • 3 flights a day: 5:30, 10:50, 13:00.
    • Duration: approximately 1h15.
  • Cebu to Coron ferry route : does not exist.

Route Puerto Princesa to Coron

  • Flight from Puerto Princesa to Coron by plane : no direct plane to Coron (that may change in the coming years).
  • Puerto Princesa to Coron ferry route (with 2GO travel) :
    • Every Saturday and Wednesday at 00:00.
    • Duration 15h (arrival the next day at 15h00).
    • Price: from 1534 PHP (eco class).

Route El nido to Coron

  • El nido to Coron by plane : no direct plane to Coron (that may change in the coming years).
  • Route El nido to Coron in speed boat (with Montenegro line) :
    • Every day at 6:00.
    • Duration 3h30 (arrival at 9h30).
    • Price: 1848 PHP.

carte comment aller a apo reef philippines

How to get to Mindoro (Sablayan)

Route Manila to Mindoro (Sablayan)

  • Flight from Manila to San Jose by plane
    • Cebu Pacific Air, 1 flight a day at 5:20 am (1h).
    • Bus from San José to Sablayan (2 to 3 hours from the Dimple Star Bus bus terminal).
  • Route Manila to San Jose by bus
    • Bus Manila to Batangas (2-3h).
    • From the EDSA terminal in Manila (20 minutes from the airport).
    • Batangas ferry to Abra de Ilog (2h30).
    • Abra bus from Ilog to Sablayan (2–3h).

Coron to Mindoro (Sablayan)

  • Speed boat Coron to Mindoro
    • with Montenegro (3h30 journey).
    • Departure every day at 13h, arrival 16h30.
    • Bus San José> Sablayan (2 to 3 hours).
  • Coron to Mindoro by ferry
    • Coron to San Jose (6h trip).
    • 3 times a week Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
    • Departure 8h.
  • Coron to Mindoro by plane : no direct plane to Mindoro (that may change in the coming years).
#Overview #Presentation #Diving with #How to dive #Sites #seasons #Dive centers #Get to #Accommodation #My diving review


I was skeptical before going dive at Apo reef, but I was not disappointed. We don't go to Apo reef for the quality of the coral or the macro, however if you want see shark, large pelagic, schools of fish, sea turtles… And have the thrill of hoping to see a Manta Rays or one hammerhead shark, Apo reef is worth it ! A little full of access and / or expensive, prepare your trip well before going there.

logo like ma FB sur article

logo like ma YT sur article



Back to top

Articles that may interest you: