Negros island is much more rural than the others we’ve visited. We must’ve passed millions of palm trees along the road and small villages were all made from natural materials. It was a scenic drive with sea views and we soon made it to Malatapay Beach where boats head to Apo Island. It was a public boat yet it was tiny with just a couple of locals, us, and two other tourists. We were told to put everything under the boat and a lid was put on top with a man employed to sit on top of the lid. It was one very wet ride! We were absolutely drenched by the time we reached the tiny island.
We got a totally shit room with a paper thin mattress and the water disappeared when we were showering. Electricity was only from 6 – 10pm on the island so the rooms didn’t even have fans and boy was it hot at night. It was all worth it though because we were there to see the underwater world; a marine reserve home to lots of turtles.
We hired out snorkel gear, walked for 1 minute to the coral beach and I wouldn’t say dove in, but gradually slumped into the shallows trying to not cut ourselves on the sharp rocks and coral. Within 5 minutes I spotted a dark area to my right and it was a turtle coming our way. As he got closer I couldn’t believe his size, he was probably as big as I was! You could throw a table cloth on his back and ignoring the slant of his shell, a family of four could comfortably eat from his back. We hovered above him and watched in awe as he casually munched on coral. He soon came up for some fresh air and then continued munching again, it was an amazing experience just floating above him.
Craigs goggles were leaking so we headed back to our hotel with huge grins on our faces and a local tourist said ‘there’s nothing out there huh?’ He’d been snorkelling for an hour and hadn’t seen a turtle yet. I tried to contain myself and be like yeah we saw one but it wasn’t great…but I couldn’t resist and gloated like mad “IT WAS HUGE!!! AND RIGHT NEXT TO US!! IT ONLY TOOK 5 MINUTES TO FIND HIM, WAHOOOOO!!”
We spent a couple more hours exploring the beautiful ocean and then awkwardly waddled over the rocks to the shore for lunch. A group of westerners were surprised to hear that we’d just seen 5 turtles, they’d also been looking for ages and not seen a thing. By the end of the day we’d seen 17 turtles! Sometimes we’d see two at the same time, and when we decided to head back to shore we kept bumping into more turtles and watching them for a while. We saw a few smaller varieties but they tended to swim away from us (who’d of thought turtles would be so fast?!) while the huge ones just chilled. I think they can live for about 150 years so these guys must’ve been pretty old. I loved swimming alongside them and watching them effortlessly gliding through the clear water.
The next day we decided to try a dive as the corals are in fairly good shape around here. We hadn’t been diving in 5 years since I had trouble breathing underwater on a dive in Honduras so decided to get a little refresher. A nice chap called Mac talked us through everything and we were soon 18m below the surface and I was breathing perfectly. It’s so nice to feel comfortable diving again. The coral was great; huge boulders, some were even shaped like doughnuts and had other corals inside the centre. There was a lovely mix of soft and hard corals and albeit they weren’t vibrant colours, it all looked alive and healthy so we were happy. We saw three turtles while on our dive, two of which were sleeping beside a boulder so we got some cool snaps of us hanging out with the snoozy dudes.