Pawikan. Marine Turtle. Sea Turtle.


Turtle unmindful of nosy humans, on a feeding frenzy on a rich marine life.



Sea turtles or marine turtles. “Pawikan” as locals call them. I dreamed of swimming with them, but the idea scares me out of my wits. I thought of just waiting for them to break the surface as they quickly catch air but I was sure I didn’t brave a nearly one-hour boat ride to Apo Island just to see turtle heads. I’ve read enough to get me excited to meet some turtles as old as moí.




From the shore, you walk towards these gentle creatures who thrive on shallow coastal waters.

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Our diving guide said we saw only the green sea turtle. No hawksbill sea turtles, though if I saw one I really couldn’t tell one from the other. But the ones we found — some as big as an umbrella — were busy feeding on seagrass and algae while flipping their hind flippers completely unmindful of us humans. There were so many of them in shallow waters ( up to 8 – 15 feet? ) and some we spotted we found happily swimming around with barnacles on their hard shells.




Sea Turtles in Their ‘Retirement Village’ In Apo Island





Turtles live long lives and I wondered how many of those we spotted are “senior citizens” like us. As the waves and currents tossed us around, we marveled at the peacefulness of this marine sanctuary where these marine turtles live. Crossing my mind is a perfect “retirement village” for God’s sea creatures. No wonder they chose to live submerged even if they can live on land. It’s more peaceful down there. And lovelier too! Clown fish, sea snakes (they scare me), angel fish, and more marine citizens. How I wish I have turtle lungs too, able to suck in all that oxygen in one quick gulp when they surface from time to time. Wow, a what a lazy, blissful turtle’s life!



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The sanctuary is about an hour’s boat ride from the Malatapay Port in Zamboangita area, depending on how calm or rough the sea is. It took us 45 minutes to get there. And longer to get back. Malatapay has a vibrant flea market and livestock auction every Wednesday so you may want to time your Apo Island visit on a Wednesday. Malatapay is just an hour’s drive from Dumaguete City. Go early so you can time your return soon after lunch, which you can arrange in Apo Island Beach Resort.




Apo Island

The Rock

The Rock

Apo Beach Resort

Apo Beach Resort