Apo Island in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro

Swim with sharks, manta rays and an endless stream of multi-hued fishes in the spectacular Apo Reef. Photo by @redbarry68

Roughly 480 kilometers from Metro Manila is Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, where some of the best diving sites in the country is located. Much of the renowned Apo Reef is underwater, but three islands serve as landmarks to visiting divers and snorkelers, including Apo Island. The golden shores are a haven for sea turtles and tourists as well, and adventurers can venture deeper into the island for the lighthouse and a hidden lagoon.

Of course, the best views of Apo Island are submerged as the Apo Reef National Marine Park is the world's second largest contiguous coral reef system, just behind Australia's Great Barrier Reef. World-class diving and snorkeling can be expected beneath the shores with around 400 different types of coral reefs bursting with color and up to 500 species of marine creatures such as sharks, dolphins and manta rays.

How to get there
Fly to San Jose, Occidental Mindoro via Cebu Pacific. From the San Jose airport, hop on a tricycle to the San Jose bus terminal where there are buses going to Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro. From here, there are boats that can be rented to Apo Reef and the islands. An alternative to Sablayan is taking the Dimple Star Transport bus from their terminal at Ali Mall, Cubao to Sablayan.

Cover photo is a screengrab from @redbarry68 on Instagram.

By Celia Nachura

Published November 2016