Philippines Coral Reefs - Apo Reef; A Scuba Divers Heaven

Apo Reef is located at Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro, Philippines.

The famous Apo reef can be reached through plane or ferry from Batangas. Upon reaching the Municipality of Sablayan, tourists can hire a banca (outrigger boat) to go to the reef. But first, you have to register at the municipal tourism office and pay the corresponding fee.

Apo Reef is about a 3 to 4 hour banca ride from Sablayan depending on the weather and sea conditions.

Upon reaching Apo Island, one can't help but be amazed by the beauty of the place. Crystal clear blue water, powdery white sand and coral reefs visible to the naked eye.

Apo Reef

Apo Reef is the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world and the largest one in the Philippines.

The Apo Reef Natural Park consists of three islands. Apo Reef is the largest among the three islands.

Apo Reef
Courtesy of PIA IV-B/Ogie Salvador



It has a shallow lagoon with a depth of 2 meters to 10 meters surrounded by a mangrove forest which serves as a source of food, nursery and spawning ground of several coastal and marine species of fauna and a sanctuary for birds.

Its diverse corals consist of approximately 34 sq. km. of reefs where different species of fish, marine mammals and invertebrates thrive.

It is also the largest atoll like reef in the Philippines. It is a submerged platform that is 34 sq. km. with sub-triangular northern and southern atoll like reefs separated by a 30-m deep channel that is open to the west.

The channel runs east to west from 1.8 m to 30 m deep with a fine white sand bottom, numerous mounds, and patches of branching corals under the deep blue water.

The main geographical features of Apo Reef are submerged. There are three islands that mark it on the surface, Apo Island, Apo Menor (Binangaan'; and Cayos del Bajo Tinangkapang).

The largest is Apo Island (22.0 hectares) which harbors mangroves and beach vegetation, whereas Binangaan is rocky limestone island with relatively little vegetation and Cayos del Bajo (200-300 sq.m.) which is a coralline rock formation with no vegetation.

Apo Reef Natural Park compared to that of Tubbataha National Marine Park has a unique natural phenomena. Apo Reef has a high diversity of corals and has an island covered with terrestrial vegetation. (PIA IV-B/Ogie Salvador)


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